By Charlotte Brookins
Health and Human Physiology assistant professor Anna Stanhewicz has recently been awarded a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling $3.035 million to put towards her research. Her focus lies in gestational diabetes and the long-term impact it has on those who have had it.
“We’re studying women with a history of gestational diabetes because women who develop diabetes for the first time during pregnancy, although they recover after they deliver, are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes in following years,” explains Stanhewicz. “We believe that dysfunction of the smallest blood vessels in the body can contribute to this, and we want to know why.”
The grant will help fund her research for the next five years.
“I was very surprised and really excited,” Stanhewicz says on earning the grant. “Career-wise, it’s a big step; getting this grant will help me continue to establish my work at the university, as an independent investigator capable of conducting meaningful research on campus.”
Stanhewicz says that, although she had already been researching high blood pressure during pregnancy for a while, it was the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) that inspired her to apply for the grant on gestational diabetes.
During her first summer at the university, when the pandemic was at its peak and human volunteers were low, the research center sent out a call for proposals, which Stanhewicz was happy to respond to. After receiving an initial pilot grant, her research project grew into what eventually received a major federal grant.
“If it weren’t for the diabetes research center, I probably wouldn’t have pursued this research question at all,” Stanhewicz explains.
Stanhewicz says she is grateful to the diabetes research center, but also to the people who volunteer their time for the sake of research.
“All the research that we do in my lab and in a lot of groups on campus is really dependent on human volunteer subjects, so we’re really indebted and appreciative of them for the effort that they put into the work,” says Stanhewicz. “As scientists, we get a lot of credit, but the participants really are an equal part of the team. We appreciate them.”