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Yicheng Bao’s award-winning diabetes study puts new focus on autoimmune conditions

Yicheng Bao, left, with his research study co-authors, Dr Janet McGill, professor of medicine at Washington University-St. Louis, and Dr. Maamoun Salam, a graduating endocrinology fellow at Washington University.

Yicheng Bao, a third-year medical student at the UMKC School of Medicine, conducted a research study that shows adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of developing additional autoimmune conditions.

Bao received an Endocrine Society Outstanding Abstract Award for his work. He was then invited to give an  oral presentation of his results at the March annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago. This was a special and rare opportunity, as most selected abstracts are designated for poster presentations.

Much of Bao’s research took place during his summer medical student research program at Washington University in St. Louis. The program was sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Bao continued working on the study when he returned to school at UMKC.

Following his presentation in Chicago, Bao’s results have been reported in a number of health-care and diabetes-related media outlets.

“I came to work on this particular project because of my interest in diabetes and its complications,” Bao said. “Diabetes is a growing public health concern, and it is very debilitating for patients. It has multifaceted complications that confound their care, and this area in particular requires more research.”

His study found that people with type 1 diabetes can develop multiple autoimmune diseases. And, those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult run a greater risk of developing them.

Bao’s study collected patient data on 29 autoimmune conditions. He found that the overwhelming majority of additional conditions developed in adults after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

These results of could lead health-care providers to give closer attention to symptoms of autoimmune diseases in diabetes patients diagnosed with the disease as an adult.

Bao said he developed skills from the experience that have lead him to continue his research efforts. He now intends to pursue a career in academic medicine and research.

“I learned to ask scientific questions that have significant clinical implications, and to answer these questions with biostatistics and data analysis,” he said. “Using these skills, I am working on several other studies about diabetes and its complications that will be submitted for publication soon.”

Links to media reports of Yicheng Bao’s research study on type 1 diabetes in adults: