Viral Shah, MDLudeman Center Aug 9, 2019
Dr. Shah is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the Adult Clinic of the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes (BDC), and a former recipient of a Ludeman Center Faculty Development Award. He recently received a K23 award, which is a National Institutes of Health Career Development grant. Over the next four years, this grant will allow him to study why post-menopausal women with type 1 diabetes have a high risk of bone fractures. Dr. Shah completed his residency in Internal Medicine and his fellowship in Endocrinology in India before joining the BDC, where he has cared for patients with type 1 diabetes for the past six years.
Dr. Shah, what inspired you to pursue a career in research?
Diabetes is a part of my family history, and my paternal grandmother passed away due to a hip fracture. She was initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. About 20% of adults with type 1 diabetes are misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetes resulting in delayed initiation of insulin therapies and other inappropriate health interventions.
After witnessing this firsthand, I knew that I needed to do something to improve diabetes care and prevent diabetes complications. I also began to focus on the connection between type 1 diabetes and fracture risk. In 2013, I published a meta-analysis which reported a 3-4 times higher bone fracture risk in people with type 1 diabetes compared to people without diabetes. In addition, we found that females with type 1 diabetes
experience the highest risk of fracture.
How has the Ludeman Center impacted your work?
For the first 3 years after moving from India, I was on an H1 visa, which does not allow you to qualify for an NIH grant. So during that time, I started developing a program and pursued smaller pilot grants to generate the data necessary for a future NIH grant. For any NIH grant, you need to have preliminary data to show why you’re proposing this research and that you can do it — and that’s where the seed grant funding from the Ludeman Family Center for Women’s Health Research was critical. With their grant, I was able to study bone density and quality among post-menopausal women with type 1 diabetes.
In April 2019, I was awarded an NIH Career Development grant (K23), which I will use over the next four years to expand on this research -- in particular looking at the differences in chemical composition, bone strength and collagen quality in patients with type 1 diabetes.