Mayo, U of M partnership plan focus on diabetes research

Minnesota could become a destination for diabetes treatment, research and products.

The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic have picked the disease as the next focus of their joint collaboration.

"So you have between the two institutions a group of scientists who are the best in the world," said Dr. Frank Cerra, dean of the U of M Medical School. "Now we have built over the last few years of the partnership the platform that will support this kind of an effort."

The U of M and Mayo are in the sixth year of their joint partnership on biotechnology and medical genomics. Cerra said the diabetes initiative will require more public and private money, but the amount hasn't been determined yet.

Mayo's Executive Dean of Research Robert Rizza said diabetes shortens the lives of millions of Americans and costs the U.S. health care system $170 billion a year. He said Minnesota has the expertise and infrastructure to tackle the disease.

"We're hoping to make Minnesota as one of the places where diabetes begins to become basically conquered and then cured," Rizza said. "Then it has tremendous ramifications for business, for people for coming. So yes you may come here, but also many of the things developed may well become value-added products, businesses that could go around the world."

Details of the plan are still being worked out. But U of M and Mayo officials told a small group of lawmakers Tuesday they would likely need more state money to fund their diabetes initiative.

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