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Barbara Halina Braffett Faculty Member

Scholarship: As illustrated by my publications and the projects that I have been involved in, my research interests center around the design, coordination, statistical analysis, and reporting of clinical studies pertaining to the treatment and prevention of diabetes. My contributions to the field of epidemiology and diabetes have focused on the application of a wide range of sound statistical and epidemiologic methods aimed at answering important clinical questions in the context of both observational and experimental studies. More specifically, many of the analyses that I have been involved in have evaluated various epidemiologic concepts, such as mediation and moderation, and other diabetes-specific epidemiologic phenomena, such as metabolic memory, in large and complex clinical studies. Since 2016, I have served as the lead project director for the DCCT/EDIC Data Coordinating Center. In 2019, I had the privilege to assume the role as Co-Principal Investigator of the project with my colleague, Dr. Ionut Bebu. In addition to my responsibilities on the EDIC Core study, I have been the Data Coordinating Center Principal Investigator for eight EDIC ancillary studies; all independently funded through separate NIH/NIDDK mechanisms (DP3, R56). In this role, I work closely with clinical experts and colleagues to define primary and secondary objectives, design research studies, develop and submit grant proposals, create analytic plans, and execute the extensive protocols across all 27 EDIC clinical centers. One of my recent projects, Effects of Biomedical Risk Factors on Neuro-Cognition Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging, was designed to examine neurocognitive impairments in type 1 diabetes using neuroimaging techniques and cognitive testing. This study will provide information about key predictors and mechanisms of neuro-cognitive impairment in type 1 diabetes, and in turn provide insight into the clinical management of patients with type 1 diabetes as they live longer and experience more impairments related to aging. Another project that was recently funding aims to advance the understanding of bladder dysfunction in type 1 diabetes through assessments of urinary symptoms and bladder dysfunction, and urine specimens for gene expression analyses. The projects that I have been involved with have led to numerous presentations at professional meetings and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Furthermore, they have helped elucidate the long-term effects of intensive therapy and metabolic control on the development and progression of complications of diabetes. Education: Since my appointment in 2013, I have been very active in the educational activities in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics as well as in the newly established Department of Epidemiology. For four consecutive summers, I co-directed and taught PubH 6003, Principles and Practice of Epidemiology, a 3.0 credit core course for Master’s students. I have also been a guest lecturer for PubH 6237, Chronic Disease Epidemiology, annually since 2016, where I give a seminar on type 1 diabetes. In the future, I would like to develop a topics course with my colleagues at The Biostatistics Center, focused on the epidemiology of diabetes. Diabetes is a major public health concern and has reached epidemic proportions not only nationally, but worldwide. I envision the course covering the basic pathophysiology and clinical features of diabetes and its complications, epidemiology, education programs and strategies for prevention, clinical trials and interventions, technologic advances, genetics of diabetes, and advocacy and policy implications. I think this would be of great interest to our students and future researchers. In addition to teaching, I have mentored several students through their Practicum’s and Culminating Experiences and served as a member on four dissertation committees, one of which I am the director of. Service: In my current rank as an Associate Research Professor, I have had several opportunities to serve the Biostatistics Center as well as the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. I have been an active member of several committees, most notably the co-chair of the Biostatistics Center Funding Opportunities Committee (2017-2019). I have also served as a member of The Biostatistics Center Strategic Systems and Development Advisory Committee since 2016, a strategic planning committee charged to prioritize current and future developments for data management and web systems across all projects at the Biostatistics Center. More recently, I was asked to join the Biostatistics Center's Executive Committee which oversees and advises the operations of the center. My service has also extended to the field of diabetes where I have been an active member of various professional societies and appointed as an Advisor for the American Diabetes Association Epidemiology & Statistics Interest Group (2018-2020). I am a peer reviewer for several diabetes-related journals and have also served as a member on a number of Special Emphasis Panels and Grant Review Committees. Summary: Over the past 18+ years, I have made significant contributions to the field of epidemiology as well as diabetes. As a Co-Investigator and Principal Investigator on NIH-funded research projects, I have extensive expertise in conducting large-scale multi-center clinical trials. The studies which I have been involved in have led to numerous peer-review publications in high-impact journals and subsequent changes in clinical practice for diabetes. As an educator, I have mentored several students through their Practicum’s and Culminating Experiences and also taught one of the core courses in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. In addition, I have actively served The Biostatistics Center, the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and the field of diabetes. I look forward to continuing to conduct collaborative and multidisciplinary research aimed at better understanding the natural history and pathophysiology of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Research Areas

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