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Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Grant Will Bring “New Ideas and New Energy” to Combating Diabetes in Appalachia

September 2011


This release was amended September 26, 2011.

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2011—A $2.6 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will bring "new ideas and new energy" to addressing diabetes in Appalachia, said Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl at ARC's Healthy Families, Healthy Future conference, held September 7-9 in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.

The grant, awarded to the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, is part of the foundation's Together on Diabetes initiative. It will expand an ongoing partnership between Marshall University, ARC, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support community-based efforts to combat diabetes throughout Appalachia.

In expressing appreciation for the grant, Gohl underscored the role of partnerships such as this in ARC's work of engaging communities and meeting economic development challenges.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Director Patricia Doykos, who announced the grant at the conference, said, "We must absolutely come together with our resources, our know-how, and that special local intelligence about how things work to really make headway" against diabetes.

Kentucky Governor and ARC 2011 states' co-chair Steven Beshear thanked the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation for the grant, noting that it would facilitate local communities' working on solutions to the problem.

Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp welcomed the grant, saying that "the awarding of this five-year grant will allow us to continue to work toward effective solutions to our region's unique challenges."

The Appalachian Region has a disproportionately higher rate of diabetes than the rest of the nation, and rates are particularly high in its economically distressed counties. Preventing diabetes was one of the major topics at the ARC conference, which attracted close to 300 participants and brought together health experts and community leaders from throughout Appalachia to examine a broad range of health issues and highlight successful health-care programs in the Region, with a special focus on children and families.

Conference topics also included expanding health-care access for children; creating community-based approaches to disease prevention; preventing substance abuse among adolescents; improving children's oral health; and using information technology to improve the quality of health care.

Plenary speakers Robert Ludke of the University of Cincinnati and Phillip Obermiller of the University of Kentucky observed that Appalachians in general experience higher rates of chronic illness and mortality when compared with the rest of the country. Most troubling, they said, is the high rate of premature death in the 35-64 age group.

Keynote speaker Marcia Brand, deputy administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration and a native of Appalachia, provided a generational review of Appalachia's population and discussed the Obama administration's strategies to address the kinds of health issues confronting the Region.

Presentations from the conference are available for download on ARC's Web site.