Whipkey Fund to advance WVU diabetic research initiatives

West Virginia University Health Sciences has received a renewable grant of more than $100,000 to assist its effort in the fight against diabetes.

The funding comes from the Stoy K. Whipkey and Twila O. Whipkey Fund, established as a result of the couple’s family-related experience with diabetes—their son’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, more than one in seven West Virginia adults suffers from diabetes. West Virginia is currently ranked second highest in the country for the number of adults who have diabetes.

As diabetes and associated health problems have grown across the state, researchers at the WVU Health Sciences Center have focused on diabetic research to learn more about the statewide epidemic.

“The newly-established Stoy and Twila Whipkey Fund is a wonderful gift to the people of West Virginia, specifically those who suffer from diabetes,” said Susie Nelson, executive director for the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, the organization administering the Trust. “We are hopeful that the grants made from the fund to WVU will enhance the great work being done in the area of diabetes research for the benefit of West Virginians.”

Grant amounts will vary each year, dependent on the success of oil and gas drilling which funds the Trust, Nelson said.

"We are so grateful for the support of the Whipkey Fund to enable our research teams to better understand the biology of diabetes and importantly, to position us to translate that understanding to improve patient outcomes,” said Laura Gibson, senior associate vice president for Research and Graduate Education, WVU Health Sciences Center. “The purpose that drives our science at WVU is to make a real difference in people's lives. Partnerships, like this one with the Whipkey Trust, are critical to helping us move forward."

Money from the award will be used toward purchasing equipment that allows for deeper evaluation of tissue samples and hiring researchers to evaluate the samples. This fund will also advance bioenergetics analysis, a specific form of body psychotherapy, in an effort to cure diabetes.

“We are excited for the opportunity to participate in this partnership with the Whipkey Fund,” said John Hollander, professor and graduate director of exercise physiology with the WVU School of Medicine. “The investment from the Whipkey Fund will afford us the opportunity to develop important infrastructure and expand our bench-to-bedside translational research efforts focused on our local West Virginia diabetic population who possess amongst the highest incidence rates for the disease, in the country. The Whipkey Fund investment will enable us to develop centralized tissue repositories for diabetic patient samples as well as provide investment in equipment and expertise to determine how energetics are compromised in multiple organ systems of diabetic patients. This is a wonderful example of how collaboration between WVU and a community foundation can have an impact on the health of the local West Virginia community.”

This gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December.

October 24, 2017