Scientists in England have begun ground-breaking research into how diabetes can affect the heart and brain at the same time.
A team of researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Medical School, which is renowned for the quality of its diabetes research and clinical care, are using advanced imaging technology to help understand how the effects of diabetes on the heart can influence the function and degeneration of the brain, and vice versa.
Magnetic Resonance (MR) expert Professor Iain Wilkinson and his team from the Academic Unit of Radiology, together with colleagues from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be using a new, state-of-the-art 3T MR scanner located at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, which has already enabled researchers to advance imaging techniques in the three months since installation.
The hope is that developments in imaging technology can be translated “into much needed insights” that can be used to enhance treatment and care for people suffering with diabetes.
Prof Wilkinson said: “The multi-organ nature of diabetes that may involve both the blood circulation and nervous system highlights the need to study both heart and brain function at the same time. Until the installation of our new scanner, this was very difficult.”
The installation of the 3T MR scanner was made possible thanks to funding from a wide variety of sources, including the Wellcome Trust, the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes, the European Unio, local charities and the Garfield Weston Foundation – one of the largest and most respected philanthropic institutions in the UK.
“We are enormously grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for laying the foundations that will enable our scientists and clinicians to press ahead with this path-breaking work, translating developments in imaging technology into much needed insights with which we hope to improve the care of people with diabetes,” Prof Wilkinson added.
“By applying developments of the new technology to heart and brain imaging in a novel way, we aim to provide greater insights into various complications of diabetes that we currently know too little about.”

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