Liliana Uribe-Bruce, M.D., was a medical student in Colombia when she first witnessed the power of community based participatory research. “I understood then that even the best scientific and medical knowledge would not have been able to impact individual or group health without the ability to reach into and engage the community,” she said.
As a KL2 Scholar, Lilliana is again reaching into and engaging the community, specifically the Hispanic population served by Project Dulce™, which provides culturally tailored diabetes care, self-management and prevention education to low-income and uninsured individuals in San Diego County. Working with the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, which sponsors Project Dulce™, she hopes to establish a gene bank that will enable scientists to identify the DNA variations that predispose individuals with Hispanic ancestry to diabetes and that influence their response to diabetes therapies.
Although they are at high risk for diabetes, Hispanics, who constitute almost 30% of San Diego’s population, have not yet been adequately included in most genomic studies to date, she said. The Scripps San Diego Diabetes Genebank will expedite genomics research focusing on Hispanics in such areas as the physiopathology of diabetes and disorders of glucose metabolism, diabetes risk classification, pharmacogenomics, personal risk for diabetes complications, and variation of genetic risk for disease by ethnicity.
Lilliana, a volunteer at Project Dulce™ for several years, will involve the Hispanic community in a dialogue about the potential value of such a database, because she recognizes the importance of engaging the community throughout the entire research process, from the initial formulation of the research to the dissemination of the findings.
After receiving the M.D. degree, she completed residency programs at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, where she was born, and Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, Florida, and then an endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism clinical and research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.