April 11, 1997

Diabetes research gets high-octane boost

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Country music singer Mark Collie (center) chats with VUMC's Dr. Daryl Granner (left) and Dr. Roscoe Robinson at last week's reception to present proceeds of Collie's celebrity race fundraiser to the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center.

Diabetes research gets high-octane boost

The marriage of country music and auto racing for the sake of diabetes research has given a $290,000 boost to the work of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center.

Country singer Mark Collie presented the gift, a portion of proceeds from last fall's third annual "Mark Collie Celebrity Race for Diabetes Cure," during a reception last week at the University Club.

"We're making a difference," said Collie, himself an insulin-dependent diabetic since age 17. "We've raised awareness about the disease, and we've given hope to people who didn't think there was any hope. With the research going on at Vanderbilt and around the world, a cure is within our lifetime."

The reception was hosted by Dr. Roscoe R. Robinson, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, and Dr. Daryl K. Granner, Joe C. Davis Professor of Biomedical Science, professor and chairman of the Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center.

To illustrate the race's impact on public awareness, Randy Nelson, director of Marketing for Eli Lilly and Co., said that his company received 15,000 telephone requests for more information about diabetes after The Nashville Network aired a one-hour special about the race last month. Lilly, the major underwriter of the race, is the nation's leading supplier of insulin and other diabetes care products.

In addition to supporting various research efforts, the gift will be used to sponsor several medical students in a summer program that offers them their first clinical and research experience in diabetes, Granner said.

And the largest portion of this year's award ‹ $170,000 ‹ will go toward establishing an endowed chair for diabetes research in Collie's name, Granner announced.

Collie spearheads the race, a joint effort by country music artists and members of the NASCAR racing circuit. In past years, the Mark Collie Foundation has donated $300,000 to support the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center. Race proceeds also support the local chapters of the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

Also attending the reception were representatives of BMI; the Celebrity Race Committee; board members of the Mark Collie Foundation, including former Gov. Ned McWherter; and representatives of the country music and auto racing industries.