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Progress and innovations: UCI's multifaceted approach to combating diabetes in the Latino/a community

Advances made in key areas of prevention, research and treatment since inception of initiative in 2023 

April 24, 2024
uci health physician alpesh amin, co leader of the uci diabetes iniative, wearing a white coat and stethoscope standing in front of uci medical center in orange
UCI Health Dr. Alpesh Amin co-leads UCI's effort to combat the toll of diabetes in the Latino/a community. Credit: Steve Zylius/UCI.

Orange, Calif. — Since its inception in late 2023, the University of California, Irvine's initiative to combat diabetes in the Latino/a community has made significant progress in addressing an escalating health crisis.

The program was developed and is co-led by Dr. Alpesh Amin, Thomas and Mary Cesario Endowed Chair of the Department of Medicine in the UCI School of Medicine and associate dean for clinical transformation, and Dean Yoost, a trustee of the UCI Foundation.

The advances UCI has made within the three key elements of the program — prevention, research and treatment — underscore its commitment to the health of its communities. Such progress is possible thanks to the funding support from UCI Department of Medicine (DOM) Chair Award, the UCI Diabetes Council and private philanthropic support.

Preventive measures

UCI has incorporated an innovative Latin-based social dance program into its diabetes prevention initiative. These workshops are designed not only to promote physical activity but also to foster broader awareness of diabetes prevention among students, staff, faculty and community members.

The phased approach includes initial workshops at UCI, followed by expanded programs with local community partners. The initiative has reached an advanced stage of developing a dance curriculum, outlining primary and secondary outcomes, and is preparing for Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission to ensure the program's effectiveness and compliance.

The series of dance workshops is expected to begin in the spring quarter.

Enhanced treatment protocols

UCI Health has introduced a new format for treatment through diabetes group medical visits. Beginning in April 2024, these visits provide comprehensive diabetes care in group settings at the UCI Health Family Health Center ― Anaheim. The program features an eight-week curriculum delivered in Spanish, addressing aspects of diabetes management, from insulin resistance to lifestyle factors. Each session includes hands-on activities, food and beverage demonstrations, and contributions from guest speakers on topics such as nutrition and mental health.

Research and technology

The IMPROVE-DM project focuses on improving cardiometabolic risk management in diabetes patients through an innovative electronic health record (EHR)-based intervention. This project uses the EPIC system to enhance the delivery of guideline-directed medical therapy. It has identified significant disparities in diabetes care among Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients at UCI Health. The program is set to implement best practice advisories in the spring quarter. These advisories will prompt physicians to optimize treatment based on individual patient needs and risk profiles.

Looking ahead

This diabetes initiative exemplifies UCI’s holistic approach to healthcare, combining community engagement, clinical innovation and research. As these programs advance, they will significantly impact not only health outcomes but also the approach to diabetes care in the Latino/a community. UCI's ongoing commitment to these initiatives underscores its role as a leader in addressing significant public health challenges and serving its diverse community.

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About UCI Health

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine, and the only academic health system based in Orange County. UCI Health is comprised of its main campus, UCI Medical Center, a 459-bed, acute care hospital in in Orange, Calif., four hospitals and affiliated physicians of the UCI Health Community Network in Orange and Los Angeles counties and ambulatory care centers across the region. Listed among America’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for 23 consecutive years, UCI Medical Center provides tertiary and quaternary care and is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centerhigh-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma centergold level 1 geriatric emergency department and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

About the UCI-OC Alliance

Established in 2021, the UCI-OC Alliance supports UCI as a Hispanic-thriving university. Trustee-guided and university-driven, the Alliance is a community organization that serves Orange County by connecting local leaders and businesses with UCI to advance Latinx students through mentorships, scholarships, internships, program support, corporate partnerships, special events and initiatives and networking opportunities. Learn more by visiting UCI-OC Alliance.

About the University of California, Irvine

Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 224 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.