DMU team shares pioneering research with Italian university

 Students and staff from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are heading to Italy to share results of a life-changing health project.

The team, from DMU’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and DMU Square Mile, which works to share the skills of students and staff with the community, are already having a huge impact on the lives of diabetes patents in Leicester. Now they hope to inspire students and staff from L’Aquila University in Abruzzo to start their own project.


Diabetes is a growing problem in Italy, where unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to a rise in the condition. It causes the body to have dangerously high glucose levels and dramatically increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in Europe. Up to 15% of all deaths in Italy are attributed to diabetes.

Dr Ketan Ruperalia is leading the trip, which has been organised as part of #DMUglobal, the university’s pioneering programme to offer students international experiences as part of their studies.

He said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to share our knowledge and build relationships with our colleagues in Italy. There is a lot of potential for this work to be shared

DMU’s links with L’Aquila University began after a devastating earthquake struck the Italian region, killing 309 people and destroying scores of homes and public buildings, including classrooms and labs at the university.  Dr Ruperalia offered the use of DMU’s research laboratories to students so they could complete their work.

The Leicester project has helped diagnose more than 400 people who did not realise they had diabetes, which causes the body to have dangerously high glucose levels.

It has also helped academic research being carried out into herbal remedies for Type 2 diabetes and how exercise affects diabetics. Students and staff now work alongside Diabetes UK at community events work with pharmacies to identify people at risk of the condition and help co-ordinate outreach work in community centres. Pharmacy students will be able to meet and share their experiences with counterparts in Italy.

David Hollis, DMU Square Mile operations manager, will be talking about the award-winning programme has made a real difference to communities in Leicester.

He said: “The student volunteers who have supported the Square Mile diabetes initiatives have gained a wealth of knowledge in how to support healthcare services to engage hard to reach communities.

"Therefore it’s fantastic that these students now have the opportunity to share their knowledge internationally. With the prevalence of diabetes in Italy, it is our hope that we can create regular opportunities for students that have taken part in Square Mile diabetes projects, to head out to Italy through #DMUglobal, to work with their Italian counterparts, to engage with and support communities in L’Aquila.” 

Posted on Tuesday 14th April 2015

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