UF shines blue for diabetes


It was all bubbles, bells and blue lights at the Century Tower Lighting Ceremony Nov. 12.

Century Tower was done up in blue in recognition of World Diabetes Day and as part of Diabetes Awareness Month. The tower remained lit until the following Monday morning.

Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., co-director of the UF Diabetes Center of Excellence and an eminent scholar for diabetes research, speaks at the Diabetes Awareness Event Nov. 12 at the HPNP building. Photo by Maria Belen-Farias

Participants from the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the UF Diabetes Center of Excellence told their stories and commended researchers and families for their hard work in searching for a cure for the disease, which affects millions of Americans.

After the speeches, the crowd of more than 60 people formed a circle at the base of the tower, and as the blue light washed over the bricks, bubbles were blown up to the top as symbols of the 284 million people living with diabetes worldwide.

The event followed a research tour at the center’s laboratories and a panel discussion by UF diabetes experts. These events gave participants the opportunity to hear updates on current diabetes research, tour the UF Diabetes Center laboratories and ask questions of a panel of UF investigators.

Tracy Milligan, an American Diabetes Association advocate from Jacksonville, said her son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 4, so she understands the struggles people go through with the disease. Her son has been discriminated against because of his diabetes, one of the reasons she got involved with the ADA, she said.

“I extend my hand in asking you to help educate people and advocate for those with diabetes,” she said.

Nicholas Simpson, Ph.D., research assistant professor talks to 13-year-old Easton Stephens and his father, Ron Stephens, during a tour of the Diabetes Center of Excellence labs on Nov. 12. Photo by Maria Belen-Farias

Maigan Hulme, research staff member, gives a tour of the Diabetes Center of Excellence labs Nov. 12. She is a Ph.D. candidate whose focus is on the study of regulatory cell behavior and immune tolerance. Photo by Maria Belen-Farias

Clayton Mathews, Ph.D., an associate professor of pathology, presents his research during a tour of the Diabetes Center of Excellence labs Nov. 12 for the Diabetes Awareness Event at UF. Photo by Maria Belen-Farias