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In the early 1980s when I began in epidemiology little was known about
the chronic condition known as childhood diabetes. It was clear that
the disease was a very serious condition, and in the United States,
one of the, if not the leading chronic disease of children. Yet there
was little information on the epidemiology of the condition. In 1983
Naoko Tajima, from Tokyo came to Pittsburgh, and she said that she rarely
saw childhood diabetes in Japan. She brought some preliminary data and I
became very excited as the incidence in the US appeared to be 18 times
greater than that in Japan. This was the strongest determinant of risk
found at that time.
In 1984, I met Jaakko Tuomilehto from Finland. We decided that we wanted to map out the world. Initially we drew together the 20 centers and compared them. We saw that the geographic differences in IDDM is greater than that seen in any other disease. At that point more and more people wanted to set up their registries, and use this for comparison purposes.
I presented some of work at the International Diabetes Federation Meetings in Madrid, and the head of the Non-Communicable disease group at WHO came up and asked me if we wanted to become a WHO collaborating Center. This was awarded in 1986.
In the late 1980s we pushed to develop registries world wide. We decided to make our registry work a WHO multinational project. This effort was approved, and the WHO Multinational Project for Childhood diabetes was born. The WHO DiaMond (Diabetes Mondial) project developed very rapidly such that now there are about 400 investigators world wide, in different areas, who participated in this global effort. There has been registry development.