Dr. Dabelea's main research interest is the understanding of the complex and multifactorial etiology of diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, especially among children and adolescents, with the goal of reducing, delaying and preventing its occurrence. She is particularly interested in how early life risk factors, exposures during fetal or early post-natal life, as well as infant growth and feeding patterns, influence the development of childhood obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Dr. Dabelea's experience includes perinatal and childhood epidemiological studies with community-based and clinic-based sampling, longitudinal follow-up, and extensive sample collection and storage. She has conducted landmark studies on childhood type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and perinatal determinants on future risk among the Pima Indians of Arizona. At this time, Dr. Dabelea is Principal Investigator (PI, Colorado site) on the multi-center "SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study" and Co-Chair of the SEARCH steering committee at national level. She is also PI on others studies exploring the developmental programming of chronic pediatric obesity and diabetes, such as EPOCH and Healthy Start
The SEARCH Study in Colorado is conducted at the Colorado School of Public Health located at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO. The Colorado Center also oversees a Native American sub-site in Shiprock, NM. The Colorado Center is the largest of the SEARCH sites and surveys diabetes cases throughout the entire state and in Navajo Nation which spans the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.