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Innovative Diabetes and Obesity Wellness and Research Center at Cedars-Sinai to be Named for Sports Spectacular

Transformational Gift to be Celebrated at Sports Spectacular's 29th Anniversary Gala May 18 Honoring Tony Gonzalez, Steve Nash and Dana White

Los Angeles - May 5, 2014 - In an effort to combat diabetes and obesity by funding new medical research and encouraging healthy eating and exercise, longtime Cedars-Sinai support group Sports Spectacular, has pledged $10 million to establish the Sports Spectacular Diabetes and Obesity Wellness and Research Center.

The Center, led by Richard Bergman, PhD, is known for leading the quest to develop ways to predict, prevent, treat and cure diabetes and obesity, separate serious medical conditions that are closely linked and can lead to other serious illnesses and death.

"People often think of sports stars as heroes because of their actions on the field," said Bergman, the Alfred Jay Firestein Chair in Diabetes Research.  "The athletes of Sports Spectacular are the true heroes off the field for banding together to support the fundamental medical research that will help keep their fans healthy and active for years to come."

More than 34 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making them prone to developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, certain kinds of cancer and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 10 percent of U.S. adults and children have diabetes, which also can lead to heart disease and stroke as well as blindness, lower limb amputations, kidney disease and nervous system damage.

The health conditions are so closely linked that many researchers call the increase in both conditions' prevalence to be a "twin epidemic" that is sometimes referred to as "diabesity."

"Sports Spectacular is excited to continue its partnership with Cedars-Sinai, linking world-class athletes and brands to help eradicate diabetes and obesity in the U.S.," said Beth Moskowitz, executive director of Sports Spectacular.

Founded in 1986, Sports Spectacular hosts several annual events, including a women's luncheon and an annual gala to salute athletes and raise funds to solve health problems that affect children, including the new initiative to eradicate diabetes and obesity. Sports Spectacular athletes also visit Cedars-Sinai throughout the year to encourage patients fighting serious medical conditions and raise awareness. The 2014 gala will mark the 29th anniversary of the event and will take place Sunday, May 18 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. This year's event will honor Tony Gonzalez, Steve Nash and Dana White and feature a silent sports memorabilia auction, special activations and presentations. Additional honorees and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.

Sports Spectacular has previously focused its fundraising efforts on a variety of other Cedars-Sinai projects. These include the Sports Spectacular Medical Genetics Institute which works to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of genetic disorders such as mental retardation, cystic fibrosis, dwarfism, deafness and more. The Institute also targets adult diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, with a focus on genetic testing.

Additionally, Sports Spectacular invests in the next generation of medical research and clinical talent through the Sports Spectacular Fellowship Endowment. Every year, the Endowment funds the research of five deserving physician-scientists in a variety of medical specialties.

"Through their visionary support of leading-edge research, the athletes of Sports Spectacular are playing a major role in changing health outcomes for generations of children," said Arthur J. Ochoa, senior vice president of Community Relations and Development. "We are honored to have their extraordinary support."

Diabetes is caused when blood sugar levels are above normal. Although humans need sugar in our bloodstream to fuel our bodies, diabetic patients' bodies either can't use the sugar to make insulin, or the insulin they do make doesn't work as well as it should. These problems cause the sugar in the blood and tissues to build up, resulting in diabetes and related complications.

Bergman and his team are widely known in the medical community for accomplishments including the development of the Minimal Model Approach for assessment of metabolic status, and the Disposition Index, the most powerful predictor of the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Other areas of research include the mechanisms of insulin resistance, the consequences of abdominal obesity, the metabolic effects of psychotropic medications and the use of mathematical modeling techniques to corroborate genetic loci, which contribute to the risk of developing diabetes. Current research initiatives include examining the relationship between sleep patterns and diabetes and understanding the mechanisms by which bariatric surgery reduces or even eliminates the diabetic condition.