Ariel Helms: Searching for a diabetes discovery

From Vanderbilt University -

For Ariel Helms, a genealogy search when she was young revealed a long-kept secret: Her ancestors were Cherokee Native Americans. “My great-grandparents had taken this knowledge to the grave,” she said. “My dad grew up thinking he was of German heritage. It was, at the time, a difficult thing to be Native American, so it was kept very secret.” Having a Native American background began to make sense—it could be why so many family members suffered from diabetes. These bits of information motivated Helms to seek out scientific research and Vanderbilt. She has worked in the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center’s lab the past two years. “My ultimate dream is to contribute to the alleviation of the burden of disease in a way that benefits my Native American community and the nation as a whole,” she said. “I want to help people struggling with diabetes.”