Andrew F. Stewart, MD, is a busy man. In addition to his multiple responsibilities as Chief, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he has also taken on the role of Chair of the American Diabetes Association’s 71st Scientific Sessions® Meeting Planning Committee.
Every year, the American Diabetes Association hosts its Scientific Sessions; the world’s largest diabetes meeting where leading experts from all around the globe share the latest cutting-edge research and information on diabetes prevention, treatment and care. To give you a sneak-peek at this year’s event, I decided to talk to Dr. Stewart to see what he’s most excited about.
What is it you do in the diabetes field?
I’ve been working in endocrinology and diabetes for over 30 years. We have a very large practice treating patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. I conduct basic and clinical research that also focuses on both types of diabetes. What really interests me is how beta cells function and how we can improve both beta cell function and numbers for patients with diabetes.
How many years have you been attending Scientific Sessions?
The first time I attended the Association’s Scientific Sessions was in Boston, which I believe was in 1997. I went because we’d discovered a new hormone in our osteoporosis research and it seemed to be related to some of the beta cell research that was presented at Scientific Sessions
I’ve been to the Association’s Scientific Sessions every year since then, as a presenter, speaker, attendee, and every other capacity imaginable. I’ve been on the planning committee for last four years.
As chair for Scientific Sessions, there any topics you’re looking forward to that you can share with us?
The amazing and overwhelming thing about Scientific Sessions is that it really does cover every imaginable area of diabetes – for doctors, researchers, patients, educators, etc. – and includes the many sub-specialties from podiatry to pregnancy.
This year is no different in its array of topics! With over 160 sessions from world-renowned diabetes experts, I can’t share them all here, but there are a few highlights that come to mind:
Commissioner at the FDA Margaret A. Hamburg, will speak about The Future of Regulation and Monitoring of Drugs and Devices for Diabetes. This special presentation will be an important topic for the entire community of diabetes professionals – including health care professionals and researchers.
Another special presentation will be given by Garth N. Graham, MD, MPH, FACP, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services. This will be about Reforming Health Care – Meeting the Challenge with Diabetes Education.
There will be a progress update to a last year’s joint ADA/JDRF symposium about the artificial pancreas, over 70 moderated poster tours (out of a grand total of about 1,600 posters!), and using injected drugs for type 2 diabetes when oral drugs aren’t working.
There are also the American Diabetes Association’s highest awards that will be presented, each accompanied by a state-of-the-art lecture, such as the Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award, the Banting Award, Outstanding Diabetes Educator Award and more.
The symposia, which run day in and day out, are divided up into eight themes such as Acute and Chronic Complications, Clinical Diabetes/Therapeutics, Immunology/Transplantation, etc. No matter what your interest is, there is something for you all day, every day.
Sounds like great stuff, but some of that is way over my head! Will you be presenting anything yourself at any of the Sessions?
Unfortunately, as program chair, I am not allowed to present or speak at the Sessions, but a lot of my colleagues will be speaking. It’s going to be an amazing amount of science from all corners of the globe.
I know that planning for Scientific Sessions takes an extraordinary amount of time – what will you do when it’s over?
I’m going to go up to San Francisco to meet my new grandson, Connor!
Oh, congratulations to you and your family on this newest edition! If you could say one thing about diabetes, what would it be?
I have amazing admiration for people with diabetes and how they struggle to manage it; I have tremendous respect and appreciation for the American Diabetes Association’s support for diabetes research and advocacy; and I think it’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to work in diabetes research during this era of molecular and genomic medicine.
Thanks to Dr. Stewart for taking the time to share some of these exciting highlights. We’ll be blogging from Scientific Sessions, so you can follow some of the progress here, or check out #ADA2011 on Twitter to get the latest event news.