This morning there were two of the highlights of Scientific Sessions, the President's Address and the Banting lecture. This two-hour period of time was one of the few times during Scientific Sessions where there was only one thing going on. The president of ADA's Board of Directors, Dr. Larry Deeb, is a pediatric endocrinologist from Tallahassee, Florida. Like all of our ADA volunteer leadership, Dr. Deeb has given huge amounts of time and dedicated effort, for free, to the ADA over the past year. His talk focused on the UN Resolution on World Diabetes Day that passed last November. Diabetes is only the second disease, after AIDS, to have such a resolution. Diabetes is a growing problem worldwide. In addition to the increases in type 2 diabetes as rural societies become increasingly "Westernized", type 1 diabetes is essentially a death sentence in some parts of the world. Dr. Deeb described how in parts of Africa, children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes typically die within a year. Just to buy insulin for the child may consume two thirds of a family income.
Dr. Deeb also described some of the efforts of the ADA and others to improve the care for children with diabetes here in the US. Such children spend 6-8 hours a day in schools, and unfortunately they may not receive good diabetes care there. A child with diabetes may have to leave the classroom and walk to a nurse's office to treat a low blood glucose reaction, forcing them to miss class time and exposing them to a risk of more severe hypoglycemia from delays in therapy. Discriminatory rules may prohibit them from testing their blood glucose or taking insulin in the classroom. The ADA has taken the lead on the "Safe at School" campaign, which involves educating school personnel (and families), advocating for an end to discrimination, assisting with court litigation in some cases, and supporting legislative efforts in a number of states.
The Banting address is given annually by the scientist awarded ADA's highest prize for lifetime scientific achievement. This year's awardee, Dr. Robert Sherwin, is a former president of ADA. He gave an excellent talk on his lifetime of research on how the brain senses and adapts to low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia. It was a wide-ranging talk, ranging from fruit flies to mice to humans. Heady stuff (pardon the pun)!
(PS from Matt: the theater we had these lectures in seats 4,600---it was totally full, and we had another 500+ people in an "overflow room!)