UF Health diabetes expert elected president of the American Diabetes Association

Desmond Schatz, M.D. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Desmond Schatz, M.D. Photo by Sarah Kiewel

Desmond Schatz, M.D., medical director of the UF Health Diabetes Center of Excellence, will begin his term as president of the American Diabetes Association in 2016. First, he will serve as vice president in 2014 and then as president-elect in 2015.

“This is a great honor and privilege, and I’m humbled to serve the ADA, whose mission is to improve the lives of all those affected with diabetes and to prevent and cure the disease,” said Schatz, a professor of pediatrics in the UF College of Medicine and associate chairman of the department of pediatrics.

Schatz has served previously as a member of the ADA’s board of directors. In addition, Schatz was part of a team that received the association’s 2010 Public Policy Leadership Award for his court testimony in a civil case involving a detective with Type 1 diabetes.

Schatz’s active involvement in Type 1 diabetes research stretches back to the 1980s. He has served as a principal investigator on numerous JDRF and National Institutes of Health-funded projects, including the TEDDY newborn genetic screening program, which identifies babies at risk for developing Type 1 diabetes. He also serves as the principal investigator for TrialNet, an international network of scientists focusing on discovering ways to prevent and reverse Type 1 diabetes.

In addition to research, Schatz also devotes much of his time to treating patients with the disease and serves as director of the UF Clinical Research Center.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million Americans, or 8 percent of the population, have diabetes. About 5 to 10 percent of these people have Type 1, which occurs when the body stops producing insulin and typically develops during childhood. The more predominant type of diabetes, Type 2, occurs when the body begins to resist insulin and typically does not strike until adulthood.

Among his goals for his tenure as president, Schatz hopes to make a difference in the quality of care received by patients who have diabetes as well as those who are at risk for the disease.

“One of my major goals is to heighten the nation’s sense of urgency about the growing diabetes epidemic and increase awareness about how diabetes impacts a person’s daily life,” Schatz said. “In addition, outcomes for people with diabetes and prediabetes need to improve. There needs to be greater access to knowledgeable health care providers for all patients with diabetes and those at risk for the disease. Health care providers need to be better educated so that they can provide even better health care. Furthermore, we need to facilitate the conduct of more clinical trials on the prevention and management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”