India: Strategic Research Partnership

Professor Meredith Hawkins and the Global Diabetes Institute at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, USA, have been partnering with Professor Nihal Thomas and the Endocrinology Department at Christian Medical College Vellore, India since 2010. Together, these teams have been investigating forms of diabetes that are unique to low and middle income countries. This includes the study of individuals with Fibrocalculous Pancreatic Diabetes (FCPD), as well as carefully phenotyping individuals with low BMI who have a non-autoimmune, non-monogenic form of diabetes. For the past twelve years our teams have been collaborating to study such patients using highly sophisticated hormone infusion ('clamp') studies - considered the gold standard for analysis of human metabolism. Of note, CMC Vellore is the only center in India with the capacity to perform these highly involved studies, which also include biopsies of fat and muscle and special imaging of liver, muscle and pancreas. Professors Hawkins and Thomas have presented their findings at several international meetings, including the American Diabetes Association's Annual Scientific Meetings, the East African Diabetes Study Group Congress, and the North East [Indian] Diabetes Congress.

Doctors and nurses from both Einstein and CMC Vellore have also engaged in a travel exchange to collaborate on research activities and to learn about the practice of medicine in different environments. The partnership between the two institutions has permitted doctors and nurses from both institutions to educate providers at International Continuing Education Meetings, where they have developed a special curriculum to educate providers about diabetes management in low resource settings.

Awards to CMC Vellore Endocrinology, which include our collaborative work:

  • British Medical Journal South Asia Diabetology Team of the Year, 2015
  • Excellence in Patient Care Awards for the Royal College of Physicians, 2017
  • World India Diabetes Foundation Award, 2018

India Gallery

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Uganda: Comprehensive Diabetes Education

Since 2005, faculty affiliated with the Global Diabetes Institute have been involved in teaching medical students and residents at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda's largest medical school. Additionally, the Global Diabetes Institute co-sponsored (together with Makerere University) three symposia on comprehensive diabetes management for doctors and nurses from 20 clinics around Uganda (originally funded by the World Diabetes Foundation). Doctors at Makerere and elsewhere are struggling to address Uganda's burgeoning diabetes epidemic without formal Endocrinology training, highlighting the need for more specialized training in diabetes management. Dr. Elizabeth Walker has also worked with members of the Ugandan Ministry of Health and healthcare providers from health facilities around Uganda to develop educational posters and materials for their patients.

For five consecutive summers, until interrupted by the pandemic, the Global Diabetes Institute sent groups of Einstein medical students to Uganda yearly under the supervision of the Program Manager. Teams went either to Mulago Hospital in Kampala (the National Referral Hospital, affiliated with Makerere University) or to Soroti Regional Referral Hospital in Northeastern Uganda. In both locations, they worked with staff in the diabetes clinics to help patient care through helping with workflow issues, providing patient education (including creating their own materials), organizing charting (including fundraising to provide computers, and setting up electronic medical records), data analysis (and presentation of their data at global health meetings), point-of-care glucose and HbA1c monitoring (again fundraising to bring equipment), and building relationships with staff and patients.

Uganda Gallery

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Photos by Gary Goldenberg