Desmond Schatz, M.D., Applies Teamwork in Battle Against Diabetes

Controlling Type 1 diabetes is no easy task. That’s why Dr. Desmond Schatz, professor and associate chair of pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine, takes a team approach to treating his patients.

Schatz Desmond_7200_Kiewel WEB“Surveillance leads to better control,” said Schatz, medical director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the University of Florida. People with diabetes must constantly try to balance insulin injections with amount of food intake and activity. This requires diligence on the part of the patient, their families even their teachers.

Sydney Thomas understands this. Since as early as the second grade, she has taken on much of the responsibility to keep her diabetes under control – with help from Schatz and her mom, Nicole Thomas.

“During our last appointment, Dr. Schatz talked to Sydney about her responsibility, and 90 percent of the appointment was between him and her,” Thomas said. “I liked that. He, as a physician, understands this is the child’s responsibility too. I love that about him.”

In addition to helping children and adolescents manage Type 1 diabetes, Schatz has been at the forefront of research into early diagnosis, prediction and prevention, and early treatment of the disease. He and his UF colleagues, Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., and Michael Haller, M.D., received the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Mary Tyler Moore and S. Robert Levine, M.D., Excellence in Clinical Research Award.

Schatz is the principal investigator for multiple research projects funded by the JDRF and the National Institutes of Health, including a program called TrialNet, a multicenter national and international group of investigators that is testing therapies to prevent disease in patients and their families.

He is also involved in an NIH-funded study that genetically screens newborns for diabetes in North Central Florida. Beyond Florida, he serves on external advisory boards for studies in Israel and Australia funded by the NIH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Committed to the team approach, Schatz said he would like to see greater advocacy efforts by all health-care providers, patients and their families.

“Together, obviously, as a united voice we are far stronger,” he said. “This effort should be at local, state, federal and, indeed, international levels.”