Live interview with Dr. Lois Jovanovič "Diabetes and Pregnancy"

Dr. Jovanovič is Chief Scientific Officer of Sansum Diabetes Research Institute, a Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Southern California-Keck School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor of Biomolecular Science and Engineering and Chemical Engineering, University of California-Santa Barbara.

Dr. Jovanovič completed her undergraduate degree from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in Hebrew Literature from The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, NY. She received her medical degree from The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, NY, and completed her training and fellowship in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism at the New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical College.

Jovanovič’s pioneering work in diabetes and pregnancy began with her premise that a diabetic woman’s chances of having a healthy baby could be on a par with a healthy, non-diabetic woman. In her beginning year of fellowship at Cornell University, New York Hospital, her first research study showed that strict monitoring and absolute normalization of blood glucose could yield healthy babies. A year later, she published a larger trial of 52 diabetic women that showed conclusively that diabetic women, even those with severe disease, could have healthy babies (Am J Med 1981; 71: 921–27).

Jovanovič proceeded to develop a program to monitor a woman’s blood glucose around the clock and provide treatment strategies to achieve and maintain normal blood glucose concentrations throughout pregnancy. These protocols for intensive insulin delivery now set the standard for strict glucose control in pregnancy. Through her research she has changed the world of diabetes and pregnancy.

Early in her career she became a principal investigator of the Cornell program for both the Diabetes in Early Pregnancy Study, and the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) a decade-long multicenter clinical trial, which showed that strict glucose control could reduce risk of long-term complications. These studies provided important information about the prevention of birth defects and perinatal complications in pregnancy.

Jovanovič has elevated Sansum Diabetes Research Institute as a center of excellence for diabetes and pregnancy. She is responsible for establishing global guidelines of care adopted by the International Diabetes Federation, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Endocrine Society and the American Diabetes Association and travels extensively throughout the world teaching her protocols to physicians, nurses, dietitians and educators. In December 2009 she attended the opening of the new Bildirici Center for Diabetes Care and Research in Netanya, Israel where all of their nurses had been trained in her protocols. Through community outreach education, teaching and working one-on-one with thousands of pregnant women in the Latina population locally, she has shown that her protocols also apply to women with type 2 and gestational diabetes mellitus.

Throughout her research Dr. Jovanovič has continued to focus on how understanding diabetes in pregnant women may help to broaden knowledge and treatment options for all people with diabetes. Always in the forefront of research, Dr. Jovanovič and other staff members are currently working on the development of an artificial pancreas in collaboration with the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara. Clinical trials began in 2011.

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