CSOFT Health Sciences interviews Dr. George King, MD at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center. As the Chief Scientific Officer, a Senior Vice President, and the Founder and Director of the Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI), Dr. King is well versed in patient-centric care for those with diabetes. He has agreed to share his insights on the challenges of patient care and research in these times of pandemic.
Dr. Hope: Thank you for joining us today, Dr. King! To begin, in terms of patient care and diabetes research, how is the Joslin Diabetes Center managing during this pandemic?
George King, MD: Thank you for having me. Since diabetes is a major risk factor for people who have COVID-19, it is extremely important for our clinicians and researchers to continue their work. For example, in the ICU, 50% of the people with COVID-19 have diabetes. Our researchers have proposed studies to improve survival rates for people with diabetes who are COVID-19 positive. In order to protect patients and staff at Joslin, we have shifted our ways to telecommunicating, except for with urgent care. We are also continuing interventional clinical studies which started before COVID-19 hit the US.
Dr. Hope: It’s good to hear that your team is able to conduct much of their work remotely. How does the Joslin Diabetes Center reach speakers of languages other than English who are interested in diabetes research and supporting events like the A Taste of Ginger?
George King, MD: Through the multilingual AADI website, many of the educational tools we have developed to manage diabetes are accessed by more than 130 countries and regions in the world. Specifically, for the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed information for diabetes prevention and care for Asian Americans in multiple Asian languages. The AADI website is also linked with leaders in diabetes care in Asian countries who offer their expertise on caring for people with both diabetes and COVID-19. Many of these regions, such as China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan experienced COVID-19 on an earlier timeline, and we can all learn from their approach to managing this epidemic. We’ve been receiving emails from many people with questions on our research publications and educational materials, or who would like to be seen at Joslin’s Asian Clinic (we accept international patients as well), as well as researchers and students who would like to volunteer or collaborate with us.
Because it was cancelled this year, we would love to see you in person at the 17th A Taste of Ginger event in Spring, 2021. If you cannot make it there, there is a sponsorship you or your organization can take on and we’d be happy to set up a meeting so the AADI team can introduce initiatives and year’s focus.
Dr. Hope: Although disappointing that the A Taste of Ginger event had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19, we’re proud to be part of such an important cause and excited to continue our support next year. Speaking of which, staying healthy during these trying times is especially important. Do you have any superfood recommendations to readers who either have diabetes or are at risk for the disease?
George King, MD: As Asian Americans are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and the survival rate for people who have both diabetes and COVID-19 is half compared to those without diabetes, the AADI team has put together useful resources on self-care, including how to eat healthily and continue to stay active with exercise while practicing physical distancing. Please check our website which also provides many Asian staple recipes that are diabetes-friendly. These recipes were used in our “Traditional Asian Diet Study” which has proven that traditional Asian meals help to reduce weight as well as improving insulin sensitivity (a measure of how effective your body can respond to insulin in lowering blood glucose).
Dr. Hope: These resources are fantastic, thank you for providing them! We just have one final question for you, Dr. King: although we cannot congregate in person, what can be done as a community to help support important initiatives such as the AADI during these unprecedented times?
George King, MD: Many of our traditional community outreach and education programs normally take place in the heart of the community. Now, plans are underway to publish an e-book on diabetes prevention, create more free-to-download handouts, and to collaborate with various organizations to disseminate these tools. For this, we hope to expand our network and we ask that if anyone is interested in collaborating with us, we would love to hear from you. We have written funding proposals to further our study on the effect of traditional Asian diet on people with type 2 diabetes. Our previous traditional Asian diet study showed that it is helpful for weight loss and improving insulin sensitivity. We hope to see that the same can be said for people with diabetes.
Dr. Hope: What wonderful insight, Dr. King! I had no idea that 50% of COVID-19 patients in the ICU also have diabetes. With different populations experiencing different degrees and types of diseases, it is especially crucial that we approach patient-centric care with heightened cultural awareness.
At CSOFT Health Sciences, we are proud to be partnering with you at Joslin to sponsor A Taste of Ginger, and although it was cancelled this year, we look forward to healthy and delightful culinary offerings next year. Coming together as a community to support this Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) cause is crucial given the risk experienced by diabetes patients during COVID-19. This is a global effort, across languages, across borders, and across peoples. Let’s work together to translate medical problems into medical solutions as we fight diabetes and help to disseminate high-quality medical care and educational resources during COVID-19
- Dr. Hope
A Taste of Ginger is an annual fundraiser event that directly supports the AADI’s research, education & community intervention programs. It is a great place to meet key players in Asian American communities who support Asian American health, diabetes prevention and its management. Over 30 fine restaurants and their chefs from the Greater Boston area cook delightful dishes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It is AADI’s night to share what was achieved thanks to generous support from corporations, foundations, government, and individuals who are inspired to make health and diabetes their cause.
About CSOFT Health Sciences
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Dr. Hope is not a doctor but a creative voice at CSOFT Health Sciences, who seeks to provide insightful, factual, and relevant explanations of phenomena in the medical industry. Sometimes historical, other times philosophical, and generally related to the scientific interest and well-being of society, Dr. Hope provides commentary, inspiration and hope to readers thinking about health in the big-picture. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.