Joslin Diabetes Center has long been known as a world-renowned pioneer in diabetes research and care. With this incredible background, Joslin has continued to make a difference in the lives of so many individuals living with diabetes and their families. Part of this impact is leading initiatives that provide communities with culturally responsive care, such as the Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI). 

Led by George King, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of Joslin and Thomas J. Beatson, Jr. Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the AADI was formalized in 2000. The AADI runs the Asian Clinic at Joslin, which specifically focuses on Asian Americans with diabetes. In addition, AADI team members develop educational materials tailored for Asian Americans with diabetes, research improvements in diabetes care for this population, and advocate for culturally responsive diabetes care.  

The AADI has gained much traction. Among the initiative’s greatest accomplishments is the addition of Asian American communities in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2011 to gather more data from patients across the country. In addition, the AADI led a successful national campaign that launched in 2011 to have Asian Americans screened for diabetes starting at a BMI of 23, which is now the standard of care. This is important due to the fact that this population is predisposed to develop diabetes at a lower body mass, and the condition often went undetected with the prior guideline to screen at a BMI of 25.

The AADI has seen successful not only in revising diabetes guidelines, but also improving patient resources created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CDC for Asian American communities. “Many educational publications on diabetes, for example, tell an individual how many pieces of toast they can eat in the morning, and these guidelines don’t have much relevance to Asian American culture,” says King. “Our goal is to bridge the gap of understanding what diabetes care means in daily life so individuals across the nation gain culturally appropriate information that is publicly accessible.”

Philanthropy continues to be essential to important initiatives like the AADI and is made possible by incredible backing from the Joslin community. Notably, Board of Trustees members Shunee Yee and Leverett Wing have dedicated their time, expertise, and philanthropic support to the AADI’s efforts, including playing leadership roles in Joslin’s Taste of Ginger and Ginger Forum events. “My relationship with Joslin evolved so naturally because my professional passion and Dr. King’s work were so closely related,” says Shunee, President and CEO of CSOFT International and CSOFT Health Sciences, technology companies that offer translation solutions for healthcare providers and clinical trials in more than 250 languages. “Joslin is incredibly innovative, and it feels like everything they undertake has the chance to change lives around the world. I give because it means a lot to me to be a part of their mission, and I believe in paying it forward to the next generation.”

Leverett Wing is a leader and community organizer whose impact has benefitted organizations and causes on the local and national scale. In partnership with his family and other families around the country, Leverett mobilized the AADI to address issues affecting Asian Americans living with diabetes. “It was very important that our community has this area where we can receive specialized care and attention, recognizing our cultural, dietary, and lifestyle needs,” says Leverett, who witnessed his father manage his diabetes diagnosis for over three decades with the help of Joslin. “So much credit goes to Dr. King for being the champion of the AADI. He is an incredible leader at Joslin, and his vision and support were essential to the success of this initiative.”

Philanthropy is vital to Joslin’s ability to spread awareness, make an impact in diabetes care and research, and bring life-changing solutions to patients. To learn more about the AADI or to make a gift, contact Betsy Cote, Vice President of Philanthropy for Joslin Diabetes Center at Elizabeth.Cote@bilh.org. 

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