New ADA Chief Scientific and Medical Officer Has Many Missions

Miriam E. Tucker


April 28, 2017

One Man, Many Missions

William T. Cefalu, MD, is a man with a mission. Many missions, in fact.

As the new chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), this endocrinologist from Louisiana is tasked with advancing ADA's newly-aligned research, advocacy, education, and clinical care goals.

William T. Cefalu, MD

"We're at a very exciting time of change for ADA. We have a new strategic plan. It's a time of realignment for ADA, so the various components are working together under the mission theme. It's a new operating model that allows us to leverage resources and make the whole greater than the parts," Dr Cefalu told Medscape Medical News in a recent interview.

That "strategic plan," titled 2017 and Beyond: Our Vision and Direction , outlines three broad focus areas:

  • Funding research ("drive discovery");

  • Advocacy ("raise voice"); and

  • Education and resources for patients and healthcare providers to help better manage diabetes ("support people").

Although ADA has long engaged in all three of those areas, a recent new realignment is aimed at bringing about better coordination. "Under my guidance...all of the products, services, and programs that are the official mission of the ADA are working more closely together. We call it the mission team. It's cross-fertilization and getting people to work together on the same items across disciplines," Dr Cefalu explained.

A professor at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge since 2003, Dr Cefalu's began work with ADA in 2004 as associate editor of the association's two major journals, Diabetes and Diabetes Care. He became editor-in-chief of Diabetes Care in 2012.

Over his career, he's been involved in basic, translational, and clinical research; served in academic administration; and worked in budget negotiations and advocacy. "I think my experiences to date have brought me to this particular role. I think I have the experience and skills to do this. I also believe in collaboration and working together...I think that's one of my skill sets."


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