Some 21 million Americans have diabetes, an autoimmune disease caused by the inability of the pancreas to produce or regulate insulin. While progress has been made toward a cure, a breakthrough solution remains elusive, and those with acute type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes), which usually strikes children and young adults, require chronic comprehensive care to fend off potential complications that can attack every organ. The obesity crisis in America is increasing the incidence of the more widespread type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, called “a national scourge” by the New York Times. The Rodebaugh Diabetes Center, under the auspices of Penn’s endocrinology department — number 10 in the country in U.S. News & World Report — is the largest supplier of insulin pumps in the Delaware Valley, and one of 10 centers in the U.S. researching islet transplant surgery, which takes cells from a compatible donor pancreas and puts them into severe diabetics. It’s actively involved in education, nutrition and diet counseling, weight management, glucose monitoring and foot care (UPHS, 4 Penn Tower, 3400 Spruce Street, 800-789-7366, pennhealth.com/diabetes/hup).
Managed by Jefferson Hospital’s endocrinology section, 33rd on the U.S. News & World Report list, the Jefferson Diabetes Program is a comprehensive research and treatment center providing weight management, insulin therapies and a host of other services to treat diabetics. It’s a participant in the NIH diabetes prevention program study and is involved in important drug and new therapy trials, as well as research into the development of an artificial pancreas (211 South 9th Street, 800-533-3699, jeffersonhospital.org/endocrinology).