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Legislators Announce Illinois Diabetes Awareness Day

Illinois Diabetes Day attendees
Left to right: Kenneth Polonsky, MD, Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs and Dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine; Louis Philipson, MD, PhD, Medical Director of the Kovler Diabetes Center; House Republican Leader Tom Cross; Kovler Leadership Board member and legendary newscaster Warner Saunders; and Illinois Representatives Michael Tryon and Jim Durkin.

More than 800,000 Illinois residents have been diagnosed with diabetes. As many as 500,000 more Illinoisans are unaware that they have this disease. To highlight these staggering numbers and the awareness and research efforts under way to fight diabetes, Nov. 14 was declared the inaugural Diabetes Awareness Day in Illinois.

The official announcement was made Nov. 14 at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center by House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and members of the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus, who proposed the legislation.

"We know that diabetes is on the rise throughout the city, throughout the state, with both young kids and adults," Cross said. "We are lucky here in Illinois to have a facility like the University of Chicago. …You do great things from a medical standpoint."

Standing with Cross for the announcement were several Medical Center physicians, including Kenneth Polonsky, MD, executive vice president of medical affairs and dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Louis Philipson, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and pediatrics and medical director of the Kovler Diabetes Center. In his comments, Philipson addressed the urgent need for diabetes research working on tomorrow’s more effective and personalized treatments.

"Now is a critical time for people with diabetes," Philipson said. "We need to understand diabetes, we need to get publicity out, we need to prevent when we can and treat when we can in better ways all the time."

For more than a century, the University of Chicago Medical Center has been at the forefront of treatment and research for all forms of diabetes. Today, the Medical Center sees more than 30,000 outpatient diabetes visits each year and uses more than $15 million in grants to study the disease. To learn more about the history and present of treatment and research at the Kovler Diabetes Center and the Medical Center, read a factsheet here.

"We must solve this problem. If it is not solved, then this world is going to have a serious problem," said Kovler Leadership Board member and legendary Chicago newscaster Warner Saunders. "It is very, very important that this organization, this university, this great work that these people are doing should be both celebrated and be supported."