William Herman Honoured for Diabetes Research

William H. Herman
© University of Michigan

Herman, who is professor of Diabetes at the U-M Medical School and director of the Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center, received the Kelly West award for his significant contributions to the field of diabetes epidemiology.

He has led or helped lead numerous large-scale studies of diabetes screening, diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and has led a computer-modeling project that uses real-world data to simulate and predict diabetes patterns and costs.

In all of these studies, he says, he has adhered to a common theme: using epidemiology, or the study of health issues in large populations, to guide clinical and public health practice. Such studies have shown that the level of high blood sugar that is associated with poor health outcomes reflect the underlying conditions of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes, not just diabetes alone.

"Diabetes diagnosis should be based on fasting glucose and post-glucose load glucose levels, to give a true picture of glucose tolerance," Herman says. "These tests are inconvenient and time-consuming, but they are preferable to the A1C test." In his talk, Herman presented data from studies showing that African-American and Hispanic people may have higher A1C levels than other ethnic groups, even when their blood glucose levels are similar.

The important point, he says, is that screening tests and diagnostic tests must be used effectively - and abnormal results should lead to immediate and aggressive intervention to help individuals control their blood sugar through diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication. This is because studies by Herman and others have shown that tight blood-sugar control can dramatically reduce the chance that a person will develop long-term complications of diabetes, or at least delay the onset of those complications. The potential to save lives and money through screening and early treatment is massive, Herman says.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System