NextGen Leaders Reflect on Their Time at the ADA 80th Scientific Sessions (Part 1)

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Cassandra Abrams, Katia Kozachok, Kimberly Sauers, & Abby Smith

Each year, CDN selects a group of young adult leaders as part of our NextGen program to attend conferences to network, represent CDN, and learn about the latest research and innovations in diabetes. This year, we had 9 NextGen leaders attend the American Diabetes Association 80th Scientific Sessions. While the conference experience was virtual this year, our students were able to join over 12,500 participants from all over the world for five days of scientific advances and groundbreaking research presentations. Read on to hear what the next generation of diabetes leaders had to say about their experiences. 

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Cassandra Abrams headshot
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Cassandra Abrams
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Attending ADA’s 80th Scientific Sessions virtually was an amazing experience as I got to connect with other attendees and professionals. As a current Master’s student in a nutrition program I loved the multiple sessions that delved into research about various diets that are trending nowadays. A highlight session for me was the Professional Interest Group Discussion on Nutritional Science and Metabolism. Here Dr. Segal discussed his research on personalized diets based on algorithms and how this can prevent blood sugar spikes and improve other metabolic parameters. Personally, this research resonated with me because as a type-1 for over a decade I feel like my care is different from others and has changed as I have grown up. Seeing first- hand the direction of care becoming more personalized and less about general recommendations for the public was enlightening especially since I hope to be a healthcare professional in the diabetes sector in the future. Throughout the conference the theme of growth and innovation was emphasized during every discussion and presentation. I have been able to witness firsthand the growth in care options over the last decade I have lived with diabetes. Being newly diagnosed and saddled with the burden of testing 10-15 times a day, I would have never believed that in a few years continuous glucose monitors would exist. These recurring thoughts of gratitude stuck with me throughout the conference as I listened to more presentations from people who dedicated their lives to conduct research that not just physically improved my life, but mentally as well. Hearing both the physiological and psychological advancements within the community was eye opening and I look forward to hearing of more discoveries in the future. Thank you to the College Diabetes Network for giving me this opportunity and to my fellow attendees for being so great!

Read Cassandra's bio here.

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Katia Kozachok headshot
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Katia Kozachok
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Often, in the general public perception, diabetes is distilled down to a disease brought on by eating "incorrectly" or not exercising enough, rather than a complicated condition influenced by genetics, psychological and behavioral factors, and social determinants of health. Even from the perspectives of many healthcare providers, diabetes care is seen as simple, though there is still so much that remains overlooked and which needs to be addressed. It was exciting to attend the 2020 Scientific Sessions and learn about cutting-edge advances in personalizing care, from individualized immunology treatments to the importance of centering holistic patient well-being. As someone who is a current psychology student and hopes to become a diabetes care and education specialist in the future, being able to attend this conference revitalized my interest in supporting others with diabetes and connected me to the broader community of diabetes clinicians and researchers working to bring about positive change.

Read Katia's bio here.

 

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Kimberly Sauers
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I really had no idea what to expect attending ADA’s scientific sessions virtually this year. After attending AADE last summer in Houston, I was interested to see how everything would work online, since it is such an interactive in-person experience. Safe to say that by the end of the weekend I was still just as exhausted as I was at last summer’s conference! ADA did a terrific job of giving us all of the most up-to-date information on science in diabetes. I loved being able to go to sessions at my leisure and that I can still watch sessions for the next 90 days, making it easier to study and really listen to each presentation, without fearing missing out on another presentation going on. One of my favorite sessions of the weekend was “Delivering Patient and Professional Diabetes Education Across Diverse Populations.” The first speaker, Nicolas Cuttriss,started the presentation off by saying how more than 70% of patients at the top diabetes specialty centers in the country do not meet their HgbA1c targets. With a number that large, we can no longer say that patients are non-compliant. Diabetes education needs to be tailored to the individual and taught to them however they learn best. This weekend showed me how the diabetes field is continuing to grow and change every minute, and that makes me more excited than ever to get into the field and begin making an impact!

Read Kimberly's bio here.

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Abby Smith
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Although COVID-19 changed the conference to be an online event, I still had an amazing experience. I learned so much from the conference and from my peers. The students who joined me in this conference were so passionate, and even though we weren't able to meet in person I can honestly say I made some amazing friends. The whole experience was incredibly enriching, and seeing all the research being done for diabetes gave me so much hope for the future. It was eye opening to see how much support, work, and passion has gone into the diabetes community, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Read Abby's bio here.

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Want to hear about what our NextGen leaders learned? Check out their conference recap!