NextGen Leaders Reflect on Their Time at the ADA 80th Scientific Sessions (Part 2)

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Celeste Jongeneelen, Christopher Spencer, Brooke Miller, Rafael Trevino, & Layla Ahmadi

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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Celeste Jongeneelen
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Attending the ADA 80th Scientific Sessions with CDN was a fantastic experience! Although it had to be virtual, it was really motivating to meet all the other like-minded NextGen Leaders. ADA also did an amazing job transitioning the conference to an engaging online format. Prior to the conference, I knew I was interested in entering the diabetes sector but I wasn’t aware of the vast amount of career options that could entail. I was particularly impressed by the sheer amount of behavioral health being practiced within diabetes care. As far as my own personal career goals, it was really inspiring to get a taste of the current and future research being done for diabetes. I would love to be involved in this type of research one day and attending the ADA conference reiterated and strengthened my passions for this field.  From bettering our current care methods and developing new medical devices all the way through the broader research aiming to find preventions and a cure for diabetes, it was super exciting to see what’s happening in the field now and all of the potential in the coming years.

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Christopher Spencer
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Dealing with type one diabetes is very intimidating, but when it is done with teamwork, it is equally empowering. Attending the ADA Scientific Sessions and witnessing the volume of research being done was a testament to that. The daily selection of presentations covered everything from nutrition and immunology to psychology and epigenetic pathogenesis; hearing such a diverse range of perspectives helped me understand that my future role in the field, as a biomedical engineer, can take all shapes and sizes. I was particularly fascinated at the persistent difficulty researchers have with increasing the success rate of immunotherapy regimens, both before clinical diagnosis and after islet transplants. At times, it seemed that the progress being made was still so limited; however, I would be amiss if that was my final verdict, because the dialogue following every presentation was a melting pot of new ideas for further research that could turn every promising study into a widespread intervention. My generation—the “Next Generation”—will be tasked with making these pivotal innovations. It is my hope that a few years from today, I will reconvene with everyone I met in those five days at a future Scientific Sessions, to present findings of our own, gain that invaluable feedback, and bring forth the long-awaited cure. 

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Brooke Miller
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My experience at the ADA virtual conference was an enriching experience and I learned a lot of new things about the diabetes field. I loved how there was such an important focus on the science aspect of type 1 diabetes at this conference as that is what I am studying at school and what I am interested in. I thought all the scientific sessions I attended were really well put together and connected Doctors and researchers from all over the world to come together and demonstrate their own research on the topic. I really enjoyed the talk that my mentor, Dr. Daniel Desalvo gave about “Time in Range” vs. A1C. I found it very eye- opening as it is important for people with type 1 diabetes to know which will help their overall health and standard of living. This conference has only furthered my career goals and has connected me to some great, influential people in the diabetes sector and I am forever grateful for that.

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Rafael Trevino
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Attending this conference opened my eyes not only to new areas of research, but also to areas where I could improve in my own diabetes management. I was able on one day to watch a presentation about metabolism and insulin action, specifically research that shows the best time to exercise for better time in range is about 5pm, and the next day I saw researchers discussing being able to use blood biomarkers to indicate the presence of deleterious BMI that is generally associated with type 2 diabetes. These nuanced techniques for research are particularly interesting as they provide me with different perspectives for my own future career in research. In addition, I have already started seeing improvements in my glucose control by running in the late afternoons or early evenings. I cannot recommend conferences like the ADA Scientific Sessions enough, I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to attend this one thanks to CDN, and I cannot wait to attend more in the future!

 

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Layla Ahmadi
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Being a NextGen Leader at the American Diabetes Association Conference gave me the priceless experience of learning a multitude of new information in the world of diabetes research and the ability to connect with peers who are upcoming advocates in the world of diabetes. Having a background in leading my university’s CDN Chapter for three years and having a background in immunology centered T1D research, I found myself gravitating toward lectures focused on young adult health outcomes and immunotherapies. I learned a great amount of knowledge from the ADA conference which inspired me to implement new self-care ideas into my own CDN Chapter, take different avenues within my future in the field of diabetes research, and integrate healthier habits into my personal diabetes management. Even virtual, communicating with fellow CDN members and my CDN mentor, Dr. Commissariat, was an enriching, motivating, and empathetic experience, building connections that will last a lifetime.

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