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Keeping up with Kovler Online: Celebrating Miracles and Milestones

Posted: July 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »
Our facebook page, where you can receive real-time conference updates!

Our facebook page, where you can follow real-time conference updates!

Dear Friends,

Today is a very exciting day for us, as we will be kicking off our 2013 Monogenic Family Forum and Continuing Medical Education Conference: Celebrating Miracles and Milestones. We have been hard at work planning this event for more than a year, and are thrilled to bring together nearly 100 families from 10 different countries with over 100 doctors and medical professionals. Throughout the next few days, we are excited to learn about the latest in genetics and diabetes and to help forge connections between families and individuals managing these rare genetic forms of diabetes.

If you will be attending the event in person, we are very excited to welcome you to Chicago, but if you have not made plans to join us, you can still participate in the event — over the internet!


Our twitter page, where your tweets might appear throughout the conference!

Thanks to the the reach of social media, you will be able to receive updates from our keynote speakers and panel discussions in real-time. Throughout the next few days, please stay tuned in to our twitter and facebook accounts, as well as this blog, the Kovler Daily. In addition to following our updates, we encourage you to participate in the action by engaging with us. If you have questions for our speakers, send them to us via social media and we will ask them during the Q&A sessions; if you will be attending the conference in person, tweet your comments at us and you might see them shared on the Kovler Diabetes Center official accounts!

Throughout the event, it is our hope that you are truly inspired, as we are, by the speakers and panelists; they illustrate that today’s discoveries pave the way for groundbreaking future research and treatment for all people living with diabetes.


The Kovler Team

Counting Down to Miracles & Milestones

Posted: July 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

On July 17th, the University of Chicago Kovler Center will proudly kick-off Celebrating Miracles & Milestones, the 2013 Monogenic Diabetes Family Forum and Continuing Medical Education Conference! We are so excited for this event, which will bring together families and medical professionals from around the globe to discuss life-changing advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of genetic forms of diabetes.

Understanding Monogenic Diabetes:

In every type of diabetes, the patient’s blood sugar levels are high because there is not enough insulin to keep the blood sugar levels normal. While the most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2, Monogenic is a genetic form of diabetes, often misdiagnosed as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, that happens when there is a mutation in a single gene of a person with diabetes. So far, of the around 30,000 individual genes that make up the human genome, about 20 individual genes have been linked to monogenic diabetes. The good news is that doctors are able to treat patients with monogenic diabetes with oral medication, allowing them to control the disease without the need for painful finger pricks and insulin injections.

Kovler & Monogenic Diabetes:

The University of Chicago has been at the forefront of diabetes research for more than 100 years. In 1965, Donald Steiner, MD, was the first to discover the proinsulin molecule, paving the way for the first synthetic insulin that diabetic patients use today.

In the 1990s, we made a major leap forward in monogenic diabetes by identifying four genes linked to Monogenic Diabetes. The discovery made international headlines when it was published by the researchers involved – Graeme Bell, PhD; Nancy Cox, PhD; and Kenneth Polonsky, MD, now Dean of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

In 2007, Drs. Bell, Steiner, Cox and Louis Philipson, MD, PhD, Director of Kovler Diabetes Center, along with Siri Greeley, MD, PhD, and others, discovered a new series of insulin gene mutations that cause permanent neonatal diabetes. This allowed them to treat one of the first patients in the country with neonatal diabetes  that allowed her to be switched from insulin to oral medication. Since 2006 Drs. Bell, Philipson and Greeley have treated similar patients from across the country who came to Chicago or whose doctors consulted them for advice.

This lead to the creation of the first national registry for neonatal diabetes which quickly grew to include hundreds of patients. The national Kovler Monogenic Diabetes Registry will thus facilitate our efforts to increase our understanding of these relatively rare forms of diabetes, including the genetics, treatment, and associated features. In addition to providing advice to treating clinicians and raising awareness among health professionals, we have also been facilitating the interaction of patients and family members in a vibrant and supportive online community.

Conference Highlights:

  • Andrew T. Hattersly FRS, DM, FRCP and Frances M. Ashcroft, FRS, PhD will be joining us from the United Kingdom to update attendees on the state of global research on genetics and diabetes.
  • Graeme I. Bell, PhD, the 2013 recipient of the Banting Medal for Scientific Achievement from the American Diabetes Association, will be speaking about the history of Monogenic Diabetes.
  • Families will enjoy Chicago at the Magnifient Mile Marriott, restaurants around the city, and a special reception at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
  • During the Continuing Medical Education Conference, doctors, nurses, diabetes educators, and medical students will have the opportunity to learn about the complex scientific research that is happening at Kovler and around the world.
  • Throughout the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to add themselves to the Kovler Monogenic Diabetes Registry, giving them the opportunity to make invaluable contributions to scientific research!


InTransit Teens Visit the Chicago Fire Soccer Team

Posted: June 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Events, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Our InTransit teen group held their Summer meet-up this month at a Chicago Fire soccer game, and the Kovler Daily went along to get the scoop.

The Brouwer Family 2

Shortly after arriving at Toyota Park, teens and their families were treated to a private behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium. Among other things, they saw the exclusive lounge, box seats, and posed for pictures with the many trophies earned by the Chicago Fire over the years!

Joey and Meghan VerbeerenAfter the tour, they gathered for an educational session Dr. Louis Philipson, director of the Kovler Diabetes Center. The group chatted about ways to manage everyday life with T1D, including the many free phone apps that can help with tracking nutrition and diabetes! Dr. Philipson also shared valuable information about different ways to deliver insulin. After the educational session, teens and their families enjoyed lots of festive food at the Chicago Fire Fest, a mini carnival before the game. Finally, they cheered on the Chicago Fire as they beat the Colorado Rapids in an exciting, high-energy match!

Brower Cheering

For more information about how apps can help with diabetes management, read these reviews from one of Kovler’s Certified Diabetes Educators, Amy Hess-Fischl, on the Kovler Daily.

InTransit: Rock-Climbing with Kovler!

Posted: March 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Advocacy, Diabetes Programs, Diabetes Resources | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Last Sunday, members of the Kovler Diabetes Center’s InTransit teen advisory panel gathered at the Evanston Athletic Club to go rock climbing and hear about the amazing adventures of rock climber, helicopter skier, and type 1 diabetic Miles Harkleroad.

Each teen had the opportunity to test out their climbing skills on the climbing wall. Many of the teens had previous indoor climbing experience but found the EAC’s wall to be a fun challenge! Some teens even made it all the way to the top.

During breaks from climbing, teens, parents, and Kovler professionals Julia Socke and Amy Hess-Fischl connected with each other to discuss issues affecting teens living with diabetes. It was a great opportunity for teens and parents to meet others facing similar obstacles and for Julia and Amy to get better ideas on how Kovler can provide teens with the best possible diabetes care.

Miles Harkleroad spoke about the challenges he has faced as a diabetic rock climber and helicopter skiier. He has found that there is always a creative solution to managing his diabetes while out on his adventures. For example, Miles stores his insulin in a pant pocket while skiing to keep it from freezing, and while rock climbing he stores his insulin near his water bottle to help keep it from heating up. Miles also showed tons of photos from his travels to the southwest and helmet-cam videos of the (terrifying) slopes he skied in Alaska. Miles experiences showed teens that having diabetes has never prevented him from doing the things he loves to do!

Kovler’s InTransit group meets quarterly to connect and share ideas about how to live well with diabetes as a teenager. The group is dedicated to figuring out ways for teens with diabetes to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood while living healthy, active lives. Teens, parents, and Kovler professionals exchange in a fun and informal way and help Kovler deliver the best care possible!

Want to be a part of the InTransit teen advisory panel? Shoot Carla Henault an email at, and we’ll make sure to send you an invite to upcoming events!

Reflecting on 2012, Looking Forward to 2013!

Posted: December 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Diabetes Resources, Kovler Leadership Board, Kovler Team Members, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

As we come to the end of the year, the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago has much to celebrate.

In 2012, our doctors and nurses treated thousands of individuals with diabetes. Diabetes experts also established or strengthened clinical partnerships throughout the world and provided diabetes management and prevention education at events large and small across Chicagoland and the U.S. You can read more about the amazing work over the last fiscal year in our first-ever Kovler Annual Report.

Based in the heart of one of the world’s great academic institutions, Kovler scientists are doing innovative research informed by a century of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs at University of Chicago. Our genetics team recently identified new genes that cause diabetes. Their work could lead one day to a better understanding of the effects of gene mutations on insulin production and metabolism, and provide pathways to treatments that once seemed unimaginable.

Alongside research, this type of outstanding, personalized patient care is at the heart of Kovler’s mission. From infants through adulthood, we provide the nation’s only fully-integrated pediatric and adult diabetes programs. Our Family Behavioral Health and Wellness Program is forging a national model for family-centered diabetes care. And three doctors in the Kovler Diabetes Center, including director, Dr. Lou Philipson, were recognized by U.S. News & World Report in its ranking of the nation’s top physicians in the field.

This year, we launched critical initiatives including our volunteer initiative Kovler Krew, InTransit Teen Advisory Panel, Peer to Peer program in our Southside Community and held multiple Kovler for Kids events throughout the city. To learn more about the work we do and ways to get involved, visit the Kovler website. You may also contact Peggy Hasenauer, Executive Director, directly via email or by calling 773.834.4789.

This year, as you and your family choose charitable causes, we hope you will consider Kovler Diabetes Center.  Your charitable support is critical to expanding clinical research programs and telemedicine initiatives, as Kovler’s leadership embarks on an expanded model for virtual diabetes care and greater access to diabetes clinical trials – bringing new discoveries and possible cures directly to those with diabetes.  For more ways to learn how to give to Kovler, please visit this website and be sure to note Kovler in the memo section.

From the Kovler Diabetes Center Family to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and happy New Year filled with health and happiness.

Peggy Hasenauer, MS, RN
Executive Director
The University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center


2012 World Diabetes Day Round Up

Posted: November 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Advocacy, Diabetes Programs, Interns, Kovler Diabetes Center Staff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday was World Diabetes Day, and the Kovler community participated in many exciting ways!


Governor Quinn and Leader Tom Cross Mark Diabetes Awareness Day in Illinois

  • To reach out to the University of Chicago Medicine community, Kovler educator Julia Socke provided educational programming throughout the day at the Duchossis Center for Advanced Medicine.
  • Katrina Sondermann, one of Kovler’s Collegiate Externs, spent World Diabetes Day in India, home to the world’s largest diabetes population. Last year, Dr. Philipson spent time in India speaking about global disparities in access to diabetes care.
  • Kovler’s Diabetes All-Star Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program held a meeting to commemorate World Diabetes Day and celebrate the progress that has been made possible through the support that mentors and mentees are providing for one another. Program participant Leona and Kovler Extern Kirsten Gindler both wore blue, the official color of diabetes awareness, to mark the occasion.

For more photos, visit our World Diabetes Day 2012 Gallery:


Kovler & Centered Chef: InTransit Teen Cooking Class

Posted: October 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Events, Guest Blog, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The Kovler InTransit Teen Advisory Board held their fall meeting at Centered Chef, a Chicago based cooking school that shares our concern for healthy eating and our passion for educating the community. Today, we are excited to share a guest blog post from the team at Centered Chef about their experience partnering with Kovler.


In a society where there are over 20 million people living with diabetes, it is imperative that we begin to learn what foods can help prevent diabetes and manage overall wellness. At Centered Chef, we have innovative cooking classes and workshops that educate, entertain and a  healthy lifestyle, by blending culinary arts with nutrition.

Instead of looking at nutrition like a restriction, we focus on the opportunity of eating more healthfully.  In letting go of the foods you can’t have as a philosophy, we focus on the foods you can have and why!

So, when it comes to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, it is important that you eat balanced amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with clean proteins. Since understanding how to eat healthfully can be overwhelming, Centered Chef excels in creating experiences around eating optimally.

“As part of our educational outreach, we were proud to partner with the University of Chicago’s Kovler Diabetes Center, Teens In Transit Advisory Board,” said Centered Chef’s founder and CEO, chef Ryan Hutmacher“During an incredibly impactful and educational day at Centered Chef, teens as well as, their parents explored the challenges and opportunities that are encountered when living with Type 1 Diabetes.”

In Centered Chef’s innovative culinary studio, chef Melissa Schwenk and adjunct dietitian, Lyndsay Riffe (RD/LDN, CDE), who’s also a Type 1 diabetic, worked with the teens to prepare several diabetic friendly recipes.  In this hands-on cooking class, the teens prepared chicken rosamarino skewers, whole grain quinoa griddle-cakes, grilled green beans and a spinach salad.  As part of the final experience, the teens showcased their meal to both parents and Kovler Diabetes Center staff, proving that healthy food can be simple and delicious!

Family members of the InTransit teens taste the final products!

“It was an amazing to see the teens in action, and in the end, the buffet they created looked amazing!” explained chef Melissa.  “As we look to empower people to make healthy decisions around food, there’s no doubt these teens learned some amazing tools around eating clean.  I look forward to working with the Kovler Diabetes Center in the future, and continuing to support their Teens In Transit Advisory Board!”

Special thanks to Ryan, Melissa, and the entire Centered Chef team! 

Kovler Hosts Conference on Diabetic Nephropathy

Posted: August 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Kovler Team Members, Research and Grants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

We are excited to announce that the Kovler Diabetes Center, in partnership with the ASH Comprehensive Hypertension Center, hosted an August 9th conference exploring the topic of diabetic nephropathy. This conference brought together some of the brightest scientific minds to discuss issues surrounding kidney function and diabetes. Topics of discussion included nephropathy progression, biomarkers, nomenclature and clinical trials.

The University of Chicago Medicine’s very own Louis Philipson, MD, PhD, FACP, George Bakris, MD, and Michael Eadon, MD presented their work, elucidating the importance of kidney care among populations living with diabetes.

Dr. Louis Philipson

Dr. Philipson, director of the Kovler Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, centered his portion of the conference around the importance of glycemic control in relation to nephropathy progression. Dr. Eadon’s presentation focused on the assessment of kidney function, the comparison of old and new biomarkers and their abilities to predict nephropathy progression, and decisions regarding renal imaging. Dr. Eadon is a nephrology fellow at the University of Chicago. Finally, Dr. Bakris, director of the ASH Comprehensive Hypertension Center, presented fascinating information on topics including nomenclature of nephropathy staging, surrogate markers of nephropathy progression,  and an interactive case presentation.

Team Members Carrie & Jasmine

Conference-goers spent the entire day with our University’s presenters, arriving at the Knapp Center for Biomedical Research and Discovery at 8:30 AM and departing from the Center at 4:00 PM.

Kovler feels privileged to have been able to play a part in furthering education on the relationship between diabetes and kidney disease.

Announcing the InTransit Teen Advisory Panel

Posted: August 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Kovler is proud to announce the creation of its InTransit Teen Advisory Panel!

This summer a group of seven Kovler InTransit teens in grades 7-12 met at the Kovler Diabetes Center for an evening of brainstorming, chatting, and connecting with other Kovler teens, their families, friends, and Kovler professionals.

Peggy Hasenauer, Executive Director of the Kovler Diabetes Center, worked with Dr. Beth Littlejohn, Amy Hess-Fischl, and Julia Socke to coordinate a casual meeting between families interested in sharing their ideas about living with diabetes as a teenager. It is the goal of the panel to identify needs and concerns of teens living with diabetes and their families. Kovler would like to work with teens to provide the best care possible at Kovler. It is our hope that teens and their families can use this group to find fun ways to support one another and to become involved in diabetes care and at Kovler.

At the first meeting, teens and parents discussed their thoughts separately and as a group and it was great to see that connections and common experiences could be discovered among the families present. Families ended their evening with an informative and impressive tour of the Kovler research labs at the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery. Teens and parents were excited to see where current and cutting-edge diabetes research takes place.

Member of the InTransit Teen Advisory Panel Kelly McGinnis, shares her thoughts on Kovler and on the newly formed panel:

Kelly McGinnis

I think that the teen advisory panel is a really great idea that has a lot of potential!  Seeing all that the Kovler Diabetes Center is doing to help treat type 1 diabetes makes me very excited and hopeful.  I am so glad to be a part of something that is really invested in dealing with this chronic disease.  No other hospital or doctor around is doing anything like the Kovler Diabetes Center.  The InTransit program is the reason I switched doctors and came to the University of Chicago when I was 15.  My parents and I knew that we would need a team and a program that could deal with teenage obstacles and the challenge of moving from a child to an independent adult.

The teen group and the staff involved with the panel all seem very interested in making a difference and giving input on how to make the lives of teenagers with diabetes easier and more manageable.  The small group atmosphere made it easy to share opinions and personal stories.  Another great thing about the group is the range of ages involved because it allows for a wide range of concerns to be addressed, from high school activities to going away to college.  I think we are all excited to see what the panel can accomplish in terms of raising awareness and helping others with diabetes like us.  We are all moving to different phases of our lives and it is helpful having a group who understands the life of a person with type 1 diabetes.

The InTransit Teen Advisory Panel will meet multiple times throughout the year and continue to form relationships with each other and with Kovler. We are truly looking forward to working with the Teen Advisory Panel this year!

If you would like information about becoming involved with the Teen Advisory Panel, please contact Peggy Hasenauer at

Introducing Emily: a Kovler Summer Intern

Posted: July 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Diabetes Programs, Interns, Kovler Team Members | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Hello, my name is Emily and I have been working here at Kovler for a little over a month and a half now.  Each day when I walk into work, I am astonished at how awesome this institution is and cannot believe I am able to work here.  Coming into this internship, I was very nervous about the types of things I would be doing and the people I was going to be working with.  Not having diabetes myself and with only a small amount of experience, I was nervous yet excited to begin.

Being a Nursing major my understanding of diabetes has mostly come from my textbooks, and the clinicals I have completed.  This pasted spring I worked on a Cardiac-Pulmonary floor and received the opportunity to care for numerous patients with diabetes.  I was able to assist them in managing their blood glucose levels within the hospital in addition to promoting healthy lifestyles once these patients were discharged.  With what felt like an abundance of knowledge I decided to take the opportunity to come work for Kovler.  But little did I know that I would become even more acquainted with diabetes.

Throughout my time here, I have found a deeper respect for patients with diabetes and the care that these patients need.  I also have so much admiration for the doctors working within Kovler, who have made ground-breaking discoveries through their research.  It’s so incredible and interesting!  Lastly, working with the members of Kovler has shed a new light on proving care.  The people here at the Kovler Diabetes Center are so passionate about what they do and it is incredible to see how they can make a difference for each individual they care for, educate, and support.  I hope to do the same in my own career.

While working close with these members, especially Peggy Hasenauer, I have helped to launch two substantial programs for Kovler this summer: Kovler Krew and the Diabetes All-Star Peer-to-Peer Program.  Both new projects have made great progress so far and we are excited to see where they are headed!

Kovler Krew, a volunteer program, provides members of the community a chance to offer their time, support, and knowledge to assist the Kovler Diabetes Center in expanding its community presence, and helping educate and support patients all throughout Chicago.  Volunteers play a large role in the Kovler team and we are very thankful for those that choose to do so.

The second program, Diabetes All-Star Peer-to-Peer Program is a peer-to-peer mentoring program for Kovler patients from the south side of Chicago who have type 2-diabetes. We believe that through this mentorship our patients, who have struggled in the past, will achieve confidence and stability in managing their diabetes and continue to live healthy lifestyles.

Working with these volunteers and patients, I hope to strengthen the Kovler Team and to build the Kovler connection throughout the Chicago-land area. It has been great seeing the progression of these programs so far, and I am eager to see what else the rest of the summer has to offer.