Pitt Public Health Epidemiologists Walk to Cure Diabetes

By: Allison Hydzik

Eight years ago, Nancy Glynn received news that changed her life.

Her daughter, Alix, an 11-year-old who had just started middle school, had type 1 diabetes.

“Honestly, since then, not a day goes by that I don’t worry about her,” said Dr. Glynn of Wilkins, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “But, I can’t dwell on that. As a mother, I did what moms everywhere would do for their child– spring into action.”

EpiOn Saturday, Dr. Glynn will lead a team from Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s Walk to Cure Diabetes to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and fund research into a cure.  The team is participating as part of a volunteer initiative in the school called “Epi Gives Back” and will be wearing team T-shirts with the Pitt Public Health logo on the back.

Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed in children and young adults, occurs when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar into energy. It can lead to nerve, kidney, eye and heart complications, but can be controlled with insulin therapy and other treatments.

About 30 Pitt Public Health faculty, staff, students and their family members will participate in the walk through Schenley Park in Oakland, and many have their own stories to tell. Some do research involving diabetes; others have traveled as far as Rwanda to improve care of type 1 diabetes, while some have the condition themselves. Dr. Glynn’s daughter is now a second-year student at the University of Virginia active in outreach to help other students with diabetes acclimate to college life.

So far, Team Epi Gives Back has raised more than $3,000 of its $5,000 goal.

“But it is about more than the money – it’s about raising awareness and participating in initiatives in our own community,” said Dr. Glynn, who was named the 2013 JDRF Western Pennsylvania Chapter’s Volunteer of the Year. “That’s why we created Epi Gives Back – to encourage our trainees to literally walk the walk, along with talking the talk.”

Previous Epi Gives Back initiatives include distributing raccoon rabies vaccine with the Allegheny County Health Department and cleaning up the Allegheny Riverfront with Allegheny Cleanways.

To give to Team Epi Gives Back in the Walk to Cure Diabetes, visit http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/epigivesback2014.