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Celebrating Women’s History Month at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute

Honoring Women’s Excellence in Diabetes Research

As the world celebrates Women’s History Month this March, Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) takes pride in recognizing the significant contributions of women in the field of diabetes research. This month provides an opportunity to honor the past achievements of trailblazers while also highlighting the ongoing efforts of current leaders in the field.

Dr. Lois Jovanovic, SDRI’s former Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer, was a pioneer in diabetes research and has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of diabetes in pregnancy, revolutionizing care and treatment for expectant mothers with diabetes. Her groundbreaking research continues to shape the way we approach maternal health, ensuring safe pregnancies for women with diabetes. Dr. Jovanovic was responsible for establishing global guidelines of care adopted by the International Diabetes Federation and traveled extensively throughout the world teaching her protocols to physicians, nurses, dietitians, and educators.

Carrying on this legacy is Dr. Kristin Castorino, Senior Research Physician at SDRI, whose commitment to excellence and innovation has been instrumental in furthering the mission of SDRI. Recently, as part of the LOIS-P Diabetes in Pregnancy Consortium, named in honor of the late Dr. Lois Jovanovic, Dr. Castorino completed a landmark pilot study, the first at-home use of a pregnancy-specific closed-loop system for pregnancies complicated by type 1 diabetes in partnership with the LOIS-P Diabetes in Pregnancy Research Consortium (Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, and Mount Sinai). 

This project which began in 2019, is the first study of its kind in the United States which showed that a pregnancy specific algorithm could safely and effectively be used to achieve the strict glucose targets needed for pregnancy. SDRI and Dr. Castorino are proud to be at the forefront of women’s health research, driving innovation and transforming care standards for pregnant women with diabetes.

“I am deeply honored to commemorate Women’s History Month by acknowledging the pivotal role women have played in diabetes research,” said Dr. Castorino. “As we reflect on the past achievements and honor the trailblazers who have paved the way, we must also recognize the

urgent need for continued innovation in diabetes care. Through our collective efforts, we can empower women living with diabetes to thrive and help future generations combat the vicious cycle of diabetes begetting diabetes and build a brighter future.”

Dr. Castorino’s recent milestone of 15 years with the organization underscores her enduring commitment and invaluable contributions to the Institute’s mission. Handpicked by Dr. Jovanovic herself, Dr. Castorino has seamlessly integrated her expertise and passion into SDRI’s research endeavors and embodies innovation and excellent in her pursuit of pushing boundaries in diabetes research, especially as it impacts women. Currently, Dr. Castorino continues to run a diabetes in pregnancy clinic at the Santa Barbara County health facility that was started in 1997 by Dr. Jovanovic. The women served at this facility are low-income, minority women, who would not have access to healthcare otherwise. In addition, each year SDRI supports around 150 women who have a pregnancy complicated by diabetes.

“Women’s History Month serves as a poignant reminder of the remarkable achievements of women like Dr. Jovanovic and Dr. Castorino who have dedicated their lives to advancing scientific knowledge and improving patient care,” said Dr. Kenneth Waxman, SDRI’s Board President. “Their tireless efforts have transformed the landscape of diabetes research and paved the way for future generations of women in science.”

As SDRI continues to push the boundaries of diabetes research and innovation, it remains committed to honoring the legacies of trailblazers like Dr. Jovanovic while nurturing the talents of emerging leaders like Dr. Castorino. This Women’s History Month, we celebrate the past, present, and future achievements of women in diabetes research and salute their unwavering commitment to improving the lives of individuals affected by diabetes.