November 16, 2007

Gift adds to arsenal in fight against diabetes

Featured Image

Amy Garrison and Steve Davis, Ph.D., in the lab. (photo by Neil Brake)

Gift adds to arsenal in fight against diabetes

Amy and Frank Garrison have established the Amy Price Garrison Laboratory, located in Medical Research Building IV.

The lab is named in honor of Oscar Crofford Jr., M.D., professor of Medicine, Emeritus, and the first head of the Diabetes Center at Vanderbilt; and Steve Davis, Ph.D., director of the Division of Diabetes and Endocrinology and principal investigator in the named lab.

Garrison was 13 when she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Through the years, she has seen the need for more clinical and research support for diabetes.

“When I was diagnosed, I had barely heard of diabetes,” said Garrison.

“Learning to live with diabetes was a huge undertaking, and the mechanisms were not in place to talk about the issues. But today it's a whole new ballgame.”

Garrison credits the exceptional care she received from Crofford and Davis in her decision to honor them with this lab.

Crofford, who retired in 1995, was Garrison's physician when she came to Vanderbilt. Davis took over Garrison's care in 1991.

“These doctors changed my life and changed the way I viewed care from doctors,” Garrison said. “It's one of the first things I tell people — you have to find a doctor who listens to you.”

Crofford said he is honored that the Garrisons chose to remember him in this fashion.

“My greatest hope is that the research carried out in this lab will contribute to the ultimate goal of finding a cure for diabetes and, better still, a way of preventing the disease in its entirety,” Crofford said.

Davis, also Mark Collie Professor of Medicine, said the gift reflects the visionary and altruistic outlook characteristic of the Garrisons.

“Type I diabetes is a difficult condition to manage,” said Davis. “Amy makes management of diabetes look so easy and she has been an inspiration and role model for many others with diabetes.”

Alvin Powers, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, said the gift will help expand an area that is already a strength at Vanderbilt.

“The generous Garrison gift will greatly enhance reserach in Type 1 diabtes and synergize with research grants from places like the National Institutes of Health.”

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research, said the involvement of people like the Garrisons is crucial to the ongoing process of discovery.

“This support is essential to optimize the productivity of our best and brightest investigators, such as Dr. Davis, who are making discoveries vital to the understanding of the biology of diabetes, and the translation of those findings into better preventive and therapeutic interventions.”