November 7, 2003

Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance sponsors national diabetes conference Nov. 13-15

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L to R: Jane Wright, research assistant; Valentina Savchenko, post-doctoral fellow; Randy Blakely, Ph.D.; and graduate student Shawn Ferguson. Dana Johnson

“Overcoming Diabetes Health Disparities” is the subject of a national conference in Nashville Nov. 13-15 sponsored by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.

Thursday night’s program, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6:45 p.m. in Room 208 Light Hall with a keynote address by Dr. James R. Gavin III, president of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., and chairman of the National Diabetes Education Program.

Dr. Daryl K. Granner, director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and chair of the conference, will give introductory remarks.

The conference will move to the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on Nov. 14-15. Speakers include:

Dr. Ralph DeFronzo, chief of the division of diabetes at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; Dr. William H. Dietz, director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta; and Dr. Griffin Rodgers, deputy director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other minority groups are disproportionately affected by diabetes and complications of the disease. The purpose of the conference, which is co-sponsored by the NIDDK and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, is to share information and help finds ways to reduce these disparities.

The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance is a four-year-old collaboration between historically black Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to advance patient care, medical education and research in Nashville.

The conference is co-chaired by Dr. PonJola Coney, dean of the Meharry School of Medicine; and Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Gavin, who earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Emory University and his medical degree from Duke University, is former chief of diabetes at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and former senior scientific officer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

He is a past president of the American Diabetes Association, and currently is national program director of the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Other conference participants include Dr. Stephen N. Davis, chief of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Vanderbilt; Dr. Michael Engelgau, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Michelle Marrs, CEO of the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center in Nashville; Dr. Larry W. McNeil, associate professor of Internal Medicine at Meharry; David G. Schlundt, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt; and Dr. Guillermo Umpierrez, Emory University School of Medicine.

There is a registration fee for the Friday and Saturday sessions for health care providers, medical and graduate students and community health center staff that covers entrance to the sessions, meals and continuing medical education (CME) credit. To register, contact the Vanderbilt CME division at 2-4030 or e-mail

For more information about the conference or the Alliance, contact Diana Marver, Ph.D., at 936-0854 or