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Pioneering clinical trials at Upstate strive to improve the lives of people with diabetes, reduce the burden of care, and prevent diabetes-related complications

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Pioneering clinical trials at Upstate strive to improve the lives of people with diabetes, reduce the burden of care, and prevent diabetes-related complications

Here at Upstate Medical University, the Joslin Diabetes Center treats people from all over central New York and beyond. Within the center exists a thriving research team led by Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism Ruth S. Weinstock, MD, PhD. She and her team conduct trials studying many aspects of diabetes, working towards the goal of curing the disease that impacts over 37 million people in the US alone. 

Weinstock has been working in diabetes and endocrinology for decades; studying new medication and technology options, diabetes impact on cognition, the management of diabetes in older patients, and more. Weinstock’s first experience with diabetes was as an adolescent when she watched a family member deal with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. She watched her cousin struggle with managing the disease; ultimately passing away prematurely from complications. Weinstock went on to complete a joint MD/PhD program at Columbia University; “I do love both, I love taking care of patients and I love doing research and teaching.” 

“This is a very exciting time for diabetes,” explains Weinstock. "There's a lot of new technology that really is reducing the burden [on patients and their families] and allows for better treatment, better outcomes, and fewer complications for people with diabetes.” 

Weinstock has helmed a wide range of studies that have added to the understanding of the disease and changed how diabetes is treated. “We've done lots of different kinds of studies; some to increase access, some to improve management, some that are focused on complications.” She describes a landmark study her team took part in over 25 years ago on telemedicine; a topic that has become more relevant than ever in healthcare. “A lot of the trials that we have done have changed practice, which gave our patients the opportunity to, for example, get automated insulin delivery systems before they were FDA approved; or new insulins, new weight loss drugs, or new other diabetes medications.” 

Currently, Weinstock and her team are working on several trials investigating new ways for patients to manage their diabetes, from inhaled insulin to a basal insulin that only needs to be taken once a week. They are also studying whether an insulin pump with automated insulin delivery, only approved for type 1 diabetes, could be beneficial for adults with type 2 diabetes. 

Clinical trials can be an avenue for patients to benefit from cutting-edge devices and therapies to which they may not otherwise be able to gain access. “We only do trials where we think that the benefit outweighs the risk," explains Weinstock. “We can't promise benefit, but it's certainly our hope.” 

Weinstock says she also sees other motives for patients taking part in clinical trials. "Not only are they frequently helping themselves, but also everyone with diabetes now and in the future. Without volunteers, we wouldn't be able to study new approaches and make progress. The goal is to eradicate diabetes, to have a real cure. We're not there yet, but each year we get closer." 

If you’re interested in finding out if you could benefit from a clinical trial or want more information on diabetes trials currently being conducted, contact Jane Bulger, endocrine research coordinator, at and 315-464-9008. Find out more about clinical trials at Upstate at 

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