DIABETES EDUCATION & RESEARCH FOUNDATION
DERC History & The Garfield G. Duncan Foundation
Dr. Garfield Duncan's success in stopping the spread of malaria among our troops was a critical turning point in the war earning him the Legion of Merit medal. Back home, Dr. Duncan became renowned as a teacher and one of the foremost experts on the treatment of diabetes. His writings on diabetes had such an international impact that his medical textbooks were printed in many languages and used in medical schools around the world.
In addition to writing for medal students, Dr. Duncan wrote for the individual diabetic and the diabetic’s family. His patients revered him for his personal commitment to helping them cope with diabetes as well as helping their families understand the disease so they could give more meaningful support to the patient. Dr. Duncan had the firm belief that, with educational support, diabetics could not only manage their disease more effectively but also lead essentially normal lives.
Upon Dr. Duncan’s death in 1983, the president of Pennsylvania Hospital, Robert Cathcart, said of him, “First, Garfield was a magnificent human being. Then he was a magnificent doctor.”
In 1967, Dr Duncan, in partnership with his son Theodore Duncan, MD launched a foundation to focus on diabetes education and research. Officially known as the Garfield G. Duncan Research Foundation, the foundation evolved into the Diabetes Education and Research Center. Dr. “Ted” Duncan had been the moving forces behind the center since his father’s death.
The foundation was established to provide education for individuals with diabetes and their families, to conduct research program for diabetes and metabolic diseases and educate the community about the disease and its complications.
Diabetes is a disease affecting more than 29.1 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. Out of the 29.1 million, 8.1 million were not diagnosed. Diabetes can cause the devastating complications of blindness, impaired kidney function, heart disease, stroke, impotence, and peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease that sometimes requires amputations.
It is imperative to teach patients to participate fully in the management of diabetes to decrease the rate of complications and to achieve control of their blood glucose. Better educated patients have improved control with fewer acute and chronic complications. In order to facilitate this education, Dr. "Ted" Duncan established a Diabetes Education Program at Pennsylvania Hospital to provide patients and their families basic information about the treatment and management of diabetes.
The program held Recognition stars from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the American Diabetes Association. This Recognition testifies that the program provided the highest quality education and training. Each participant received 12 hours of instruction conducted by a certified diabetes nurse educator and guest speakers who were experts in the field. The program has trained thousands of patients and their families since its inception. Participants come from all socio-economic groups; about 30 percent were indigent and require support to maintain self-care behaviors. Special education programs were conducted for school personnel, caregivers of the intellectually disabled, and community health nurses. This education program is ongoing and requires financial support for a nurse educator. Educational aids and literature given to patients.
Since the Foundation’s inception, research projects have also been undertaken. Initiated by the Foundation or requested by outside agencies, all research programs were connected under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration. Examples included work with human insulins, Humilin, Novolin, and Homolog, the evaluation of Micrnase, an oral hypoglycemic medication, the evaluation of Tolrestat, for treatment of peripheral neuropathy in diabetes, and the study of human blood sugar testing by 60 patients who had Type 2 diabetes. In addition, the Foundation conducted the first clinical investigation on the artificial pancreas, The Biostator, used around the world for investigating diabetes.