The Foundation for Diabetes Research » Irene M. Sills, MD

Irene M. Sills, MD

I finished my pediatric endocrine fellowship in 1982 and have been caring for children and families with diabetes ever since. I watched the children test their urine for a few years and then switch to self-blood glucose monitoring. I was a physician when the newer purified pork insulin became available, followed by human insulin and now lispro insulin and glargine. Although the early attempts at pump therapy were not so widely acceptable, I have watched with awe as children in the recent ten years have adapted so well to this form of therapy.

I estimate that I had to tell at least 25-30 children and families each year over the last twenty years that their child has diabetes. In my immediate family I have no-one with diabetes but every day for the last twenty years I have watched people I care about enormously, deal with the frustrations, fears, confusion, anger, and depression that comes with living with a child with diabetes. I too, have become frustrated, angry, afraid, and sad. Some of my most meaningful professional and personal experiences with the disease have come from attending diabetes camp with children with diabetes, where I never fail to be touched by their bravery and kindness.

I hope and hope that the next few years will bring revolutionary changes in the way we replace insulin in children with diabetes. I hope that the continuous glucose sensor can be hooked up to the insulin pump and make blood sugar testing a thing of the past. Ultimately, I hope that transplanted cells (or cells reprogrammed to become islet cells) can restore normal pancreatic function. In the mean time, we all need to remain committed to the children and their futures.

Irene N. Sills, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York