Dr Robert Gabbay Previews the ADA’s 81st Scientific Sessions

Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, the chief science and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association (ADA), previews sessions to be presented at the ADA's 81st Scientific Sessions.

A lot of data at this year’s Scientific Sessions will reflect changes in pharmacological therapy in type 2 diabetes, said Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, the chief science and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The virtual conference will take place June 25-29, 2021.


How is ADA’s collaboration with other disciplines bringing sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT-2s) and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) to more patients and earlier in their disease trajectory?

Really, one of the big changes in diabetes and pharmacological therapy of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been the discovery of the cardiovascular benefits of SGLT-2 and GLP-1 receptor agonists. That is an evolving story. You'll see a lot of data at our Scientific Sessions that will be covering that. Part of this is really, how do we coordinate care more effectively? How do we ensure that the people that could benefit from these drugs, in fact do? Today, it's the minority of people that would be eligible, that are receiving these treatments. If you look at our standards of care, one of the big changes over the last year has been to elevate these treatments to consider use very early in the course of diabetes management for individuals that are at high risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or chronic kidney disease.

At this year’s Scientific Sessions, there are sessions that address the questions of genetic vs social influences in the development of diabetes, as well as the role of social stress on health. What have we learned in this area in recent years?

This broader area of social determinants of health have really taken on greater urgency. We've seen this play out in health disparities during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on people of color. You can see a lot of presentations focusing on this area. There was also a wonderful scientific review that was published by the American Diabetes Association that looks at this field in its entirety and identifies where the challenges are and some thoughts about what to do. I think you’ll see a number of presentations at the Scientific Sessions that will cover various aspects of health disparities. That dovetails with an effort by the American Diabetes Association around health equity. We have taken a strong stand on this area for all of the obvious reasons. In many ways, we feel that if we can address the inequities in health care for people with diabetes, it's going to be the same type of thing and same type of approaches beyond that. That includes anything from having access to healthy foods to having access to the technologies that can help people live healthier with their diabetes. On our website, at Health Equity Now, you can see a patient bill of rights that speaks to many of these issues of what we’re advocating for.