Feedback from TREND-UK Bursary beneficiary

A report from one of the TREND-UK Bursary beneficiaries…

Diabetes UK APC, March 6/7th2019 feedback report

Anna Steele

Thank you for the funding which allowed me to attend the first two days of the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference, Liverpool 2019.

The conference was attended by >3000 delegates and I am fortunate that I was one of them.

The conference has enabled me to have an update on current practice and has introduced me to new ideas and products.  Research results were provided in every Key Note Lecture and oral/poster presentation ensuring my two days of updates and education were evidence based and were from leading researchers in diabetes.

Key areas covered were diabetes prevention and remission with personalised medicine when a patient is diagnoses.  My work as a diabetes research nurses focusses strongly on the personalised medicine theme which is such an important in how patients are treated.  I work with Prof Andrew Hattersley who is one of the leaders in this area but by attending the conference I was able to see the bigger picture of this work and how the key collaborators are working together to make precision medicine the norm.  Having the opportunity to learn about the research behind the prevention of diabetes was fantastic and has encourage me to look more closely at other work in the field of diabetes rather than its treatment.

Prevention and remission of diabetes started at the opening session which was chaired by George Alberti. The session emphasised how we need to empower those at high risk of developing diabetes to help reduce risk and this can be done via lifestyle and nutrition.  Many references were made during the conference to the DiRECT study and the Diabetes Prevention Program both of which are proving beneficial and effective.

This session included two patient speakers who were both incredibly inspirational.  The first patient detailed how he was found to be at risk of diabetes when he went for a routine check-up.  This patient was referred to the Diabetes Prevention Programme with a starting weight of 13 st 8lb and an HbA1c 47 mmol/mol.  Over one year on the programme this reduced to 10stone and an HbA1c 33 mmol/mol. 

The DiRECT study has shown that 46% of patients are in remission at 1 year.  The 2 year data was presented and is reassuring that this method is effective.  The patient who presented his case used no slides, he told his story.  The DiRECT study has continued to work for him and he continues to exercise and eat a healthier diet to avoid becoming pre-diabetic again. He described being on the study as positive and a life changing experience.

Paul Aryeyard talked about weight loss studies and explained how professionals need to be proactive with referrals for weight loss initiatives rather than just giving a phone number or leaflet.  His work showed how many GPs don’t want to have a brief conversation about diet and lifestyle at an appointment due to time restrictions but this would only take ~3 hours a year of a GP’s time and could save 0.5% of the NHS budget.

The Rank Nutrition lecture highlighted that we need personalised nutrition for patients to take into account socioeconomic characteristics, health, genotype and food preferences.  This can be a complex process and a digital approach as very complex to do manually.

Attending the conference allowed me to attend the Arnold Bloom lecture which was given by my Manager Professor Maggie Shepherd.  This lecture is awarded to a healthcare professional working in diabetes care who has contributed significantly to improving the quality of clinical care for people with diabetes.  Diabetes UK awarded the lecture to Maggie for her contributions to clinical care in monogenic diabetes, including her role as leader of the national Genetic Diabetes Nurse (GDN) project, which supports healthcare professionals and patients by improving awareness of monogenic diabetes.  Maggie is the first to nurse to have ever given this lecture and as such it was awe inspiring.  I feel honoured to have seen this lecture and to say that I know Maggie personally and that I am one of her GDNs.

Another fantastic lecture was given by my former colleague, collaborator and scientist Anna Gloyn. Anna was awarded the Dorothy Hodgkin lecture. Dorothy Hodgkin was a British chemist who developed protein crystallographyfor which she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. In 1969, after 35 years of work, Dorothy Hodgkin was able to decipher the structure of insulin.  Anna gave an insight to her own work and the discovery of the PAM gene which is involved in insulin release in the beta cell and exocytosis.

Both of these lectures were well timed with International Women’s day being on the 8thMarch.       

Overall the Diabetes UK APC has enabled me to develop professionally.  In addition to the above, I attended sessions on macrosomia, c-peptide, stem-cells & retinopathy.  It has given me an insight into the wider field of diabetes research and given me the opportunity to provide more evidence based care.  The networking opportunities were vast and I have returned from the conference freshly motivated and with new knowledge, new skills and a better understanding of current research in all areas of diabetes and diabetes care.

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