HAMMOND – An internationally renowned physician and scientist in the field of diabetes has been selected as Southeastern Louisiana University Alumni Association’s 2017 Alumnus of the Year.
William T. Cefalu, MD, chief scientific, medical and mission officer for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and a 1975 zoology graduate of Southeastern, will be honored at the Alumni Association’s annual awards evening held on campus Friday, Oct. 6, as part of Southeastern’s Homecoming Week.
“We are pleased to honor Dr. Cefalu as our 2017 Alumnus of the Year,” said Brad Stevens, president of the Alumni Association. “Dr. Cefalu is recognized worldwide for his clinical and basic research into a disease that is fast becoming an epidemic in the United States and other nations. Throughout his more than 30-year career as a physician, scientist and health care leader, he has demonstrated his commitment to the research needed to help reverse the ever-increasing incidence of diabetes and to improve the lives of millions living with and affected by it.”
Born in New Orleans and raised in Amite, Louisiana, Dr. Cefalu was appointed to his current position with the ADA earlier this year and leads the association’s efforts to drive discovery within the world of diabetes research, care and prevention; to raise voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and to provide support and advocacy for the millions of Americans living with the disease and those at risk of developing diabetes, as well as the health professionals who care for them.
He previously served as the executive director of LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Pennington Biomedical), where he also held the George A. Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition and served as a professor. At Pennington Biomedical, he directed the center’s basic, clinical and population science research functions, supported the training and educational missions, and served as a mentor to medical and graduate students, medical residents and junior faculty.
Dr. Cefalu also was editor-in-chief of the ADA’s journal Diabetes Care, the highest-ranked, peer reviewed journal in the world specifically devoted to diabetes. His research has focused specifically on interventions to improve the metabolic state of individuals with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. He had research support from the National Institutes of Health for more than 25 years and was the principal investigator for two NIH-funded research centers. At Pennington Biomedical, he directed the NIH-funded Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center, as well as the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center, a consortium of eight academic institutions and health care systems across the state. He served as principal investigator for several multi-site trial studies including the NIH-funded GRADE study.
Following his graduation from Southeastern, Dr. Cefalu earned his medical degree from LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans and completed his residency at the University of California-Irvine, Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System where he also served as Chief Resident. He completed a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He has held academic appointments at Tulane University School of Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Vermont College of Medicine.
The author of more than 280 manuscripts and 25 book chapters, he has also served as the editor of five books on the management of diabetes.