Renowned Physician, Educator and Researcher William T. Cefalu, MD, Named Chief Scientific & Medical Officer of the American Diabetes Association


Michelle Kirkwood

Arlington, Virginia
January 9, 2017

William T. Cefalu, MD, has been appointed Chief Scientific & Medical Officer (CSMO) of the American Diabetes Association (Association) and will formally begin serving on Feb. 20, 2017. Cefalu, who has more than 30 years of work in diabetes research and care, replaces Robert E. Ratner, MD, who retired on Dec. 31, 2016, after serving as CSMO for nearly five years.

While his work with the Association has spanned nearly two decades, since 2004, Cefalu has served as an Associate Editor of Diabetes and Diabetes Care, the Association's two premier journals focused on the physiology and pathophysiology of diabetes, and diabetes treatment and prevention, respectively. His tenure as editor-in-chief of Diabetes Care, the highest-ranked, peer-reviewed journal in diabetes, began in 2012, and last year, the journal received the highest impact factor in its history. As CSMO, he will assist in the transition to new editorial leadership for Diabetes Care. Cefalu joins the Association from Louisiana State University's (LSU) Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., where he has been a Professor since 2003. At Pennington Biomedical, he has held the positions of Associate Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, and he currently serves as Executive Director and holds the George A. Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition.

"We proudly welcome Dr. Will Cefalu as our new Chief Scientific and Medical Officer. His extensive experience and role as a visionary leader in diabetes research and care will expand and enhance the Association and its in-depth programs and services," said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO of the Association. "Dr. Cefalu will play a key role in advancing the Association's global leadership efforts to drive discovery within the world of diabetes research, care and prevention, and to support the diabetes community."

"I am excited to join the Association in this notable role that can make a difference in the lives of the millions of people with diabetes and prediabetes—here in the U.S. and around the world," said Cefalu."Diabetes remains one of the world's major chronic disease threats, and the Association has an incredible human responsibility to change the trajectory of the disease. As a Louisianian and a physician, I've seen diabetes impact my state firsthand. This new role is a tremendous opportunity for me to continue to significantly influence health, mortality and quality of life for so many, and I look forward to the challenges."

In his career, Cefalu has been active in both clinical and basic science research, specifically interventions to improve the metabolic state of individuals with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, and in the cellular mechanisms for insulin resistance. As executive director of Pennington Biomedical, Cefalu directs the Center's basic, clinical and population science research functions, supports the training and educational missions of the Center, and aligns administrative functions in support of the Center's research mission. He has also served as a mentor to medical and graduate students, medical residents, fellows and junior faculty throughout his more than 30-year career in academic medicine, one of his personal passions.

Notably, Cefalu has had research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 25 years and is the principal investigator for two NIH research centers. Since 2005, Cefalu has directed the NIH-funded Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Center at Pennington Biomedical, as well as the NIH-funded Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (LACaTS), a consortium of eight academic institutions and health care systems across the state of Louisiana. He has also been active on NIH study sections, is Pennington Biomedical's site principal investigator of the NIH-funded GRADE study and serves as the principal investigator for several multi-site trials.

"The American Diabetes Association is very fortunate to have a physician and scientist of Dr. Cefalu's caliber join as its scientific and medical leader. He will grow the Association's legacy of funding ground-breaking research in diabetes prevention, treatment and education," said the Association's President of Medicine & Science Alvin C. Powers, MD, and director of the Vanderbilt University Diabetes Center. "Dr. Cefalu has made major contributions to diabetes research and care, and his leadership will bolster our comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, evidence-based health care recommendations for people with diabetes."

"The prevalence of diabetes is rising rapidly worldwide, and so the need for access to diabetes education is increasingly critical," said the Association's President of Health Care & Education Brenda Montgomery, RN, MSHS, CDE, and a Clinical Science Liaison for AstraZeneca¹. "We are pleased for Dr. Cefalu to join us in our efforts to continue to provide high-quality diabetes resources and programs for diabetes health care professionals, which can lead to improved outcomes for people with diabetes and the people who care for them."

Cefalu earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and his MD from LSU Health Science Center, New Orleans. He completed an Internal Medicine residency and served as Chief Resident at the University of California, Irvine, Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System. He completed a fellowship in Endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, Center for Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition, Cefalu is widely published in journals, books and book chapters, including more than 280 manuscripts and 25 book chapters. He has also served as the editor of five books on the management of diabetes.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)

1 Disclosures for Brenda Montgomery. Employer: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Montgomery's role as President, Health Care & Education of the American Diabetes Association (Association) is a voluntary position to which she was elected by the members of the Association in 2015. She continues to recuse herself from any and all discussions, decisions or votes that have or could be perceived as having a conflict of interest with her employer.