UA Endocrinologist Dr. Merri Pendergrass Chosen for Top State Award by American Diabetes Association

The Arizona Chapter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) will present University of Arizona endocrinologist Merri L. Pendergrass, MD, PhD, with its CARE Award at its annual recognition event Thursday, Jan. 14, at Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix.

[Merri L. Pendergrass, MD, PhD]A professor of medicine, Dr. Pendergrass is director of the Adult Diabetes Program in the Division of Endocrinology. She also is the key clinical faculty member for endocrinology in the UA Department of Medicine, a designation to accommodate a protected “academic half-day” funded by the department to mentor students and resident physicians, teach and serve a key role in training programs. She joined faculty at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson in 2013.

“I am particularly touched that someone nominated me. I am just one of many people in Tucson working to help improve the lives of people living with diabetes,” she said.

Including Dr. Pendergrass, 12 people will be recognized at Thursday’s event. “There is no fee. It’s an event to recognize all ADA volunteers, participants, sponsors and donors in the state. We expect about 110 people,” said Edyth Haro, an ADA senior manager. Festivities begin with a social at 6 p.m., followed by the awards dinner at 6:30 p.m.

The CARE Award is given annually to a practitioner with the following criteria:

  1. Maintains an active practice, delivering care to individuals with diabetes and their families.
  2. Provides innovative approaches to diabetes management, including current practice recommendations of the ADA.
  3. Advocates for best practices in diabetes care through local, regional or national policy initiatives.

The UA Adult Diabetes Program operates an outpatient clinic in the Abrams Public Health Center, 3950 S. Country Club Road, which opened in 2013 adjacent to Banner – University Medical Center South. The Diabetes Prevention and Education Center, which holds classes year round for patients and their families to help them better understand and manage the disease, also is based at that location. The center includes a commercial-size kitchen to provide nutritional training and food-preparation lessons. Classrooms are available for workshops, such as “Diabetes 101,” “The Importance of Glucose Monitoring,” and “Mastering Insulin,” as well as for support groups and seminars. 

The education team is a multi-professional effort of endocrinologists, pharmacists, dietitians and nurses. The team also participates in research, including a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Marylyn M. McEwen, PhD, UA professor and the Gladys E. Sorensen Endowed Professor for Diabetes Research and Education at the UA College of Nursing, to look at diabetes among Hispanics and ways to include family ties to develop and promote culturally relevant interventions.

In February 2015, the national ADA for the first time included the UA Adult Diabetes in its Education Recognition Program (ERP). Inclusion is based on meeting ADA-endorsed National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support programs. The Angel Wing for Children with Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders achieved the honor in 2009 for the UA’s pediatric diabetes program. 

In October, Dr. Pendergrass was asked to be a presenter on related public-health issues at the grand opening of the Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Before coming to the UA, Dr. Pendergrass was vice president and national practice leader for the Diabetes Therapeutic Resource Center of Medco Health Solutions Inc. (now Express Scripts Inc.), maintained a clinical practice in diabetes and endocrinology at Parkland Memorial Hospital and was on the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Prior to that, she was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and was director of the diabetes program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Media Contact: David Mogollon

Release Date: 
01/12/2016 - 2:45am