UCSF Doctor to Lead California Diabetes Program

April 07, 2008
News Office: Lauren Hammit (415) 502-6397

Dr. Dean Schillinger, a primary care doctor and associate professor of clinical medicine at UCSF, has been named chief of the California Diabetes Program. The program is part of the California Department of Public Health and is primarily funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In his new role, effective April 1, Schillinger will guide policy and be the leading provider of diabetes expertise for the state of California. He will continue to hold a faculty appointment at UCSF, carry out his clinical work at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and further his research in improving the health of vulnerable, low-income populations. Schillinger's UCSF/SFGH responsibilities will be reorganized to allow for his new duties with the state.

"The opportunity to lead the California Diabetes Program, while continuing to treat high-risk patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes in a general county hospital, is exactly the kind of connection needed to improve communication, prevention, treatment and policy for the populations most affected by this disease and to help more than one person at a time," Schillinger said. "This appointment will also help harness the expertise and commitment of many UCSF clinicians and researchers to learn how best to implement evidence-based public health interventions in the real world, and advance the mission of the California Diabetes Program."

According to DPH estimates, for 2006, 2.5 million Californians had diabetes, contributing to a state burden of $24.5 billion. Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, accounted for 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed cases. Population differences of California residents with diabetes break down this way:

  • 1.3 million adult men and 1.2 million adult women
  • 13 percent of adult Hispanics
  • 12 percent of African Americans
  • 9 percent of Asians
  • 13 percent of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders
  • 6 percent of Caucasians
  • 13 percent of people with other racial backgrounds

Prevalence is also highest in populations with the lowest income and least education, factors that approximately double the risk of diabetes within each ethnic group.

"We are pleased that Dr. Schillinger will be adding his expertise and commitment to the California Department of Public Health," said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Schillinger's research expertise involves literacy, health communication, and chronic disease prevention and management. His recent studies have focused on the impact of limited literacy on the care of patients with diabetes and heart disease, and translating this research into practice. His research has shown that over half of diabetes patients have limited literacy skills and that limited literacy is related to worse diabetes control and higher rates of diabetes complications.

He has been awarded grants from NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), The California Endowment, The Commonwealth Fund and the California Health Care Foundation to develop and evaluate care management programs tailored to the literacy and language needs of patients with chronic disease. He is a co-investigator for the National Association of Public Health and Hospital Institute's Diabetes Quality Improvement Consortium and in 2006 spent a semester as visiting scholar at the University of Chile School of Public Health to help develop their chronic disease initiatives.

Schillinger is the director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, a research center committed to transforming clinical and public health practice by improving health communication for socially vulnerable people. He sees patients, teaches in the primary care residency program, and leads a number of research initiatives. He has previously directed the Medi-Cal managed-care and ambulatory care clinics at SFGH, and has served as director of clinical operations for the Department of Medicine.

He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and completed his residency in primary care internal medicine at UCSF.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

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