Celebrating the Life of Dr. Lois Jovanovic

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Prominent Researcher Leaves Behind a Legacy of Helping Champion Better Diabetes Care, Outcomes and transforming Pregnancy Care for the Better for Women with T1D

Lois Jovanovic was a legend in the T1D research community. She was a thought leader, a leading clinician, on the forefront of diabetes research and transformed the care of pregnant women with diabetes helping tens of thousands of women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) have healthy pregnancies. Her work was prolific; she gave thousands of lectures, wrote nearly 500 manuscripts and mentored countless women, truly changing the T1D landscape for mothers and their children.

Until her death, Jovanovic served as an endocrinologist and chief scientific officer at the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute in Santa Barbara, California. She was an international expert in the research and clinical management of diabetes, specializing in diabetes and pregnancy.

Dr. Jovanovic was a key leader in the very first funding JDRF provided in their artificial pancreas project. Recently, Dr. Jovanovic played a pivotal role in a landmark study announced last year. It showed that continuous glucose monitoring in pregnancy significantly improves health outcomes of both mothers with T1D and their newborns. JDRF was proud to fund the CONCEPTT study, and results from the international clinical trial have helped moms-to-be maintain healthy blood-sugar levels and prevent newborns from needing intensive care.

Jovanovic was also part of JDRF’s pioneering artificial pancreas (AP) consortium, which helped to advance the development of AP systems on the market today that both monitor blood glucose and automatically suspend insulin delivery.

JDRF Chief Mission Officer Aaron Kowalski said, “Dr. Jovanovic was a legend to me and I was fortunate to work with her for many years. I vividly remember meeting her for the first time and being in awe. She welcomed me into the research community with open arms and kindness. Her work will continue to positively impact people with diabetes lives for the better and for that we can not thank her enough. I will miss her and cherish all that I learned from her .”

On the day she found out she was pregnant, JDRF National Director of Mission Nicole Johnson made Jovanovic her first call. “I was scared,” Johnson says. “Dr. Jovanovic pulled me up and talked me through how we were going to do this together.”

Prior to that, in 2004, Johnson heard Jovanovic speak about diabetes and pregnancy for the first time. “Before that I thought women with T1D could not have healthy babies,” she says. Once her daughter, Ava, was born, Johnson took her to meet Jovanovic for the first time. “You are one of my babies,” Jovanovic told Ava.

“Dr. Jovanovic will always be my hero,” Johnson says. “It is because of her guidance and attitude that I have a healthy child, and I will be forever grateful.”

Last month Johnson presented on work related to Jovanovic’s research at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual conference. Click here to view JDRF’s video library on the topic.

The T1D community owes a debt of gratitude to Jovanovic’s contributions, and her legacy will live on in the work of her fellow researchers and the lives of the countless women and children she touched through her research.