Dr. Laura Michael started her career at Lilly researching cardiovascular disease and the complications that frequently arise from it. Working in this field, she grew increasingly interested in the connections between heart health and type 2 diabetes, especially because so many diabetes patients suffer from serious cardiovascular complications. Today, she leads a team of researchers who are working to develop new medicines to help manage and prevent complications from type 2 diabetes, such as heart and kidney failure.
The Driving Force
Addressing the unmet needs of patients is by far the most important driver of her work, but Laura notes that there’s something more that energizes her to do what she does on a daily basis. “I think if you asked 10 scientists, 9 of them will probably say that there is a family history that led them to their interest in science and to a specific field of medicine,” says Laura. “My mother’s side of the family suffered from heart problems, like heart attack and stroke, and my dad’s side suffered from diabetes.”
Challenges, Chance and Looking Forward
“You’ve probably noticed a lot of talk about precision or personalized medicine – diabetes is a classic example. People think diabetes is the same disease for everyone, but that’s not the way it works,” says Laura. “One of the biggest challenges we face is the fact that the disease is so different for each individual patient. For example, a type 2 diagnosis could be the result of genetics or it could be something environmental. And if it’s latter, there are so many different environmental factors that could contribute to diabetes. Then once you get past the diagnosis, you have to look at the way the disease presents itself in different patients, which can vary widely as well.”
For patients, though, Laura says that connected care is the most exciting thing on the horizon. “We’re seeing more and more devices that self-regulate medication, such as insulin, so that patients can go about their day without worrying so much about it,” says Laura. “It’s truly remarkable, and something scientists could barely dream up just a few decades ago. It’s just another example of how far we’ve come, but it’s also important to remember that there’s so much more we can do. I’m just excited to be on the frontlines in shaping that future.”
The idea of being able to help improve the lives of the people I love is truly inspiring.
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