Program Background

For five decades, the International Diabetes Center (IDC) has been a world leader in diabetes care, education and translation. IDC’s mission of ensuring that individuals at risk for diabetes or with diabetes receive the best possible care, started with the significant contributions of its founder, Dr. Donnell D. Etzwiler, a world-recognized pediatric endocrinologist. 

Dr. Etzwiler was a pioneer in the patient-centered team approach to diabetes. His early experience with pediatric diabetes patients showed him the great need for patients and their families to be involved and receive proper diabetes education. He also discovered that many healthcare professionals did not have adequate diabetes training to care for their patients. Because of this, he launched the “Team Management of Diabetes” program to train healthcare professionals.  As president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) from 1976 to 1977, Dr. Etzwiler was instrumental in expanding ADA meetings and training to include not only physicians, but also nurses and dietitians, so everyone in the diabetes care team could benefit.

Another focus of Dr. Etzwiler’s work was glycemic control. Before it became commonplace, Dr. Etzwiler was working with patients to test their glucose levels throughout the day and adjust insulin doses to achieve optimal results. As president of ADA, he raised awareness about the importance of glycemic control. Eventually, discussion of the issue led to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), which confirmed the need for improved glycemic control in people with diabetes. Dr. Etzwiler was the principal investigator for the DCCT at the International Diabetes Center and led efforts for translation of these findings into clinical practice. As an original author of Staged Diabetes Management, a comprehensive program for detection and treatment of diabetes and related complications, Dr. Etzwiler’s vision became a reality.

Through his work with the International Diabetes Federation as vice president, Dr. Etzwiler realized the growing impact of diabetes worldwide. He traveled to many countries to share his passion for education and translation of research findings into practice. To formally recognize this work, Dr. Etzwiler was instrumental in the development of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at the International Diabetes Center. This designation, received in 1985, recognized the unique expertise at IDC in the areas of diabetes education, technology and diabetes translation. Through the WHO Collaborating Center, the IDC has directly or indirectly trained over 30,000 health professionals from over 40 countries around the world, including the former USSR and now Russia, China, India, Brazil, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, and Mexico.  Today many of these programs continue to impact lives of individuals with diabetes worldwide.

Dr. Etzwiler retired from his position as President of IDC in 1996 and passed away in 2003. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to diabetes care and education worldwide, the International Diabetes Center established the Donnell D. Etzwiler International Scholars Program.