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Meet the Team: Lena Selbrand, RN, BSN, MPH

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A Global Perspective on Diabetes Screening

Lena Selbrand, the newest addition to the Translational Research Institute, brings a unique perspective to the world of diabetes research. As she takes her first steps into her role as a clinical research coordinator, Lena's personal and professional journey unveils the importance of diabetes screening on a global scale.

Lena is not just another newcomer but someone who has lived an extraordinary life. Her journey has taken her to various corners of the world, exposing her to different cultures and healthcare systems.

Born in Sweden, Lena's early life was filled with outdoor adventures. At the age of nine, her life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Despite the challenges, Lena remained active and pursued a life filled with skiing, skating, and even competitive cross-country skiing. She married and became a mother of four, all before the era of modern diabetes management tools. Lena reminisced, "I've seen diabetes care evolve from glass syringes to pocket-sized glucometers. Now, everything is accessible through a smartphone."

Her extensive travels, living in Nicaragua and Bolivia, her time abroad allowed her to see the gap in healthcare firsthand, an issue she feels deeply passionate about. When asked about healthcare disparities here in the US, Lena's voice takes on a tone of urgency, "I've seen so many young people here with complications that really wouldn't be necessary. Some can't even afford insulin. It's shocking that a country like the United States faces this problem."

A recent NIH study highlights persistent health inequities among racial and ethnic groups. Despite the increasing incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the United States, disparities in access to care and health outcomes continue. Notably, Non-Hispanic Blacks face 2.5 times higher rates of diabetic ketoacidosis, severe hypoglycemic events, and diabetes-related mortality compared to Non-Hispanic Whites. These findings emphasize the need for targeted interventions and policies to address these disparities and promote health equity.

As Lena starts her role at the Translational Research Institute, she will lead efforts to improve diabetes screening. She believes in the significance of early detection and reaching out to those who might not know what to ask for, particularly those with lower education. Lena's mission is clear: "We need to find a way to reach out to the people who really need it."

Lena's wealth of knowledge and unique global perspective make her a valuable asset to the Translational Research Institute. She embodies the Institute's commitment to improving the lives of people with diabetes, especially those who face disparities in healthcare access.

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