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Patients Driving Research

John - Firefighter, patient Mount Sinai Hospital

August 16, 2016 (Toronto) –   John knows how to battle a formidable foe.  As a retired firefighter, he has seen his share of battles, and so when he found out about his type 2 diabetes diagnosis, he was determined to be aggressive about addressing his health.  “As a firefighter, we would get calls all the time for people who were in trouble from the adverse effects of diabetes. I don’t want to face those same circumstances,” says John.

Two years ago, John saw a story on the evening news about a clinical trial taking place at Mount Sinai Hospital, part of Sinai Health System, which was showing promising results using short-term intensive insulin therapy to stop the progression of diabetes in newly diagnosed patients. John had known about the hospital’s renowned Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes because his wife Marilyn had worked for many years as administrator with some of the clinic’s donors. He knew about Mount Sinai’s strong reputation in diabetes research, and wanted to find out more about this particular trial.

When he met with Haysook Choi, Clinical Nurse Research Coordinator and Diabetes Educator, he learned that the protocol was 3 weeks of intensive insulin therapy to reverse the key abnormalities that drive diabetes.  Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, who is leading the study, had just published several important papers showing how the therapy could not only helped manage blood glucose levels for patients, but also reversed the pancreas’ inability to produce its own insulin, which is the fundamental defect that leads to the development of diabetes. The treatment even induced a remission of diabetes that lasted up to one year in just under 50% of patients.

“I realized that the RESET-IT trial would be a good fit for me. First of all, it could help manage my own health, but I was also excited by the idea of contributing to research. Progress in diabetes research will ultimately help me and others – it feels like I’m doing my part to support something important,” says John.
Mount Sinai’s internationally recognized physicians see over 20,000 diabetes patient visits each year at the Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes and the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, also part of Sinai Health System, is ranked amongst the top diabetes research centres in the world.  It is Canada’s referral centre for the most difficult and complex diabetes cases. 

“Our goal is to be able to stop the progression of diabetes and ultimately sustain long term remission in patients. We know that. although type 2 diabetes is a chronic progressive condition, there is a window of opportunity to stop its progression and induce its remission in the first few years after diagnosis. So, the challenge now is to find a way to sustain a long term remission. We are currently conducting clinical trials of novel strategies for achieving this goal,” says Dr. Retnakaran.

More than 3 million Canadians have Type 2 diabetes and the World Health Organization last year warned that rates have quadrupled since 1980, with 422 million people worldwide living with diabetes. The rate is expected to double in the next 20 years. “There is an urgency to this research and patients participating in clinical trials are helping us discover solutions while receiving excellent care,” added Dr. Retnakaran.

“Today, John’s diabetes is well under control and he remains a strong champion of diabetes research. “Being part of this trial has empowered me in many ways to take a very active approach to my health. It has motivated me to make lifestyle adjustments such as diet and exercise, and has provided me excellent support from the clinic. I couldn’t be happier.”

Patients interested in participating in the RESET IT trial should contact: Ms. Haysook Choi at Mount Sinai Hospital at (416) 586-8778 or

John fishing - a firefighter and patient at Mount Sinai Hospital