Laurie Jaffe

Laurie Jaffe (center)

Laurie Anne Jaffe is a founding member of the Kovler Diabetes Center Leadership Board. She has worked with national and local nonprofit organizations for nearly 30 years as a manager, consultant, and trainer in strategic planning and public affairs, including all aspects of media operations and public education. Married to Michael Jaffe, she is a busy mother to three children: Nathan, 14, Charlotte, 11, and Lilly, 12. Laurie and Michael support diabetes research through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and ongoing monogenic diabetes research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.

Lilly, her daughter, was diagnosed with diabetes more than six years ago, at the tender age of one month.  In 2006, the Jaffes attended the annual meeting of JDRF’s Illinois Chapter, where Lou Philipson, MD, PhD presented. Dr. Philipson showed that some children diagnosed with diabetes in their first six months of life actually don’t have type 1 autoimmune diabetes, but instead have diabetes characterized by a rare genetic mutation that can be treated with a common oral medication.  The Jaffes approached Dr. Philipson and told him about Lilly and the rest is history.

“We are proud to have been involved with the KDC from the beginning in 2006 when our daughter was treated by Drs. Lou Philipson and Siri Greeley and was able to switch from insulin treatments to oral medication.” said Laurie Jaffe.  “It has been fulfilling to be a part of something that truly impacts people’s lives in such positive and transforming ways.  Kovler is right on the cutting edge of where scientific discovery makes a real difference in the way that people with diabetes live.  I have referred many frightened families whose children have been newly diagnosed to Kovler.  All have said that they were comforted by the competent and compassionate care of the whole team and breathed a sigh of relief that they “were in the best hands.”

After Lilly’s story made national news, many more children were found with neonatal diabetes.  Those parents understandably had many questions and concerns about their children going off insulin, so Jaffe began an email discussion group as a way to support one another and seek medical expertise from the Kovler team.   The synergy from those discussions paved the way for the first North American gathering of families in 2010, and now Jaffe is leading to the charge in planning an even larger gathering in 2013.

“We have been privileged to be a part of Kovler’s dynamic international leadership in monogenic diabetes research, treatment and awareness,” said Jaffe.  “Other than raising my family, being a part of this effort has been one of the most rewarding of my life.”

For more information on the 2010 “Celebrating the Miracles” conference, visit www.monogenicdiabetes.uchicago.edu.