Nisa Maruthur, MD, MHS, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins University Welch Center, is passionate about her work in diabetes prevention in East Baltimore. As Director of Community Partnership for the Brancati Center for the Advancement of Community Care, she implements, along with her colleagues, the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an evidence-based, lifestyle-change intervention featuring peer coaches from the community. With a real-world approach to confronting the U.S. diabetes epidemic, the program requires a commitment from participants, who are expected to attend 31 group meetings over a year and make changes to their to diet and activity regimens. The first East Baltimore sites, which were church-based, had a 100% retention rate and a 90% attendance rate. Their weight loss over the first year was incredibly impressive – on average, 6%.
Nisa has been involved in diabetes research for most of her professional career. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, she completed her internship and residency at Johns Hopkins; she was a Clinical Research Fellow in General Internal Medicine, and earned a Master of Health Science degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where her focus was cardiovascular epidemiology.
Nisa is a board-certified internist with an active primary care practice at Johns Hopkins. As Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins General Internal Medicine Fellowship, Nisa is also committed to training the next generation of clinician-investigators in epidemiologic and clinical trials methods. She is an avid cyclist and has served as team captain for Forza Brancati in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure for the past four years. This team, representing the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Welch Center, has raised over $30,000 to fund diabetes research, advocacy, and outreach, in honor of the late Dr. Fred Brancati. Nisa is quick to state that the support of the Brancati Center, established through gifts in Fred Brancati’s memory -- plus funding from the Baltimore City Health Department -- allowed the DPP to get up and running and has been instrumental in its success.
With over 30 million people with diabetes in the U.S., and another 84 million with prediabetes, Nisa and her colleagues have much work ahead of them. But the success of the DPP in Baltimore and elsewhere has already garnered interest from Medicare and Medicaid. To Nisa, the reason for that success is no mystery: it is the personal connection among the participants, the peer coaches, and the Hopkins staff. “You can’t underestimate the importance of that partnership,” says Nisa. “In a word, it’s fantastic.”