Virran lääketieteellinen johtaja Sarah Hallberg palkittiin ansioistaan diabetestutkimuksessa. Dr. Sarahin tutkimuksethan ovat mm. vaikuttaneet siihen, että ADA jo myöntää ketolla ja vhh:lla olevan parhaat näytöt verensokerin hallinnassa ja on hyväksynyt keton ja vhh:n ruokavalioiksi t2d-potilaille "kun muu ei auta". Tämä toki tietenkin on vasta korkeintaan hyvä alku, sillä niiden pitäisi olla ensisijainen hoito t2d:ssä. Lisäksi ADA:n käytännön toiminnassa nämäkään myönnytyksen eivät erityisesti näy. Mutta sehän ei ole Dr. Sarahin vika. Hän on joka tapauksessa näyttänyt maailmalle, että ketolla t2d:n saa keskeytetyksi.
Dr. Sarah ansaitsisi kyllä arvostetumpiakin palkintoja kuin tämä, jollaisen on saanut mm. Muhammed Ali.Hallberg given Sagamore of the Wabash for work in diabetes research
"I was just floored," Hallberg said about she show felt when she won the award. "I'm so lucky to have had this career where I can really help people improve their lives, and be a real patient advocate."
Before joining Virta Health, Hallberg worked at IU Health Arnett Hospital where she founded the Supervised Weight Loss Program. This clinic served as the host for Virta's clinical trials.
"What I came across was carbohydrate restriction," Hallberg said, "and we opened the clinic as a carbohydrate-restricted clinic. That was the nutrition intervention that we were using. What we were seeing in patients was just remarkable. When we were putting them on a therapeutic, carbohydrate-restrictive diet, their diabetes was going away."
These clinics took place about a decade ago, according to Hallberg, and up until that point, Type 2 Diabetes was seen as a chronic and progressive disease. Seeing the effects a carb-restricted diet has on patients motivated Hallberg to expand her research to beyond her clinic in central Indiana.
Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, the chief innovation officer and co-founder of Virta Health, and Hallberg have worked and continue to work on a number of published papers together to help get the news of reversible diabetes through carb-restriction out there.
"The biggest thing is that this study, in central Indiana, changed the American Diabetes Association guidelines," Hallberg said. "We did this research that impacted the guidelines that have impacted so many Americans. And that happened here in central Indiana."
Four years ago, Hallberg was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. She explained how her diagnosis and her work experience being a patient advocate both affected her.
"Being a patient advocate for so long and just wanting to empower and teach them (the patients) with the science," Hallberg said, "really came into play for me four years ago when I became a patient myself. So all the advocacy I've done for my patients, I was really fortunate in that I could turn that into being an advocate for myself with an advanced cancer diagnosis."