Researcher Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, MBBS, MSc, FRCP, FACP, FACE
Long before he became a well-known volunteer with the American Diabetes Association—before he led fund-raising events such as Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes®, before he served on the National Board of Directors—Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, MBBS, MSc, FRCP, FACP, FACE, was involved in a different side of the Association: He was a research fellow as a postdoctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis. The young doctor was working happily in the lab when his mentor, Philip E. Cryer, MD, took him to a local ADA community board meeting. From that moment, Dagogo-Jack was hooked on volunteering.
“Volunteering represents an opportunity to reach out to the community,” he says. “We get lost in the lab as a researcher and a scientist.”
Dagogo-Jack, a professor of medicine and researcher, will be honored during this year’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week, held April 15 through 21. The week also honors hundreds of thousands of other Association volunteers. From doctors such as Dagogo-Jack to children with diabetes and their parents, each ADA volunteer helps further the Association’s mission of diabetes awareness, education, and prevention. That kind of involvement is how the Association’s corps of volunteers continues to grow. Dagogo-Jack, now the A. C. Mullins professor in translational research, professor of medicine, and chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is also chair of the ADA Research Grants Review Committee. He served as associate editor of the professional journal Diabetes Care and wrote a chapter in the ADA’s Uncomplicated Guide to Diabetes Complications. And he has held an active mentor-based postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Association in which he oversees the work of clinical research fellows.
The Nigerian-born Dagogo-Jack’s continued service inspires others, says John Carroll, director of the ADA’s Memphis office. “He says there’s a custom in Africa that when a person dies, testimonials [about their survivors] are read at the service,” Carroll says. “You live on through your children. His mother has left someone who’s making a real difference in the fight against diabetes.”
Dagogo-Jack hopes to carry on that legacy for not only his family but his work and community as well. As the chair of his department, he has encouraged everyone from the entire division of endocrinologists and staff to leaders of the University of Tennessee to donate time, talent, and money to the ADA. Volunteering, to him, is the perfect complement to research.
“Volunteering and networking with the ADA provides a reality check for the scientist,” he says. “It brings the quest for a cure poignantly home. You really want to elevate this passion that would not have been possible if the researcher was wasting away in a lab.”