“I think I decided to become a doctor when I was about four, under the direction of my father, who was a physician.”
“I'M HOOKED ON CHILDREN!”
Francine Kaufman doesn't mince words when she talks about what motivates her: "I'm hooked on children!" she says. "I'm a pediatric endocrinologist and I've devoted my career to diabetes in children, and maybe a little bit of diabetes in adults as well. Particularly now, when we are at the point of an epidemic of childhood obesity-and obviously, adult obesity-and the development of Type II, or adult diabetes in children, I have realized that to make a difference, we have to change the environment for children."
For more than twenty years, Kaufman has been one of America's foremost researchers into childhood diabetes, known for making a difference. She is the principal investigator for several nationwide efforts to mitigate and eliminate the impact of diabetes and holds numerous patents on the formulation of "ExtendBar," a snack bar designed to reduce glycemic excursions and episodes of hypoglycemia in diabetics. She has even entered the realm of cyberspace in her quest to help diabetic children, having collaborated with the Starlight Foundation to develop an interactive CD-ROM game that helps children understand and help to manage their disease.
In nominating her as a Local Legend of Medicine, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA-30) commented, "I believe that Dr. Kaufman's extensive contributions to medicine and her outstanding leadership in the field of diabetes make her an ideal candidate."
A former president of the National American Diabetes Association, the nation's leading nonprofit health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy, founded in 1940, Kaufman heads the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles. In addition to teaching pediatrics as a professor at the Keck School of Medicine, she has established support groups, family retreats and seminars to improve the quality of life for diabetics and their families. As well, for more than twenty years she has served as the medical director at a summer camp for children with diabetes.
"What are the causes diabetes?" Kaufman asks. "A lot are environmental. What children eat, where they eat or what happens in school, what's available in their communities. So I have spent a lot of my career over the past few years outside of the medical center and my office, and in the community; with the school board, teaching nurses, trying to change the environment in school; doing a lot of community work and non-profit volunteer work, so that we can really improve what happens in children's lives," she says.
Named consistently in the Best Doctors in America, Kaufman was named Woman of Valor for 2003 by the American Diabetes Association in recognition of her outstanding dedication and commitment. "I love my research, I love the community work," she declares, "but probably there's nothing better than being in a room with a child, listening and talking with them, finding what it's like for them and to take care of their diabetes or their other issues.
"I think the big thing for a woman physician is balance," She concludes. "Maybe not just for physicians but maybe for everybody who wants a career, and a family, and community involvement..."
Appointed Instructor in Clinical Pediatrics, University of Southern California
Becomes Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California
Becomes Head, Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
Chicago Medical School
Endocrinology and Metabolism