Oscar Crofford: On the horns of a revolution  pg. 3

Dr. Crofford and Dr. Addison B. Scoville Jr. (left) hold a chart showing unanimous support for a national diabetes plan by Tennessee’s congressional delegation.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Oscar B. Crofford
Crofford was appointed to the commission and elected chairman. “We involved virtually every scientist and diabetes specialist in the nation, and over the course of nine months … laid out the strategy for what should be done in the future to deal with diabetes at the clinical level, at the research level, at the public information level,” he says.

The report was delivered to Congress in December 1975. “I spent a lot of time as a health lobbyist at that point,” Crofford recalls, trying to get the recommendations implemented.

Crofford and Scoville approached the Tennessee congressional delegation, and convinced every member to support additional diabetes legislation. They took a group photo of the now-unanimous delegation, displayed it at the ADA national meeting, and urged other state chapters to do the same thing.

“It worked,” Crofford says. Thanks to their efforts, those of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (now the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and medical institutions like the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, “virtually all of the legislative things that had to be done in order for the diabetes plan to be completed (were) passed,” he says.

In 1977, Congress appropriated $5 million to open five more diabetes centers, and to expand their mission to include the training of diabetes specialists. They are now called Diabetes Research and Training Centers.

The commission also recommended that a study be conducted to determine whether strict control of blood glucose could prevent the disabling and life-threatening complications of diabetes, including blindness, kidney failure, amputation and heart disease.

The NIH asked Crofford to help get it started. “This was a new endeavor for me,” he recalls. “I had never run what we now call clinical trials.” So back to the library he went.

A clinical trial attempts to determine the effectiveness of a drug or other treatment, by comparing one group of patients who receive the treatment to a closely matched group that is not given the treatment and which serves as the “control.”

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