The Great Diabetes Epidemic: A Manifesto for Control and Prevention; A Conversation with the authors Gilbert H. Friedell, MD and J. Isaac Joyner, MPH

November 15, 2014

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WE have a problem. It is The Great Diabetes Epidemic. Epidemic is the key word.

It is a current public health problem of huge magnitude, that is rapidly becoming worse. And at present, the right steps to curb it are not being taken. It is costing individuals their eyes and limbs and organs, and costing all of us a huge pile of money.

But there is hope. In this interview, Gilbert H. Friedell, MD and J. Isaac Joyner, MPH discuss some of the steps for prevention and control that they outline in their just published book.

The book title is The Great Diabetes Epidemic – A Manifesto for Control and Prevention.

The book is available through Butler Books at

Other major book sellers will be carrying it soon as well.

You can reach the authors by contacting Isaac at , that is

They are available to speak to service clubs and other community groups.


Gilbert H. Friedell, MD, is director emeritus of the Markey Cancer Center, professor emeritus of pathology, and, since 2005, professor emeritus of behavioral science at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He has been a member of the Advisory Committee of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work since 2005.

Dr. Friedell graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1949 and received his training in pathology in Boston. He has been involved for many years in the conduct of laboratory and clinical cancer research and in cancer control activities, with particular emphasis on problems concerning cervical, breast, and urinary bladder cancer. He taught at the medical schools of Harvard University, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts before coming to Kentucky. While serving as the chief of pathology and then the medical director of a 600-bed community teaching hospital in Worcester, MA, he was the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) National Bladder Cancer Project from 1971 to 1983.

Arriving in Kentucky in 1983 as the first director of the Markey Cancer Center, Dr. Friedell was the founding director of the Kentucky Cancer Registry, the principal investigator of the NCI Mid-South Cancer Information Service, and co-director of a statewide cancer control outreach program, now the Kentucky Cancer Program. All were developed in association with the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center, although based at the Markey Cancer Center. In 1990 he stepped down as director of the Markey Cancer Center to become the full-time director for Cancer Control. Dr. Friedell retired in 1998.

Throughout his career, he has put particular emphasis on reaching the medically underserved.  Since coming to Kentucky, his primary focus has been on the control of cancer and other chronic diseases in the rural population of Eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia. In 1994 he and his colleagues started Kentucky Homeplace at the UK Center for Rural Health, a lay health worker program funded by the General Assembly to facilitate access to healthcare services for the underserved. It is now active in 58 primarily rural counties across Kentucky.

Since 2008 he and his colleagues have been assisting people in three Appalachian Kentucky counties developing the Tri-County Diabetes Partnership, focused on communities taking responsibility for various aspects of diabetes control and prevention. Their efforts have illustrated the challenges to establishing effective population-based approaches to the diabetes epidemic and have led to the compilation of national and Kentucky data and The Great Diabetes Epidemic: A Manifesto for Control and Prevention.

 Among the honors bestowed on Dr. Friedell are:

  • National Humanitarian Award, American Cancer Society, 1998
  • Individual Community Service Award, Susan G. Komen Foundation, 1998
  • Special Recognition Award from the Appalachian Regional Commission, 2003, for “Untiring commitment, dedication and leadership in improving the health and well-being of the people of Appalachia”

Isaac Joyner received his master’s of public health degree in community health planning from the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston in 1987. He worked in the late 1980s at the American Social Health Association, in Research Triangle Park, NC, as technology manager for the National AIDS Hotline.

In the 1990s, Isaac worked in the office of South Carolina’s governor as planning manager for the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children. His work involved expanding the system of care for children’s mental health in South Carolina.

In 2002, Isaac became the bureau chief of planning and evaluation at the Houston (TX) Department of Health and Human Services. He focused on establishing an environmental public health data system and served as managing editor of the State of Health in Houston/Harris County, Texas. This report compiled health indicators for three dozen health and environmental health concerns. In his planning role, Isaac facilitated the development of the department’s strategic plan and several multi-agency health plans.

In Kentucky, Isaac has supported the communication of epidemiologic data on H1N1 influenza for the Kentucky Department for Public Health. He also has facilitated and coordinated planning for the public health impact of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

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J. Isaac Joyner, MPH

J. Isaac Joyner, MPH

Gilbert H. Friedell, MD

Gilbert H. Friedell, MD

Book Cover

Book Cover

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