On April 2, 1940, the Committee for the Establishment of a National Diabetes Association was formed, paving the way for the creation of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Today it’s one of the top non-profit charity organizations in the country.
Several individual groups dedicated diabetes researched were formed in the 1930s, including the Council on Diabetes Public Health Federation, Detroit Diabetes Association, New York Diabetes Association, Philadelphia Metabolic Association, and the Committee on Diabetes Rochester Tuberculosis & Health Association. In 1937, Dr. Cecil Striker and other doctors attending an American College of Physicians meeting in New Orleans began discussing a national diabetes organization. They met again a year later and reached the conclusion that to form a national a group, they needed to work with the existing local groups.
Dr. Striker and Dr. Herman O. Mosenthal then sent out a formal invitation to physicians in each of the local groups to attend a meeting to discuss a national association. On April 2, 1940, twelve doctors from these different associations met at the Hotel Stafler in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Striker shared his plan for a new organization that would be independent of the existing groups, and all but one of the doctors agreed. The delegates then established three committees to outline their purposes and scope, constitution and by-laws, and finances.
The group, which had grown to 26, met again on June 12, 1940, in New York City. At that meeting they passed their constitution and by-laws and unanimously elected Striker as the first president of the ADA. The ADA held its first annual meeting on June 1, 1941. The organizers had hoped to have 250 attendants, and were pleased to welcome more than 300 physicians.
The ADA established several more committees to study various remedies (both proven and not), insulin improvements, summer camps for diabetic children, diabetes complications, and identification tags for diabetics in the case of an emergency. In September 1946, the ADA joined with the University of Toronto to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. More than 500 physicians from around the world attended.
In 1947, the ADA achieved one of its goals when it opened its first camp for diabetic children in Montgomery, Alabama. They following year, they published the first issue of ADA Forecast (now Diabetes Forecast), which was distributed to 53,000 doctors, pharmacists, and clinics.
In 1949, the ADA worked with syringe manufacturers to establish specific unit measurements, so that insulin dosing could be more uniform and have less risk for error. The following year, the ADA worked with the American Dietetic Association and the US Public Health Service to create the diabetes exchange system. This system split foods into six categories based on calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat per serving. This system would help diabetics cut down on weighing and measuring their food.
For the organization’s first 30 years, its only members were doctors who worked to research ways to cure diabetes. Then in the 1970s, they opened the organization to anyone who wanted to help research and improve the quality of life for those suffering from diabetes. Today the organization has 565,000 volunteers, including 20,000 healthcare professionals.
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the American Diabetes Association is one of the top non-profit charity organizations in the country. Its mission is “To prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.”