The Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Team
Bringing Basic Research Discoveries to Patients with Diabetes

“The Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center was designed to shorten the distance between basic science advances in research and patients with diabetes,” Robin Goland, MD, J. Merrill Eastman Professor and Co-Director of the Berrie Center, who directs both patient care and clinical research programs at the Berrie Center. Benefiting from the close proximity of the scientists and the clinicians working together in one Center, the clinical diabetes research program at the Berrie Center is one of the largest in the country. “We are dedicated to shrinking the gap between the world class diabetes research that we conduct here and the practical applications of this research for patients with diabetes,” added Dr. Goland.

Clinical research is done to test the safety and/or effectiveness of medications, devices, diagnostic products and treatment regimens in patients with a specific disease or condition, such as type 1 diabetes.  The Berrie Center Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Team, under the direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Goland, and lead coordinator Ellen Greenberg, MS, participates in a wide range of investigator-initated and multi-center trials. The Berrie Center is a member of the NIH Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet Study Group, the Helsmsley Type 1 Diabetes Exchange, NIH TRIGR Study Group, and an ancillary member of the NIH Immune Tolerance Network. 


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The Berrie Center Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Team participates in the majority of the major, currently available type 1 diabetes trials—opportunities for research trial participation are provided to Berrie Center patients at varying stages of type 1 diabetes, from pre-diabetes to new-onset to long-standing diabetes.  For example, one trial is studying why some older adults with type 1 diabetes have increased rates of hypoglycemia compared to younger patients; another trial is examining whether a drug currently used to treat people with type 2 diabetes will help overweight teens with type 1 diabetes. Another study is developing stem cell approaches to create patient-specific pancreatic beta cells from skin biopsies done at the Berrie Center in type 1 diabetes patients.  Patients who participate in the type 1 diabetes clinical trials play an indispensable role in finding better ways to treat, diagnosis and prevent diabetes.

On any given day at the Berrie Center, the Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Team is working on anywhere from six to ten different clinical trials that involve dozens of people of all ages with type 1 diabetes. Sometimes hundred of people need to be recruited and screened to find the patients who meet the research criteria.  “When I first started at the Berrie Center, we were very small and didn’t need a team,” said Ellen Greenberg, who has been the lead study coordinator on 39 different clinical trials since 2001. “But now, we’re successful because we have the best team. Everybody is an expert at something, yet we are all are trained to know about all the studies. Together we deliver the highest quality that you can possibly give to our participants. We’re like a fine-tuned machine.”

 In addition to Ellen, the research team includes research nurses Sarah Pollak, RN and Amy Wolk, RN, research coordinator Steven Cook and research assistant Elizabeth Levine.  “Our research subjects adore our team. When the study is over, everyone wants to come back because of the attention they got during the trial."

Each member of the group has a special interest in clinical research. Ellen earned her MS from Columbia University and has more than 30 years experience conducting clinical research with an expertise in leading pediatric studies. Sarah Pollak is both an RN and a certified clinical research coordinator with an MS in Nursing Administration from New York University. Amy Wolk, the most recent addition to the team, is also an RN with a degree in nursing from St. Louis University and 17 years of clinical experience. Prior to coming to the Berrie Center, she worked on T1D clinical trials in Seattle. Steven Cook, is a research coordinator and a certified Patient Care Technician with a biology degree from St. Joseph’s College. And Elizabeth Levine is the team research assistant with a degree in biology and neuroscience from Trinity College.

“The chemistry is right with this team,” said Ellen who said that they travel as a group together—to conduct research screenings for type 1 diabetes at diabetes camps and other events under the auspices of the NIH Type 1 Diabetes Trialnet Pathway to Prevention Study.

 Please visit our website and read about our research program and the type 1 diabetes clinical trials currently being conducted at the Berrie Center. If you think you might be interested in participating in a study, contact Ellen Greenberg at (212) 851-5425 or email emg25@columbia.edu