2017 Salzburg Diabetes Seminars

It was an incredible opportunity for all who participated said Robin Goland, MD, Co-Director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center and the J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes. Dr. Goland recently returned from Europe and Central Asia where she led a team of doctors to the 2017 Salzburg Medical Seminars for a weeklong course on diabetes followed by a Satellite Diabetes Symposium in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia.


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The Salzburg Medical Seminar, established by the American Austrian Foundation and supported by the Open Medical Institute, is a postgraduate medical education program that links professors from leading American and Western European medical schools, with talented doctors (called fellows) who practice medicine in Eastern and Central Europe, Central Asia and other countries in transition around the world. These are often countries with complicated pasts and pervasive problems where physicians face multiple barriers to providing medical care for their patients.  

Dr. Goland directed the Salzburg Diabetes Seminar and Symposium for the fifth year in a row. This year she tapped her Berrie Center colleagues, Natasha Leibel, MD and Utpal Pajvani, MD, PhD, to help teach the seminars. She also asked a former Berrie Center colleague, Matt Freeby, MD, who is now the Associate Director of Diabetes Clinical Programs at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine.

The Salzburg seminars are always a captivating opportunity for the fellows to meet, spend time with and learn from world-class western physicians. “I wish to thank you for all the wonderful lectures in Salzburg, which were outstanding,” wrote Dr. Kristina Blaslov from Croatia to Dr. Goland after the event. “But most of all, I wanted to say thanks for the positive energy which definitely keeps my enthusiasm up about diabetology as well as working with students. You definitely provided me with a new aspect of teaching, which is completely different from what I am used to in Europe. I admire your scientific work as well and hope to meet you again.”

After Salzburg, Drs. Goland and Leibel traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia (birthplace of Joseph Stalin and wine) to provide a Satellite Diabetes Symposium, a program that gives Salzburg Symposium fellows an opportunity to host U.S. faculty in their home countries and therefore educate a larger audience of local physicians and health care clinicians about advances in diabetes. Tbilisi, at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, is the capital of Georgia.

Former Salzburg fellow Dr. Natia Vashakmadze (2015) hosted the satellite symposium attended by almost 100 Georgian physicians including all five former Georgian Salzburg fellows from 2016-2017. 

“It is an honor to lead this seminar because the doctors are incredibly excited to learn and pass on what they’ve learned to their patients as well as students and colleagues,” said Dr. Goland, adding that the breadth of global participation was amazing as always. “Their enthusiasm, no matter how scarce their resources, is quite inspiring.” Added Dr. Leibel, "Tbilisi was memorable. It was fascinating to hear their cases and discuss the similarities and differences in our medical systems. The doctors were very progressive in their approach to diabetes care. Also, our hosts were incredibly warm and hospitable. Georgia is a beautiful country with delicious food and wine.”