Page 98 - South Mississippi Living - June, 2022
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    The National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute 19289 Saint Joseph St., Ste. C, Biloxi 228.831.8764 |
Left to Right:
Abby Perkins; Brittney Roberts, LPN; Joanne Levanway, RD, LDN; Stephen Farrow, MD, MBA-AEC, CPE, FACP; Emily Hughes-Foret, MBA; Debbie Clark, CCRC; Kimberly Cruz, RD; Audrea Tinch
THE NATIONAL DIABETES & OBESITY RESEARCH INSTITUTE story by Lynn Lofton photo by Katherine Sowers
The facts are sobering: at least half of the people in Mississippi have diabetes or pre diabetes, and we lead the nation in diabetes and obesity. Together, these conditions cost the state about $7 billion each year. Mississippi has also had the highest rates of death from COVID-19 as patients with diabetes and/or obesity are at a greater risk for communicable diseases and poorer outcomes.
In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make insulin at all.
In Type 2, the body makes insulin but doesn’t use it well, a condition known as insulin resistance. Nearly 95 percent of patients that have diabetes, have Type 2. Type 2 diabetes and obesity tend to occur together and has been called “diabesity.” When poorly controlled, diabesity can lead to blindness, amputations, heart failure, and kidney failure. Diabesity also places individuals at greater risk for developing fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can lead to cirrhosis.
The National Diabetes & Obesity Research Institute (NDORI) at Tradition is leading this effort and was established in 2015 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization. NDORI is the brainchild of Joe Canizaro, whose father was a World War II veteran and had a medical practice in Biloxi for many years. “Joe Canizaro looked at the issues affecting Mississippi and wanted to give back,” says Stephen Farrow, M.D., who is the Institute’s director. “If we can improve these conditions here, we can expand because it’s a worldwide problem.”
NDORI and its staff of nine, including physicians, nurse 98 | June 2022
practitioners, dietitians, and researchers assist patients directly. “We focus on educating patients and the community on healthy lifestyles and habits,” Farrow said. “The better patients understand how diabetes and obesity work, the better they can improve their health.” NDORI is also helping to lead clinical drug trials, community research, professional education, and prevention initiatives, including the state’s Obesity Task Force and a state Diabetes Prevention Program effort.
Farrow’s work with NDORI, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the community was recently recognized with the prestigious international Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health to an Underserved Populations from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology. “We are small, but thanks to our partnerships, we get a lot of bang for our buck,” Farrow said. “We are dedicated to serving Mississippians, but without advocacy and financial support from our fellow Mississippians we cannot fulfill our mission.”
NDORI brings together leaders in industries such as healthcare, education, entertainment, manufacturing along with tribal and faith communities to work towards innovative and effective ways to prevent and eventually cure these diseases. The newly-formed NDORI “Champions” is one way to get involved. “There is no time to lose, we have to come together and make a visible difference,” says Dr. Farrow.
Contact NDORI to learn more and to see how you can become a Champion! | SOUTH MISSISSIPPI Living

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