Ann Albright, MS '87 (Physical Education)

Albright takes up fight against diabetes

Ann Albright
Ann Albright—a dietitian, exercise physiologist, researcher, professor and a state health administrator—has dedicated her life to battling diabetes. And she took that fight to the nation’s capital.

For nearly two years, Albright was the senior health policy fellow for U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson in the Office of Public Health and Science.

“Together, we were able to get more information out on early detection, raising awareness and helping people not develop the disease,” says Albright.

Albright is the chief of California’s diabetes program in the Department of Health Services. She took a leave of absence to complete her fellowship, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

In Washington, Albright advised Carmona on diabetes-related topics and consulted with him on his speeches and correspondence. Albright also spoke on behalf of then-Secretary Thompson and worked on the office’s Diabetes Detection Initiative, developed to help identify those with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

“As senior health policy fellow in the office of the Surgeon General, Dr. Ann Albright became a trusted advisor and friend to me over the course of her tenure,” says Dr. Carmona.

After her one-year fellowship, Albright was asked to stay and worked an additional eight months in Washington before returning to California last January.

“I think where you are most effective at the national level is to maintain experience at the local level,” Albright says. “People who work in these larger arenas need to never forget that action happens at the local level.”

More than 18 million people have diabetes in the United States. Of those, more than 5 million do not know they are afflicted. Delays in diagnosis can lead to serious complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.

Such statistics are personal for Albright, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was nine. In her 10 years as chief of the California Diabetes Program, Albright has grown the program from a few employees with a $250,000 budget to a program with a staff of 11 and a $1 million budget. Her position includes an appointment with the Institute for Health and Aging at UC San Francisco. Over the years, Albright has also worked as a part-time nutritionist for the Placer County Health Department and a diabetes specialist for UCSF and the Department of Health Services. She has conducted a range of diabetes research projects. At one time she taught courses in exercise physiology and kinesiology at Sac State.

In 2005, she became one of three national presidents of the American Diabetes Association. She continues to speak across the country about the disease.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2006 edition of Sac State Magazine.