A Center Inspired by Dr. Fred Brancati
Frederick L. Brancati, MD, MHS was an internationally recognized expert on type 2 diabetes at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Before his untimely death at the age of 53 from ALS ("Lou Gehrig's Disease"), Dr. Brancati was a highly regarded teacher and mentor, who won numerous awards from from students, fellows and colleagues at Johns Hopkins and nationally. He was named a Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine by the Johns Hopkins University Board of Trustees, a high honor bestowed upon very few senior faculty members to recognize their exemplary service to the institution. Importantly for this Center, he was emblematic of a deeply caring and kind physician and leader. His love of community and of his work was evident in all he accomplished.
Dr. Brancati was a brilliant scientist, and a consummate clinical doctor, with a gregarious personality and an outstanding sense of humor. For the 200-plus faculty and staff in the Division of General Internal Medicine, he was a supportive and effective leader. For his students and trainees, he was a superb mentor. In all roles, he was warm and compassionate. He deeply cared about people.
Dr. Brancati’s research has had a profound impact on our understanding of type 2 diabetes and its complications. He was extraordinarily creative and employed observational and experimental methodologies to address an impressive array of issues related to type 2 diabetes. In the process, he fundamentally changed how clinicians and researchers view this chronic illness. He studied trends in diabetes prevalence across age, race and ethnicity in the United States; novel risk factors for type 2 diabetes; novel complications of diabetes, including cancer and lung function; and risk prediction for diabetes and diabetic complications. He chaired committees in the Centers for Disease Control and the NIH-funded Diabetes Prevention Program, and Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) research trials.
Under his leadership, Brancati’s research colleagues found that hemoglobin A1c is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — far superior to fasting glucose blood levels, which had been the standard — and that type 2 diabetes confers a higher risk of cancer mortality. Early in his career he was part of a research team that discovered that moderate weight loss, even 5%, and exercise could prevent the onset of diabetes in people at high risk. Later in his career, he was known for his work in demonstrating racial disparities in diabetes risk and its complications.
Dr. Brancati grew up in Long Island, New York and graduated magna cum laude in 1981 from Harvard University with a BA in biochemical sciences. In 1985, he earned his MD from Columbia University and trained in internal medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was also chief resident.
He arrived at Johns Hopkins in 1989 for a general internal medicine postdoctoral fellowship, while he also earned a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He joined the Department of Medicine faculty in 1992, was promoted to professor in 2003 and was named Director of the Division of General Internal Medicine in 2004. During his tenure, the Division grew to include 80 full-time faculty, 150 part-time faculty and 17 postdoctoral fellows, and received over $30 million per year in NIH and other federal grants (up from $12 million per year).
Dr. Brancati was the founding executive medical director of the Office of Business Development and Strategic Alliances and Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions, organizations focused on developing innovative partnerships with industry to deliver new models of care. One of these collaborations led to a National Institutes of Health-funded trial (the "POWER" Trial) of a telephone and web-based weight loss program, an enterprise that became the first commercial health care product marketed in connection with the Johns Hopkins name. In 2011, he won the prestigious Kelly West Ward for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology from the American Diabetes Association and the Chief of the Year Award from the Association of Chiefs & Leaders of General Internal Medicine. Dr. Brancati's wife, his high school sweetheart, Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, and his twin daughters survive him. Dr. Brancati was devoted to his family, and both modeled this behavior and made it part of the Division's cultural norm.
The Center is named in honor of this wonderful man who devoted his career to others, and who always brought with him a deep sense of joy. We strive to achieve his life goals to improve health in our communities.