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Christopher Dyer Saudek, M.D., founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Diabetes Center, a pioneer in the development of implantable insulin pumps, and a tireless physician who was ever available to his patients, died October 6 after a battle with metastatic melanoma. He was 68.
A member of the Hopkins faculty for 30 years, Saudek was the Hugh P. McCormick Family Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a member of the faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. For more than 20 years, he was also program director of the Johns Hopkins General Clinical Research Center.
“We have lost one of our giants,” said Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean/CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “He always tried to make things better for patients. I so enjoyed referring patients to him because I knew that he would not only give them great medical care but that his compassion and understanding of the human condition was unsurpassed. Chris was the best that Hopkins had to offer.”
An endocrinologist, Saudek founded the Hopkins Comprehensive Diabetes Center in 1984. A national leader in the field, he served a one-year term as president of the American Diabetes Association in 2001-2002 launching a nationwide educational campaign to raise public awareness about diabetes’ link to heart disease and stroke.
Also during the 1980s, Saudek implanted one of the first internal insulin pumps in a patient. The diabetic patients who had the early pumps implanted swore they changed their lives. Although this device was never approved by the FDA, Saudek’s research laid the groundwork for other exciting advances in the field.
In 2007, Saudek’s passion took him to the South Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, where he was the driving force behind a Johns Hopkins initiative designed to teach medical professionals in that country — where an estimated 20 percent of the population has diabetes — how to improve care for diabetes patients and better spot potential complications early enough to do something about them. The success of that program has led Hopkins officials to explore expanding it to other nations.
Saudek is survived by Susan, his wife of 44 years, their four children and nine grandchildren. If you would like to make a donation to the Dr. Christopher Saudek Memorial fund, the address is 601 N Caroline Street, Room 2006, Baltimore, MD 21287. You can also make a donation here.