Pharmacy graduate takes aim at a cure for diabetes


As part of his diabetes advocacy work, David Schapiro has traveled around the country giving speeches, meeting with lawmakers and conducting research.

The recent College of Pharmacy graduate hopes to find a cure for the disease and help improve the lives of people who have it. It’s a mission inspired partly by personal experience: Schapiro has diabetes.

“Even before pharmacy school, I knew I wanted to work in diabetes. I have Type 1,” he said. “Unfortunately in the U.S., more than half of people with diabetes don’t achieve their health goals. I think from a professional and personal perspective, it’s something that has always bothered me.”  

Schapiro earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree this spring. He is currently in Indianapolis on a postdoctoral fellowship helping drug company Eli Lilly create more culturally competent diabetes care and messaging.

David Schapiro, a College of Pharmacy graduate, hopes to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, a disease he has. (Photo courtesy of David Schapiro)
David Schapiro, a College of Pharmacy graduate, hopes to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, a disease he has. (Photo courtesy of David Schapiro)

In 2019, the American Diabetes Association selected Schapiro to take part in its Advocacy Leadership Program. During the intensive, nearly yearlong program, Schapiro met with U.S. senators, representatives and officials from government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the importance of continuing federal funding for diabetes research and prevention.  

Schapiro also is passionate about the topics of drug pricing and availability. He wants to help ensure that life-saving insulin is affordable for the people who need it.

As obesity rates increase, diabetes is becoming more prevalent in the state and across the country. Schapiro said about one in 10 people in Michigan has the disease.

“The economic burden of diabetes in Michigan is larger than the total economic output of General Motors,” he said.

Schapiro said he takes a real-world, humanistic approach that involves caring for the whole patient.

“It’s not just about blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, but what is the patient’s mental health? Do they feel in control of the disease, or do they feel limited?” he said.   

While at U-M, Schapiro worked with a faculty member to rewrite the diabetes curriculum in the pharmacy and nurse practitioner programs so students have the most current information about how the disease is treated.

Schapiro has witnessed firsthand the devastating toll diabetes can take on people’s lives. 

“I’ve seen people lose their feet, their kidneys, their eyesight, everything,” he said. “There’s kids who I’ve met who wanted their whole life since childhood to serve in the Army and armed forces, and if you have diabetes, you can’t. The personal stories drive me to want to redefine the disease.”

Schapiro said he hopes to cure Type 1 diabetes. When it comes to Type 2, which may be more difficult to cure, he wants to improve patient care and develop new, more effective medications.

“My overarching goal is I want people to unconditionally reach their full potential in life,” he said.


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