Clinician Corner

CC

DR. FRAN COGEN

Location/Hospital Affiliation: Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program – Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C.

Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Residency in Pediatrics: Babies and Children’s Hospital

 

Who influenced you to become a physician?

I had planned on becoming a genetic counselor or a biology teacher upon entering college at Cornell University. My genetics advisor suggested that I become a physician because patients require a great deal of education and he thought that caring and compassion would walk hand in hand with human genetics and medicine.

Why did you choose your specialty?

As noted above, I had planned on becoming a human geneticist; however, after taking care of children with diabetes I found that I admired them enormously. So much work that was required, planning ahead for every meal, taking injections, checking blood sugars etc. As such, I really wanted to try to help as much as possible to improve quality of life. I also truly enjoyed the biochemistry of diabetes after learning that biochemical pathways involving glucose are reversed leading to diabetic ketoacidosis when there is no insulin. Lastly, many of my colleagues were uncomfortable taking care of patients with diabetes due to the fact that “art” is required as well as “science” in managing blood sugars. I enjoyed this aspect of diabetes care as well as getting to know my patients and families over the years due to the frequency of visits every 3 months.

What is your favorite novel and/or sport?

I am very fond of the novels by Jane Austen (you can always count on a happy ending!) , particularly Pride and Prejudice. I also love baseball: GO Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox!!!

If you were not a physician, what career would you have chosen and why?

I probably would have come a biology teacher in high school or college due to my enjoyment of teaching.

What do you enjoy when you are not working?

I love attending baseball games, Theater (musicals and drama) as well as movies. I also read British Literature and novels like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter (as encouraged by my son) and Outlander.

If you could witness any event, past, present, or future, what would it be?

Great question! May I list several?

  1. I would like to have met Elizabeth 1 to discuss politics and why she decided not to marry.
  2. I wish I could have witnessed the moon landing in person and travel through space
  3. And more realistically, I would like to see a cure for type 1 diabetes (thank goodness for glyburide for monogenic diabetes), administer it to all my patients and then retire!!

Most important advice do you have for patients?

For those with monogenic diabetes, I am so happy that genetic research has enabled many of you to stop insulin and start oral medication. For those who remain on insulin, I ask that you take care of yourself as much as you can by keeping blood sugars under control in anticipation for an eventual fix or cure. It is coming and I would ask that you stay healthy enough to receive it and avoid future complications.