Dr. Anny Xiang honored with prestigious American Diabetes Association award

Anny Xiang, PhD, MS, scientific director of the Division of Biostatics Research at the Department of Research & Evaluation, received the American Diabetes Association’s 2022 Norbert Freinkel Award on June 4, 2022. The lecture award is the ADA’s highest award for outstanding contributions in the field of diabetes and pregnancy.

“Dr. Xiang’s body of work has shed new light on how diabetes during pregnancy affects the health of both mothers and children, including long-term health outcomes,” said Benjamin Broder, MD, PhD, interim senior scientific director for the Department of Research & Evaluation. “Her research has provided important new evidence for clinicians caring for women with diabetes during pregnancy as well as for their children.”

Decades of research in maternal health

Early in her career, Dr. Xiang became interested in the how type 2 diabetes developed in young Hispanic women who had gestational diabetes. She discovered that reducing, rather than increasing, the insulin secretory load on the pancreas in women who had gestational diabetes could help prevent the development of diabetes later.

Much of her research focuses on maternal health and health conditions in children. Dr. Xiang has served as principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and lead biostatistician on many studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.

At Kaiser Permanente, Dr. Xiang has led a series of large population-based studies to assess the long-term adverse effects of diabetes during pregnancy. Her research has shed new light on the risks diabetes poses to children, with findings about autism, ADHD, growth, and obesity. She is also co-leading mechanistic studies to identify and understand brain pathways involved in the transgenerational transmission of obesity and diabetes to children.

“I am very honored by this prestigious award and grateful to have had the opportunity to share my reflections based on 30 years of work in the field,” said Dr. Xiang. “I especially appreciated the opportunity to raise awareness of the far-reaching effects of diabetes during pregnancy and am grateful to the American Diabetes Association for amplifying that message.”

Prolific track record of publications

Dr. Xiang has published more than 160 peer-reviewed papers during her career, including 98 focused on diabetes and gestational diabetes. Her training spans multiple disciplines, including undergraduate and graduate level work in biomedical engineering and physiology as well as biostatistics. She uses her training to design studies, conduct research, and interpret data that addresses both mechanistic and clinical questions. As senior biostatistician, she mentors and guides others on statistical research.

During the pandemic, Dr. Xiang has focused on COVID outcomes, including research into the associations between air pollution and COVID severity, which highlights that breathing clean air may reduce the severity of infections.

Dr. Xiang is also a professor in the department of Health Systems Science at the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine.