Back to Friends for Life Orlando 2018 FFL Orlando 2018 Fellows

About the CWD Fellows Program

The CWD Fellows Program at Friends for Life® Orlando gives health care professionals who are beginning their careers an opportunity to see what type 1 diabetes is really like by spending a week with Friends for Life® families. By exposing our Fellows to every aspect of life with type 1, from morning highs and lows to exercise-induced hypos to the emotional impact of a blood glucose reading that doesn't match expectations, we hope to help them bring greater understanding and compassion to the families who they will serve in their career. Our deepest thanks to Dexcom, Insulet, Lilly Diabetes, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and Senseonics for their inspired support for this transformational program.

2018 Fellow Mentors


Lindsay Anderson, MA, is currently a pediatric psychology intern at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and will be starting her clinical psychology fellowship at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in July 2017 with a focus in diabetes. She is completing her PhD at Duke University, where she has studied interventions to promote adherence, cognitive functioning, and quality of life among youth and adolescents with chronic illness. Lindsay is particularly interested in the family and individual factors that promote adaptive functioning and the ways in which we can use innovative technology to help further support adherence, illness self-management, and overall quality of life. Lindsay is thrilled to be joining the Friends for Life® conference this year in Orlando to participate as a fellow.


Melanie Batchelor, MHS, RD, LDN, CDE, currently works with a mid-sized school system in Western North Carolina where she is the Nutrition Supervisor and works with students and staff to manage diabetes. Over her career, Melanie has made many contributions to her field. She volunteers for AADE, is a member of the American Diabetes Association, sits on the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Committee Workgroup, and works with several insulin pump companies. Melanie really enjoys educating people with diabetes and their families. She is excited for this amazing opportunity to learn more from the families at Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Orlando conference.


Giovanna Beauchamp, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist practicing at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) since the fall of 2017. Diagnosed at age eight, Dr. Gio has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years and it has fueled her desire to work with children, adolescents, and young adults with type 1 diabetes. Gio was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She received a B.S. in Social Sciences from Boston College, attended medical school at the University of Puerto Rico School Of Medicine, and did her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. She completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida in the summer of 2017. Her publications include "Can we prevent type 1 diabetes?", a review paper on the current and past studies about type 1 diabetes prevention and a paper, published in Diabetes Care, on her research regarding the screening guidelines for diabetic retinopathy. She also participated in a tele-mentoring project for young adults with T1D. She lists diabetes camp as one of her favorite things and moving forward, she'll be exploring the transition of diabetes from pediatric to adult care. She joined the FFL Family in 2016, returned in 2017, and is thrilled to come back as a mentor this year!


Laura Jacobsen, MD, is a third year pediatric endocrinology fellow at the University of Florida. Laura is a native Floridian and completed her undergraduate degrees and medical school at the University of Florida before going to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for pediatric residency. She is planning a career as a physician scientist—taking care of pediatric endocrine and diabetes patients and doing type 1 diabetes research. Laura’s research interests include intervention and prevention clinical trials in type 1 diabetes in addition to translational research and technology trials such as the artificial pancreas. She also works with the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) at the University of Florida searching to understand better what causes type 1 diabetes. Laura has been involved with many amazing organizations and research consortiums related to type 1 diabetes including TrialNet, TEDDY, and the T1D Exchange. In her time as a fellow she has published three first-author manuscripts and six overall in the field of type 1 diabetes and she is also currently studying a retinal camera to improve screening for diabetic retinopathy. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes and has enjoyed volunteering at the Florida Diabetes Camps.


Jagjit Padda, MD, was born in Victoria, B.C., and raised in Vancouver. She trained in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology and Metabolism. During her training, she has been to various institutions across the US and was involved heavily in research leading to many publications in the areas of endocrine disorders. Jagjit is currently providing care for patients with emphasis in areas of diabetes, thyroid conditions, bone health, lipids and obesity, women’s and men’s reproductive health, as well as pituitary and adrenal disorders in Canada. She is looking forward to meeting with the growing Friends for Life family. She also hopes to help other future health care providers obtain unique insight into life with diabetes. Jagjit hopes to translate her experiences at Friends for Life to her practice in Canada.


Anthony Vesco, PhD, is currently a clinical psychology fellow at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He received his PhD from The Ohio State University in 2016. Anthony has specific interests in mood disorders in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and is particularly interested in research and clinical programs that emphasize family-based models of treatment. Anthony enjoys working with families in building their support networks for diabetes and in helping families to communicate more openly and effectively about diabetes as a means of lessening the likelihood of argument and conflict regarding diabetes. Anthony is excited to be participating in the Friends for Life Orlando conference this year as a fellows’ mentor.

2018 Fellows


Monica Bianco, MD, is a second year pediatric endocrinology fellow at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. She received her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.D from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Her interest in endocrinology started when she was taking care of patients with type 1 diabetes as a medical student. In residency, she presented her research on the effects of vitamin D levels on insulin requirement in patients with type 1 diabetes and continuous glucose monitors at PAS/PES in San Diego and ESPE in Barcelona. Now as a pediatric endocrinology fellow she had the opportunity to attend a type 1 diabetes symposium in Dallas sponsored by Endocrine Fellows Foundation. Her quality improvement project will focus on the treatment of complications associated with diabetes. And she has been fortunate to participate in the Illinois diabetes camps. She hopes to focus on pediatric diabetes post-fellowship.


Brittany Bruggeman, MD, is a first year pediatric endocrinology fellow at the University of Florida. She is a native Floridian and completed her undergraduate, medical school, residency, and now fellowship at UF- Go Gators! She has been involved in Type 1 Diabetes research for the past nine years and now continues in this exciting field as a fellow. Her experience in T1D research has ranged from animal models all the way to the clinic. In undergraduate, she studied the development of a bioartificial pancreatic construct in animal models. In medical school she performed clinical research comparing three fast-acting insulins at mealtime. In residency, she participated in a mentorship project pairing type 1 diabetic college mentors with teenage mentees and is currently studying the prevalence of retinopathy in children with T1D using a retinal camera. She has been a camp counselor at the Florida Diabetes Camp since 2012 and loves working with this population of amazing kids. She is very excited to participate in the Friends for Life Fellows Program for the first time this year. ​


Nicole Coles, MD, FRCPC, is a third year Paediatric Endocrine Fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She is also currently completing a Master's degree researching the impact of maternal gestational diabetes on insulin resistance in their offspring. She has an interest in quality improvement initiatives and development of patient education materials for children and families with type 1 diabetes. Nicole grew up in Toronto and completed her Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University. She finished medical school at the University of Toronto and her pediatric residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She will finish her fellowship and transition to independent practice in July 2018. This is her first year participating in the Friends for Life Fellowship program and is excited about the opportunity.


Kathryn Gibbons, MD, is a second year pediatric endocrine fellow at Yale in New Haven, CT. She has been lucky enough to participate in several clinical research studies involving novel approaches to type 1 diabetes, including inhaled insulins and multiple different artificial pancreas studies, and to train with Dr. William Tamborlane, the "Father of the Insulin Pump." As such, Dr. Gibbons is very interested in incorporating ever-advancing technology into diabetes care. She is a native New Yorker, and received a BA from SUNY Binghamton, and an MD from St. George's University.


Rayhan Lal, MD, is a fourth year adult and pediatric endocrine fellow at Stanford. Rayhan grew up in the California bay area. He has had type 1 diabetes for over 25 years. His two sisters were enrolled in DPT-1, and were found to be antibody positive. He studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. During this time, his two younger sisters developed type 1 diabetes. To help all his brothers and sisters with diabetes, he decided to pursue clinical medicine at the University of California, Davis. Rayhan could not decide whether to take care of children or adults with diabetes and so did both. He completed a four year residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Southern California, working at Los Angeles County Hospital. While there he wrote a carb counting app for underserved families lacking confidence in their abilities and performed a randomized controlled trial to test its efficacy. As an engineer and physician-scientist with diabetes, his primary research interest is the design, development and testing of new diabetes technology and therapies. To that end, Rayhan is currently working with Dr. Bruce Buckingham at Stanford on a number of projects. He is also a fervent supporter of #wearenotwaiting.


Nick Messinger, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, CDE, BC-ADM, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pharmacy Practice and Administrative Sciences at the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also a Clinical Pharmacist with the Family Medicine Residency at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Edgewood, Kentucky. Dr. Messinger earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. He completed a PGY1 Pharmacy Residency at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a PGY2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residency at Five Rivers Health Centers in Dayton, Ohio. At the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Messinger serves as the content expert for the endocrine and diabetes pharmacotherapy courses. He also coordinates an elective course for PharmD students, “Comprehensive Diabetes Care.” In the course, students complete the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Certificate Training Program, “The Pharmacist & Patient-Centered Diabetes Care.” At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, his role on the interprofessional team is to assist with medication management and train student pharmacists. With the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes, significant time is dedicated educating the team, patients, and their caregivers about diabetes. Dr. Messinger has participated as medical staff at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Camp Korelitz in Clarksville, Ohio since 2016. Dr. Messinger was recognized by Mount St. Joseph University with the Future Five Award in 2016, by Be Well UC (employee wellness program) as a Wellness Champion in 2017, and received Faculty Excellence Awards from the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy in 2016 and 2017. Dr. Messinger looks forward to the learning experience at Friends for Life® Orlando!


Jackie Papadakis, PhD, is currently a clinical child psychology intern at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University Chicago this summer, where she studied resilience and diversity-related factors among families of youth with chronic illnesses. Starting this July, she will begin a new role as the diabetes psychology fellow at Lurie Children’s Hospital. Jackie is interested in personal and family adjustment to pediatric chronic illness, including type 1 diabetes, and using family-based approaches to support self-management and quality of life. She is very excited to attend the Friends for Life® conference for this first time this summer as a fellow.


Kristen Schroeder, BSN-RN, CHES, CDE, currently practices as a Certified Diabetes Educator, Registered Nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She received her Bachelors of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida in 2013 and her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Florida Atlantic University in 2014. She became a Certified Diabetes Educator in 2017. She is an active member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and volunteers on the AADE Coordinating Board of Florida as the Technology Chair. She also volunteers for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and is a member of the Diabetes Coalition of Palm Beach County. Kristen is excited to attend and participate as a fellow in the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference.


Sonalee Ravi, MD, is a third year pediatric endocrinology fellow at the University of Colorado completing her training at the Children's Hospital of Colorado and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. Sonalee is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and her medical school and pediatric residency at Saint Louis University. She is currently planning a clinical career in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes. Sonalee's research interests center around patient and family education in type 1 diabetes. She has worked on a quality improvement project to improve family knowledge and confidence in home sick-day management to avoid ED visits and hospitalizations for DKA. Her main fellowship project is a reeducation project to see if teens change knowledge and self-care practices after receiving interactive text messages. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Diabetes Association, the Endocrine Society, and the Pediatric Endocrine Society and also serves on the education committee of the Pediatric Endocrine Society in the diabetes education sub-committee. She has also enjoyed volunteering for the ADA Camp Colorado 2017 as a member of the senior medical staff.


Sarah Westen, PhD, is a pediatric psychology fellow in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida (UF), where she also completed her doctoral training and psychology residency specializing in pediatric chronic illnesses with an emphasis on type one diabetes research and clinical care. Dr. Westen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14 and has devoted her career to diabetes research and intervention. She is a fellowship recipient of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s 2018-2019 National Diabetes Psychology Fellowship Program and is the 2018 recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Drotar-Crawford Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Grant in Pediatric Psychology. She is interested in the biopsychosocial aspects of chronic illness in children, young adults, and families (e.g., adherence, coping, family management, transition from pediatric to adult care, treatment of comorbid mental health conditions). Clinically, Dr. Westen sees patients for intervention services in the UF Psychology Clinic and the multidisciplinary UF Pediatric Endocrinology Diabetes Clinic. She served a three-year term as an elected Board Member within the Diabetes Special Interest Group of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (American Psychological Association Division 54) and is currently involved in several multi-site working groups regarding type one diabetes treatment in the context of interdisciplinary care. Dr. Westen is thrilled to participate in the Friends for Life® conference.


Jessie J. Wong, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. She received his PhD in clinical psychology from Arizona State University and completed her predoctoral internship at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Jessie's research and clinical interests focus on the intersection of physical and mental health among children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions as well as preventive interventions and treatments that target ongoing mental health needs. Jessie has a particular passion for working with children and adolescents with diabetes to reinforce their coping abilities and to help families serve a support system for diabetes management. Jessie is excited to join in the Friends for Life Fellows Program this year.

  Denotes Fellow with diabetes

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