From Sydney to West Los Angeles, diabetes expert Anne Peters changes lives by defying convention.
OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST Gary Hall Jr. may be an idol to many, but his own personal hero isn’t a coach or an athlete – it’s an endocrinologist. USC director of clinical diabetes Anne Peters was the only doctor to tell the champion swimmer that he could keep competing after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999.
Hall had taken four medals in Atlanta in 1996, and he had hopes of winning more in Sydney when his doctors announced he’d never swim at the world-class level again.
The diagnosis was a blow, but “Gary dealt with it immediately, absorbing all he could and learning how to integrate it into his lifestyle so he could keep training,” says Peters.

Diabetes treatment specialist Anne Peters consults with a patient at the USC Westside Center for Diabetes.

“I've never seen such commitment,” she told USA Today in an article on the swimmer’s comeback. “He applied himself where most would have given up.” The USC physician masterminded Hall’s program (which included a fine-tuned diet and blood monitoring at least 10 times a day). She stayed by his side at practices, at the trials, at the Olympics and by phone, day or night, to answer questions or allay his fears.
Just by diving into the pool, Hall achieved something profoundly important: he proved to more than 120 million diabetes patients worldwide that the constraints of this disease aren’t insurmountable. Winning four more medals, two of them gold, made his second Olympic appearance that much sweeter.
“Diabetes patients are in awe of Gary,” says Peters. “He’s such an inspiration.”

HAVING DEFIED CONVENTIONAL wisdom once, Peters promptly set out to do it again. Upon joining USC’s diabetes team last September, the former UCLA professor lobbied to set up a Keck School pied-à-terre on the Westside where she could continue to see patients from across town. With support from Keck School chair of medicine Edward Crandall and USC Care executives Jeffry Huffman and Tammy Capretta, the new office is thriving.
“This is one of the first really successful USC medical practices on the Westside,” says chief of endocrinology and diabetes Peter Butler, who also sees patients there. “It gives us tremendous visibility across the city.”
Peters brings to the Keck School of Medicine of USC a stellar reputation in the delivery of care to diabetes patients and an important body of work. One of several scientists who are bringing the USC Diabetes Research Center into the limelight, Peters demonstrated in her “chocolate cake study” that a slice of the sinful stuff could be substituted for a baked potato without adversely affecting glycemic controls in Type 1 patients. Her approach has helped liberalize the restrictive diabetic diet and normalize patients’ lives.
“It’s clear why we have asked Dr. Peters to take overall leadership of diabetes care here at USC, and we are grateful that she has accepted,” says Butler.

– Diane Krieger

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