Long before she knew she would become a pediatric endocrinologist, Laura Nally, MD, was familiar with type 1, or juvenile, diabetes. Her father and two of her aunts had the chronic condition, in which the pancreas creates too little or no insulin, a hormone needed to move blood sugar (glucose) to the body’s cells to be used for energy.
When she was 6, Dr. Nally was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes herself. “I’ve lived with it ever since. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to contribute to helping others with their management of type 1 diabetes,” says Dr. Nally, who specializes in treating children with diabetes and other hormonal problems. “When I was 12, I started to better understand how to manage the disease, and it became more interesting to me. Each day was like a science experiment. I’d take a certain amount of insulin, eat something, and then see what happened throughout the day.”
That fascination prompted her career in medicine. Pediatrics, she says, was a natural fit. “Kids are fantastic. I love working with them. I can be goofy and silly, which suits me naturally. It’s so nice to bond with them about diabetes,” she adds. “When I say, ‘Oh look, I have an insulin pump, too,’ the younger ones especially love that.”
Dr. Nally says she especially likes working with teenagers who have diabetes. “Life is difficult enough when you’re a teen, and to manage diabetes when you have 30 other things going on that are much more important to you is challenging,” she says. “I want to inspire them to take their insulin, to do their blood-sugar checks, but to not feel like their whole world revolves around diabetes. I think it helps for them to see me, a healthy, happy adult with diabetes who hasn’t let it stop her from achieving her dreams.”