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Great News for People with Diabetes! Dr. Robert Ratner Takes on Prevention and Remission, Becoming Chief Medical Officer of Virta Health

By Jimmy McDermott and Emily Fitts

Dr. Robert Ratner, former top scientific and medical chief of the ADA, is appointed as Chief Medical Officer of Virta Health

Virta Health just announced great and very surprising news - that Dr. Robert Ratner, a long-time scientific and medical leader in diabetes, will serve as its Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Ratner has been an advisor to Virta since 2017, and he served as the top scientific chief at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) from 2012-2017.

Virta provides an “online specialty medical clinic” with health coaches and doctors who help individuals manage diabetes – and possibly put type 2 diabetes into remission – using daily app-based coaching and individual carbohydrate restriction.

Dr. Ratner brings to Virta 40 years of clinical, educational, and regulatory experience. Though best known in his role at ADA, he also a Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC.

As a champion of data-driven approaches, Dr. Ratner believes in continuous remote care to improve outcomes for people with type 2 diabetes.  He has consistently advocated for CGMs in achieving and maintaining glycemic control, given their ability to help people increase their time in range. diaTribe has worked closely with Dr. Ratner on the Beyond A1C Movement over the past several years - see Dr. Ratner’s slides on the limitations of A1C from our 2017 Consensus Conference. We look forward to seeing Dr. Ratner’s perspectives further integrated into Virta’s care model.

In Virta’s press announcement, Dr. Ratner said, “Our understanding of what is possible at scale in diabetes care is changing rapidly. There's sufficient evidence that sustained remission is achievable for many, and this is why I am joining Virta—to help bring this life-changing option, delivered via a novel, virtual care model, to the millions of Americans who want it.”

Virta’s two-year outcomes data from a study of the program enrolled 262 participants with type 2 diabetes. Among the Virta users:

  • 54% had achieved “diabetes reversal,” defined by Virta as an A1C less than 6.5% and no diabetes medications other than metformin;

  • 18% had achieved “partial remission,” defined as an A1C less than 6.5% without medication; and

  • 7% had achieved “complete diabetes remission,” defined as an A1C less than 5.7% without medication.

In addition to the impressive one-year and two-year data, the diaTribe team surveyed five diaTribe readers to learn about their experiences with Virta. You can read the full Test Drive here. Here are several of the highlights:

  • All five participants reported feeling much better on the Virta program. Common themes included increased energy and desire to be active, better sleep, and reduced hunger.

  • All five participants lowered their A1C with the low-carb approach and Virta coaching. The largest A1C drop was 2.1 percentage points!

  • Three of the five participants lost more than 20 pounds on the Virta program.

  • Before starting Virta, four of the five participants were using diabetes medications. Three participants have eliminated all diabetes medications, and one has reduced insulin requirements by 78% (from 80 units per day to 18 units per day).

  • Two of the participants described Virta as “life-changing.” The positive experience with Virta even led one participant to suggest that the Virta platform has the potential to vastly reduce the burden of diabetes on society.

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