Meet Joshua Joseph, 2021 “Philanthropist of the Year” Pillar Award winner
When Joshua Joseph, MD, MPH, FAHA, arrived on The Ohio State University campus in 2016 as a bright, young assistant professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, he brought with him a promise he had made to himself years earlier—to improve the lives of underserved populations living with type 2 diabetes and its associated cardiovascular disorders.
Once established, he wasted no time getting started by connecting with Darrell Gray II, MD, MPH, and Timiya Nolan, PhD, APRN-CNP, ANP-BC, and the local office of the National African American Male Wellness Agency. Together they developed a partnership that would soon yield the city’s first “Black Impact 100 Collaboration.”
Dr. Joseph is a strong advocate of educating patients about individual lifestyle changes they can adopt to improve their own health based on the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” health factors, which is backed by scientific research, including investigations by his own team of research scientists. One of those studies measured the heart health of a group of 7,758 participants using “Life’s Simple 7” health factors as a guide and found that those who were in the “recommended-ideal” ranges for at least four of the seven factors had a 70% lower risk of developing diabetes over the next 10 years, showing that implementing prevention strategies as early as possible are key in preventing diabetes.
Other studies by the team have sought to identify the endocrinological mechanisms involved in the impact of stress on the body’s production of glucose by studying the role of cortisol, insulin and other hormones in the process. In one such study, the team discovered that patients with high levels of the hormone aldosterone had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with lower levels of the hormone, and that the risk was three times greater in African Americans with high aldosterone levels.
Being able to translate lessons learned in his lab at Ohio State’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center into novel therapies and treatments in the community is a key advantage for clinician scientists like Dr. Joseph and his collaborative research team who hope to improve the health of individual members of vulnerable populations, while impacting community and population health as a whole. Their work has not gone unnoticed by the local or national community, which has shown its appreciation for his contributions to community health by honoring him with the Columbus Education Association Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award in 2019 and the National Minority Quality Forum naming him a “40 under 40” leader in health care in 2020. Currently, Dr. Joseph, once again, appears in the spotlight as the 2021 recipient of the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service – Philanthropy, presented by Smart Business.
You don’t need to know him well to know that Dr. Joseph is humble about such honors, more comfortable with sharing the limelight with colleagues and partners on and off campus and citing the many accomplishments of the team, from clinical research advances in diabetes and cardiovascular medicine to patient care and community action projects, introducing healthy lifestyle choices and opportunities to participate in clinical studies to improve individual and community health.
“The 2021 Medical Mutual Pillar Awards for Community Service – Philanthropy Award is a recognition of our collective, sustained impact in advancing the health of every individual in central Ohio and throughout our nation,” he says. “I am blessed to work on such a great team of talented and exemplary individuals across the university and the community and this award is a reflection of all of our collective work.”
Dr. Joseph knows that he and his team are a long way from ending the devastating impact of diabetes and cardiovascular disease on the lives of those in the community who are most vulnerable, but their work is clearly having an impact by making early detection and prevention possible through research, practice and community engagement.