Ann L. Albright: Dedicated to Reducing the Burden of Diabetes

Photo: CDC


Lenna Frances Cooper

Born in 1875, Cooper was a nurse by training who, under the tutelage of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and Ella Ervilla Eaton at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, became a staunch advocate for health care through diet. Cooper’s first book, The New Cookery (Good Health Publishing Co. 1913), featured a then-novel concept of nutritionally balanced, wholesomely prepared, attractive and palatable recipes for good health. She became the first director and dean of the school of home economics at the Sanitarium, from which more than 500 dietitians graduated during her tenure.

Co-founder of the American Dietetic Association in 1917, Cooper pioneered the profession as a charter member of the American Home Economics
Association, first president of the Michigan Dietetic Association and first U.S. Army dietitian. She served on the staff of the U.S. Surgeon General and created the department of dietetics at the National Institutes of Health.

Cooper’s leadership in the field of nutrition and dietetics has touched millions and cemented her legacy within the profession. Annually, the Academy honors her by giving the Lenna Frances Cooper Memorial Lecture award to a dedicated member, inspiring speaker and a role model who has made significant contributions to the profession.

Having lived with Type 1 diabetes for 50 years, Ann L. Albright, PhD, RDN, has an intimate understanding of the difficult journey people with diabetes often face. As a child, Albright learned from her mother, a registered nurse, how to manage her diabetes and live life to the fullest. “Back then, we didn’t have any of the tools or technology we have now,” Albright recalls. “I’ve lived with Type 1 diabetes for most of my life and can tell you: It is very challenging and, at times, scary. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is.”

As a PhD student, Albright decided to pursue exercise science and devoted her work specifically to diabetes. “I wanted to help those with diabetes feel good and lead active, healthy lives,” she says. “Subsequently, I added nutrition to my field of study, since both nutrition and physical activity are critical for diabetes care and Type 2 diabetes prevention.”

After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship, Albright became a registered dietitian, leading the diabetes program at the California Department of Health while working part-time in a county clinic. Albright then served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a role she chose as a way to help more people.

Fast-forward to the coalescence of Albright’s experience as a researcher, clinician and public health professional: serving as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “In this role, I am incredibly fortunate to work with a fantastic team and partners all over the world who inspire me daily,” she says. “In all the work I do, my hope is to make the journey easier and better for others with and at-risk for diabetes and their loved ones.”

Diabetes patient education and tools haven’t always been widely available or easy to understand, but Albright and her team at the CDC are working to change this in the United States and around the world. In recognition of her inspiring career and dedication to diabetes prevention and treatment, Albright was named the recipient of the Academy’s 2018 Lenna Frances Cooper Memorial Lecture Award.

“I am very grateful and humbled that my peers felt I am worthy of this prestigious award,” says Albright. “I share this award with my family and my team at CDC.”

Lauren Fox
Lauren Fox is the managing editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and senior manager of creative media at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.