About Dr David Cavan
I am an experienced diabetes physician and have expertise in all areas of diabetes management. My particular interests are in supporting lifestyle change to manage and reverse type 2 diabetes, and in intensive management of type 1 diabetes including insulin pump therapy. I actively promote self-management and have been closely involved in the development of education programmes for people with diabetes. I am the author of two books on self-management of type 2 diabetes.
I qualified from Southampton Medical School in 1985 and during my training I quickly became fascinated by the complexity of diabetes, especially for the people with the condition, who have to live with it day in, day out. Although I had not consciously decided to become a diabetes specialist at that stage, this early experience set me on the course to do just that. After a variety of junior hospital posts, I spent three years as a Medical Research Council Training Fellow at the University of Birmingham, undertaking studies to help unravel the complex genetics behind type 1 diabetes. While fascinating, the truth was that I was not particularly suited to laboratory research, and I concluded that I wanted to devote my energies to helping solve the problems faced by people living with diabetes now, rather than research the underlying genetics that might take some years to yield real results.
In 1993 I moved to London to work at St Thomas’ Hospital, and embarked upon studies to develop a computer model to help people with type 1 diabetes achieve better control of their blood glucose levels. From this work I learnt the importance of the person with diabetes understanding the factors that influence glucose levels, and critically the impact of food eaten. By that time, it had been decided that people with diabetes did not need a particular diet and so were no often not taught about the effects of different foods on their blood glucose levels.
I moved to Bournemouth in 1996, to work as a Consultant Physician at the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre. I stayed there for 17 years, working with an incredible team. During that time I developed my interest and expertise in self-management for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and oversaw the development of education programmes for people with type 1 diabetes (BERTIE) and for type 2 diabetes (Focus). I also helped develop a structured educational approach to the management of people starting insulin pump therapy, as well as the first (and I think still the only) open access online programme for people with type 1 diabetes, recently relaunched as BertieOnline.
During this time I sat on a number of committees at Diabetes UK and from 2000-2004 was the Chair of the Education and Psychosocial Care Section of Diabetes UK. In this role I contributed to the development of the National Service Framework for Diabetes. I subsequently sat on the Specialist Liaison group that worked with the National Clinical Director for Diabetes on improving diabetes services in England.
By 2013, I was ready for a new challenge and left the UK to work for three years as the Director of Policy and Programmes at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in Brussels. The IDF is a global federation that represents over 230 national diabetes associations. In my role, I was responsible for overseeing a range of projects and programmes that addressed the various needs of people with diabetes at a global level. I was also responsible for the production of the IDF Diabetes Atlas that provides estimates for the prevalence of diabetes in every country of the world, as well as a number of other key reports.
In 2014 I published my first book, ‘Reverse your diabetes: the step by step plan to take control of type 2 diabetes’, aimed at providing people with type 2 diabetes with the information they need to make lifestyle changes to achieve better control of their condition, and possibly to reverse it. This was followed up in 2016 by ‘Reverse your diabetes diet’, providing 60 recipes to help people better manage type 2 diabetes. I am currently writing a book to support people with managing type 1 diabetes.
I have now returned to the UK as an independent consultant to work on a variety of diabetes-related projects, while also returning to clinical practice. My aim is to work to reduce the impact of diabetes for individuals who have, or are risk of developing diabetes, as well as on communities by supporting projects that help improve diabetes services.