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UCSF Internal Medicine Specialist Celebrated for Diabetes Epidemiology Research


American Diabetes Association Honors Alka M. Kanaya, MD

Alka M. Kanaya, MD

Alka M. Kanaya, MD

Alka M. Kanaya, MD, UC San Francisco primary care physician and researcher, has been honored with the 2023 Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The award recognizes significant contributions to the field of diabetes epidemiology.

Kanaya's clinical research focuses on the causes and prevention of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She has developed a three-pronged research program to investigate the relationship between type 2 diabetes and obesity and cardiovascular disease. The first study arm uses existing studies to test new biomarkers (measurable substances in the body) that predict diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The second arm studies sociocultural, behavioral and biological risk factors in South Asian patients, who have a higher cardiometabolic disease prevalence compared with other ethnic groups. The final arm studies behavioral interventions, such as restorative yoga, to determine whether they prevent the onset of diabetes in high-risk groups.

“Dr. Kanaya has concentrated on clinical/epidemiologic research in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention,” wrote ADA. “She has focused her research on Asian American health disparities over the past two decades and has made seminal contributions in this area with the creation of a South Asian longitudinal cohort study and with analyses from other large datasets, including from the Northern California Kaiser Permanente data, the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. She has led the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study to better understand factors driving the high-risk factor prevalence among South Asians.”

“I thank the ADA for this recognition and am very grateful to my mentors and our MASALA team for their support and dedication,” said Kanaya.

The Kelly West Award is one of the 2023 National Scientific and Health Care Achievement Awards, honoring academics, health care providers, and educators who have contributed to substantial advances in the field of diabetes care and research. Kanaya and other award recipients were recognized at an awards ceremony during the ADA’s 83rd Scientific Sessions, held June 23-26 in San Diego. Kanaya also delivered the Kelly West Award lecture on Saturday, June 24.

Kanaya, who is a UCSF Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, also earned her medical degree from UCSF, where she completed a residency in primary care internal medicine and a fellowship in general internal medicine. Kanaya is a specialist in internal medicine who provides primary care for UCSF Health.


About the American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For 82 years, the ADA has driven discovery and research to treat, manage, and prevent diabetes while working relentlessly for a cure. Through advocacy, program development, and education, the ADA aims to improve the quality of life for the over 133 million Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes. To learn more or to get involved, visit or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

About UCSF Health: UCSF Health is recognized worldwide for its innovative patient care, reflecting the latest medical knowledge, advanced technologies and pioneering research. It includes the flagship UCSF Medical Center, which is a top-ranked specialty hospital, as well as UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, with campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. These hospitals serve as the academic medical center of the University of California, San Francisco, which is world-renowned for its graduate-level health sciences education and biomedical research. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. Visit Follow UCSF Health on Facebook or on Twitter.


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