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Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund

Herman G. Berkman, PhD, believed in the mission and care model of the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence. Through a gracious gift made by the late Dr. Berkman, UMass Memorial Health established the Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund.

Past Awarded Projects

NAFLD Screening in the Clinic for People with Diabetes & Prediabetes

Endocrinologists Madona Azar, MD and Asem Ali, MD were awarded the 2023 Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund grant.

Project Summary
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) includes a range of conditions caused by a build-up of fat in the liver.  It is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity.  NAFLD remains underdiagnosed and undertreated.  Many people living with T2D are unaware they have it. This project aims to implement a screening tool in the UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence called the Fib 4 Score, that utilizes clinically available data to determine patient risk.      

Implementing an artificial intelligence diabetic retinopathy screening program in family medicine clinics

Optometrist Juan Ding, OD, PhD and co-investigator James Ledwith, MD, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health were awarded the 2022 Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund grant.

Project Summary
This project offers a path to improve methods of screening for diabetic retinopathy and make it widely available. UMass Memorial Health partnered with digital health company AEYE Health to test the diagnostic accuracy of a hand-held AI-assisted camera to be used by primary care physicians to screen at-risk individuals for retinal changes indicative of diabetic retinopathy. These screenings will provide efficient retinal imaging at primary care locations. The project will also support analyzing the impact of offering primary care screening and its sustainability.

Helping people navigate between the Emergency Department and subspecialty diabetes care


Endocrinologist Mark O’Connor, MD, and Emergency Department physician Laurel O'Connor, MD, were awarded the 2021 Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund grant. 

Project Summary
This study was the first of its kind to evaluate the benefits of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for Emergency Room patients. They analyzed whether CGM will successfully keep people from returning to the hospital with diabetes-related issues once they’ve been discharged from the ER.  Participants included people with pre-existing diabetes as well as those who arrived to the ER undiagnosed.  


Improving the Inpatient Blood Glucose Management program

Endocrinologists Leslie Domalik, MD, and Asem Ali, MD, were awarded the second annual Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund grant in 2020. 

Project Summary
Developed on the premise that adopting a flexible meal dosing option based on carbohydrate counting will improve the outcomes of hospitalized patients, their goal is to improve blood glucose control for all patients admitted to UMass Memorial hospitals who are living with diabetes. The study is focused on coordinating appropriate timing of blood glucose testing, insulin dosing, and when rapid acting mealtime insulin is administered. It also provides carbohydrate counts for all food within the hospitals and better coordinates insulin delivery with when meals are delivered to patients.


Improving care access for at-risk diabetes patients

Daniel Amante PhD, and Adarsha Bajracharya, MD, were the inaugural recipients of The Herman G. Berkman Diabetes Clinical Innovation Fund in 2019. It led to Dr. Amante receiving a three-year KL2 Mentored Career Development Training grant to develop a Diabetes Mellitus program using Behavioral economics to Optimize Outreach and Self-management support with Technology (DM-BOOST). 

Project Summary
ID PLUS Care is a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to improve care access, quality, and management for at-risk patients with diabetes. The program monitored Electronic Health Record data to identify UMass Medicare Accountable Care Organization patients who were at-risk for negative outcomes and proactively contacted those patients to nudge them towards recommended services.

Grant Eligibility Guidelines 

The objective of this fund is to support the development of diabetes clinical care initiatives that would not normally find funding through medical billing operational expenses or research grant funding programs. Proposals requesting between $50,000 and $150,000 will be considered. Special consideration is given to proposals that include:

  • Innovative approaches intended to directly improve the lives of people living with diabetes
  • Multidisciplinary approaches that foster inter-departmental and/or inter-institutional collaborations
  • Support for individuals, groups, and communities that are economically or educationally disadvantaged or underrepresented
  • Specific connection to the UMass Memorial Health mission in the fields of education and patient care

Eligibility Guidelines

Grant Approval Process

Faculty and staff of the UMass Memorial Health system and the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School are invited to apply.

The committee will consider funding proposals assessed to have the greatest likelihood of uniquely achieving the objectives described above. Applicants are to submit a brief description of their proposed project for review. Based on submitted proposals, selected applicants will be asked to submit a full proposal that will enable reviewers to fully evaluate the proposed project. Applicants should be prepared to provide a summary of relevant experience, expertise, capabilities, organizational background, project details, and a comprehensive line-item budget (with justification).

Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2023

Abstract Application


Email the completed abstract application with a copy of your curriculum vitae to:

Questions? Email: or call Lisa Hubacz, Administrator at (774) 445-3654. 

E-mail submissions only.  No hard copies will be accepted.