Deborah J. Wexler, M.D., M.P.H., is assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, co-clinical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Diabetes Center and associate program director for clinical research, Internal Medicine Residency Program at MGH, all in Boston. She received her medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine and completed her residency, internship and a fellowship in endocrinology at MGH. Her research interests focus on optimizing the care of people with type 2 diabetes. She is the MGH site principal investigator of the National Institutes of Healthsponsored Glycemia Reduction Approaches in Diabetes: A Comparative Effectiveness (GRADE) Trial. She also has an interest in quality of care in diabetes and behavioral approaches to improving diabetes self-management and has been an investigator and co-investigator in many trials in this area, in addition to conducting epidemiologic and health services research in the field. Dr. Wexler has authored many articles, reviews and editorials on these topics. She is on the editorial board of Diabetes Care and is a reviewer for multiple journals, including Diabetes Care, the Annals of Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Managed Care. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Diabetes Association and The Endocrine Society, and serves as a research mentor to junior faculty, fellows, residents and medical students. In addition to her research, she sees diabetes and general endocrinology patients at the MGH Diabetes Center. Her husband David Friedman is a nephrologist physician investigator, and they have a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.

When did you first develop an interest in medicine?
I always liked science—thanks in large part to my teachers at Parker, including Anne Marie Fries and continuing with Maryanne Kalin, Jo Birkmeyer and Becky Rossof—and wanted to do something meaningful, interesting and useful that involved lifelong learning. Medicine seemed to be a career that had all those features. That is not always the way it is, unfortunately, but it turned out to be the case most of the time.

What has prompted your specific focus on the treatment of diabetes?

I wanted to work in an area with broad public health impact. From early on in medical school, I loved the physiology of endocrinology and metabolism. Then, in training, I enjoyed having long-term relationships with patients and working with them to help them live well with a challenging health condition. I also have primary care patients who do not have diabetes and take care of patients with other endocrine disorders, but my research, teaching and policy work focuses on diabetes management.

Did you know you wanted to teach as well as practice or did that come later?
Academic medicine offered the opportunity to teach, research and practice, and I always knew that I wanted to do all three.

You’ve been in Boston for most of your post-Parker life. What appeals to you about that city?
Boston has changed a lot since I first arrived in 1991: it is much more cosmopolitan, with one out of every five people having been born in another country. Plus, in the last decade there has been a lot of energy around “the innovation economy.” It is a beautiful city and very convenient because it is actually pretty small; you can walk a lot of places and get to the airport in 20 minutes—although it is true the traffic here can take years off your life. I absolutely love Brookline, where I have lived since 2000. It is a civic-minded town that is surrounded on three sides by Boston. We ended up staying because my husband and I have been very happy professionally here and just sort of became rooted.

Were there people or experiences at Parker that influenced the choices you’ve made since graduating?
My Parker education is something I carry with me and use every day. I think all the time of things I learned there, from how to write to things I read to things we did. I just finished reading Bring Up the Bodies, the second part of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to Henry VIII. My imagined Tudor world is pulled from my 5th grade experience with Mrs. Cholden, who made the Middle Ages so vivid. I still use math tricks I learned from Mr. McCutcheon to do calculations in my head. I learned to write well from Mr. Duffy, Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Seebold, which has been enormously helpful in everything I have done. But the single thing I think Parker did the best was to get all students comfortable on stage in Morning Exes, plays and concerts from a very early age, whether or not they had any natural talent for acting or singing (which I did not). Most people are very afraid of public speaking, yet it is required for leadership in every field. I think Parker gives most people a level of confidence in this area.

What are some of your favorite Parker memories?
There are so many! Now that my children are entering school, I find myself with very vivid memories of early childhood, from learning phonetics and hearing Charlotte’s Web in Mrs. Bailey’s 1st grade class to early memories of County Fair and Class Day. I also remember with amazement the dedication and engagement of teachers from every single year—I recall every year of Parker in specific detail and remember something important I learned from every single one.

What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I enjoy spending time with my husband, son and daughter. Summer is beautiful here, and we have been swimming and hiking a lot. My husband is from New Haven, Connecticut, and he has a lot of family in Boston and New Haven.

Anything else you’d like to share?
Hello to all long-lost friends! I always enjoy reconnecting so please look me up when you are in Boston.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.