Dr. Timothy J. Lyons
Executive Medical Director
Dr. Timothy J. Lyons, Executive Medical Director of Diabetes Free SC (DFSC), is an endocrinologist who trained in both the US and the UK, and who brings over 30 years’ experience in diabetes clinical care.
Lyons has devoted his career to researching the complications associated with diabetes. Before assuming his position with DFSC, Lyons served as Professor, Director, and John A. Colwell Endowed Chair of the Division of Endocrinology at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), where much of his research was conducted. Prior to MUSC, Lyons served as Professor and Chief of the Section of Endocrinology at the University of Oklahoma, where he was the inaugural Chickasaw Nation Chair for the Director of the newly-established Harold Hamm Diabetes Center.
Lyons has worked extensively with the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), a landmark Type 1 diabetes study, both as a physician and as a translational laboratory investigator. He has also worked with the VA (Type 2) Diabetes Trial (VADT) since its inception in 2001. These large, federally funded studies aim to explain why diabetes increases risks for cardio-vascular disease for people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and to develop new treatments and preventive measures. Addressing a complication of diabetes that develops much more rapidly than cardiovascular disease, Lyons initiated work to understand pre-eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that occurs four times more frequently in women with diabetes. Pre-eclampsia leads to the death of 70,000 women annually, and a much larger number of near-term fetuses. Again, these pregnancy studies address a problem that affects women with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
At DFSC, Lyons is committed to applying existing knowledge to prevent and treat diabetes and its complications, and in particular to addressing the health disparities that afflict our state. Recognizing the critical importance of the establishment of "metabolic health" early in life, he emphasizes the importance of work to improve pregnancy outcomes and child health, and to promote a healthy lifestyle for young adults, including improved screening for diabetes in those at high risk.
Noreen O’Donnell is the Program Director of Diabetes Free SC (DFSC). In this role she is responsible for planning, initiative development, and administration of the program. Prior to joining the DFSC team, Noreen was the Director of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Patient Centered Medical Home program, and worked at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control overseeing the agency’s HIV care and support services programs. Noreen has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Carolina and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa.
Dr. Dongxu (Arthur) Fu
Dr. Dongxu (Arthur) Fu is a Data Scientist for Diabetes Free SC (DFSC). He is responsible for data management and analysis and uses data mining techniques to generate real-world evidence and prediction systems to maximize the efficacy of existing diabetes programs. Prior to joining DFSC, Dr. Fu had research appointments at the University of Virginia, Queen's University Belfast, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; with a focus on translational research in diabetes. Arthur has a Master of Applied Data Science from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in Immunology from Harbin Medical University.
Dr. Misti Leyva
Misti Leyva is the Project Administrator of the pregnancy initiative of Diabetes Free SC. Her primary role is to provide oversight and coordination of the two BlueCross BlueShield Foundation of South Carolina-funded coordinated care programs: MOMs in Control (University of South Carolina/Carolina Diabetes and Kidney Center/PRISMA Midlands) and MOMs in Control of Diabetes Upstate (PRISMA Upstate). Her professional life has been entirely focused on understanding, treating, and preventing diabetic complications. She has held research positions at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and most recently the Medical University of South Carolina.
Leyva is a registered dietitian and holds a doctoral degree in nutrition from Oklahoma State University. She has contributed to her profession through service to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). In the former, she has held numerous elected positions, including Affiliate President of Oklahoma before moving to South Carolina, and for the latter she served as a Program Reviewer from 2017-2020.
Personal interests include volunteering at Bethel United Methodist Church and medical missions in association with Helping Children Worldwide, where she serves on a medical advisory team for Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone.
Zack King is the Coordinator for Diabetes Free SC. Zack has a background in community health development, with specific focus in advancing equity-oriented efforts related to healthy eating, active living, and chronic disease prevention and related social drivers of health. Throughout his career, Zack has emphasized systems-oriented approaches that mobilize collective action, build authentic relationships, and grow the strengths of communities and organizations.