She is from a family of physicians and teachers and grew up believing that “there is nothing more noble than helping people.” As a girl, she shadowed her father, a nephrologist, on weekend rounds and learned from him “that medicine is an art as well as a science— that it is important to see each patient as a whole person and unique individual.” She inherited her mother’s sensibilities as a musician and artist—and her patience as a teacher. These influences converged when her father, a photographer as well as a physician, introduced her to her grandfather’s old, 35-millimeter Olympus camera before a family trip to the southwest. She quickly learned of F/stops and apertures and developed a love of photography. Today, no surprise, Dr. Lauren Golden is an expert in seeing the big picture. She is both an adult endocrinologist at Columbia University’s Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center (with a specialty in young adults with type 1 diabetes) and an award-winning landscape photographer.
“I try to take the same approach with my patients as I do with my photography,” said Dr. Golden, who is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia. “When I meet a patient, I try to see the big picture, to find out the essence of who they are, and then I focus in on their individual needs and how I can help. Learning someone’s story is a similar process to making a photograph; when you first approach a scene, you are confronted with an astonishing amount of visual information. You need to process that information, edit it, and distil it down to make a meaningful image. Just as there is not ‘one best way’ to photograph a scene, there is not one ‘right way’ to approach treating someone’s diabetes. Everyone is an individual.”
An English major and Russian language minor at Williams College in Massachusetts, Dr Golden received her MD from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she completed her residency in internal medicine. As a physician interested in the endocrine system (“a field of medicine where you have to look at the whole person,” she said) she pursued a fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Yale University and followed it with a fellowship in clinical investigation at Rockefeller University.
In 2005, she learned about the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center in a job posting in the New England Journal of Medicine. “I didn’t know exactly what I was cut out to do until I came to the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center,” said Dr. Golden. “My medical interests were broad, including both clinical medicine and clinical research. At the Berrie Center I found, in one place, a team approach to caring for people with diabetes, a connected, world-class research program and the encouragement from Drs. Goland, Leibel and Accili to participate in both.” In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Golden is currently working on a two-year clinical research project, studying people who have had pancreatic transplants.
Lauren Golden, MD (left) consults with Bridie Carroll