Marina Basina, MD, is an Endocrinologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Gerontology, and Metabolism at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Basina serves as the Medical Director of the Inpatient Diabetes Programs at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, as Chair of Stanford’s Diabetes Task Force, and is a member of the Stanford Diabetes Research Center. 

Dr. Basina additionally serves on the Board of Directors for JDRF and the Medical Advisory Board for T1D Sugar Mommas. She is Chair of the Northern California Physician Council and is a volunteer medical staff member at DYF Camp de los Niños in Loma Mar, California.  

Interview with Marina Basina, MD 

In this interview, Basina discusses her expertise in supporting people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and working to improve patient care through the T1D Exchange Quality Improvement Collaborative (T1DX-QI).

The T1DX-QI was established in 2016 — with the support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust — to refine best practices and improve daily life for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Growth has been tremendous, with 54 endocrine clinics from across the U.S. participating in the Collaborative. 

Fueled by top leaders in diabetes care, the T1DX-QI has become an engine of innovation and inspiration. By engaging with the shared, data-driven, and systematic methods of the T1DX-QI, clinics have seen unprecedented success in their approach to diabetes management.   

With members working closely to identify gaps in care, discover and refine best practices, and share research — the process has become knowledge-sharing at its very best. While collated data gives clinics a clear sense of “where they are,” it demonstrates “where they can be” by applying shared, evidence-based methods for improving care

What was your path to medicine?  

“For my entire childhood, I remember going to the hospital with my mother, who was an internal medicine physician with a subspecialty in cardiology,” reflected Basina. “When she became the Chief of Internal Medicine, my trips with her became more frequent. I absolutely loved it and honestly never thought about doing anything else.”

Basina graduated from N.I. Pirogov Second Moscow Medical Institute in Russia. She went on to complete her Fellowship at Stanford and worked at Kaiser for five years before returning to her roots as a full-time faculty at Stanford in 2008.  

During her years at Kaiser, she became more involved in caring for individuals with T1D. 

“At the time, most patients were managing diabetes with multiple daily injections and finger sticks — as CGMs didn’t exist quite yet,” said Basina. “I was touched by how difficult it was, and how much mental capacity it took, for people to observe fluctuations, trends, and predictions of their glucose levels.”

What do you find most rewarding about your work?  

“I enjoy getting to know patients as individuals and not just treating their conditions,” explained Basina. “Being an advocate for patients’ needs, providing whole-person care, and being a part of their individual lives brings me great joy.”

“My heart is also in T1D and pregnancy, specifically endocrine gynecology. I love counseling patients on preconception and family planning,” said Basina, which spurred her work with Sugar Mommas, a T1D online community. 

T1DX-QI Involvement 

“I’ve been involved with T1DX-QI since 2019, serving as the PI and co-chair of the Data Science Committee with Dr. Joyce Lee,” explained Basina. “Being a part of the T1DX-QI has been such a great learning opportunity. With so many institutions involved, it’s developed into an incredible culture of sharing.”  

“Patients deserve the best care,” said Basina. “By utilizing established tactics that work for other health systems, we can quickly implement similar solutions in our institutions.”   

“We’ve seen marked improvements in depression screening and with our processes to upload patient device data,” explained Basina. “With standardizations in place, we’re better able to identify individuals with high depression scores, and we’ve removed the chaos associated with obtaining and reviewing patient data — both of which help to increase a visit’s effectiveness.”   

“At Stanford, our T1DX-QI team includes Coordinators who rotate yearly and are typically an individual from the Stanford Scribe Program,” said Basina. “Kaveri Bhargava is the current Coordinator; prior, it was Deene Mohandas and Jacob Less (who received a T1DX-QI Coordinator award). Students are involved with abstracts and have presented at the ADA, Endocrine Society, and Collaborative meetings.”

Finding a cure for T1D 

“The main goal of my research is to find a cure for type 1 diabetes,” said Basina. “Because of that, one of my active research programs is focused on beta cell transplantation.” 

“We have two arms of the study, allo- and auto-transplantation, for which I’m leading the endocrine part. With allotransplantation, people with T1D receive pancreatic beta cells from a donor that are transplanted into the portal circulation of the liver. At Stanford, we follow what’s called the ‘SPIRIT’ protocol, an immune tolerance protocol, with the goal of removing immune-suppressing medications in the first few years after transplant,” explained Basina.

“Most transplant failures are due to immunosuppressive medications that are used, as they can be toxic to transplanted beta cells,” said Basina. “This is why they may fail over time.”

“The autotransplantation arm is focused on individuals with frequent pancreatitis. While there are various causes, it’s a debilitating condition that prevents people from leading normal lives,” explained Basina. “In this situation, a patient will undergo a total pancreatectomy (removal of the pancreas) with beta cell harvesting and transplantation of their own (auto) cells into the portal circulation.”

“Stanford has used this protocol for kidney transplant patients with very good success, and one of the surgeons from the kidney transplant project is actively involved in our allotransplantation project,” explained Basina. “Again, our goal for beta cell transplantation is to use the special Stanford protocol that would allow patients to stop immunosuppressive medications. While the idea is the same, there are different details, but they do mirror one another.”   

With the FDA approval of Lantigra in June 2023, it was the first-ever allogeneic pancreatic islet cellular therapy approved for a T1D cure.  

“It’s a really good breach for us to get another treatment approved,” added Basina, “and not have individuals dependent on immunosuppressive medications for life.”   

Camp de los Niños 

“As providers, it’s important that we know the mechanical and technical details of diabetes technologies — and nowhere is this any clearer than at diabetes camp — where kids are true experts on their own care and incredible advocates for their needs,” said Basina, who has eight years of volunteering under her belt.  

“Kids will give you a lecture about how to change their sites and what the required steps are to keep their rituals intact. They’ll say, ‘When you insert my site, count 3-2-1 and do it right on 1, not before, not after,’” recalled Basina, who had just returned from volunteering the morning we spoke.

“This year was the best night on-call at the camp that I’ve ever had,” remembered Basina on a highlight from this year’s camp. “With so many kids on automated insulin-delivery systems, we saw many children having stable blood sugars on their CGM, and there weren’t many necessary interventions. It was amazing.”    

Outside of Work 

When Basina isn’t at work, she loves hiking with her husband and boys, going on family vacations, baking, and trying new recipes to share with others.