Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Gary Ritz, Class of 1985
Like all successful graduates of the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (KSUCPM), Dr. Gary Ritz knows the risks associated with type 1 diabetes. Those with the disease live on average 13 years less than the rest of the population, a potentially worse fate than those diagnosed with type 2, whom live on average 6 years less, due to a cascade of complications associated with prolonged hyperglycemia such as retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy and heart disease. Ritz knows these risks all too well as a type 1 diabetic himself, and a father to two sons, Tommy and Kevin, who also have the genetic autoimmune disease. KSUCPM recently caught up with Dr. Ritz at the North Coast Foot & Ankle Symposium this August to learn about how he’s taken his individuality, passions, and personal experiences to market in a big way.
Ritz was diagnosed during his third year of podiatry school at KSUCPM in 1984 when human insulin was what he describes to be a far-off novelty. Since that year, significant innovations have emerged in diabetes care, from accurate, portable blood glucose monitors, to insulin pumps and now today, to close-looped continuous glucose monitors combined with insulin pumps that are powered by artificial intelligence and connect to the phones of our loved ones. “I’ve witnessed notable improvements in type 2 diabetes medications that have enhanced the quality of life for the thousands of diabetic patients I’ve treated in my nearly four decades of practice,” Ritz says, “However, I’ve also noticed a significant gap that exists in addressing the daily struggles faced by individuals with types 1 and 2 diabetes.”
Starting in 2016, Dr. Ritz and his son Tommy, who was diagnosed at age 5 and has been living with the disease for 25 years, began conducting self-experiments using various compounds and commercially available substances, based on existing clinical evidence and research. In 2019, the pair identified a combination that consistently lowered their blood sugar levels when taken with insulin and water, and Auxulin was born. “Auxulin is Latin for support,” Ritz informs us, “The name jives with our mission in supporting individuals with diabetes to lead normal, healthy lives.” Tommy got busy connecting with chemists and entrepreneurs from his grad school, William & Mary, to bring Auxulin from concept, to commercially viable, to a patented product complete with supply chain, website and contracted manufacturer. During this time, the Ritzes conducted an open-label clinical trial involving friends and colleagues with type 1 and 2 diabetes and the results spoke for themselves: Auxulin alongside standard treatments reduced the time to return to normal blood sugar levels from an average of 160 minutes to just 50 minutes.
But the pair’s attempts to improve quality of life for people with diabetes didn’t stop with the successful development of Auxulin. While Auxulin is only administered when a person’s blood sugar levels are already too high, they are working with colleagues in a startup called DiaVita Therapeutics to develop a new product that is administered daily and intended to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce the number of high blood sugar episodes. Taking it themselves, both Dr. Ritz and Tommy experienced all-time low A1C levels, lower average blood sugar levels, and fewer hyperglycemic episodes during their trials with this new product. DiaVita has not yet commercialized the product, but the Ritzes are eagerly anticipating announcing its availability to the world.
While he’s entertained ideas in the past, Auxulin marks Ritz’s foundational experience with research and development. “Witnessing the enduring challenges posed by high blood glucose levels over the years, both in my personal experience and in observing my children’s struggles, served as the driving force behind my commitment to Auxulin’s development,” Ritz tells us. His teaching tenure at KSUCPM (then the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine) from 1987 - 1997 allowed Ritz to encourage students to explore the facts of podiatry practice that resonated with them. “I emphasized the significance of utilizing school as a foundation while infusing their unique personalities into their professional journey,” he recalls.
Auxulin can be purchased from their website Auxulin.com (https://auxulin.com/) and can be found on Amazon ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BSLV2RW2 ). The Ritzes are also more than happy to give samples to anyone who wants to try Auxulin, and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.