Passion for empowering patients drives director of Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute

Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., is driven to help children with diabetes by being their advocate and empowering them to have the best, healthiest life possible.

Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute

Children and their families are supported by board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologists, diabetes nurse practitioners, certified diabetes educators, nurses, social workers, psychologists, pharmacists, exercise physiologists and more.

Treating patients with diabetes is a passion that runs deep for Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., Wendy L. Novak chair of pediatric diabetes care and clinical research and pediatric endocrinologist with Norton Children’s Endocrinology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

Since the Louisville native arrived at Norton Children’s Hospital in 2006, the endocrinology and diabetes program has expanded from a single physician and nurse practitioner to a team of 30 specialists. Norton Children’s Hospital is now ranked 23rd in the United States for pediatric endocrinology, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Dr. Wintergerst is driven to help children with diabetes by being their advocate and empowering them to have the best, healthiest life possible.

“Every person who cares for patients with diabetes, we all have the same personality type. You fight for the patients. You have to in order for them to get what they need,” he said. “We also really get to know the kids and their families. We talk about their pets, whether they got their math grade up, their hobbies, their relationships, and it is almost like we are part of their family.”

Being a medical detective

In medical school, Dr. Wintergerst was drawn to endocrinology because it requires a sense of “detective work.” The endocrine system influences every other organ system, and a single hormone like insulin can impact a patient’s heart, stomach, brain, growth and development.

“The very first child I ever took care of in residency was a child with diabetes,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “The diagnosis was immediately life-changing for the girl and her entire family. I recognized how important it is to empower a patient to take care of their diabetes, and to show them that they are not alone on this journey.”

Dr. Wintergerst grew up near Louisville’s Saint Xavier High School and is a proud graduate. He attended medical school at the University of Louisville and completed his medical residency at the University of Florida, in Pensacola, and pediatric endocrinology fellowship at Stanford University in California. His research there focused on diabetes technology and the artificial pancreas.

“I worked with an endocrinologist to develop a method to use an insulin pump on a premature newborn with diabetes,” he said. “At that time, that had not been done.”

His first publication in endocrinology was as a lead author on a report about the case, published in the Pediatric Diabetes journal.

Today, Dr. Wintergerst is director of Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, and he serves as chief of pediatric endocrinology for the UofL School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. He remains interested in research and advanced diabetes technology, improving life for patients, and preventing — and ultimately curing — Type 1 diabetes.

Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute is part of Norton Children’s and Norton Healthcare.

A life-changing gift

In October 2022, a $15 million gift from the Lift a Life Novak Family Foundation spurred the creation of Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute, expanding and elevating diabetes care services across the region to help children and adults with diabetes manage their conditions.

The goal of Wendy Novak Diabetes Institute is to become a national center of excellence, serving patients in Louisville, across Kentucky and Southern Indiana, and beyond. The institute also will make it easier for patients to transition from pediatric to adult care.

The institute will focus on developing and expanding four key areas to support adults and kids living with all forms of diabetes, especially Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes: 

Expand facilities:

  • Establish a dedicated resource center for diabetes education and research
  • Build outreach treatment practices across Kentucky, Southern Indiana and beyond
  • Expand diabetes specialty care into West Louisville and ultimately throughout the region

Grow workforce:

  • Hire more doctors and nurse practitioners, social workers, patient navigators and especially diabetes educators:
    • Educators are the key to helping patients live their lives with diabetes, from managing insulin and medication to proper diet and exercise.
    • Educators also provide support and assistance to patients between office visits and are key to helping patients keep their diabetes in check.

Expand programming:

  • Maternal, fetal and neonatal diabetes, including high-risk pregnancy/family planning
  • All forms of diabetes care
  • Creating a multidisciplinary approach, allowing diabetes physicians to better collaborate with providers in other specialties


  • Enhanced ability to fund, conduct and publish original research
  • Recruiting, hiring and supporting promising pediatric physician-scientists in our community

“Every kid who comes in now to our institute is better off than the children I cared for when I first got here, and it just keeps getting better,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “When you see the investment in our resources, we’re also investing in our children. Seeing that every day makes it all worthwhile.”