Children with type 1 diabetes can require hospitalization with COVID, largely due to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Dr. Catherina Pinnaro

An important question during the COVID-19 pandemic has been whether children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes have increased risk of severe COVID-19. Dr. Pinnaro from our Division was one of a group of pediatric endocrinologist across the country who sought to help answer this important question. Their findings have now been published in the Journal of Diabetes (link to article). Briefly, they found that children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes who developed COVID-19 were at roughly 20% risk of being hospitalized while infected. Importantly, however, the cause of hospitalization was typically related to diabetes, less so than due to severe manifestations of COVID-19 such as lung dysfunction. Diabetes ketoacidosis was the most frequent cause of hospitalization. This is not uncharted territory, because a variety of viral infections can also precipitate a variety of diabetes emergencies, including ketoacidosis , leading to hospitalization. Also importantly, it appears that type 1 diabetes does not strongly increase the risk of severe COVID. For youth with type 1 diabetes who developed COVID-19, the basics of sick day management become important, including glucose and ketone checking, supplemental insulin when needed, and copious fluids, just as with any infection. Please know that our group of diabetes nurses and doctors remain available 24/7 to assist with sick days. Join us in thanking Dr. Pinnaro for her hard work and research.

Dr. Pinnaro Earns Masters of Science in Translational Biomedicine

Dr. Catherina Pinnaro

Congratulations to Dr. Catherina Pinnaro, who has just fulfilled the requirements of the Masters in Translational Biomedicine at the University of Iowa. This was no easy accomplishment, as she worked on the degree while simultaneous initially being a Pediatric Endocrine Fellow and most recently while being a full time faculty member. Additionally, the degree required original research of publishable quality. Dr. Pinnaro will be using her newly acquired skills and knowledge to advance a research program aimed at better understanding the genetic modifiers of endocrine diseases.

Glucose Control and COVID Hospitalization Risk in Persons with Type 1 Diabetes

Yesterday, data were published indicating that among persons with type 1 diabetes, higher average glucose levels are associated with increased risk of requiring hospitalization for COVID infection. The peer reviewed data was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism ( doi permanent link ; pubmed link ). The data were collected via the national T1D Exchange study consortium. Drs. Pinnaro and Tansey from our division are part of this consortium and helped author the article. The data indicate that if you have type 1 diabetes, you should keep your blood sugars in range as much as possible to help prevent severe COVID. We remain happy to help you achieve this goal; our contact information can be found by clicking on the “clinical website” at the top of our links page.

Announcing new faculty: Catherina Pinnaro, MD

Dr. Pinnaro

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Catherina “Cat” Pinnaro is starting as a new pediatric endocrinologist in our division. Her position will be on the tenure-track, meaning that she will be expected to be productive as a research physician. Dr. Pinnaro received her Medical Degree from New York Medical College where she successfully competed for a Doris Duke research year, which she spent at the University of Iowa. She then completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Iowa, just completed a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology here as well, and is on track to earn a Master’s in Translational Biomedicine in late 2020. While a fellow, she has created several productive research projects, having already published on the genetics of 22q syndrome (link) and diabetes care simulation (link). Her research will focus on the etiology of diabetes in specific disease contexts, applying her genetics expertise. In clinic, her practice will include general pediatric endocrinology and diabetes.

Dr. Pinnaro Completes Pediatric Endocrine Fellowship

Dr. Pinnaro

We are extremely proud of Dr. Catherina “Cat” Pinnaro. For the past 3 years, Dr. Pinnaro has been a pediatric endocrinology fellow. Today she finishes this training, and will officially become a “board eligible” pediatric endocrinologist. During these three years, Dr. Pinnaro has been an exemplary fellow, providing outstanding clinical care, highly commended clinical teaching, and published research. She won several national awards as a fellow, including the Rising Star award from the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the Leona Cuttler Quality Assurance Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics. We will miss her energetic approach to everything a fellow does. Following fellowship, Dr. Pinnaro has accepted a tenure-track position at a major research university where she continue her pediatric endocrine research related to diabetes, and will also continue her clinical work in pediatric endocrinology — stay tuned…. Congratulations Dr. Pinnaro!

Dr. Pinnaro Nominated for an Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award

Dr. Pinnaro

We have just received word that Dr. Pinnaro was nominated for a 2020 Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award. Less than 5% of the 800 resident and fellow physicians at our institution were nominated for this award. Her nomination letter included examples of her superlative clinical teaching skills, including this snippet: “Dr. Cat Pinnaro has demonstrated consistent commitment to and talent for clinical teaching during her three years as an endocrine fellow. She identifies teachable opportunities at every possible juncture, is able to frame teaching points in a creative manner that makes complex concepts accessible“. None of us in the division are surprised at her nomination, as we have witnessed her clinical teaching efforts for the past three years. Congratulations Dr. Pinnaro on a job well done!

Dr. Pinnaro’s new research findings regarding glycemic responses in Turner syndrome

Dr. Pinnaro

There appears to be an increased risk of developing diabetes for persons with Turner syndrome. The exact reasons for this are enigmatic, as there have been very few studies. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to know how best to screen for and help prevent diabetes in this population. To help address this, pediatric endocrine fellow Dr. Pinnaro has initiated a study of blood levels levels in persons with Turner syndrome who do not have diabetes. The initial results from this study suggest a greater degree of atypical glucose levels in those with Turner syndrome as compared to controls. This past weekend, Dr. Pinnaro would have presented these initial results at the national Pediatric Endocrine Society meeting in Texas (cancelled due to COVID-19). Her faculty mentors for this study were Drs. Katie Larson Ode and Andrew Norris.

Senior endocrine fellow publishes research discovering genes that may modify 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

Dr. Pinnaro

Dr. Pinnaro, pediatric endocrine fellow, has published her recent research that finds several candidate genes which may modify the phenotype of 22q11.2 syndrome. This genetic syndrome can cause congenital structural heart disease, failure of the parathyroid glands to properly form, and immunodeficiency. Although the effects of the syndrome vary from person to person, the reasons for this variability is unknown. Thus, Dr. Pinnaro set out to understand whether other genetic regions might be the reason. Her findings show that various genes might indeed contribute. She is the lead author on the work which is published in the January 2020 issue of Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine. Congratulations to Dr. Pinnaro for the results of her hard work in this area.

Dr. Pinnaro, endocrinology fellow, receives national Rising Star Award

Dr. Pinnaro

The Pediatric Endocrine Society is dedicated to advancing the treatment of children and adolescents with endocrine disorders. Part of its mission is to identify and support talented young physicians who show acumen for biomedical research. For this purpose, the Pediatric Endocrine Society has created a competitive “Rising Star Award”, which provides funds to support research being conducted by pediatric endocrine fellows. We are pleased to announce that our own pediatric endocrine fellow, Dr. Cat Pinnaro, has been announced as the recipient of one of these competitive awards. Congratulations Dr. Pinnaro on this recognition and support.