Normal SARS-CoV-2 Immunity in Children with Type 1 Diabetes, Including after Vaccination

Persons with diabetes can have weakened immune systems that are unable to fight off infections. Vaccination response depends on the immune system creating protective immunity after exposure to an antigen. Indeed, under some circumstances persons with diabetes fail to develop immunity after vaccination. Most data to date however have focused on adults. In particular, no studies have examined the response of children with diabetes to COVID vaccination. In a collaboration between the Microbiology Department, our Division set out to address this knowledge gap. Both antibody levels and cellular immunity against the COVID virus were compared between children with and without type 1 diabetes. The levels were also compared between the children that had versus had-not received COVID booster vaccination. Importantly, the children with diabetes exhibited normal levels of immunity that matched those of children without diabetes. This result shows that children with diabetes have normal immune responses, at least as regards protection against COVID, including before and after booster vaccination. Surprisingly, COVID booster vaccination did not statistically raise immunity against the Omicron COVID variant in either group of children. One possible reason for this may have been that the children groups appeared to already have a degree of immunity against Omicron even without booster vaccination, though the study was not designed to properly address this possibility. By contrast, adults were also studied and experienced a robust enhancement of immunity in response to booster vaccination. Members of our Division who helped create and conduct the study were Drs. Pinnaro, Tansey, and Norris, as well as research manager Shannon Christensen. The publication can be found at this Pubmed link. The authors wish to thank the children and families who volunteered for the study.

New Supplement to Diabetes Research Training Grant

Dr. Norris

Since 2017, the F.O.E. Diabetes Research Center has maintained a NIH supported Diabetes Research Training Program for postdoctoral scholars. The purpose of this Program is mentor and train the next generation of investigators who will devise better approaches to prevent, treat, and ultimately reverse diabetes. The Training Program is led by Dr. Norris from our Division. The Program supports up to 6 concurrent postdoctoral trainees. This spring, the Program had an unprecedented number of outstanding applicants. To better support training under these circumstances, Dr. Norris partnered with Dr. Bertha Martín, one of the applicants, and her mentor Dr. Jon Resch to create a grant supplement application. This application has now been funded, as NIH grant 3T32DK112751-07S1. We look forward to Dr. Martín’s research development.

Dr. Pinnaro Receives NIH K23 Research Grant

Dr. Catherina Pinnaro

As a budding physician scientist, Dr. Cat Pinnaro is studying how persons with Turner syndrome (TS) are impacted by diabetes. Persons with TS have increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes then negatively impacts their health, perhaps more so than for the general population. The mechanisms by which diabetes develops in those with TS have not been well studied, and thus preventative strategies are lacking. Dr. Pinnaro is working to address these shortcomings by creating new clinical studies of blood sugar metabolism in persons with TS. To further her research endeavors, she applied for and just received a prestigious NIH K23 Career Development Award. Her proposal is entitled “Hyperglycemia in Turner syndrome: Mechanisms and X chromosome contributions“. Congratulations Dr. Pinnaro!

Dr. Larson Ode Recognized as Ongoing National Leader in Cystic Fibrosis Endocrine Care

Dr. Larson Ode

Cystic fibrosis (CF) increases the risk of several endocrine complications, especially diabetes and bone weakening. The causes and treatments of these conditions are somewhat unique in CF, with some differences from the treatment of diabetes and weak bones in the general population. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) has recognized the need to train and mentor endocrine physicians to provide endocrine care for persons with CF. To help meet this need, the CFF has identified and supported nationally recognized mentor endocrinology physicians with CF-expertise. One of these leaders is Dr. Katie Larson Ode from our division. In recognition of her expertise and outstanding mentoring, the CFF has just renewed her role in this national effort with a grant entitled “EnVision CF III: Emerging Leaders in CF Endocrinology Chair”. Additionally, the CFF has awarded an ongoing research grant to Dr. Larson Ode, entitled “SPECTRUM and CF Endocrine and Diabetes DAta Repository (CEDAR)”. Congratulations to Dr. Larson Ode on these accomplishments and thanks to her for her efforts to help support the health of those with CF.

Dr. Kanner Promoted!

Dr. Kanner

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Lauren Kanner for her well earned promotion!! In brief, Dr. Kanner has been promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor in recognition of her clinical expertise, her dedication to teaching, her compassion as a physician, and her national recognition as a rising expert in the clinical care of adolescents with ovarian issues. She joined the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2018, having just completed a pediatric endocrine fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. During fellowship she began to cultivate expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian hormonal conditions. She has spearheaded several new clinical initiatives at the University of Iowa, including initiating the Pediatric Endocrinology Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Clinic. She also serves to direct the Pediatric Lipid disorder clinic. In addition she practices general pediatric endocrinology and diabetes care, and she serves to provide outreach pediatric endocrinology services in the Quad Cities and attends in the LGBTQ and cardiometabolic clinics. To her peers and trainees, she is treasured for her stalwart devotion to teaching. Her expertise in ovarian health has earned her a national reputation, evidenced by her holding various leadership and service roles with the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. In the education realm, she serves as the Assistant Director of Medical Student Education in the Department of Pediatrics. Once again, congratulations to Dr. Kanner!

Diabetes Camp Hertko Hollow 2023 – Wonderful Summer Sessions

Some of the volunteer staff at Camp Hertko Hollow, 2023 (L-R): Drs. Lindower, Tansey, Palmer, Radig, Pinnaro, and Parra Villasmil.

Diabetes Camps are a summer highlight for many kids who live with diabetes. Camp represents a chance to experience outdoor fun, make new friends who understand what it is like to have diabetes and learn more about diabetes self-care, all while under the watchful eye of diabetes-knowledgeable camp counselors and staff. Several of the staff in our Division help support Camp Hertko Hollow (click for link), a diabetes camp in central Iowa with access to 400 acres of forest / outdoor recreation space. Dr. Pinnaro and Dr. Tansey serve to provide medical direction for the camp, and diabetes nurse Susan Huff has long volunteered to support the camp. Kids Week (ages 8-12) ran June 25-July 1 and Teen Week (ages 13-17) ran July 3-9. Also see the Camp website (link above) for details about Mini Camp and Family Camp opportunities. The doctors and nurses from our Division who have volunteered their time in camp this year: Dr. Pinnaro, Dr. Tansey, Dr. Parra Villasmil, Dr. Palmer, Dr. Tuttle and nurse Sue Huff.

Announcing New Pediatric Endocrine Fellow: Dr. Baum

Dr. Kyle Baum

Today we are thrilled to announce that Dr. Kyle Baum has joined our division as a new pediatric endocrine fellow. He will serve three years in this role, after which he will be a full fledged board eligible pediatric endocrinologist. Dr. Baum received his Osteopathic Doctorate degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine having completed undergraduate studies at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. He just completed a three-year pediatric residency at the Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota. While a resident he demonstrated an outstanding aptitude for and interest in pediatric endocrinology. In his spare time, he volunteered at Camp Gilbert for children with diabetes. His scholarly work was recently recognized by the Pediatric Endocrine Society, who awarded his abstract with a prestigious Presidential Poster that was presented in May at their national meeting. A warm welcome to Dr. Baum!!

Dr. Tuttle Completes Pediatric Endocrine Fellowship

Dr. Tuttle

We are extremely proud of Dr. Alex Tuttle. For the past 3 years, Dr. Tuttle has been a pediatric endocrinology fellow in our program. Today he finishes this training and will officially become a “board eligible” pediatric endocrinologist. During these past three years, Dr. Tuttle has been an exemplary fellow, delivering excellent clinical care and demonstrating exceptional clinical teaching. His contributions include being an enthusiastic volunteer at Diabetes Camp. While a fellow, he created a new approach and platform to teach pediatric physicians how to manage diabetes in hospitalized patients. Earlier this year, he presented this work at the International Meeting of Pediatric Endocrinology. He will be missed by his patients, who admired his kind and thoughtful demeanor. We too will miss Dr. Tuttle, as he has accepted a faculty position at a another major midwest academic children’s hospital where he will also continue his clinical work in pediatric endocrinology and also work on advancing physician education as well. Congratulations Dr. Tuttle!

Our Program Ranked Among the Best Children’s Diabetes & Endocrinology Programs Nationally

Our Division has been rated among the Best Children’s Hospitals for Diabetes & Endocrinology Care by the US News & World Report 17th annual national report, where we were ranked #23 nationwide. Other top ranked specialties at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital included neonatology (#21), nephrology, neurology & neurosurgery, orthopedics, and urology.

“Our ongoing strong national ranking is a testament to the steadfast dedication and expertise of our pediatric endocrine physicians, nurse practitioners, specialty nurses, diabetes educators, psychologists, researchers, medical assistants, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers, and all teams members. We remain devoted to provide the best care for the children and adolescents in the region and beyond.”

Andrew Norris, M.D. Ph.D.
Director, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes
UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Guest Lecturer – Shanlee Davis, MD PhD

Shanlee Davis, MD PhD

We were graced today by a research talk from Shanlee Davis, MD PhD. Dr. Davis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her expertise involves cardiometabolic and reproductive health in youth with X and Y chromosome variations. She spoke today at our Pediatric Grand Rounds. She recently received a prestigious R01 research grant from the NIH to study fatty acid metabolism in persons with Klinefelter Syndrome. She received her MD from Mayo Medical School and her PhD from the University of Colorado. She is a physician scientist and directs a clinical research group. Her research career, despite being in its early stages, has already earned several awards including from the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the Endocrine Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, and from the University of Michigan. Dr. Davis spoke today on how prenatal cell free DNA screening has impacted care for those infants with sex chromosome aneuploidies.