Diabetes Research Training Program Receives Renewed Grant Support

Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center

There is a drastic need to devise better approaches to prevent, treat, and ultimately reverse diabetes. Essential to any progress is the constant training of skilled cohorts of research investigators. To this end, since 2017, the University of Iowa has nurtured a Diabetes Research Training Program. The Program supports mentored postdoctoral training focused on various diabetes research topics. Six postdoctoral trainees are supported at any given time, typically for two years each. To date, 19 postdoctoral trainees have been support by this Program, including pediatric endocrine faculty Dr. Pinnaro while she was a fellow. The Program was conceived by adult endocrinologist Dr. Dale Abel and pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Norris. Based on a proposal detailing their vision, they received a 5-year “T32” grant from the NIH to fund the program 2017-2022. During this time, the Program has been a resounding success, with most trainees having progressed onward in their research careers in academia or related private industry. Based on the strengths of the initial trainees, their research, and career progress, last year Drs. Norris and Abel wrote a renewed 5-year proposal for ongoing training. Today, we are pleased to announce that the proposal was viewed very favorably and that an additional 5 years of grant support will be provided by the NIH (you can view a summary of the grant at this link). Future or existing pediatric endocrine fellows who are interested a career focused on diabetes research can benefit from this program and are encouraged to contact Dr. Norris to discuss the application process.

Dr. Kanner talks at the Healthy LifeStars “Preventing Childhood Obesity” Conference

Dr. Kanner

Today the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy help its 3rd annual Healthy Lifestars Conference. This year’s topic was “Improving Health Outcomes Through Preventing Childhood Obesity”. Our division’s Dr. Kanner spoke at the conference on her area of expertise. Her talk was entitled “The Impact of Adolescent Polycystic Ovary Syndrome on Obesity and the Accompanying Lifestyle and Medicine Management Requirements“. This is one of her areas of clinical expertise. She heads the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital pediatric polycystic ovary syndrome clinic.

Dr. Curtis Provides Expertise to the Taylor Hooton Foundation

Dr. Curtis

Testosterone is a powerful hormone and has potential for abuse for a variety of reasons, including use for physical appearance and sports performance enhancement. The same is true for testosterone-like synthetic chemicals, termed anabolic steroids. The Taylor Hooton Foundation aims to educate the public about the dangers of these substances when used for physical appearance and sports performance enhancement. Testosterone and FDA approved anabolic steroids are important treatments for some medical conditions, when prescribed at proper dosages and carefully monitored. On July 28th, Dr. Curtis, who has expertise on these topics, spoke to the Taylor Hooton Foundation about the abuses of these compounds.

Announcing New Pediatric Endocrine Fellow: Dr. Parra Villasmil

Dr. Parra Villasmil

Today we are thrilled to announce that Dr. Graciela Parra Villasmil has joined our division as a new pediatric endocrine fellow. She will serve three years in this role, after which she will be a full fledged board eligible pediatric endocrinologist. Dr. Parra Villasmil received her Medical Degree from the Universidad del Zulia in Venezuela where she was an award winning student. She then completed a pediatric residency at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. While a resident she demonstrated an aptitude for and interest in pediatric endocrinology, and was highly involved in diabetes camp (see picture below) at Camp Herkto Hollow. She has assisted with pediatric endocrine clinical research both in Venezuela and while a pediatric resident at the University of Iowa, and has published her scholarship in the field of endocrinology (link 1 and link 2). Welcome Dr. Parra Villasmil!! We are also proud to announce that Dr. Sriya Subramani, who was a pediatric resident here, is also starting a Pediatric Fellowship, at University of Washington / Seattle Children’s Hospital. Congratulations Dr. Subramani!!

Diabetes Camp Hertko Hollow, some staff from teen week 2019. Division members include Diabetes Nurse Sue Huff on the far left, endocrine fellow Dr. Alex Tuttle on the far right, and new endocrine fellow Dr. Parra Villasmil second from far right. Dr. Sriya Subramani, front far right, also is a new endocrine fellow, at the University of Washington.

Dr. Curtis Assumes Reins of Fellowship Program

Dr. Curtis

We are happy to announce that Dr. Vanessa Curtis has assumed leadership as Program Director of our Pediatric Endocrinology fellowship. Dr. Curtis received her MD from the University of Wisconsin, where she also completed a residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology. Since coming to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital as pediatric endocrine faculty in 2011, she has become known for her expert clinical care and illuminating clinical teaching. She helped found the important University of Iowa Cardiometabolic Clinic, which serves to optimize health in youth with obesity-related medical complications. Her research has focused on pediatric growth and development. For the past several years Dr. Curtis has distinguished herself as an education leader while serving as the Associate Pediatric Endocrine Fellowship Program Director and as Assistant Clerkship Director of the Core Pediatric Clerkship for medical students. For these reasons, we are pleased to welcome her as fellowship Program Director. We would also like to thank outgoing Program Director Dr. Tansey for his service in this role since 2008. His involvement in the fellowship program will continue as Associate Director.

The Importance of Newborn Screening for Congenital Hypothyroidism

Dr. Pesce

For the past several decades, infants born in the USA are screened for congenital hypothyroidism. Like many beneficial programs, it is human nature to take the importance of this screening for granted. Dr. Pesce has just published an opinion piece that helps bring home the importance of newborn screening for congenital hypothyroidism. In this piece, she reflects on a child with congenital hypothyroidism who asks “what would have happened if I had not been screened?” Dr. Pesce then reflects on the consequences of untreated congenital hypothyroidism, including impaired mental development and impaired growth. She also notes how diagnosis of congenital hypothyroidism is typically delayed in the absence of screening. You can find her informative blog piece here.

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!

Endocrinology and Sports Medicine

Dr. Curtis

On April 24th and May 1st, Dr. Vanessa Curtis provided talks on endocrine sports topics to a national audience. Her talks were coordinated by the America Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Her national audience exceeded 100 sports medicine fellows. In particular, her talk on May 1 on “Testosterone, sex, and gender in sports“, given in collaboration with Dr. Britt Marcussen, drew considerable attention. The title slides from her talks are shown below. In the clinic, Dr. Curtis’s provides her expert knowledge in the care of hormonal issues in student athletes. We would be remiss not to mention that Dr. Curtis is an accomplished athlete herself, including podiums placement in bicycle criterium/related races. We are fortunate to have her expertise and experience on our faculty and in our clinics.