Dr. Liuska Pesce is being recognized by the Carver College of Medicine for outstanding teaching. Today she is receiving the Collegiate Teaching Award. This award is given to recognize teaching that demonstrates unusually significant and meritorious achievement. The Award includes a plaque and monetary bonus. Those who have trained under her have many laudatory statements, including the following anonymous comment: “Dr. Pesce is the Mary-Poppins of physicians, ‘practically perfect in every way.’ She is an excellent teacher with clear explanations behind her thought processes which are always guided by best practices. She is very professional and thorough in all of her patient interactions and examinations. She provides excellent and timely feedback on presentations, physical exam findings, and clinical notes. She goes out of her way to ensure learners get the feedback they need.” Dr. Pesce is also involved in educational efforts at the national level, for example having just contributed as an author to this educational material “Pediatric ESAP 2023-2024: Pediatric Endocrine Self-Assessment Program. Washington, DC: Endocrine Society; 2023.”
The majority of women with Turner syndrome experience primary ovarian failure, meaning that their ovaries never produce estrogen in normal quantities. For this reason, normal puberty does not occur. Estrogen production is not only important for a feminizing puberty to occur but also is important for overall health and wellness. Dr. Eirene Alexandrou heads the Turner syndrome clinic (clinic homepage link) at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. She is a published expert in Turner syndrome care. Recently, on April 4, Dr. Alexandrou gave an invited webinar entitled “Estrogen Replacement Therapy in Turner Syndrome” (announcement link) for the Turner Syndrome Foundation. She reviewed the prevalence of primary ovarian failure in Turner syndrome, the benefits of estrogen replacement therapy, and the timing of such replacement including initiation.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
We congratulate Dr. Kanner on her recent appointment to become the Assistant Clerkship Director of the Pediatrics Medical Student Education team. Dr. Kanner has worked hard to gain this position, and we look forward to the enthusiasm she will bring to education of medical students as they rotate through Pediatrics.
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!