Drs. Curtis and Pinnaro Provide Invited Commentary on Pubertal Timing

A variety of pathological processes can induce puberty earlier than otherwise would normally occur. When a child enters puberty, an important question is whether the timing is abnormally early. Pediatric endocrinologists are often the arbitrators of this question. Data defining the normal ages of puberty start are thus important. Data suggests that normal timing varies depending on a child’s genetic, racial, and ethnic background. A recent publication in JAMA Network Open reports data collected from over 100,000 youth with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and/or Pacific Islander heritage (link to article). To help interpret the findings, Drs. Vanessa Curtis and Catherina Pinnaro from our division were asked to provide their commentary on the article. Their commentary can be found here (link, which has link to the open source full text). They conclude that “[the] study illustrates the diversity within populations that could easily and erroneously be grouped together and emphasizes the necessity for precision and the pitfalls encountered when using race and ethnicity as a proxy for genetic background.”

“Riding the Talk”

Dr. Curtis racing, August 2022.

Not only does Dr. Vanessa Curtis talk about the importance of cardiometabolic health in clinic, but she “rides the talk” as a competitive cyclist. Congratulations to her for recently winning the female SOLO category at the 100 mile Core 4 road race. This is a grueling bicycle race that includes 100 miles over four different terrains: gravel, singletrack, B-road, and pavement.

University of Iowa F.O.E. Diabetes Research Center Featured in New Video

The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center

Each June, the American Diabetes Association hosts its annual scientific meeting. This meeting is the world’s largest and most important gathering focused on diabetes research, attracting over 10,000 attendees who come from across the world to hear the latest cutting edge research. This year, the University of Iowa was featured in a short video film shown at the meeting. The video focused on how the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOE-DRC) is advancing diabetes research . The FOE-DRC was created in 2008 when the Fraternal Order of Eagles pledged $25 million to establish a diabetes research center at the University of Iowa. With this gift, the FOE-DRC has grown to include over 100 faculty researchers from across the University. Collectively, these faculty conduct over $30 million of NIH-funded research annually. Several members of our Division are faculty in the FOE-DRC: Drs. Curtis, Larson Ode, Norris, Pinnaro, Tansey, and Tsalikian. Earlier this year, the American Diabetes Association requested that investigators at the University of Iowa help create a short video highlighting the work of the FOE-DRC. The video is now available on youtube (link to video here). The video highlights work by two members of our Division: Dr. Larson Ode and Dr. Norris, as well as several colleagues in the Division of (Adult) Metabolism and Diabetes and in the FOE-DRC.

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.

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.

Exemplifying Cardiometabolic Health Maintenance.

Congratulations to Dr. Vanessa Curtis for recently winning her division in the Sylvan Island Stampede bike race. The race was held in April on an island on the Mississippi River near Moline Illinois. Despite working full time as a Pediatric Endocrinologist, Dr. Curtis is also a competitive cyclist. She is an example of cardiometabolic health maintenance to us all.

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.

Endocrine Care of Children with Neuromuscular Disorders

Dr. Curtis

Children, adolescents, and young adults with neuromuscular disorders are at risk for various endocrine complications. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is associated with risk of various endocrine conditions including poor bone health, adrenal insufficiency, obesity, pubertal delay, and short stature. To help with these issues, in 2019, Dr. Vanessa Curtis joined the multidisciplinary Neuromuscular team at the University of Iowa to provide endocrine care to patients in this clinic. This week, Dr. Curtis attended the Parent Project MD meeting in San Diego to further her skills in this emerging area of medicine.

Endocrinology & Sports Medicine

Dr. Vanessa Curtis

Sports performance and hormonal systems are closely intertwined. There are several hormonal / endocrine conditions that can greatly impair sports performance. Conversely, exercise can benefit the endocrine system. However, there are times that intense sports participation can adversely affect various hormones. Dr. Vanessa Curtis has interest and expertise in these complex interactions, and treats children and adolescents with such conditions in her clinic. Gender of course has a powerful influence on this interplay. To this end, Dr. Curtis just served as an invited speaker for the 35th Annual University of Iowa Sports Medicine Symposium, speaking on Gender and Sex in Sport. Also along these lines, Dr. Curtis has traveled to various parts of the state of Iowa over the past few years to provide lectures on Athletes with Type 1 Diabetes and Childhood Obesity to residency programs.