Research

Leaders in cure-focused research….

The established research programs within the division include diabetes, pancreatic islet biology and autoimmunity, growth hormone deficiency, Cushing’s syndrome, Osteoporosis and thyroid hormone metabolism and action. These divisional programs currently have federally and non-federally funded grants. The success of these programs has led to national and international recognition of our contributions in the form of awards and leadership roles in professional societies as well as to the publication in peer review journals.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes research in our division is aimed at understanding the cellular mechanisms that lead to the highly orchestrated insulin and glucagon secretion by human pancreatic islets. Within this broad topic, he addresses two questions: a) How does the structure of human islets affect intercellular communication within the islet? and b) How do these paracrine interactions in the islet contribute to glucose homeostasis within the living organism? The DRI and collaborators worldwide have demonstrated that, by transplanting insulin-producing “islet” cells, we can restore natural insulin production in patients involved in clinical trials. These patients have achieved insulin independence, experienced normalized blood sugar levels and been freed from frightening hypoglycemic episodes. Some have lived insulin free for more than a decade. Currently, the DRI is creating a BioHub, a “mini organ” that mimics the native pancreas, containing thousands of insulin‐producing cells that sense blood sugar levels and release the precise amount of insulin needed – in real time.

In addition, our research is focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of receptor mediated effects underlying endocrine and metabolic disease states including diabetes, vascular disease and cancer. In particular, research efforts are focused on the role of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End-products (RAGE) in these disease settings.

Thyroid Disorders

Our thyroid research focuses on mechanisms of thyroid hormone action at the molecular, physiological, and psychological levels. Dr. Roy Weiss has examined the molecular basis for the syndrome of resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH). He also has several clinical studies evaluating treatment of thyroid disease. Dr. Weiss’s research is supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Adrenal and Pituitary disorders

Our division members currently spearhead clinical trials involving long acting formulations of growth hormone and their impact in metabolic outcomes. In addition, a multi-center study involving patients with Cushing’s syndrome intends to better understand the long -term consequences of the disease and diagnostic shortcomings. New forms of treatment for pheochromocytomas through targeted radiotherapy are also being investigated.

Osteoporosis

Research involving bone disease includes the study of potential benefits and the impact of vitamin D in physical performance of elderly males.