Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

Research + Clinical Trials

The Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Tufts Medical Center has strong research programs in bone metabolism, diabetes, neuroendocrinology, obesity and adipocyte function.

Our 2012 research highlights include:

  • Grant renewal from the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman Foundation for Medical Research to support research and fellowship training in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism.
  • Support for 4 new grants (3 clinical/1 training)
  • Publication of 26 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and reviews

Our Division is also very proud to be coordinating a national study focused at the impact of vitamin D on diabetes. Learn more >

To learn more about the research in the Division, please use the links below

Lisa Ceglia, MD Research 

  • Effects of vitamin D supplementation on skeletal muscle mass, body composition and inflammation
  • The impact of acid-base balance in the diet on musculoskeletal health

Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD Research

  • The Laboratory studies ways in which diet and nutritional status in combination with exercise, hormones (PTH, vitamin D, estrogen, testosterone) and genetic status influence the skeleton and contribute to risk for osteoporosis
  • Studying the impact of calcium supplement use on trace mineral stores in humans
  • Examining the requirements for optimal bone health during aging

Andy Greenberg, MD Research

  • The Laboratory studies the molecular and cellular regulation of adipocyte and lipid metabolism
  • The role of adipocyte metabolism and other organ systems in influencing systemic insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and inflammation
  • Interaction between nutrients and aging to modulate insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and inflammation
  • Hormonal and genetic basis of insulin resistance and obesity, which encompasses the study of very basic molecular mechanisms, as well as human investigation

Jacqueline T. Kung, MD Research

  • Distinguishing between benign and malignant thyroid nodules based on characteristics of the nodules on ultrasound

Ronald M. Lechan, MD Research

  • Dr. Lechan has devoted much of his career to the study of the anatomy and neuroendocrine regulation of the hypothalamus with particular emphasis on the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.  Seminal work from his laboratory has demonstrated how hypophysiotropic TRH neurons are integrated into the energy control system within the brain, and the central mechanisms involved in the reduction of circulating thyroid hormone levels in the nonthyroidal illness syndrome, a disorder commonly observed in intensive care unit patients.  Dr. Lechan also has had a long interest in elucidating the unique, biological role that hypothalamic tanycytes have in neuroendocrine regulation, demonstrating that they produce one of the highest concentrations of type 2 deiodinase (D2) in the brain, an enzyme necessary to convert thyroxine (T4) into its more biologically active thyroid hormone, tri-iodothyronine (T3).   Evidence that these cells markedly increase D2 in response to endotoxin has led to the hypothesis that they contribute to the pathophysiology of the nonthyroidal illness syndrome.
  • Other research accomplishments include:
    • Demonstration that the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus is a major source of hypophysiotropic neurons involved in anterior pituitary regulation
    • Isolation of the cDNA for mammalian preproTRH to deduce the sequence of rat preproTRH
    • Study of the pharmacology of proTRH-derived peptides in the CNS
    • Elucidation of the mechanisms for feedback control of the biosynthesis of hypophysiotropic hormones
    • Identification of central and intrinsic regulatory mechanisms responsible for disorders characterized by low circulating thyroid hormone and inappropriately low TSH associated with fasting, and the importance of the arcuate nucleus peptides, -MSH, NPY, CART and AGRP
    • Demonstration that  CREB phosphorylation mediates melanocortin signaling to hypophysiotropic TRH neurons in the hypothalamus and antagonizes the inhibitory effects of NPY
    • Demonstration that  tanycyte-derived pyroglutamyl peptidase II (PPII), a TRH degrading enzyme, has an important role in feedback regulation of thyroid hormone on the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis
    • Elucidation of the tanycyte transcriptome by RNA-Seq analysis

Anastassios G. Pittas, MD Research

  • Research on vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic disease has been supported by the R01, R21, U34 and U01 mechanisms of the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK and Office of Dietary Supplements) and the American Diabetes Association.  Details about his current and past research on vitamin D and cardiometabolic disease can be found at www.vitaminDfordiabetes.org  and www.d2dstudy.org.
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research as it relates to the care of patients with diabetes

Jeffrey B. Tatro, PhD Research

  • The mechanisms and cellular receptors involved in the fever-inhibiting, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective actions of melanocortins through genetic knockouts, anatomic studies of the brain’s “wiring,” thermoregulation, hormone secretion, behavior, and benchtop studies of receptor functions
  • The central mechanisms of melanocortin interactions with proinflammatory cytokines
  • Functional and neuroanatomic organization of melanocortinergic neuron systems of the brain
  • Molecular pharmacology and signal transduction of melanocortin receptors, roles of proinflammatory cytokines and glial cells in CNS responses to infectious agents
  • Testing the feasibility of harnessing the anti-inflammatory actions of melanocortins to reduce neurological damage following stroke, and improve the functional recovery of stroke patients
  • Developing new therapeutic avenues for improved treatment of brain diseases in which inflammation plays a role, such as multiple sclerosis and stroke, by using novel drugs that act selectively on brain melanocortin receptors