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 2020 research highlights include:

  • Support derived from 13 NIH grants, 2 grants from the USDA, 2 grants from the Boston Heart Diagnostics, 2 grants from Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, 1 grant from the Department of Defense, 1 grant from the Italian Ministry of Research, 3 grants from the European Union and a variety of industry and institutional grants. Three new grants were awarded to Division members this year. 
  • Publication of 48 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 due to their production of type 2 deiodinase (D2) and hence, feedback regulation of the thyroid axis, and in neurogenesis by contributing to the population of the satiety, POMC-producing neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. Ongoing basic and clinical research studies include:

  • Role of the hypothalamic parasubthalamic nucleus (PSTN) in the regulation of appetite and satiety.
  • A data collection survey on patients with active acromegaly currently on pharmacologic treatment (The Management of Acromegaly (MACRO) Registry

Anastassios G. Pittas, MD Research

Below is an outline of research interests and accomplishments and opportunities for collaborations and mentorship in Dr. Pittas laboratory. Colleagues and trainees are encouraged to bring ideas, energy, enthusiasm and time to the development and execution of collaborative projects with meaningful impact in patient care. For details, including a complete list of publications, please visit https://agpittas.com/

  • Understanding of the role of vitamin D in type 2 diabetes. Through a methodical approach that included cross-sectional and longitudinal observational studies, post-hoc analyses of completed trials and short-term mechanistic trials, my colleagues from different institutions and I worked in a highly collaborative approach to uncover a link between vitamin D and risk of type 2 diabetes. Databases and specimens (blood / urine) are available from observational studies and randomized trials for ancillary studies by colleagues and trainees. Details can be found at www.vitaminDfordiabetes.org  and www.d2dstudy.org.

  • Precision-Nutrition for prevention and management of diabetes and cardiometabolic disease. Based on animal work by others, my colleagues and I demonstrated that the effect of the dietary glycemic load on weight change depends on baseline insulin secretion, a finding which was subsequently confirmed by others.

  • Comparative Effectiveness Research as it relates to the care of patients with diabetes. Working collaboratively and effectively with researchers from the Tufts Evidence Based Center (for over 10 years) and currently with the Brown Evidence Based Center, my colleagues and I have conducted and published more than 10 high-impact systematic reviews and meta-analyses on topics that are timely and clinically applicable. 

  • The application of virtual medicine and digital connectivity in the care of patients with diabetes and other endocrine conditions. Our team has conducted research in the use of continuous glucose monitoring in patients with pre-diabetes and diabetes, focusing on understanding its role in clinical care. Databases are available for analyses.

  • Mentorship of trainees. Under many roles in the Tufts educational environment (Associate Director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Program, Instructor for the Study Design and Clinical Trials courses at Tufts University), Dr. Pittas has served as mentor for a number of trainees at many academic levels and in wide areas of clinical research, including observational studies, trials and comparative effectiveness research. His trainees and Dr. Pittas have co-authored more than 40 manuscripts in the area of diabetes and metabolism. 

Jeffrey Vercollone, MD, MS Research

  • Inpatient Glycemia Consult Service. In 2018, Dr. Vercollone started the inpatient Glycemia Consult Service aiming to improve glycemic management in hospitalized patients. The service, which is currently staffed by a stellar NP (Rachel N. Lehouillier, NP, MSN) and an outstanding clinical pharmacist outstanding clinical pharmacist (John Aurora) services 3 floors of the hospital and the service will be expanding to cover the entire hospital. The team works as a nonconventional consultation service that seeks patients that need the service the most, based on meeting certain criteria in the electronic medical record and automatically consults on the patient to reduce the burden on primary teams and improve outcomes. We focus not only on acute care management, but also on educating the patient and staff to help with adherence and timely administration of medications in a logical patient-centered outpatient plan. Some of the highlights of the service and research projects include:
  • - Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) use during COVID to help reduce staff and patient exposure (COVID can be transmitted in both directions).
    - Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) placement on discharge to help establish continuity care by linking to the CGM tracings for review of blood sugars remotely as the patient transitions to their home environment.
    - Educational initiatives for inpatient diabetes education of staff and patients. Medicine Resident Interns are required to spend one week on the service to understand the service and diabetes care in the hospital.
    - Transitions of Care service that is being piloting with pharmacy to help navigate the complexities of diabetes medication and blood sugar monitoring on discharge.