City of Hope has created a new department in the medical center focusing on diabetes, endocrinology and metabolic diseases, reflecting its prominence and influence in these areas.
The institution established the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, chaired by Fouad R. Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D., to focus on clinical and translational research.
The new medical center department complements the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research in Beckman Research Institute, which pursues investigations in basic science and is led by Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., professor of biology and director emeritus of Beckman Research Institute.
|Fouad R. Kandeel (Photo by Walter Urie)|
“City of Hope is acknowledged as a significant force in diabetes-related basic science, translational research and clinical medicine, and this new department will help us to focus our efforts in this regard,” said Alexandra M. Levine, M.D., chief medical officer. “It also will greatly augment our research mission by attracting more national funding and emphasizing our position as a national leader in the research and treatment of these diseases.”
City of Hope researchers made seminal discoveries in diabetes research and transformed those advances into treatments for patients. In the 1940s, the late Rachmiel Levine, M.D., first identified the role of human insulin in glucose metabolism. Two decades later, Samuel Rahbar, M.D., Ph.D., discovered that hemoglobin A1C could serve as a marker for controlling blood glucose in patients with diabetes. And in 1978, Riggs and Keiichi Itakura, Ph.D., genetically engineered bacteria to produce the first synthetic human insulin.
Since the creation of the Leslie & Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Diabetes & Genetic Research Center at City of Hope in 1997, studies into diabetes evolved even further.
“Ten years ago, there were 24 people in the department,” Kandeel said. “Today there are more than 90.” Federal research funding grew from a little more than $1 million to more than $25 million today.
The diabetes program offers integrated research initiatives and patient care, including a respected islet cell transplantation program and the largest islet cell isolation, distribution and transplantation center in the western United States. City of Hope’s National Institutes of Health-funded Southern California Islet Cell Resource Center is only one of seven such centers in the nation. City of Hope also is one of only 14 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation-designated islet transplant centers.
The new department will help ensure that scientific discoveries continue, Kandeel said. It will provide stability for the diabetes and endocrine programs, attract additional high-quality faculty members in endocrinology, help City of Hope compete for major funding from national agencies and serve as a training arm for a new generation of endocrine specialists.
Clinical research in the new department will cover these program areas: clinical diabetes and endocrinology, clinical obesity and nutrition, diabetes genetics and epidemiology, endocrine tumors, pediatric endocrinology, sexual medicine, supportive services (including psychology, ophthalmology, nephrology, podiatry, diabetes education and nutrition) and a clinical endocrine fellowship training program.
Translational research will encompass further islet cell study into transplantation, immune modulation in type 1 diabetes, “artificial pancreas,” and drug discovery.
Within Beckman Research Institute’s Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research, Kandeel will continue to direct the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. The Division of Gene Regulation & Drug Discovery is directed by Barry M. Forman, M.D. Ph.D., holder of the Ruth B. and Robert K. Lanman Chair in Gene Regulation and Drug Discovery Research.