About the Section

The Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism offers outpatient and inpatient diagnostic and treatment programs, and an endocrine hormone assay laboratory that performs a range of tests not available elsewhere. The Adult Endocrinology Consultation Service provides expert evaluation and management of hospitalized patients with endocrine disorders. Special clinical programs are available for patients with overactive thyroid, thyroid growths, pituitary tumors, abnormalities of water metabolism, hirsutism, and weight control problems. Our diabetes program is accredited by the American Diabetes Assn. (ADA). Our program is consistently recognized as one of the finest endocrinology centers in the U.S. The University of Chicago's endocrinology program has a reputation for progressive therapies and leading-edge research.

The Endocrinology Clinic is located in the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art outpatient care facility. With close to 12,000 patient visits each year, our physicians, scientists, and medical staff work together in the most modern facilities to provide patients with up-to-date treatments as well as disease education, dietary counseling, and other support services to help patients achieve the best quality of life.

Research Accomplishments

The Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism is a national leader in research leading to the development of new insights in the treatment of endocrine diseases and disorders. Work in the areas of diabetes, thyroid and sleep disorders has been greatly advanced by The University of Chicago endocrinology faculty. Our research activities are supported by a number of different sources including the National Institute of Health (NIH) and non-federal granting agencies. As one of only five NIH Diabetes Research and Training Centers in the U.S., we receive more NIH funding for diabetes and endocrinology research than any other hospital in Illinois and are in the top five of NIH funding for endocrinology programs nationally.

Over the years, several members of the Endocrine faculty have led investigations that resulted in significant discoveries in the areas of diabetes, thyroid and sleep disorders.

  • Dr. Robert R. Bensley identified the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas (1906). Nearly a century later, physicians here are transplanting these islets in an effort to cure diabetes. Dr. Bensley’s work fostered the discovery of insulin
  • Dr. Samuel Refetoff defined a clinical syndrome with resistance to thyroid hormone (Refetoff’s Syndrome). His later research traced the cause to a genetic mutation.
  • Dr. Donald Steiner found how insulin is created when the single-chain “proinsulin” doubles over into a U shape (1965). Proinsulin was the first hormone ever identified. Dr.Steiner also worked with a biotech firm to produce human insulin for diabetics
  • Dr. Eugene Goldwasser isolated erythropoietin, a hormone that stimulated production of red blood cells. “Epo” is now used by many kidney dialysis patients and to treat anemia (1977).

In 2006 Graeme Bell, PhD., the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, joined the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. A leading authority on the molecular genetics of diabetes mellitus, Dr. Bell directs a large and active program which aims to identify diabetes susceptibility genes and has identified specific genes responsible for the autosomal, dominantly-transmitted maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY).

Long known as a section which has made major advances in diabetes and thyroid disease and with over $7.5M in research funding, researchers in the Section made several groundbreaking discoveries in recent years:

  • Established proof of principle for regeneration of beta cells in a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes curing diabetes with semi-allogeneic splenocyte islet transplantation (Science 2006, Hara and Philipson et al)
  • Discovered a new genetic syndrome with a defect in selenoprotein synthesis machinery, caused by mutations in the selenocysteine insertion sequence binding protein (CESISBP) 2 gene (Nature Genetics 2005 Refetoff et al.)
  • Discovered that pancreatic beta cells can survive ongoing immune attack causing Type 1 diabetes in the NOD mouse with immune stimulation, and this ability can be augmented by infusion of spleen cells. ( Science ,Hara and Philipson, et al ,2006 ) This effect is also seen in a chemical injury model of beta cell destruction (Science 2006,Yin et al,).
  • Demonstrated that beta cell potassium channels control insulin secretion and are modulated by arachidonate released during glucose stimulation. (American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism 2006, Jacobson, Philipson)
  • Determined that free radical mechanisms can play a key role in both insulin resistance and beta cell failure in Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism,2006, Fridlyand et al) and potentially involving selective pressure in human evolution ( Current Diabetes Review 2006 , Fridlyand)
  • Found that cis-element (ppIGE) in the 5'-untranslated region of preproinsulin mRNA (formed by splicing out intron-1 from the gene) is key to specific translational regulation of proinsulin biosynthesis by glucose (Cell Metabolism 2007, Wicksteed et al)
  • Discovered a mutation that results in severe resistance to thyroid hormone that provides insight into the important structural components of the thyroid hormone receptor (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology 2006, Wu et al)
  • Developed a mouse model of a common cause of human X-linked mental retardation due to an MCT-8 transporter defect (MCT8). (Endocrinology 2006, Dumitrescu, Refetoff et al)

In recognition of his important research, Dr. Samuel Refetoff was recently granted MERIT Status (Method to Extend Research in Time) by the National Institutes of Health for his investigations into the identification of new inherited thyroid disorders.

The Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology faculty is internationally recognized for their leading-edge clinical care and progressive therapies.. In FY 06 the Department of Medicine and Section launched the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center (Louis Philipson, MD, Ph.D.-Director) to combine the University’s traditions of excellence in clinical care, basic and clinical research, and education in diabetes and metabolic disorders. The Center’s goals include improving patient care and developing new treatments and cures through research into the molecular and genetic bases for types I and II diabetes and the role of obesity. Next year, the section will expand its clinical programs to include a full-time consultation service for inpatients with hypertension and a specialty clinic for patients and training of diabetes-related kidney disease.

Education and Training

The multi-faceted academic program offered by the Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism includes education for medical students, interns, residents, and fellows. Continuing medical education for physicians is also offered. Education within the Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism consists of instruction at all levels of participation--outpatient clinics, inpatient areas, and laboratories with active student participation.

At The University of Chicago, the Adult Endocrine Fellowship training program and the Pediatric Endocrine Fellowship training program are committed to training young physicians for careers which emphasize endocrine investigation in children, adolescents and adults. The goals of this transitional program have been to provide physician-scientists with an integrated training in basic and clinical endocrine research in order to prepare them for academic research careers.

Patient Care

Specialists here treat patients with diabetes, thyroid disorders, pituitary tumors, polycystic ovary disease, bone diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension, and other diseases related to hormonal imbalance. The Section of Adult and Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism offers outpatient and inpatient diagnostic and treatment programs, and an endocrine hormone assay laboratory that performs a range of tests not available elsewhere.