Faculty Research Interests

Charumathi Baskaran, MD |Publications
My research focuses on understanding appetite regulation and exercise across the weight spectrum. I have evaluated body composition variables and the prevalence of overweight/obesity in youth with type 1 diabetes and presented my findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association last year. We found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in patients with Type 1 Diabetes was similar to that in the general pediatric population and, quite encouragingly, has remained stable over the past decade. We also examined variations in the pattern of weight gain exhibited by the two sexes through puberty. Further, I have analyzed the secretory patterns of the satiety hormone, leptin, across the weight spectrum (in underweight, normal-weight and obese women) using a complex mathematical algorithm based software. I am currently studying neuroimaging changes in low weight eating disorder patients using functional MRI in relation to appetite regulating hormones and eating behaviors. This innovative study explores food motivational pathways with the help of functional MRI tasks and will help understand the neural changes associated with regulation of appetite in eating disorder patients. Finally, I have reported on the utility of Tc99 scans versus thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins in diagnosing children with Graves Disease.

Paul A. Boepple, MD |Publications
My research contributions have focused on the neuroendocrine maturation of human puberty and the modulation of childhood and adolescent growth through the interactions between the reproductive and growth hormone axes.  Investigations have predominantly employed clinical models of human puberty, including children with sexual precocity, adolescents with delayed puberty, and adults with deficiencies of gonadotropin-releasing hormone.  In addition to providing physiological insights, the data we compiled in our studies of children with precocious puberty (CPP) were the basis for the first FDA approval of the use of GnRH agonists for this indication. Since that approval in 1991, GnRH agonist therapy of children with CPP has become the standard of care around the world. Subsequently, investigations undertaken with colleagues in the MGH Reproductive Endocrine Unit helped elucidate the complex interaction of GnRH, sex steroids, and inhibin in the differential regulation of LH and FSH in the human male through the study of a variety of clinical research models (children with CPP before, during, after treatment with GnRH agonists; men with GnRH deficiency before and after restoration of a normal, adult testosterone levels by administration of pulsatile GnRH; adult male volunteers before and after short-term, reversible “biochemical castration” achieved by high-dose ketoconazole). I continue to contribute to clinical research studies in the MGH Reproductive Endocrine Unit that characterize the phenotype/genotype correlations in adult subjects with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and then seek insights into the genetic basis for variations in pubertal timing and reproductive disorders.  Most recently, sequencing of a set of genes known to underlie GnRH deficiency was undertaken in patients with delayed puberty and hypothalamic amenorrhea. 

Lynne L. Levitsky, MD |Publications
My laboratory was the first to describe the use of alternative substrates to glucose by the neonatal primate brain, and to document gluconeogenesis in fetal life. We now work on modulating transcription factor function in the pancreatic beta cell in order to reconstruct the beta cell in other cell types. We have developed a “superpromoter” transcription factor which enhances action in cell types cognate with beta cells. My major clinical research work focuses on the continuation of the TODAY study, an NIH-funded trial of treatments for type 2 diabetes in children and Adolescents. We have demonstrated that the “fat paradox”, the protective effect of obesity on complications of diabetes, extends to retinopathy in the young. The mechanism of this effect is presently being examined. The patients in this trial are being followed into adulthood so that the natural history of type 2 diabetes in young people can be elucidated. We also will be participating in studies of long-acting growth hormone products in children with growth hormone deficiency.

Michelle Katz, MD, MPH |Publications
Dr. Michelle Katz conducts clinical and health services research as an Assistant Investigator within the Section on Clinical, Behavioral and Health Outcomes Research at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA. Her research focuses on improving the health and well-being of youth with type 1 diabetes and their families. She is currently investigating improvements in management of cardiovascular risk factors in youth with type 1 diabetes.

Deborah Mitchell, MD |Publications
Dr. Mitchell has worked on studies of FGF-23 in children, hypoparathyroidism and vitamin D status in relation to metabolic parameters. She is currently working on bone outcomes in children with Type 1 diabetes.

Rose Marino, MD |Publications
Dr. Marino has worked with Dr. Baron’s group at the NIH in characterizing the physiology and endocrine regulation of the growth plate. She has demonstrated that catch-up growth after hypothyroidism is consequent to delayed growth plate senescence. Her current research interests lie in examining the endocrine consequences of proton beam radiation therapy administered for treatment of pediatric brain tumors. She is also looking at the natural history of the endocrine manifestations in adrenal leukodystrophy.

Madhusmita Misra, MD, MPH |Publications
My research to date has focused on clarifying neuroendocrine, body composition and bone alterations in conditions that span the nutritional spectrum from nutritional deprivation (anorexia nervosa) to excess (obesity). My research has contributed significantly to the understanding of low bone mass accrual in teenagers with anorexia nervosa, and in addition to low bone density, I have reported impaired bone microarchitecture and decreased bone strength in this population, and an increased risk for fractures compared to healthy girls. I have worked on therapeutic strategies to optimize bone accrual in adolescents with anorexia nervosa, and have demonstrated the efficacy of physiologic estrogen replacement in increasing bone accrual, although complete catch-up does not occur, likely because other hormonal alterations persist. I have demonstrated that rhIGF-1administration over the short-term in replacement doses is effective in increasing bone formation rates in adolescents with anorexia nervosa, and our group is currently examining the impact of IGF-1 with physiologic estrogen replacement on bone in this condition. Finally, through a recently funded grant, we will explore whether alterations in food motivation pathways in specific brain regions underlie restricting, bingeing, and purging in girls with low-weight eating disorders, and whether these alterations are associated with long-term outcomes. I have also expanded my work to teenage athletes in order to understand the impact of subtle energy deficit states on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (H-P-G) axis and bone accrual, and my studies indicate that adipokines and certain appetite regulating peptides affected by energy status are possible mediators of the association between low fat mass and suppression of the H-P-G axis in amenorrheic athletes, and may contribute to low bone density. My current grant aims at developing therapeutic strategies to optimize bone health in female amenorrheic athletes in the critical teenage years, when disruption of bone accrual may lead to permanent deficits in peak bone mass, an important determinant of long-term bone health. At the other end of the nutritional spectrum, I have examined neuroendocrine predictors of site specific fat depots in obese adolescents, an important determinant of the metabolic syndrome, and the implication of specific macronutrients on hunger and food intake.
Other areas of research include major depressive disorders and autism spectrum disorders. My work with investigators at the Lurie Center for Autism has shown lower bone density in peripubertal boys with autism compared with typically developing controls, and a higher risk of certain types of fracture in children and adults with autism spectrum disorders compared with controls.  I am currently principal investigator and co-investigator of various NIH studies.
Website:MGH Adolescent Neuroendocrine Unit

Eray Savgan-Gurol, MD |Publications
Dr. Savgan-Gurol has worked on maternal vitamin D gene polymorphisms that may predispose to premature birth, and on techniques used to assess regional body composition to best determine clinical and DXA surrogates for visceral and subcutaneous fat and intramyocellular lipid, as analyzed by MRI and MRS techniques. She is currently working with Dr. Marino on a project examining endocrine consequences of proton beam radiation administered for treatment of pediatric brain tumors.

Vibha Singhal, MD |Publications
Dr. Singhal’s research interests include evaluation of bone outcomes in extremes of spectrums – anorexia nervosa to severe obesity. I am also interested in evaluating the role of different fat depots – visceral, subcutaneous, marrow and brown fat and their contribution to bone and metabolic consequences in various disease states like athletic triad and anorexia. My recent work focuses on evaluating metabolic changes that happen after bariatric surgery in adolescents and the potential mechanisms contributing to those changes.

Manasi Sinha, MD |Publications
Dr. Sinha’s research interests include insulin delivery methods in patients with Type 1 diabetes. She is currently working with Dr. Steven Russell on studies in children using the closed loop system of insulin delivery (the bionic pancreas).

Takara Stanley, MD |Publications
My research interest is the clinical investigation of metabolic and endocrine perturbations associated with abnormal body composition, particularly in HIV-infection and in pediatric obesity. I am particularly interested in the interactions between growth hormone dynamics and body composition, ectopic fat accumulation, lipid metabolism, glucose homeostasis. I have worked on projects investigating growth hormone dynamics in patients with HIV lipodystrophy, with special attention to the effects of exogenous Growth Hormone and Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) on endogenous growth hormone secretion, insulin sensitivity, and ectopic fat accumulation in liver and muscle. I am also interested in the process of evaluating growth hormone deficiency in children, the effect of body composition on endogenous GH secretion, and the use of growth hormone in pediatric populations, including children with Prader Willi, small for gestational age, and Turner syndrome. My recent work focuses on metabolic and endocrine associations with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and the effects of augmenting growth hormone to ameliorate hepatic steatosis and steatohepatitis.

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