- Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The Children's National Health System, 2015 – Present
- Pediatric Endocrinologist – Faculty, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center/ Eunice Kennedy Shriver Fellowship Training Program NICHD, NIH, 2013-Present
- Society for Pediatric Research, 2016
- Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013
- Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship, Baylor College of Medicine, 2010-2013
- Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 2005-2009
- M.B.B.S. (Hons.), University of the West Indies, Mona, 2003
- B.A. (Hons.), Knox College, 1998
Our overall goal is to minimize the burden of diabetes health disparities across the lifespan through improving diabetes prevention and management. By elucidating the complex association of biological, social and environmental factors to the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic diseases, we will evaluate current paradigms and promote the development of novel screening and therapeutic strategies.
Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, especially in minority populations. Moreover, type 2 diabetes is no longer only an adult disease, it now accounts for ~50% of cases in African-American youth. In the United States, African-American women and adolescents have the highest rates of newly diagnosed diabetes and obesity and a high disease burden. To reduce this impact, early disease detection and treatment are vital, but the success of these programs rests with population-specific screening and therapeutic strategies. Our research program aims to delineate the contribution of biological, social and lifestyle factors to the risk for and the treatment of diabetes and cardiometabolic disease. Current projects focus on addressing diabetes health disparities in youth and young adults. Our protocols are evaluating reasons for metformin non-responsiveness while simultaneously investigating novel pharmacologic strategies and pharmacogenetic targets.
Applying our Research
Our research will help to identify the earliest signs of glucose dysregulation and treatment non-responsiveness to provide population-specific evidence for the development of diabetes screening and therapeutic strategies. Our research group also partners with various non-profit organizations and The Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC to advocate for pediatric health and awareness of obesity and diabetes in the greater DC metro area.
Need for Further Study
Childhood obesity is a major public health concern and the most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes development in youth. The obesity epidemic is now observed even in groups of children who until recent years were faced with poor growth and undernutrition, e.g. childhood and adult survivors of severe congenital heart disease. A rapid decline in insulin secretion characterizes the increased rate of progression to type 2 diabetes and tools that can characterize the rapidity of this physiologic decompensation are urgently needed. In addition, oral treatment of type 2 diabetes in youth is limited to metformin, but metformin response is variable; up to 50% of youth require additional therapy to maintain glucose levels within the normal range. More research is needed to identify the possible reasons for metformin non-responsiveness and to inform new strategies for diabetes risk prediction and treatment in youth.
- Leptin decreases de novo lipogenesis in patients with lipodystrophy.
- Baykal AP, Parks EJ, Shamburek R, Syed-Abdul MM, Chacko S, Cochran E, Startzell M, Gharib AM, Ouwerkerk R, Abd-Elmoniem KZ, Walter PJ, Walter M, Muniyappa R, Chung ST, Brown RJ.
- JCI Insight (2020 Jul 23) 5. Abstract/Full Text
- Free fatty acid processing diverges in human pathologic insulin resistance conditions.
- Sekizkardes H, Chung ST, Chacko S, Haymond MW, Startzell M, Walter M, Walter PJ, Lightbourne M, Brown RJ.
- J Clin Invest (2020 Jul 1) 130:3592-3602. Abstract/Full Text
Research in Plain Language
We examine early markers and tests that will help to identify individuals who are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease. In addition, our current projects focus on the care of youth and young adults with type 2 diabetes to help promote the development of more effective treatments and try to understand why current regimens do not work well. These studies will help us to understand why diabetes risk is high in some racial/ethnic groups and help to determine the best tests to diagnose and monitor the treatment of diabetes regardless of race or ethnicity.