Our training program is centered on three research themes (basic, clinical, and public health/epidemiology), each of which is represented by 6-8 training faculty. These areas of focus reflect our efforts to increase the emphasis on providing a training program that highlights cross-disciplinary and translational research. Importantly, the breadth and depth of experience in diabetes and endocrine research at the University of Pittsburgh has enabled us to accomplish this goal, all the while maintaining the outstanding quality of our training faculty. Due to the diversity of research projects, we encourage trainees to work with the best mentors available that can help them achieve their individualized career goals, whether or not they are in the Endocrine Division.

Each trainee is expected to assemble a mentoring team consisting of a primary mentor and at least two additional research mentors that have complementary expertise. We strongly recommend that primary mentors are selected from our diverse set of outstanding Training Faculty. Additional mentors may be any committed, highly skilled, appropriately trained mentor that is both willing and able to make a unique contribution to the trainee’s research project and/or career development (pending approval by the training committee).

Basic Research Hub

Don DeFranco, PhD
Henry Dong
Toren FInkel

Donald B. DeFranco, PhD

Vice Chair for Medical Education
Associate Dean for Medical Student Research 

Research Interest:
Glucocorticoid action in the fetal
and newborn brain

H. Henry Dong, PhD

Associate Vice Chair for Research,
Department of Pediatrics

Research Interest:
Mechanisms of beta cell compensation and failure; pathophysiology of insulin resistance and diabetic dyslipidemia

Toren Finkel, MD, PhD

Director, Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt
G. Nicholas Beckwith III and Dorothy B. Beckwith Chair in Translational Medicine

Research Interest:
Mitochondrial function, cellular metabolism,
and oxidative stress/aging

Michael Jurczak
Erin Kershaw
Alison Kohan

Michael Jurczak, PhD

Director of Rodent Phenotyping, Center for Metabolism and Mitochondrial Medicine
Director, Oroboros Respirometry Core, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Research Interest:
Obesity-associated metabolic disease with
a predominant focus on the liver

Erin E. Kershaw, MD

Chief, Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism
Endowed Chair for Obesity & Diabetes Research

Research Interest:
The role of intracellular lipid and steroid metabolism in glucose homeostasis and insulin action; lipotoxicity; adipose tissue biology

Alison B. Kohan, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Research Interest:
Lipoproteins in metabolic and
inflammatory disease with an
emphasis on intestinal lipid biology

Vijay Yechoor
Bokai Zhu

Francisco J. Schopfer, PhD

Vice Chair for Biotechnology Development

Research Interest:
Formation, signaling and metabolic/inflammatory effects of
bioactive fatty acids; novel mitochondria associated peptides

Vijay Yechoor, MD

Director, Diabetes and Beta Cell Biology Center
Diabetes and Metabolic Bone Disease Endowed Chair

Research Interest:
Regulation of beta cell function by oxidative stress pathways, the circadian clock, and epigenetic factors; the role of Tead1
and the hippo pathway in beta cell function

Bokai Zhu, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism

Research Interest:
The mammalian 12h clock in the regulation of proteostasis, metabolism and aging

Clinical Research Hub

Silva Arslanian
Pouneh Fazeli

Silva Arslanian, MD

Director, Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center (PCTRC)
Scientific Director, Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism (CPROM)
Richard L. Day Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical and Translational Science

Research Interest:
Insulin sensitivity and beta cell function during childhood growth and development in health and disease

Anita P. Courcoulas,

Chief, Division of Minimally Invasive
Bariatric and General Surgery
Anthony M. Harrison, MD Chair in Surgery
Director, SAGES Fellowship Program, UPMC
Co-Director, University of Pittsburgh Surgical Outcomes Research Center

Research Interest:
Surgical outcomes, clinical trials, and emerging technologies in bariatric surgery; translational mechanistic studies related to metabolism

Pouneh K. Fazeli, MD, MPH

Director, Neuroendocrinology Unit
Medical Director, Pituitary Center of Excellence

Research Interest:
Hormonal adaptations to undernutrition (i.e. anorexia nervosa); bone marrow adipose tissue function

Maisa Feghali

Maisa Feghali, MD

Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology
& Reproductive Services

Research Interest:
Diabetes in pregnancy

Susan L. Greenspan, MD

Director, Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Center

Research Interest:
Geriatric osteoporosis, including its pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment

John Jakicic, PhD

Chair, Department of Health and Physical Activity
Director, Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center
Director, Nutrition and Obesity Research Center
Director, Healthy Lifestyle Institute

Research Interest:
Lifestyle approaches to the prevention and treatment of chronic health conditions that include obesity and diabetes, with a focus on exercise

Frederico G. S. Toledo, MD

Director of Clinical Research,
Center for Metabolic and Mitochondrial Medicine

Research Interest:
Pathogenesis and treatment
of diabetes mellitus in humans

Joseph M. Zmuda, PhD

Director, Heinz Nutrition Laboratory

Research Interest:
Effects of endocrine changes, aging,
and genetics on musculoskeletal
health and body composition

Public Health/Epidemiology Research Hub

Tina Costacou, PhD

Associate Professor, Epidemiology

Research Interest:
Effects of modifiable environmental factors (e.g. nutrition, obesity) and their sex and genetic interactions on diabetes

Esa Matius Davis,

Director, UPMC Tobacco Treatment Service
Director, Career Education and Enhancement for Health Care Research Diversity (CEED) Program

Research Interest:
Perinatal maternal obesity and associated metabolic outcomes; gestational diabetes; chronic disease risk (i.e. tobacco use)

Vicki Helgeson, PhD

Director of Graduate Studies,
Carnegie Mellon University

Research Interest:
Psychosocial factors involved in
chronic illness, including diabetes

Allison L Kuipers, PhD

Assistant Professor, Epidemiology

Research Interest:
Molecular determinants of cardiovascular
and other cardiometabolic diseases

Iva Miljkovic, MD, PhD, FAHA

Associate Professor, Epidemiology

Research Interest:
Epidemiology of obesity and ectopic fat deposition, with a special interest in high-risk minority, international, and elderly populations

Sanjay R. Patel, MD, MS

Director, Center for Sleep and
Cardiovascular Outcomes Research
Medical Director, UPMC Comprehensive
Sleep Disorders Program

Research Interest:
The epidemiology of the bidirectional relationship between sleep health
and metabolic disease

Anne-Marie Rosland, MD, MS

Research Scientist, VA Center for
Health Equity Research and Promotion

Research Interest:
Improvement of health care and self-management
support for people with diabetes; social networks
and health; the health impact of changes in
primary care organization and policy

Linda M. Siminerio, RN, PhD, DCES

Executive Director,
University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute

Research Interest:
Implementation and evaluation of care
delivery models that include team-based and
self-management approaches in diabetes
clinical practice