Boston Children's Hospital's Division of Endocrinology operates one of the nation's most extensive research programs focused on pediatric endocrine disorders. We have a wide range of projects underway that are advancing our understanding of the endocrine system and diabetes on many levels. We also serve as an extensive training ground for the next generation of medical practitioners and researchers.
Our researchers are constantly studying ways to prevent premature births, improve diabetes management, control obesity, enhance our knowledge and treatment of growth and development disorders, and address other endocrine malfunctions that affect the health and quality of life of children.
Enteroendocrine cells in the intestine produce some 15 different hormones. Intestinal organoids, developed by David Breault, MD, PhD; Daniel Zeve, MD, PhD; and colleagues, could help identify drugs that enhance these cells' action to treat endocrine disorders like diabetes and obesity.
Specifically, some of our innovative efforts underway include:
- identifying the genetic causes of endocrine diseases (including short stature and obesity) in children and exploring treatment options
- researching the causes and treatment of obesity by studying diets characterized by a “high glycemic index.” This refers to foods that raise the blood glucose (blood sugar) levels rapidly. Also exploring the potential of telemedicine to manage obesity and address related complications.
- developing treatments for type 1 diabetes that do not require insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar). Also considering the role exercise plays in the treatment equation.
- developing drugs that treat obesity by regulating leptin levels (a hormone involved in appetite and weight)
- studying the role of blood sugar control in ensuring the best outcomes for patients in the intensive care unit
- considering a variety of conditions related to pediatric bone health, including rickets (a condition causing bones to soften or become weaker), low bone density (low bone mass), and osteoporosis (a disease that causes bones to become thinner and at increased risk of breaking). Research in this area ranges from using mouse models to performing clinical trials testing novel drug and devices.
- evaluating methods to slow down aging and prevent cancer by regulating insulin signaling (the process in which the insulin hormone signals the release of glucose or blood sugar) in the brain, and considering how bariatric surgery reduces risk factors
- identifying potential sources of stem cells in endocrine organs to eventually replace diseased tissue
- gaining a deeper understanding of delayed puberty and disorders of sex development (DSD) to get a clearer picture of the role that genetics plays and to explore more effective approaches to treat such problems