Help Wanted: Pediatric Endocrinologists

New Funding Will Help Train Researchers in Childhood Diabetes

May 1, 2003

"Now is a wonderful time to consider a research career in childhood diabetes," says Georgeanna Klingensmith, MD, who heads the Division of Pediatrics at the Barbara Davis Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "We need young people with energy and enthusiasm to take these new findings in molecular biology, genetics, and immunology and put them together to move the field ahead."

To enlarge the pool of pediatric endocrinologists conducting diabetes research, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recently awarded research training and career development grants to seven medical centers with strong research programs in childhood diabetes:

  • Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas
  • University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania
  • Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

"With this funding, we hope to create a pipeline of new and talented investigators whose focus is pediatric diabetes research," explains Judith Fradkin, MD, director of NIDDK's Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases. "These awards support not only research fellowships but also a longer period of research career development until a junior researcher is ready to begin an independent career."

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that "the scarcity of pediatric endocrinologists, reflected in the many unfilled vacancies for these specialists in medical centers around the country, has impeded clinical research in pediatric diabetes. Specifically, a shortage of clinical investigators has hindered research at a time when the momentum of basic research discoveries has rapidly accelerated. Physician scientists are needed to speed the flow of new information from the bench to bedside."

NIH requires medical school graduates to complete a three-year pediatric residency before becoming eligible for pediatric endocrinology training. The institute acknowledges that "the burden of debt and the length of training discourage many potential candidates from pursuing subspecialty and clinical research careers."

NIH has introduced a loan repayment program that offsets some of the educational debt incurred by graduates in the health professions. Qualified candidates who agree to spend 50 percent of their time conducting pediatric research, or not less than 20 hours per week, for two consecutive years may apply for the program. Participants can receive up to $35,000 annually in educational loan repayment, depending on their total educational loan debt. For more information, see www.lrp.nih.gov.

—National Institutes of Health news release, January 29, 2003

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