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Mary Ellen Vajravelu, MD, MSHP, Joins Division of Pediatric Endocrinology

August 18, 2021

The Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh welcomes Mary Ellen Vajravelu, MD, MSHP, to the Division. In addition to her clinical role at UPMC Children's, Dr. Vajravelu is an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Vajravelu began her tenure at UPMC Children's in July. Prior to joining UPMC Children's, Dr. Vajravelu was an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Education and Training

Dr. Vajravelu earned her medical degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Her pediatric residency and fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology were completed at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Vajravelu earned her Master of Science in Health Policy Research (MSHP) from the University of Pennsylvania. Her MSHP work at the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety involved a fellowship in healthcare quality improvement and patient safety.

Clinical and Research Interests

Dr. Vajravelu’s clinical work involves the full spectrum of pediatric endocrine conditions, with an emphasis on type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in children and adolescents.

Her research interests are primarily focused on type 2 diabetes and obesity in pediatric patients, where she studies best practices for using mobile health (mHealth) strategies to improve patient health and outcomes. Dr. Vajravelu combines her training and interests in epidemiology, biostatistics, quantitative research, and quality improvement to study and improve the effectiveness of therapies for children and adolescents with endocrine-related disorders.

Current Research Projects and Grants

Dr. Vajravelu currently has a K23 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) for research involving “behavioral economics for activity motivation in adolescents and young adults with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.” 

The study aims to use behavioral economic principles, combined with traditional health behavior change theory, in a mHealth intervention to effectively motivate obese adolescents and young adults with obesity and who also have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes to increase their levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Selection of Recent Published Research

Vajravelu ME, Hitt TA, Amaral S, Katz LEL, Lee JM, Kelly A. Real-World Treatment Escalation from Metformin Monotherapy in Youth-Onset Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Pediatric Diabetes. 2021.

Vajravelu ME, Lee JJ, Mitteer L, Zemel BS, Bittinger K, De Leon DD. Gut Microbiome Profile after Pancreatectomy in Infants with Congenital Hyperinsulinism. Pancreas. 2021; 50(1): 89-92.

Vajravelu ME, Lee JM, Amaral S, Kelly A. Sex-Based Differences in Screening and Recognition of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes in Pediatric Primary Care. Pediatric Obesity. 2021; 16: e12699.

Vajravelu ME, Lee JM, Shah R, Shults J, Amaral S, Kelly A: Association between Prediabetes Diagnosis and Body Mass Index Trajectory of Overweight and Obese Adolescents. Pediatric Diabetes. 2020; 21(5): 743-746.

Shah AS, El Ghormli L, Vajravelu ME, Bacha F, Farrell RM, Gidding SS, Katz LE, Tryggestad JB, White NH, Urbina EM: Cardiovascular and Metabolic Risk - Heart Rate Variability and Cardiac Autonomic Dysfunction: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Relationship to Arterial Stiffness in the Treatment Options for type 2 Diabetes in Adolescents and Youth (TODAY) study. Diabetes Care. 2019; 42(11): 2143-2150.

Webster J (co-first author), Vajravelu ME (co-first author), Choi C, Zemel B, Verma R: Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Low Bone Mineral Density in Children With Celiac Disease. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2019; 17(8): 1509-1514.