New NIH R01 Grant Awarded to Pediatric Endocrinologist Silva Arslanian, MD, to Study Brain Health in Youth at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

December 11, 2021

In November 2021, Silva Arslanian, MD, from the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, was awarded a new National Institutes of Health multi-principal investigator R01 grant aimed at studying brain health in youth at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Arslanian is the Richard L. Day Endowed Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Clinical and Translational Science Institute,  the scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism (CPROM) and the Director of the Pediatric Clinical and Translation Research Center at UPMC Children’s.

For the new grant, Dr. Arslanian will lead a team of researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC Children's that is focused on metabolism, obesity, and diabetes components of the new grant. A second team of researchers, led by Tamara Hershey, PhD, who is the James S. McDonnell Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychiatry & Radiology, and director of the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine, will lead the neuroscience component of the R01 investigation.

“Type 2 diabetes in youth is a complex condition with rapidly progressing complications and  far-reaching health consequences that we are continually learning more about,” says Dr. Arslanian. “Given the increasing rates of T2D in youth around the globe, we must obtain a better understanding of how the disorder affects the developing brain in youth, and ultimately what long-term complications may impact health into adulthood.”

The multidisciplinary and multi-center investigation teams will work to determine if obesity, insulin resistance, and beta cell dysfunction with or without dysglycemia are associated with altered brain structure as depicted on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and brain function measured through a battery of cognitive tests. The research teams will follow changes over time in participants to determine predictors of change in brain outcomes among youth with obesity, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes compared with normal weight youth.

Read the complete abstract of Dr. Arslanian’s new grant, officially titled “Brain Health Across the Metabolic Continuum in Youth at Risk for T2D,” on the NIH RePORTER website.

More About Dr. Arslanian

Silva Arslanian, MD, is professor of pediatrics and clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She holds the Richard L. Day Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Dr. Arslanian is the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center, and she is the scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity & Metabolism (CPROM) at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children's. Dr. Arslanian also was the founding director of the Weight Management & Wellness Center.

Dr. Arslanian obtained her medical degree from the American University of Beirut and completed her pediatric residency training at the same institution. She completed her fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at UPMC Children’s. Dr. Arslanian’s research has been continually funded for numerous years by the NIH, research foundations, and pharmaceutical companies. 

Her research focus primarily involves insulin sensitivity and beta cell function during childhood growth and development, in health and disease (obesity, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS), and racial contrast in risk for the aforementioned. Dr. Arslanian has served the national and international scientific communities in various capacities during her distinguished career. She has been a member of several consensus panels, including the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology “Childhood Insulin Resistance," the Endocrine Society “PCOS Guidelines," the Endocrine Society “Childhood Obesity Guidelines," the American Diabetes Association (ADA) “Type 2 diabetes in youth," and the International Study of Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) “Type 2 diabetes in youth."

Dr. Arslanian is the recipient of several prestigious awards for her seminal contributions in advancing scientific discoveries in pediatric insulin resistance, beta cell function and type 2 diabetes. She has authored more than 250 publications and has been an invited lecturer and chairperson at various national and international congresses.