Jake A Kushner

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States

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Publications (44)425.42 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The great preclinical promise of the pancreatic endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) inhibitors in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers is marred by pancreatic injury and diabetic syndrome observed in PERK knockout mice and humans lacking PERK function and suffering from Wolcott-Rallison syndrome. PERK mediates many of the unfolded protein response (UPR)-induced events, including degradation of the type 1 interferon (IFN) receptor IFNAR1 in vitro. Here we report that whole-body or pancreas-specific Perk ablation in mice leads to an increase in IFNAR1 protein levels and signaling in pancreatic tissues. Concurrent IFNAR1 deletion attenuated the loss of PERK-deficient exocrine and endocrine pancreatic tissues and prevented the development of diabetes. Experiments using pancreas-specific Perk knockouts, bone marrow transplantation, and cultured pancreatic islets demonstrated that stabilization of IFNAR1 and the ensuing increased IFN signaling in pancreatic tissues represents a major driver of injury triggered by Perk loss. Neutralization of IFNAR1 prevented pancreatic toxicity of PERK inhibitor, indicating that blocking the IFN pathway can mitigate human genetic disorders associated with PERK deficiency and help the clinical use of PERK inhibitors.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is the archetypal example of a T cell-mediated autoimmune disease characterized by selective destruction of pancreatic β cells. The pathogenic equation for T1DM presents a complex interrelation of genetic and environmental factors, most of which have yet to be identified. On the basis of observed familial aggregation of T1DM, it is certain that there is a decided heritable genetic susceptibility for developing T1DM. The well-known association of T1DM with certain human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) was a major step toward understanding the role of inheritance in T1DM. Type 1 diabetes is a polygenic disease with a small number of genes having large effects (e.g., HLA) and a large number of genes having small effects. Risk of T1DM progression is conferred by specific HLA DR/DQ alleles [e.g., DRB1*03-DQB1*0201 (DR3/DQ2) or DRB1*04-DQB1*0302 (DR4/DQ8)]. In addition, the HLA allele DQB1*0602 is associated with dominant protection from T1DM in multiple populations. A concordance rate lower than 100% between monozygotic twins indicates a potential involvement of environmental factors on disease development. The detection of at least two islet autoantibodies in the blood is virtually pre-diagnostic for T1DM. The majority of children who carry these biomarkers, regardless of whether they have an a priori family history of the disease, will develop insulin-requiring diabetes. Facilitating pre-diagnosis is the timing of seroconversion which is most pronounced in the first 2 yr of life. Unfortunately the significant progress in improving prediction of T1DM has not yet been paralleled by safe and efficacious intervention strategies aimed at preventing the disease. Herein we summarize the chequered history of prediction and prevention of T1DM, describing successes and failures alike, and thereafter examine future trends in the exciting, partially explored field of T1DM prevention.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Pediatric Diabetes
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    ABSTRACT: The pathophysiology of canine diabetes remains poorly understood, in part due to enigmatic clinical features and the lack of detailed histopathology studies. Canine diabetes, similar to human type 1 diabetes, is frequently associated with diabetic ketoacidosis at onset or after insulin omission. However, notable differences exist. Whereas human type 1 diabetes often occurs in children, canine diabetes is typically described in middle age to elderly dogs. Many competing theories have been proposed regarding the underlying cause of canine diabetes, from pancreatic atrophy to chronic pancreatitis to autoimmune mediated β-cell destruction. It remains unclear to what extent β-cell loss contributes to canine diabetes, as precise quantifications of islet morphometry have not been performed. We used high-throughput microscopy and automated image processing to characterize islet histology in a large collection of pancreata of diabetic dogs. Diabetic pancreata displayed a profound reduction in β-cells and islet endocrine cells. Unlike humans, canine non-diabetic islets are largely comprised of β-cells. Very few β-cells remained in islets of diabetic dogs, even in pancreata from new onset cases. Similarly, total islet endocrine cell number was sharply reduced in diabetic dogs. No compensatory proliferation or lymphocyte infiltration was detected. The majority of pancreata had no evidence of pancreatitis. Thus, canine diabetes is associated with extreme β-cell deficiency in both new and longstanding disease. The β-cell predominant composition of canine islets and the near-total absence of β-cells in new onset elderly diabetic dogs strongly implies that similar to human type 1 diabetes, β-cell loss underlies the pathophysiology of canine diabetes.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2015 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: The identification of novel targets that stimulate endogenous regeneration of beta cells would represent a significant advance in the treatment of patients with diabetes. The betatrophin hypothesis suggests that increased expression of angiopoietin-like protein 8 (ANGPTL8) induces dramatic and specific beta cell proliferation and subsequent beta cell mass expansion with improved glucose tolerance. In light of recent controversy, we further investigated the effects of ANGPTL8 overexpression on beta cell proliferation. We performed hydrodynamic tail vein injections of green fluorescent protein (GFP) or Angptl8 (also known as Gm6484) DNA in multiple cohorts of mice of different ages. We employed state-of-the-art methods to comprehensively quantify beta cell mass and proliferation, controlling for mouse age, genetic strain, source of DNA injected, Angptl8 gene expression and proliferation markers. In two young and two aged cohorts of B6.129 mice, no substantial change in beta cell replication, mass or glucose homeostasis was observed following ANGPTL8 overexpression. Even in mice with extremely elevated Angptl8 expression (26-fold increase), beta cell replication was not significantly altered. Finally, we considered mice on the ICR background exactly as studied by Melton and colleagues, and still no beta cell mitogenic effect was detected following ANGPTL8 overexpression. ANGPTL8 does not stimulate beta cell replication in young or old mice.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Diabetologia
  • Jake A Kushner · Patrick E MacDonald · Mark A Atkinson
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    ABSTRACT: Two groups recently reported the in vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into insulin-secreting cells, achieving an elusive goal for regenerative medicine. Herein we provide a perspective regarding these developments, compare phenotypes of the insulin-containing cells to human ? cells, and discuss implications for type 1 diabetes research and clinical care. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Cell stem cell
  • Dariush Elahi · Raghavendra G Mirmira · Jake A Kushner

    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Molecular Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: Clec16a has been identified as a disease susceptibility gene for type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and adrenal dysfunction, but its function is unknown. Here we report that Clec16a is a membrane-associated endosomal protein that interacts with E3 ubiquitin ligase Nrdp1. Loss of Clec16a leads to an increase in the Nrdp1 target Parkin, a master regulator of mitophagy. Islets from mice with pancreas-specific deletion of Clec16a have abnormal mitochondria with reduced oxygen consumption and ATP concentration, both of which are required for normal β cell function. Indeed, pancreatic Clec16a is required for normal glucose-stimulated insulin release. Moreover, patients harboring a diabetogenic SNP in the Clec16a gene have reduced islet Clec16a expression and reduced insulin secretion. Thus, Clec16a controls β cell function and prevents diabetes by controlling mitophagy. This pathway could be targeted for prevention and control of diabetes and may extend to the pathogenesis of other Clec16a- and Parkin-associated diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · Cell
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    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic β-cell survival remains poorly understood despite decades of research. GATA transcription factors broadly regulate embryogenesis and influence survival of several cell types, but their role in adult β-cells remains undefined. To investigate the role of GATA factors in adult β-cells, we derived β-cell inducible Gata4 and Gata6 knockout mice, along with whole-body inducible Gata4 knockouts. β-cell Gata4 deletion modestly increased the proportion of dying β-cells in situ with ultrastructural abnormalities suggesting endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Notably, glucose homeostasis was not grossly altered in Gata4 and Gata6 knockout mice, suggesting that GATA factors do not have essential roles in β-cells. Several ER stress signals were up-regulated in Gata4 and Gata6 knockouts, most notably CHOP, a known regulator of ER stress-induced apoptosis. However, ER stress signals were not elevated to levels observed after acute thapsigargin administration, suggesting that GATA deficiency only caused mild ER stress. Simultaneous deletion of Gata4 and CHOP partially restored β-cell survival. In contrast, whole-body inducible Gata4 knockouts displayed no evidence of ER stress in other GATA4-enriched tissues, such as heart. Indeed, distinct GATA transcriptional targets were differentially expressed in islets compared to heart. Such β-cell specific findings prompted study of a large meta-analysis dataset to investigate single nucleotide polymorphisms harbored within the human GATA4 locus, revealing several variants significantly associated with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). We conclude that GATA factors have important but non-essential roles to promote ER integrity and β-cell survival in a tissue-specific manner, and that GATA factors likely contribute to T1DM pathogenesis.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Molecular Endocrinology
  • Kelly A Hicks · Jake A Kushner · Rubina Heptulla · J Nina Ham
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Although KCNJ11 mutations of the KATP channel within the β cell are known to prevent insulin secretion and cause permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus, the genotype-phenotype correlation continues to be of clinical interest. We report the clinical outcomes in monozygotic twins with neonatal diabetes due to heterozygous mutations in KCNJ11 at R201H. The twins demonstrated concordant clinical outcomes after transitioning from insulin to oral sulfonylurea therapy at 4 months of age. Both twins remained on sulfonylurea therapy while achieving similar growth, development, and metabolic goals. They exhibit marked sensitivity to sulfonylurea therapy with current dosing at 0.05 and 0.06 mg/kg per day at age 5 years which deviates from the approximate maintenance dose of 0.4 mg/kg per day at the time of transition and subsequent follow-up. Metabolic control provided by low-dose sulfonylurea therapy is likely due to early age at transition from insulin to sulfonylurea therapy and possible preservation of endogenous insulin secretion.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of pediatric endocrinology & metabolism: JPEM
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    Jake A Kushner
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    ABSTRACT: Preservation and regeneration of β cell endocrine function is a long-sought goal in diabetes research. Defective insulin secretion from β cells underlies both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, thus fueling considerable interest in molecules capable of rebuilding β cell secretion capacity. Though early work in rodents suggested that regeneration might be possible, recent studies have revealed that aging powerfully restricts cell cycle entry of β cells, which may limit regeneration capacity. Consequently, aging has emerged as an enigmatic challenge that might limit β cell regeneration therapies. This Review summarizes recent data regarding the role of aging in β cell regeneration and proposes models explaining these phenomena.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2013 · The Journal of clinical investigation
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of adult β-cell progenitors remains the most controversial developmental biology topic in diabetes research. It has been reported that β-cell progenitors can be activated by ductal ligation induced injury of adult mouse pancreas, which apparently act in a cell autonomous manner to double the functional β-cell mass within a week by differentiation and proliferation. Here, we demonstrate that pancreatic ductal ligation (PDL) does not activate progenitors to contribute to β-cell mass expansion. Rather, PDL stimulates massive pancreatic injury, which alters pancreatic composition and thus complicates accurate measurement of β-cell content via traditional morphometry methodologies that superficially sample the pancreas. To overcome this potential bias we quantified β-cells from the entire pancreas and observed that β-cell mass and insulin content are totally unchanged by PDL-induced injury. Lineage tracing studies using sequential administration of thymidine analogues, rat insulin 2 promoter driven cre-lox, and low-frequency ubiquitous cre-lox reveal that PDL does not convert progenitors to the β-cell lineage. Thus, we conclude that β-cells are not generated in injured adult mouse pancreas.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Diabetes
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    ABSTRACT: Germ line PERK mutations are associated with diabetes mellitus and growth retardation in both rodents and humans. In contrast, late embryonic excision of PERK permits islet development and was found to prevent onset of diabetes, suggesting that PERK may be dispensable in the adult pancreas. To definitively establish the functional role of PERK in adult pancreata, we generated mice harboring a conditional PERK allele in which excision is regulated by tamoxifen administration. Deletion of PERK in either young adult or mature adult mice resulted in hyperglycemia associated with loss of islet and β cell architecture. PERK excision triggered intracellular accumulation of proinsulin and Glut2, massive endoplasmic reticulum (ER) expansion, and compensatory activation of the remaining unfolded-protein response (UPR) signaling pathways specifically in pancreatic tissue. Although PERK excision increased β cell death, this was not a result of decreased proliferation as previously reported. In contrast, a significant and specific increase in β cell proliferation was observed, a result reflecting increased cyclin D1 accumulation. This work demonstrates that contrary to expectations, PERK is required for secretory homeostasis and β cell survival in adult mice.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Molecular and Cellular Biology
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    ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs typically function at the level of posttranscriptional gene silencing within the cytoplasm; however, increasing evidence suggests that they may also function in nuclear, Argonaut-containing complexes, to directly repress target gene transcription. We have investigated the role of microRNAs in mediating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress responses. ER stress triggers the activation of three signaling molecules: Ire-1α/β, PERK, and ATF6, whose function is to facilitate adaption to the ensuing stress. We demonstrate that PERK induces miR-211, which in turn attenuates stress-dependent expression of the proapoptotic transcription factor chop/gadd153. MiR-211 directly targets the proximal chop/gadd153 promoter, where it increases histone methylation and represses chop expression. Maximal chop accumulation ultimately correlates with miR-211 downregulation. Our data suggest a model in which PERK-dependent miR-211 induction prevents premature chop accumulation and thereby provides a window of opportunity for the cell to re-establish homeostasis prior to apoptotic commitment.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Molecular cell
  • Jake A Kushner

    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Science
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    ABSTRACT: The transcription factor HNF4α (hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α) is required for increased β-cell proliferation during metabolic stress in vivo. We hypothesized that HNF4α could induce proliferation of human β-cells. We employed adenoviral-mediated overexpression of an isoform of HNF4α (HNF4α8) alone, or in combination with cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk)6 and Cyclin D3, in human islets. Heightened HNF4α8 expression led to a 300-fold increase in the number of β-cells in early S-phase. When we overexpressed HNF4α8 together with Cdk6 and Cyclin D3, β-cell cycle entry was increased even further. However, the punctate manner of bromodeoxyuridine incorporation into HNF4α(High) β-cells indicated an uncoupling of the mechanisms that control the concise timing and execution of each cell cycle phase. Indeed, in HNF4α8-induced bromodeoxyuridine(+,punctate) β-cells we observed signs of dysregulated DNA synthesis, cell cycle arrest, and activation of a double stranded DNA damage-associated cell cycle checkpoint mechanism, leading to the initiation of loss of β-cell lineage fidelity. However, a substantial proportion of β-cells stimulated to enter the cell cycle by Cdk6 and Cyclin D3 alone also exhibited a DNA damage response. HNF4α8 is a mitogenic signal in the human β-cell but is not sufficient for completion of the cell cycle. The DNA damage response is a barrier to efficient β-cell proliferation in vitro, and we suggest its evaluation in all attempts to stimulate β-cell replication as an approach to diabetes treatment.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Molecular Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: β-Cell and islet endothelial cell destruction occurs during the progression of type 1 diabetes, but, paradoxically, β-cell proliferation is increased during this period. Altered glucose tolerance may affect β-cell mass and its association with endothelial cells. Our objective was to study the effects of glucose and inflammation on islet vascularity and on β function, mass, and insulin in immunologically tolerant anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (mAb)-treated and prediabetic NOD mice. The effects of phloridzin or glucose injections on β-cells and endothelial cells were tested in prediabetic and previously diabetic NOD mice treated with anti-CD3 mAbs. Glucose tolerance, immunofluorescence staining, and examination of islet cultures ex vivo were evaluated. Islet endothelial cell density decreased in NOD mice and failed to recover after anti-CD3 mAb treatment despite baseline euglycemia. Glucose treatment of anti-CD3 mAb-treated mice showed increased islet vascular density and increased insulin content, which was associated with improved glucose tolerance. The increase in the vascular area was dependent on islet inflammation. Increased islet endothelial cell density was associated with increased production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by islets from NOD mice. This response was recapitulated ex vivo by the transfer of supernatants from NOD islets cultured in high-glucose levels. Our results demonstrate a novel role for glucose and inflammation in the control of islet vasculature and insulin content of β-cells in prediabetic and anti-CD3-treated NOD mice. VEGF production by the islets is affected by glucose levels and is imparted by soluble factors released by inflamed islets.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Diabetes
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate measurement of cell division is a fundamental challenge in experimental biology that becomes increasingly complex when slowly dividing cells are analyzed. Established methods to detect cell division include direct visualization by continuous microscopy in cell culture, dilution of vital dyes such as carboxyfluorescein di-aetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE), immuno-detection of mitogenic antigens such as ki67 or PCNA, and thymidine analogues. Thymidine analogues can be detected by a variety of methods including radio-detection for tritiated thymidine, immuno-detection for bromo-deoxyuridine (BrdU), chloro-deoxyuridine (CldU) and iodo-deoxyuridine (IdU), and chemical detection for ethinyl-deoxyuridine (EdU). We have derived a strategy to detect sequential incorporation of different thymidine analogues (CldU and IdU) into tissues of adult mice. Our method allows investigators to accurately quantify two successive rounds of cell division. By optimizing immunostaining protocols our approach can detect very low dose thymidine analogues administered via the drinking water, safe to administer to mice for prolonged periods of time. Consequently, our technique can be used to detect cell turnover in very long-lived tissues. Optimal immunofluoresent staining results can be achieved in multiple tissue types, including pancreas, skin, gut, liver, adrenal, testis, ovary, thyroid, lymph node, and brain. We have also applied this technique to identify oncogenic transformation within tissues. We have further applied this technique to determine if transit-amplifying cells contribute to growth or renewal of tissues. In this sense, sequential administration of thymidine analogues represents a novel approach for studying the origins and survival of cells involved in tissue homeostasis.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Journal of Visualized Experiments
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    Matthew M Rankin · Jake A Kushner
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    ABSTRACT: The role of aging in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes remains poorly understood. In the past adult β-cells were assumed to undergo frequent turnover. However, we find that β-cell turnover declines to very low levels in middle-aged mice. We therefore hypothesized that aged islets could exhibit a distinct gene expression program. We compared gene expression in islets from young mice to islets from aged mice under basal conditions. Aging was associated with differential expression of many genes in islets, including mRNAs encoding for chromatin remodeling components, RNA binding proteins, and pancreatic endocrine transcription factors. We previously observed that cell cycle entry of β-cells is severely restricted by middle age, with minimal of β-cell proliferation in response to regenerative stimuli such as 50% partial pancreatectomy. To characterize the effect of age in adaptive β-cell proliferation, we measured gene expression in islets from young mice after pancreatectomy. As expected, partial pancreatectomy induced differential expression of many genes, including those encoding Reg (regenerating) proteins. Surprisingly, partial pancreatectomy also induced expression of Reg genes in islets from aged mice, which have greatly reduced capacity for adaptive β-cell proliferation. However, there was little overlap (besides the Reg genes) in between the partial pancreatectomy induced islet genes in young mice versus old mice. Thus, partial pancreatectomy does not induce the same gene expression program in young mice vs old mice. Taken together, our results reveal that aged islets exhibit a unique gene expression signature that could contribute to the limited regenerative capacity of mature β-cells.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2010 · Islets
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    ABSTRACT: Diabetes mellitus results from an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. The turnover rate of adult human β-cells remains unknown. We employed two techniques to examine adult human islet β-cell turnover and longevity in vivo. Subjects enrolled in National Institutes of Health clinical trials received thymidine analogs [iododeoxyuridine (IdU) or bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)] 8 d to 4 yr prior to death. Archival autopsy samples from 10 patients (aged 17-74 yr) were employed to assess β-cell turnover by scoring nuclear analog labeling within insulin-staining cells. Human adult β-cell longevity was determined by estimating the cells' genomic DNA integration of atmospheric (14)C. DNA was purified from pancreatic islets isolated from cadaveric donors; whole islet prep DNA was obtained from a 15-yr-old donor, and purified β-cell DNA was obtained from two donors (ages 48 and 80 yr). (14)C levels were then determined using accelerator mass spectrometry. Cellular "birth date" was determined by comparing the subject's DNA (14)C content relative to a well-established (14)C atmospheric prevalence curve. In the two subjects less than 20 yr of age, 1-2% of the β-cell nuclei costained for BrdU/IdU. No β-cell nuclei costained in the eight patients more than 30 yr old. Consistent with the BrdU/IdU turnover data, β-cell DNA (14)C content indicated that the "birth date" of cells occurred within the subject's first 30 yr of life. Under typical circumstances, human β-cells and their cellular precursors are established by young adulthood.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2010 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
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    ABSTRACT: The calcium-regulated phosphatase calcineurin intersects with both calcium and cAMP-mediated signaling pathways in the pancreatic β-cell. Pharmacologic calcineurin inhibition, necessary to prevent rejection in the setting of organ transplantation, is associated with post-transplant β-cell failure. We sought to determine the effect of calcineurin inhibition on β-cell replication and survival in rodents and in isolated human islets. Further, we assessed whether the GLP-1 receptor agonist and cAMP stimulus, exendin-4 (Ex-4), could rescue β-cell replication and survival following calcineurin inhibition. Following treatment with the calcineurin inhibitor tacrolimus, human β-cell apoptosis was significantly increased. Although we detected no human β-cell replication, tacrolimus significantly decreased rodent β-cell replication. Ex-4 nearly normalized both human β-cell survival and rodent β-cell replication when co-administered with tacrolimus. We found that tacrolimus decreased Akt phosphorylation, suggesting that calcineurin could regulate replication and survival via the PI3K/Akt pathway. We identify insulin receptor substrate-2 (Irs2), a known cAMP-responsive element-binding protein target and upstream regulator of the PI3K/Akt pathway, as a novel calcineurin target in β-cells. Irs2 mRNA and protein are decreased by calcineurin inhibition in both rodent and human islets. The effect of calcineurin on Irs2 expression is mediated at least in part through the nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT), as NFAT occupied the Irs2 promoter in a calcineurin-sensitive manner. Ex-4 restored Irs2 expression in tacrolimus-treated rodent and human islets nearly to baseline. These findings reveal calcineurin as a regulator of human β-cell survival in part through regulation of Irs2, with implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes following organ transplantation.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Journal of Biological Chemistry

Publication Stats

3k Citations
425.42 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012-2015
    • Baylor College of Medicine
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2014
    • Texas Children's Hospital
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2005-2012
    • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
      • Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2010
    • William Penn University
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
    • University of Pennsylvania
      • Department of Medicine
      Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2004-2007
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2004-2005
    • Boston Children's Hospital
      • Division of Endocrinology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2003
    • Joslin Diabetes Center
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States