Pediatric Diabetes Research

The Johns Hopkins Pediatric Diabetes Center has a growing clinical research program.

Our Pediatric Diabetes Researchers

Sheela Magge, M.D., M.S.C.E., is a clinician investigator dedicated to improving the lives of children with type 2 diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance, as well as the cardiovascular implications of these conditions. Magge is interested in how differences in body composition, whether due to race or a specific medical condition, can modify risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She has performed patient-oriented research throughout her career, including clinical studies of dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease in patients with pediatric prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, clinical trials of new oral medications to treat type 2 diabetes in children, studies of diabetes and cardiovascular risk in adolescents with Down syndrome, and work on the mechanisms behind differences in risk among people of different races, specifically South Asians, African Americans and white adolescents. Magge is also involved in a variety of projects aimed at preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.

Risa Wolf, M.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics and the director of the Pediatric Diabetes Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is an NIH funded investigator with research focused on using innovative technologies to improve outcomes in pediatric diabetes. Dr. Wolf is the PI of the ACCESS trials implementing autonomous AI diabetic retinopathy screening in the pediatric population.  She is also the PI of an NIDDK funded study to improve advanced diabetes technology uptake in individuals with diabetes, and is the pediatric site PI for diabetes quality improvement initiatives with the T1D Exchange QI Consortium.

Dr. Wolf is also the founder and medical director of Camp Charm City diabetes camp, a collaboration with the American Diabetes Association to improve access to diabetes camping for underserved youth. She has served as a member of the American Diabetes Association committees on Eye Health, Diabetes Youth and Diabetes Camp, and is on the board of directors for the JDRF Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

Scott Blackman, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, and an affiliate of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. His research interests include identifying genetic variants responsible for endocrine abnormalities in cystic fibrosis (CF), including cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD), which is seen commonly in teenagers and adults with the disease. Blackman is one of five mentors in EnVision CF, a nationwide program with the goal of training academic physicians in CF endocrinology. He serves on the program planning committee of the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference and the editorial board of the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. He is also the site coordinator for the T1D Exchange.

Scott Blackman’s team identified five risk genes, aka genetic modifiers, of CFRD, including four genes associated with type 2 diabetes, which identify areas of overlapping pathophysiology for CFRD and type 2 diabetes. One modifier gene encodes a channel protein known to associate with the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), suggesting that it could affect multiple aspects of CF disease. Multiple follow-up projects include:

  1. To better understand how genetic modifiers influence underlying metabolic abnormalities (such as insulin deficiency or insulin resistance), we are measuring profiles of multiple hormones during glucose tolerance testing in people with CF.
  2. We are conducting a follow-up genomewide association study to identify new CFRD risk genes.
  3. We are investigating how gene variants affect other metabolic problems in CF, such as poor weight gain (or obesity).
  4. We are analyzing the relationship between the CF-causing mutations in CFTR and the risk of diabetes, using data from the CFTR2 study of more than 90,000 people with CF.
  5. We are conducting other research projects that are aimed at understanding the relationship between CF-related liver disease and CFRD, and the effect of prediabetes (including impaired fasting glucose) on CF outcomes.

Dr. Talia Alyssa Hitt, MD, MPH is an assistant professor of pediatrics whose research focuses on the development and progression of pediatric type 2 diabetes, as well as the innovative therapies for it. Dr. Hitt is studying the relationship between insufficient sleep and type 2 diabetes in adolescents. In 2021, Dr. Hitt was awarded a supplemental award to a 2018 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases R01 award studying cardiometabolic risk among South Asian adolescents compared with African American and White peers. Dr. Hitt has additionally studied the clinical implementation of new therapeutics in pediatric diabetes care.