Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has appointed Steven Mittelman as director of the new Diabetes and Obesity Program at The Saban Research Institute. Mittleman also serves as assistant professor of pediatrics, physiology and biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
The Diabetes and Obesity Program has evolved in response to the huge burden that childhood obesity places on patients and the community and represents an alignment of Children’s Hospital’s clinical and research programs.
The research program will focus on building laboratory-based, translational and clinical research at The Saban Research Institute, by recruiting new faculty, expanding core infrastructure and enhancing interaction between scientists and clinicians whose work is relevant to diabetes and obesity.
Clinical activities will include the establishment of a multidisciplinary obesity clinic and will involve collaboration with caregivers from several divisions and departments. There are also plans to expand the Kids N Fitness lifestyle intervention program to a younger age group and to explore the development of a bariatric surgery program.
Mittelman leads an active laboratory research program focused on the relationship between obesity and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is director of the Donnell Society for Pediatric Scientists in addition to serving as fellowship director and attending physician in the Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Children’s Hospital.
His lab is currently investigating how fat tissue attracts leukemia cells and absorbs some chemotherapeutic drugs making them unable to reach the leukemia cells. He is also working to determine how fat tissue produces fuel, such as amino acids and fatty acids, that help leukemia cells survive and how it secretes substances that signal the leukemia cells, making them better able to resist chemotherapy.
In addition, Mittelman is studying how body weight and other nutritional factors like vitamin D might impact patients with leukemia both before and after treatment.