NEW YORK (September 6, 2019)—Dr. Laura Alonso, an accomplished physician-scientist working on a cutting-edge approach to replenish the body’s insulin-producing beta cell population to treat diabetes, has been named chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, effective Sept. 1. Dr. Alonso will also lead the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Center for Metabolic Health at Weill Cornell Medicine.
The Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center is dedicated to providing highest-quality care to patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders, advancing endocrinology and diabetes care through research, and preparing the next generation of physicians to become successful clinicians and physician-scientists. Dr. Alonso will help continue this tripartite mission with a special focus on accelerating breakthroughs in the scientific understanding of metabolic health and disease, and developing cutting-edge treatments for diabetes and other metabolic syndromes. Dr. Alonso will succeed Dr. Julianne Imperato-McGinley, who has led the division for 25 years.
Her dual role as the inaugural leader of the Weill Center for Metabolic Health, an interdisciplinary research center established in 2013 with a generous gift from Joan and Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Overseers Chairman Emeritus Sanford I. Weill, will enable her team to more rapidly translate research into care.
Dr. Alonso comes to Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass. There she served as George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation Term Chair in Diabetes as well as the director of Beta Cell Biological Studies in the Diabetes Center of Excellence.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Alonso to Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center as the new chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism,” said Dr. Anthony Hollenberg, the Sanford I. Weill Chair of the Weill Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “She is a distinguished physician-scientist whose work in understanding pancreatic beta cell function and regeneration has the potential to transform the paradigm for diabetes care for patients around the world. We couldn’t think of anyone better suited to lead the division than Dr. Alonso.”
“We are delighted that Dr. Alonso will be joining NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Dr. Katherine L. Heilpern, senior vice president and chief operating officer of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Dr. Alonso is a gifted clinician and leader whose research is advancing the field of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolic syndromes. Her commitment to improving clinical care will make a major difference in the lives of patients and their families.”
“As the incoming chief of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, Dr. Alonso will be a valuable addition to our academic medical center,” said Dr. Peter Schlegel, senior associate dean for clinical affairs at Weill Cornell Medicine. “A top endocrinologist and leader in the field of diabetes research, Dr. Alonso’s pioneering work has advanced our understanding of the disease, and her thoughtful approach to clinical care will be critical for leading our Weill Center for Metabolic Health as part of our strategic enhancement of the care our patients receive at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.”
“I am excited about the opportunity to build an academic endocrinology division from the strong foundation that is already in place,” said Dr. Alonso, who was recruited to Weill Cornell Medicine as the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Distinguished Professor of Medicine. “The Weill Center for Metabolic Health also creates a really extraordinary opportunity to integrate basic, translational and clinical research in diabetes and endocrine metabolic health.”
In addition to providing outstanding diabetes care to her patients, Dr. Alonso is a leading investigator in pancreatic beta cell regeneration. The beta cells in the pancreas make insulin to help the body process sugar, but in type 1 diabetes, patients’ beta cells have been destroyed by the immune system, and in type 2 diabetes, patients have too few beta cells to meet the increased insulin needs of the body. Her research focuses on understanding how the pancreas in healthy people is able to produce enough beta cells to meet their need for insulin, with the goal of leveraging these discoveries to improve patient care. Many patients with diabetes are not able to achieve adequate blood sugar control even with the best therapies currently available. Moreover, existing therapies, like insulin injections, are expensive and do not address the root cause of the disease: the shortage of beta cells.
In her new role as chief, Dr. Alonso will seek to advance the division’s already distinguished reputation for clinical excellence. A champion of collaboration, Dr. Alonso will encourage faculty to establish and strengthen interdisciplinary relationships with physicians and scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, as well as Cornell’s Ithaca campus. This commitment extends to the Weill Center for Metabolic Health, which Dr. Alonso will work to develop from its infancy into a world-class diabetes center that will engage basic and translational and clinical research. The close integration between the division and the Weill Center will help prepare the division’s trainees to be comfortable with both basic science and clinical care and create a pipeline of successful physician-scientists.
“These new roles will afford me the opportunity to get all of these people from different walks of life with a common shared interest in the same room together,” Dr. Alonso said. “The clinical perspective will be vital at guiding the basic research, and seeing what scientific innovations are on the horizon should be exciting to doctors.”
About Dr. Alonso
Dr. Alonso is a board-certified endocrinologist. An elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Dr. Alonso is a leading investigator on the basic biology of pancreatic beta cell regeneration. Her work has been published in the top journals in her field, and she has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Diabetes Association. She is also a recognized leader in the field as a standing member and former co-chair of the NIH’s Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology Study Section, and she serves on the organizing panel for the Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association. She serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Diabetes and The FASEB Journal, and is an associate editor for Physiological Reports.
Dr. Alonso received her medical degree in 1998 from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She completed her residency training in internal medicine at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and fellowships in endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Chicago and New York University. She completed postdoctoral fellowship training in stem cell biology with Dr. Elaine Fuchs at the University of Chicago and The Rockefeller University, and in pancreatic islet biology with Dr. Andrew Stewart at the University of Pittsburgh. She led the Beta Cell Biological Sciences at University of Massachusetts and served as an associate professor there. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester in 2013, Dr. Alonso taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cared for patients at the Veterans Administration and at University Physicians Practice.
Weill Cornell Medicine
Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine — faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.
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