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Jill Simmons, M.D.
Ashley H. Shoemaker Research
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Dr. Shoemaker’s research focuses on early-onset obesity. Obesity remains a global health threat with many underlying causes including genetic susceptibility and environmental factors. The causes of obesity include genetic disorders such as melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) deficiency, pseudohypoparathyroidism (PHP, Albright’s Hereditary Osteodystrophy) or Prader-Willi syndrome. These disorders result in severe, early-onset obesity, often characterized by hypothalamic dysfunction. By identifying the precise pathophysiology underlying different forms of syndromic obesity, Dr. Shoemaker is working to develop weight loss interventions that target the specific area of energy imbalance. Treatment of syndromic obesity may also influence our management of common obesity as mild hypothalamic dysfunction often accompanies common obesity.

Dr. Shoemaker has found that children with the genetic disorder pseudohypoparathyroidism have reduced energy expenditure, possibly leading to early weight gain. She is continuing her work with children with these children, including studies of their development, cognition and eating behaviors. Other current studies include a registry for children with a history of obesity onset before six years old and a drug trial for patients with obesity due to hypothalamic brain tumors. Dr. Shoemaker is an active member of the laboratory of Roger Cone, Ph.D. where research goals include discovery of new obesity drugs and new genes that contribute to severe and early-onset obesity. Dr. Shoemaker also cares for children with early-onset obesity and genetic disorders in her endocrine and diabetes clinics.

Dr. Shoemaker has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Endocrine Fellows Foundation. Her research has been presented at the annual meetings of the Pediatric Academic Societies, the Endocrine Society and the Obesity Society. Her research has been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, International Journal of Obesity, Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice and Hormone Research in Pediatrics. She has serves as a reviewer for the Lancet, Journal of Pediatrics, Diabetes, PLoS One and Pediatric Diabetes. In 2012, she was named a Vanderbilt Scholar in Diabetes.

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