Baylor College of Medicine News

Renowned juvenile diabetes physician-scientist joins Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital

Accomplished juvenile diabetes physician-scientist Dr. Jake A. Kushner has been recruited to Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

Kushner has been named a McNair Scholar in diabetes and section head of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology at BCM. Additionally, he has been named service chief of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology at Texas Children's Hospital. He will begin serving in his new roles June 28.

"Dr. Kushner is an outstanding, nationally-recognized physician-scientist who will provide extraordinary leadership to our programs in pediatric diabetes and endocrinology," said Dr. Mark W. Kline, chair of pediatrics at BCM and physician-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to join Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. I am particularly eager to work with the members of the section of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology, an extraordinarily talented and dedicated group of clinicians and scientists," said Kushner. "I am especially grateful to Robert and Janice McNair for their generous support and stalwart dedication to Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital and to diabetes research."

A major goal of Kushner’s research is to improve the health of children and adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, contributing to the development of novel cell-based insulin replacement therapies.

He is an active National Institutes of Health-funded investigator with research focused upon pancreatic beta-cell homeostasis and regeneration.

"My rationale for accepting this position is simple," said Kushner. "I want to have a major impact upon the health of this generation of children with diabetes and other endocrine disorders by promoting innovative research and by advancing clinical care." "Over the coming months, we are eager to build ties with the Texas Medical Center research community to advance research for children with diabetes," said Kushner. "Although my basic science research will continue to focus upon the long-term goal of beta-cell regeneration, I am also excited to develop new applied research programs within the section that more rapidly translate to better clinical outcomes for children with diabetes"

The McNair Scholar program at BCM, supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute, identifies "rising stars" in biomedical research in four areas – breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience.

"Dr. Kushner is a perfect example of the type of faculty member the McNairs had in mind with the McNair Scholars Program – a physician scientist with a clear appreciation for collaboration and a focus on translational research," said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of BCM. He will be an excellent addition to the Baylor and Texas Children’s team."

Kushner is the third McNair Scholar to be announced in the past year. Dr. Ben Arenkiel, whose work focuses on brain research, and Dr. Xiang Zhang, whose work focuses on breast cancer metastasis, were also named.

Prior to joining BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital, Kushner served as an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and his medical degree from Albany Medical College in New York. He completed a residency in pediatrics at Brown University in Rhode Island and a fellowship in pediatric endocrinology at Children’s Hospital of Boston. Prior to serving as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, he served as an instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation gave BCM $100 million in 2007 to begin a specialized recruitment program for scientists. The McNair Scholars Program keys on collaboration in order to accelerate discoveries.