Western University of Health Sciences is one of nine academic institutions nationally to be awarded the 2011 Visiting Professorship in Endocrine Pancreas Preservation (VPEPP) from the Endocrine Society.

With WesternU opening its Patient Care Center (PCC) and establishing the Western Diabetes Institute (WDI), the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific’s (COMP) Department of Internal Medicine used the honor to retain Dr. Adrian Vella, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to visit during the 2011 fall semester as a visiting professor.

“”Dr. Vella’s work at the Mayo Clinic has been exemplary in regards to not only his research accomplishments, but also his ability to mentor and teach medical students, residents and fellows,”” said Airani Sathananthan, MD, assistant professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. “”His research has focused on incretin physiology and the factors influencing progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes.””

Vella can provide expertise to the WDI on development of a Clinical Research Unit in addition to advise on providing comprehensive coordinated care to diabetics.

“”The large Hispanic population in our area — in excess of 70 percent — provides an opportunity to examine the predisposition to diabetes in this population, as well as investigate the genetic predisposition to microvascular complications,”” Sathananthan said. “”His advice will be of enormous benefit in our efforts to establish an electronic medical record (EMR) that will provide better communication among providers and future opportunities for research.””

Vella’s visit will include meeting basic and clinical WesternU researchers who study diabetes, including those from the Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, Optometry and Pharmacy; lecturing to COMP students on the role of the clinician investigator in understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes; lecturing to students and faculty across the university, and visiting Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center to offer his expertise to community physicians.

The Endocrine Society said that up to $4,000 could be used to help establish a VPEPP event through seminars, lab visits, grand rounds and more.

“”We are honored the Endocrine Society and the Mayo Clinic have recognized us as a future for integrative diabetes care,”” said Andrew S. Pumerantz, DO, FACP, associate professor, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, and chief of the Division of Infectious Disease. “”This is an opportunity to grow. We emulate places like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and others that are leading the way for the future of health care.””

Pumerantz said he envisions the Western Diabetes Institute as a destination and leader for comprehensive diabetes health care, and said the university’s commitment to WDI is a pledge to addressing an epidemic affecting the region, nation and the globe.

The other eight institutions awarded the visiting professorship are Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard Medical School), Boston, MA; Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA; University of California, San Francisco; University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.