Our People

Louis Philipson, MD, PhD

Director, Kovler Diabetes Center

Dr. Philipson is an endocrinologist and a leading world authority on diabetes mellitus. In 2011, he was named as one of America’s Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report magazine, and in 2016 Chicago Magazine named him a Top Doctor in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. His research focuses on the biophysical, molecular and genetic aspects of insulin secretion, and the genetics of diabetes.

Dr. Philipson was a co-discoverer of insulin gene mutations causing neonatal diabetes, a novel class of mutations causing diabetes through beta-cell ER stress. These mutations are now known to be the second most common cause of permanent neonatal diabetes, as well as rare causes of later-onset diabetes. Dr. Philipson, together with his colleagues (Drs. Graeme Bell, Siri Atma Greeley and Rochelle Naylor) established the first United States registry for monogenic diabetes including neonatal diabetes and Mature Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY).

Dr. Philipson is co-director of the Human Islet Transplantation project at the University of Chicago. He has served as principal investigator on numerous research projects and has been widely published in biomedical journals.

As president of the Chicago/Northern Illinois board of the American Diabetes Association and also a member of its national board, Dr. Philipson has been an invited speaker and presenter at scientific research conferences and symposia worldwide.

Graeme Bell, PhD

Kovler Family Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics

Dr. Bell is a leading authority on the genetics of diabetes mellitus. He cloned the human insulin cDNA and gene and showed that common variation in the human insulin gene contributes to the development of type 1 diabetes. He and his longtime collaborator, Dr. Nancy Cox, showed that mutations in the genes for the glycolytic enzyme, glucokinase, and the transcription factors, HNF-1a, HNF-1b and HNF-4a, caused an early-onset form of diabetes called Maturity-Onset Diabetes of the Young or MODY. Dr. Bell’s search for the genetic causes of diabetes continues. Together with Dr. Cox, Dr. Donald Steiner and Dr. Louis Philipson, Dr. Bell recently showed that mutations in the insulin gene were a common cause of diabetes with onset in the first few months of life.
Dr. Bell is a professor in the University of Chicago’s Department of Medicine and Department of Medicine and a member of the Committee on Genetics, Genomics, & Systems Biology, Committee on Molecular Pathogenesis & Molecular Medicine, Committee on Molecular Metabolism & Nutrition and Committee on Clinical & Translational Science. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed articles.

Siri Atma W. Greeley, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine

Dr. Greeley is a pediatric endocrinologist with Kovler’s multidisciplinary patient care and research team. He specializes in treating infants, children and teens with all types of diabetes.

He is particularly interested in monogenic diabetes, and he designed and implemented the first national web-based registry of patients with neonatal diabetes, who are more likely to have an underlying monogenic cause.

Rochelle Naylor, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine

Dr. Naylor is a Pediatric Endocrinologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She has a clinical and research interest in monogenic forms of diabetes, with a particular interest in maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY). Ongoing projects include studies on cost-effectiveness of genetic testing for MODY diagnosis and improving minority patients’ access to genetic testing for MODY. She co-manages Kovler Diabetes Center’s Monogenic Diabetes MODY Registry, a nationwide database of individuals affected by these uncommon forms of diabetes. The registry is designed to track and study monogenic forms of diabetes in individuals on a long-term basis, noting symptoms, genetic patterns in families, and optimal therapies for each patient. Dr. Naylor has published research articles in journals ranging from Clinical Endocrinology to the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. She also has presented her studies at symposia nationwide.

May Sanyoura, PhD

Post-doctoral Scholar

May Sanyoura joined the Kovler Diabetes Center as a post-doctoral scholar in 2015. Sanyoura works with Dr Lou Philipson and Dr Siri Greeley on the Monogenic Diabetes Registry, a registry for patients with known or suspected forms of typical monogenic diabetes and atypical diabetes. As part of her postdoctoral research, Sanyoura focuses on the discovery of the genetic and molecular causes of diabetes, and explores the functions of these genes and their role in the disease pathogenesis.

Sanyoura has an extensive academic background in the field of genetics and diabetes. Her PhD research project, under the supervision of Dr. Cecile Julier at Paris7, focused on the identification and study of genes responsible for monogenic and atypical forms of juvenile-onset insulin-dependent diabetes in the Lebanese population. Her work was comprised of three independent studies: a clinical and genetic study of Wolfram Syndrome, a molecular and functional analysis of a novel diabetes gene on chromosome 11, and a genetic investigation of Alström Syndrome.

Lisa Letourneau, MPH, RD, LDN

Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Lisa helps manage projects focusing on individuals and families with neonatal diabetes, MODY, and other atypical forms of diabetes. She is passionate about all aspects of diabetes care and has past experiences working with diabetes registries, type 2 diabetes prevention programs, and studies to improve treatment for adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

Related Sites

UChicagoSocial: Atypical Diabetes