McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member George Gittes, MD, a nationally recognized pediatric surgeon and well-established basic scientist, has been appointed director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and co-scientific director at UPMC Children’s Hospital. He also will assume the title of surgeon-in-chief emeritus.
Since joining UPMC Children’s in 2005, Dr. Gittes has served as surgeon-in-chief and chief of the Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery — one of the busiest pediatric surgical programs in the United States and the home of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program, one of only two Level I Regional Resource Pediatric Trauma Centers in Pennsylvania.
Dr. Gittes, professor of surgery and pediatrics, Pitt School of Medicine and the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair in Pediatric Surgery, will lead the Mellon Institute, which is an incubator for research that challenges conventional wisdom and can lead to paradigm shifts in pediatric medicine. The high-risk, high-impact investigations undertaken at the institute are typically not funded through government or conventional sources, placing Children’s in a unique realm of pediatric research centers.
And as co-scientific director, Dr. Gittes will work alongside Terence Dermody, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Pitt School of Medicine and physician-in-chief and scientific director at UPMC Children’s, to further enhance the hospital’s already robust and historically significant pediatric research program.
In his own lab, Dr.Gittes and his team have been performing studies using gene therapy to treat diabetes. His team has found that a virus injected into the pancreatic duct of mice will reverse their diabetes, leading to the potential to change the treatment of juvenile diabetes.