Research Biographies

Travis Littleton, Class of 2013
Preceptor: Dr. Kitabchi
NIH Summer Research Fellowship

The summer between your first and second year of medical school is most likely the last time you will be off for an entire summer.  With that being said, it provides a wonderful opportunity to delve into some meaningful research.  You are able to work daily on a project and really have a significant role as you watch the research develop.  I didn’t know “what I was going to be when I grew up” as a M1 so I wanted to do something that would be a part of my practice regardless of what field I chose.  I also truly enjoy clinical research and the opportunity it gives you to work with many different kinds of people such as research participants, investigators, other doctors, and fellow students.  I was fortunate to apply and be granted one of the NIH funded summer research projects. I chose to work with Dr. Kitabchi on diabetes research.  Dr. Kitabchi has made countless advances and donations to the study of diabetes and the way it is understood, studied, and treated today.  Obesity and diabetes are of epidemic proportions in the US today, and therefore have an effect on nearly every field of medicine.

Our research was aimed at trying to create the optimal diet for diabetics to lose weight in the safest and most effective way possible.  The current ADA guidelines recommend a reduced caloric diet composed of 55% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 15% protein.  We believe that a higher protein diet consisting of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat would provide greater or equal weight loss, but also provide the added benefits of greater satiety and improved metabolic parameters.  We studied premenopausal women who were randomized to either the current ADA diet or our high protein diet over a 6 month span.  I was able to work with these women, and see the results they had over the course of their participation.  I was also able to use statistically analysis to calculate the data in regard to weight loss and a number of other metabolic parameters.  I learned numerous techniques and gained a much greater understanding on research analysis.  This research truly showed me the importance of research, the frustrations encountered in research, the time that is required for research, the importance of truthful representation of the research and most importantly the truly life changing and even world changing impact that we can have through research.

I was truly blessed with the opportunity to work with Dr. Kitabchi and his dedicated research team.  Dr. Kitabchi is one of the most influential physicians in the field of Endocrinology to date, particularly due to his hard work and life long dedication in the field diabetes research.