As a pediatric endocrinologist and director of the Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Diva De León-Crutchlow, MD, specializes in the diagnosis and management of hyperinsulinism (HI) and other hypoglycemia disorders. Throughout her career, she has treated hundreds of HI patients from across the world and continues to manage the care of dozens with this rare disease. Dr. De León-Crutchlow is a physician-scientist and currently the Director of an active NIH-funded research program.
HI occurs when the insulin cells in the pancreas, called beta cells, secrete too much insulin. Excess insulin causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which, if left untreated, can lead to seizures, brain damage and possibly death.
It is the mission of Congenital Hyperinsulinism International (CHI) to advocate, educate and provide resources to children affected with HI. CHI also supports research and raises awareness of HI to prevent brain damage and death. A primary focus of Dr. De León-Crutchlow’s work is to improve understanding of beta cell disorders, like HI, with the goal of developing effective and innovative therapies. As a result, this year, she received the CHI Be My Sugar Award for Medical Excellence at the fourth annual Sugar Soiree, hosted by Conan O’Brien in New York City on Sunday, November 19.
“Having the opportunity to award Dr. De León-Crutchlow is an honor,” said Julie Raskin, Executive Director of CHI. “She is a true champion for the HI community. She has contributed vast knowledge of the field of HI as a researcher and has made several significant contributions that have helped improve the lives of those living with HI. As the mother of a child with an HI diagnosis, I’m so grateful for the work she and her team do to help those affected.”
As the Director of the CHOP Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center, Dr. De León-Crutchlow, along with her team, offers evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care for children with HI. Because most children’s hospitals only encounter one or two cases of HI per year, it is important that children with this rare disease receive medical care from an experienced team. CHOP’s HI Center has treated more than 800 children with congenital HI, and performed more than 450 pancreatectomies (surgical removal of the pancreas) — making it the largest and most active specialized center for HI in the world.
“It is an honor to receive such a distinction,” said Dr. De León-Crutchlow. “It is so important that children and families affected by HI receive the care they need. It is an honor to treat these children and extremely rewarding to know that, along with my multidisciplinary team at CHOP, we are working on treatment options to reduce brain damage and death.”
“On behalf of the Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center at CHOP, I would like to congratulate Dr. De León-Crutchlow on receiving this award,” said Charles A. Stanley, MD, founder of the HI Center. “We have come a long way in treating HI, and, in large part due to Dr. De León-Crutchlow’s research efforts, we are able to help babies overcome this disease so that they can go on to live healthy lives.”
Past recipients of this award from CHOP have included Dr. Stanley and N. Scott Adzick, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief.