Megan Kelsey

  • Pediatric Endocrinology General Operations (SOM)

Research Description

Dr. Kelsey is currently an Associate Professor in Pediatric Endocrinology at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she serves as the Director of Lifestyle Medicine Endocrinology and Medical Director of the Bariatric Surgery Center. Her research broadly focuses on improving prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes in youth.

As a Ludeman Family Center for Women's Health Research seed grantee, Dr. Kelsey studied whether composition of the bacteria in the gut might change during puberty in obese girls, who are at the greatest risk for developing youth-onset type 2 diabetes, and how gut bacteria composition relates to how well the body’s insulin works in these girls. Developing a better understanding of contributors to pediatric type 2 diabetes will help us design more targeted prevention strategies, which will have the greatest impact on at-risk adolescent girls.

Current research focus: Clinical research focusing on prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes in youth, with a particular interest in how puberty impacts risk for diabetes and in understanding why girls are more at risk to develop youth-onset type 2 diabetes than boys.

How Dr. Kelsey became interested in this work: My first job was as a research assistant working for a national expert in behavioral weight loss. As part of that position, I worked on the early stages of the Diabetes Prevention Program. This job got me interested in the field of obesity and type 2 diabetes.My interest in this area was reinvigorated during my fellowship in pediatric endocrinology, largely due to the influence of two of my BIRCWH mentors, Kristen Nadeau and Phil Zeitler. 

Clinical significance of this research: The number of adolescents impacted by type 2 diabetes is on the rise. Those who develop diabetes tend to have a rapidly progressing form, with early need for insulin and risk for early morbidity and mortality. Youth-onset type 2 diabetes is a disease of pubertal onset; however, we do not completely understand how puberty plays a role. Developing a more complete understanding of this will help determine better ways to prevent diabetes. In those who do develop diabetes, we need better treatment strategies to prevent early complications.

Relevance of this work to women's health or sex/gender differences: Unlike in adults, in whom diabetes risk is slightly higher in men than in women, girls are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as boys. This is likely related to changes that occur during puberty.