Dr. Melanie Cree-Green is one of the few researchers in the country focusing on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in adolescent girls and its negative side effects, which include menstrual cycle irregularities, male pattern hair growth, obesity, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Dr. Cree-Green’s current research interests are in developing treatments to improve the relationship between sex steroids and metabolic disease. She is currently conducting 2 clinical trials of new treatments for PCOS, one with a nutritional supplement and one with a medication normally used for type 2 diabetes and weight loss. The purpose of Dr. Cree Green’s research is to better understand the conditions which occur in teenage girls with PCOS and if an interventions of exercise, diet or medication at an early age will help to mitigate the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes in these girls. Additionally, she founded a multidisciplinary PCOS clinic for these patients at Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2012, and continues to run this clinic today. This clinic is unique, and includes endocrinology, gynecology, dermatology, nutrition, psychology and specialized nursing all in one clinic visit. Dr. Cree-Green is also a medical advisor for the PCOS Challenge organization, a patient based organization for women with PCOS, and this year participated in PCOS Challenge lobbying in Washington D.C. with one of her patients to increase research funding and support to improve the lives for teens and women with PCOS.
BIRCWH project title: The role of hepatic lipogenesis in hepatic insulin resistance and beta-cell failure in obese girls with hyperandrogenism
Current research focus: The focus of my research is to understand contributors to insulin resistance, beta cell failure and hepatic steatosis in youth with endocrine diseases, primarily polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes. My PhD training is in the use of stable isotope tracer and MR spectroscopy and I continue to utilize these methods in my current clinical/translational research. My initial work was with Kristen Nadeau in youth with diabetes. My independent work has been in girls with PCOS. I have completed 3 cross-sectional trials enrolling for a longitudinal observational trial, a randomized, blinded, placebo controlled interventional cross-over trial and have just been funded with an RO1 to perform a longitudinal drug trial in PCOS. I also collaborate with investigators who have similar research questions in different populations including Bryan Bergman, Janet Snell-Burgeon and Stacey Simon. I am also working with Dr. Cecilia Diniz-Bien from Colorado School of Mines, and mathematicians at the NIH to adapt post-prandial models for the extrememinsulin resistance in our youth with collaborators at UT southwestern to do the same for isotopomer methodologies.
How Dr. Cree-Green became interested in this work: I have a long standing interest in gender inequality and have sought personal and professional opportunities to mitigate gender disparities. My history of advocating for women's issues began after personally facing inequalities in high school when I learned that my sports teams did not receive the same funding as the boys teams. This motivated me to seek more formal training in gender bias, and I pursued my undergraduate training at Bryn Mawr College, and all-women's Seven Sister College. I have continued to coach girls sports teams and support equality efforts such as creating a parenting elective for pediatric residency at the Children's Hospital Colorado. Professionally, I have focused my clinical training in women's health, and more specifically, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I founded the most extensive multi-disciplinary clinic for youth in the country in 2012 and my research focus has been on understanding and developing new treatments for these girls.
Clinical significance of this research: PCOS affects 10-20% of women, but like many conditions that effect only women, is greatly understudied. Current treatments are the same as they were 30 years ago, despite the extensive co-morbidities associated with PCOS. I am working to improve all aspects of PCOS care, from clinical delivery, to regular screening for depression and development of new medication and dietary treatments.
Relevance of this work to women's health or sex/gender differences: PCOS affects women only, and increases the risk for diabetes, uterine cancer and depression, among other conditions. Treating PCOS can thus greatly affect the long-term physical and emotional health of many women.