Eva Tsalikian, MD

Eva Tsalikian
This is one of the academic centers in this country that have shown the best results, the best quality of care, and the best breadth and knowledge of care. This is the highest you can find. That is where people should come. I would not want to take my child to any place less than a place like this.
Eva Tsalikian, MD


Meet Eva Tsalikian, MD

Eva Tsalikian, MD, is vice chair for clinical affairs for the University of Iowa Stead Family Department of Pediatrics. Originally from Athens, Greece, she joined the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine faculty in 1983.

When did you decide you wanted to be a physician?

I decided in high school that I wanted to be a physician because I found the idea of helping people and advancing science very appealing. I was also inspired by my father, who was not a physician but held physicians in very high esteem. Because I was a good student, I was encouraged by my parents, my teachers, and others to follow my ambitions and go into medicine.

Why the field of pediatric endocrinology?

At the time I went to medical school, there were many new patient treatments based on successful scientific research in endocrinology, and I had a particular medical school faculty mentor who was involved in this area of research. As a result, I thought endocrinology was a field of patient care and scientific medical investigation I would like to follow. Also, even before my residency, I was involved in several research projects on Type 1 diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that is more common in children. That is what led me to specialize in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes.

How did your career lead you to Iowa?

I did a diabetes research fellowship in San Francisco, then pediatric residency and an endocrine fellowship in Pittsburgh, and then research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. When I finished all this training, I had to decide where to go for my academic career. My experience living for more than two years in Rochester was a good one, so when an opening occurred for a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, I was willing to consider it, even though I had never lived in a small city before I went to Rochester. I finally chose to come to Iowa rather than to any of the other medical schools that were trying to attract me because of the people I met at Iowa. It was not just the fact that the people here were especially welcoming; it was the opportunity I saw that I would have working with them and that they saw working with me. Dr. Robillard, then a junior faculty [now vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Carver College of Medicine], wrote me a letter and said, “We will help you with your research.”

It’s common in academic medicine to stay a few years and then move on. I stayed here because of the support I got from this institution, because of the high quality and standards of this institution, because I liked the people I worked with, and because I liked the life in Iowa City.

Describe your areas of research.

My research is mostly about the causes, effects, treatment, and prevention of Type 1 diabetes. I am interested in hypoglycemia—very low blood sugar. For example, we are looking at brains through MRIs [magnetic resonance imaging] and also neurocognitive functioning, and we use continuous glucose monitoring to see if hypoglycemia affects the development of the brain. A lot of people have looked at this in adults and older children. We are looking at children ages 4 to 10.

I am also working on a project to find ways to prevent Type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, the incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children is increasing, and there are no clear reasons why this is happening. We are trying to find out if we can predict diabetes before it happens. We are screening all first-degree relatives of patients. [First-degree relatives are parents, siblings, or children.] Then for the ones with positive antibodies, which we know destroy cells that make insulin in the pancreas, we are trying to find if medicine can block the destruction by the antibodies of these pancreatic cells and thus prevent diabetes. We are not there yet, but it’s exciting.

I am also involved in trials to see what medication to give to newly diagnosed patients with diabetes to preserve the function of the pancreatic cells that make insulin. In addition, we are doing trials for Type 2 diabetes and trying to see if medication that is sometimes helpful in adults may be helpful in children, since we now have children and adolescents who develop Type 2 diabetes as a result of the childhood obesity epidemic.

What are some of your favorite things about your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is taking care of children who have diabetes and endocrine diseases and the satisfaction I gain from successfully treating them. Because I have been here for more than 33 years, I have seen many of my patients grow up and lead productive lives as adults despite having to take the medication I have had to prescribe to keep them healthy.

At this stage of my career, mentoring young doctors going into pediatric medicine—and especially pediatric endocrinology and diabetes—also gives me great satisfaction.

What would you like people to know about our hospital?

We are in an era that people—more so than ever before—understand that proper health care for our children is necessary to secure their future and the future of our state and nation. One of the best things we have done in recent years to secure their proper health care is to pay more attention to pediatric medicine, which is medicine specially focused on the unique needs of children. Our new children’s hospital is significant evidence that we are serious about ensuring their proper medical care. We don’t want children to have to stay in the hospital, but if they must do so for their proper treatment and care, we want them and their family to be in a facility specially designed for them and to be cared for by doctors who are expert in all aspects of pediatric medicine. That is what the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital has been designed to do and what it will do.



Pediatric Medical Services

Pediatric Specialties

  • Endocrinology

Patient Stories



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