Department of Medicine

Patients Come First for Busy Endocrinologist

Faculty Spotlight: Tracey McLaughlin

Tracey McLaughlinTracey McLaughlin, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology

Tracey McLaughlin, MD, knows how to juggle. Balancing clinical responsibilities, research, or writing a grant, and caring for three children isn’t easy.  Creative, energetic, and determined are easy ways to describe this Associate Professor, in the Division of Endocrinology. She’s also an east coast native, who moved to California to attend college at Stanford, and went on to receive a combined masters and medical degree from UC San Francisco, and complete her internship and residency at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

On a cloudy afternoon in her office in the Grant Building, McLaughlin spoke to Rita Kennen Department of Medicine Public Relations Officer about her life, her research, and what she hopes to do as a faculty member at Stanford.

Q: What led you to focus on endocrinology?

Tracey McLaughlin: At Valley Medical Center many of the patients suffered from diabetes, which led me to do a research study and become interested in the disease.  I was interested in trying to determine whether giving exogenous insulin to diabetics who were insulin resistant and already had high concentrations of endogenous insulin was harmful, and why they all eventually developed heart disease. This led me to Gerald Reaven, MD, who popularized the idea of insulin resistance and I came to Stanford specifically to do a fellowship with him. He was a great mentor to me for many years and led me to the path that I am on now.

Q: What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

TM: I love that I can do both patient care and clinical research. As an MCL, I have a great deal of clinical responsibilities and patients always come first.  I enjoy working with patients and learn very much from them. On the other side, I get to work with talented people in my lab and at Stanford, as well as collaborate with other investigators across the country.  Our laboratory approach embodies team science.  We do the clinical part and collaborate with a variety of very talented basic scientists.  We have a core group that includes Drs. Samuel Cushman at the NIH, who is an adipose cell biologist and a current mentor to me. Stanford collaborators at present include Philip Tsao, PhD., John Morton, MD, Edgar Engleman, MD, Atul Butte, MD, PhD, and Michael Snyder, PhD.

Q: If you could do anything you want in medicine what would it be?

TM: My objective is to uncover why weight gain can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately Type2 diabetes. To achieve that goal, our group is investigates changes in the adipose tissue to see why and how obesity is linked to insulin resistance and diabetes.  We are excited about all facets of adipose tissue as far as the ability to store fat, hypoxia, the role of the immune system, and much more. It’s a large goal and one with which I can occupy myself for many years to come.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

TM: My children are 8, 11, and 13 years of age so I don’t really have any spare time. I make time for running, and photography, and upon occasion still find time for golf, tennis, and skiing. My family lives in the area so it is great to see them regularly as well.


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