PNA Spotlight: Dr. Adriana G. Ioachimescu

ioachimescu adrianaThis month the PNA Spotlight focuses on Dr. Adriana Ioachimescu, a professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and of Neurosurgery with the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. She is also co-Director of the Emory Pituitary Center and consulting editor for the Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics. Dr. Ioachimescu went to medical school at Carol Davilla University in Bucharest, Romania, where she also earned a PhD in neuroendocrinology. She did an internship at Yale University Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, then a residency and fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Ohio, where she later joined the faculty. She has been with Emory since 2008. She was kind enough to answer some questions from the PNA; here are her answers.

What inspired you to choose your career path?

In medical school, I had a wonderful professor of endocrinology, Dr. Mihai Coculescu, who inspired me to follow on this path. Endocrinology was a great fit for me because I loved biochemistry and math. I became fascinated by feedback loops and hormonal circadian rhythms. I noticed the way hormonal disturbances influence many organs and systems, especially in patients with pituitary tumors. I was captivated by the link between hormones and the brain and started research in this field early on in my medical career.

What is the primary focus of your work/research?

I am a pituitary endocrinologist, which means I see patients with disorders of the pituitary gland, as well as adrenal disorders that cause high cortisol levels. Together with my neurosurgery colleague, Dr. Oyesiku, I oversee patient care at the Emory Pituitary Center. In terms of research, one of my current interests is to establish prognostication systems for pituitary adenomas, which will allow personalized treatments. Let’s take acromegaly, for example. When I saw my first patient with this condition 25 years ago in Romania, all we had in terms of medical treatment was bromocriptine. We now have available several classes of medications that we use based on a “trial and error” approach. I hope research will move us closer to customized treatment plans that get our patients’ disease under control so they can start feeling better faster.

What do you consider to be the future of your field?

These are exciting times for specialists like me who dedicated their career to the pituitary gland. Several histological and molecular markers have been developed that have allowed us to move translational research closer to the patients and their problems. Physicians will soon have the right tools to predict the clinical course of pituitary adenomas more precisely and to develop individualized plans to manage them. Also, scientists are working on treatments that specifically target certain genetic or molecular pathways that will create a paradigm shift in how we treat pituitary disorders.

What should patients know about your field/what deserves more recognition/awareness?

Pituitary disorders are complex and usually require a multidisciplinary approach. Every day, I am in contact with neurosurgeons, neuro-radiologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, gynecologists, urologists, psychologists and other specialists. Most importantly, I constantly communicate with the internists or primary care physicians. While the hormones and/or the tumor itself are at the center of the problem, they cause diverse health problems that warrant specific evaluation and management.

What would you like to convey about yourself to your patients?

It is a privilege for me to take care of you. I am honored by the trust you place in me and I will continue to work tirelessly to help you feel better. I know that the same condition affects different patients in different ways and that laboratory results can be confusing. I realize the complexity of your condition. I learn something new every day. I assure you we make progress in our diagnostic and therapeutic abilities. I am here to guide you through the process and offer you a treatment plan that suits your needs.

Why did you get involved with the PNA and what is the extent of your involvement?

I like working with the PNA because this organization offers a reliable source of information for patients and their families. The PNA has provided valuable patient advocacy in the field of pituitary diseases since 1992. I partnered with PNA ten years ago because we share the goals of improving awareness about pituitary disorders and educating both patients and the medical community. I am a member of the PNA scientific advisory board and together we published books and other educational materials, and we recorded webinars. The PNA staff is friendly and passionate about their mission.

Dr. Ioachimescu can be reached via administrative assistant Kim Macon at 404-778-2190. Patient referral: 404-778-5770

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