For Patients: Pituitary Research

Chris Yedinak (left), D.N.P., and Maria Fleseriu, M.D., are part of a team that takes part in extensive research. Our work has contributed to approval of new medications and a more patient-centered approach.
Chris Yedinak (left), D.N.P., and Maria Fleseriu, M.D., are part of a team that takes part in extensive research. Our work has contributed to FDA approval of new medications and a more patient-centered approach.

The OHSU Pituitary Center is an international leader in research on pituitary disorders. Our program:

  • Is led by one of the world’s top pituitary researchers.
  • Includes work to design and lead international clinical trials that led to FDA approval for new medications.
  • Offers patients access to clinical trials to test promising new treatments and approaches.

Research excellence

The OHSU Brain Institute is home to the most comprehensive pituitary center on the West Coast and one of the largest in the U.S. As part of OHSU, Oregon’s only academic health center, our pituitary experts are on the leading edge of discovery.

Innovative treatments: Research from our team was critical to developing two new treatments for Cushing disease and one for acromegaly. 

Dr. Justin Cetas has dozens of published studies in major medical journals.
Dr. Justin Cetas has dozens of published studies in major medical journals.

International expertise: Our research team is led by Maria Fleseriu, M.D, FACE, a neuroendocrinologist and scientist with a global profile. Dr. Fleseriu is the president of The Pituitary Society, an international group of doctors and researchers focused on pituitary disorders. Dr. Fleseriu has also been the chair of international clinical guidelines for pituitary disorders on hypopituitarism, Cushing disease, acromegaly and nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas.

Pioneering research: We’re leading more than a dozen studies on pituitary disorders, including Cushing disease, Cushing syndrome, prolactinomas, acromegaly and pituitary deficiency. We’re focusing on:

  • Screening for related conditions
  • Improving treatments
  • Improving patient quality of life and patient-reported outcomes

Patient-centric approach: We’ve done many studies to find new ways to predict the effectiveness of acromegaly treatments. We’ve also studied risk factors to help predict whether a tumor might come back after successful surgery in patients with Cushing disease, a prolactinoma or a nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma. This helps us design the most effective treatment and follow-up plan.

Robust clinical trials: Our center routinely recruits more participants for pituitary disorder clinical trials than any other center on the West Coast.

Research programs

The experts at the OHSU Pituitary Center are international leaders in exploring new ways to diagnose and treat pituitary disorders. Promising research areas include:

Dr. Elena Varlamov’s research areas include pituitary tumor outcomes, acromegaly and Cushing disease.
Dr. Elena Varlamov’s research areas include pituitary tumor outcomes, acromegaly and Cushing disease.

Cushing disease:

  • We helped in the clinical development of two medications to fight Cushing disease: glucocorticoid receptor blockers and somatostatin receptor ligands. Both won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2012.
  • We are building on our work with another class of medications, called adrenal steroidogenesis inhibitors, that keep the adrenal glands from releasing cortisol. We’ve completed studies on two new medications in this class.
  • We have two ongoing studies to find and test new treatments for Cushing disease.

Acromegaly:

  • We were one of the top clinical trial sites for a new medication to treat acromegaly. The drug works at the pituitary level. Because it affects different receptors than previous medications, it’s more potent in some patients.
  • We’re continuing to study the types of pituitary tumors that cause acromegaly while testing medications and searching for other new treatments. Studies on the first oral medication for acromegaly are ongoing. We’re also in early phases of studying a drug with a new mechanism at the growth hormone receptor level.
  • We are studying how this condition affects quality of life so we can help patients work and live independently.

Growth hormone deficiency: We are working to better understand how patients present symptoms. We’re also working to determine the best testing and whether it’s better to give hormone deficiency replacement daily or weekly.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are an important part of our research. They allow us to test whether new treatments for pituitary disorders are safe and effective. They also enable us to learn more about how these disorders work, so we can find new ways to treat them. If you are a potential candidate for one of these studies, your pituitary care team will discuss options with you.

Our experts regularly publish results of their research in leading academic journals. Here is a sampling:

Find more of our published work on pituitary disorders and other topics.

For patients

  • Referral: To become a patient, please ask your doctor for a referral.
  • Questions: For questions or follow-up appointments, call 503-494-4314.

Location

Parking is free for patients and their visitors.

OHSU Pituitary Center
Center for Health & Healing Building 1
3303 S. Bond Ave.
Portland, OR 97239
Map and directions