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Diagnosing Obesity-Related Diseases Faster

Evan Nadler

When children and teens undergo weight loss surgery at Children’s National Hospital and opt-in to clinical research, they contribute to their own future health and that of others. “Research that my weight-loss surgery kids participate in has changed the world already,” says Dr. Evan Nadler, who leads our Bariatric Surgery Program. “Now a pediatric patient can get insurance approval for bariatric surgery without being fully mature skeletally or past puberty, in large part thanks to data we’ve been able to publish because my patients agreed to participate.”

Dr. Nadler is collaborating with Dr. Robert J. Freishtat, Senior Investigator at our Center for Genetic Medicine Research, to develop an early-screening test for obesity-related diseases. On Mondays, a technician from Dr. Freishtat’s lab collects tissue and other samples from Dr. Nadler’s surgeries. These specimens from willing patients serve as the building blocks of the doctors’ research.

“Our goal is to develop a preventative screening test that could be given during early childhood wellness exams without a blood test and help prevent future obesity-related disease,” Dr. Freishtat says.

Dr. Nadler recently performed weight-loss surgery on a patient with a rare condition thought to be related to obesity. Since the girl’s family agreed to be a part of a study, details about her recovery, including if the surgery cures her condition, will contribute to a research report. “Families and patients often have little control over disease,” Dr. Nadler says. “We encourage them to be a part of research because it’s a way for them to give back. It also gives them a way to turn a negative situation into a positive one.”