EVMS has selected a nationally known physician-investigator to lead its diabetes program. Elias Siraj, MD, brings an international perspective and a special interest in improving outcomes for patients who have both cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Dr. Siraj comes to EVMS from Temple University in Philadelphia where he directed that school’s diabetes program and headed the endocrinology fellowship training program, among other responsibilities. A native of Ethiopia, he was previously on the endocrinology faculty at the Cleveland Clinic.
In his capacity as Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders at EVMS, he will oversee the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center. He also will lead the research programs at the EVMS Sentara Cardiovascular Diabetes Center, which helps coordinate long-term care of patients with diabetes and heart problems.
Richard Homan, MD, EVMS President and Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine, says Dr. Siraj is a good fit for the EVMS role.
“Dr. Siraj is an outstanding academic physician,” Dr. Homan says. “He has extensive experience in patient care, education and clinical research. His background has afforded him invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities he will face in his new role. His recruitment – in combination with the recent assessment of our diabetes experts as among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report – once again demonstrates the school’s commitment to make a difference in the lives of people with diabetes.”
Jerry Nadler, MD, the Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine, Vice Dean for Research and Chair of Internal Medicine, says Dr. Siraj’s expertise will expand diabetes-related research already underway at EVMS.
“Dr. Siraj is nationally recognized for his outstanding scholarly activity and leadership, particularly in the area of cardiovascular disease in the diabetic population,” Dr. Nadler says.
For instance, Dr. Siraj was selected to give the presidential presentation at the American Diabetes Association annual conference on one aspect of the ACCORD Trial, a landmark study of the relationship between diabetes and cardiovascular health. He also was first author on another major study from the ACCORD trial, Dr. Nadler says.
Dr. Siraj is excited about his new role.
“I hope to elevate the stature and capability of the Division of Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders by growing our patient-care capabilities, enhancing our teaching programs and expanding our research activities,” Dr. Siraj says.
Dr. Siraj is involved in research and trials involving diabetes, complications of diabetes, prevention of type 1 diabetes and post-transplant diabetes as well other areas of endocrinology. He wants to attract new grants for clinical research and to collaborate with Virginia biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical companies to develop new and safer diabetes treatments.
Dr. Siraj understands the critical impact that medical care can have on a community. For two decades, he has traveled regularly to his native Ethiopia, where he helped establish that nation’s first endocrinology fellowship training program. He has served in various leadership roles with People to People, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization established by Ethiopian Physicians to Support Ethiopian Healthcare and Medical Education.
In 2014, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology recognized his work when it presented Dr. Siraj with its prestigious Outstanding Service Award for the Promotion of Endocrine Health of an Underserved Population. Dr. Siraj is a leading member of several national and international professional organizations. He is also a former President of the Philadelphia Endocrine Society and a former member of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Endocrinology Subspecialty Board. He is on the editorial board or a reviewer for more than a dozen professional journals. He is well published in a variety of medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, and he has contributed chapters to medical text books.
Dr. Siraj received his medical degree with “Great Distinction” and a Gold Medal from Gondar College of Medical Sciences in Ethiopia before earning his Dr. Med. Magna Cum Laude from the University of Leipzig in Germany. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Leipzig and at the Cleveland Clinic and then did an endocrinology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Siraj is fluent in several languages.
EVMS had help from the commonwealth of Virginia in attracting Dr. Siraj. The school received the 2015 State Eminent Research Scholar Award, a highly competitive grant to assist in the year-long national search and recruitment process.