Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas serves as corporate vice president for the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and the Scripps Health Diabetes Service Line. Additionally, Dr. Philis-Tsimikas is the director of Community Engagement Research Programs for the Clinical Translational Science Award housed at Scripps Research Translational Institute. She is board certified in Diabetes and Endocrinology and has over 25 years of clinical care and research experience. She leads diabetes research for Scripps and actively promotes community-based clinical research with a focus on health equity and integrating digital technologies to improve diabetes care in the ambulatory and hospital setting.
During her career, Dr. Philis-Tsimikas has served as the principal investigator on over 100 NIH-funded and commercial research projects and has led innovative research initiatives, including the development of Project Dulce, Dulce Digital and hospital continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) programs.
After earning her master’s in program evaluation from San Diego State University, Dr. Addie Fortmann received her Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Behavioral Medicine from the UC San Diego/San Diego State University’s Joint Doctoral Program. As a research scientist and chief research officer at Scripps Health, Dr. Fortmann provides oversight for general research administrative services and conducts research in diabetes across hospital, outpatient and community facilities. She is active in mentoring students in both research and clinical training activities and has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and books.
Dr. Fortmann is the recipient of numerous external grants and fellowships for her research, from the NIH, American Diabetes Association, philanthropic foundations, and other sources.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology and Master of Science in Engineering in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Dr. Samantha Spierling Bagsic earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences from The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. She currently serves as a biostatistician and research scientist at the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, where she contributes to the planning and evaluation of forthcoming and ongoing NIH-funded studies that directly aim to improve the management of diabetes and understand the impacts of novel digital technologies. Dr. Bagsic is also a founding member of the Scripps Hub Academic Research Core (SHARC), where she provides research support in study design, data analysis, presentation, and education across the entire Scripps Health system and the Scripps Research Translational Institute.
Dr. Emily Soriano received her Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology from the University of Delaware and completed her predoctoral clinical internship at UC San Diego/VA San Diego. Dr. Soriano also holds a Certificate in Statistics from the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware and has expertise in intensive longitudinal research methods and dyadic data analysis. As a research scientist at SWDI, she applies her background in behavioral medicine and research methodology to a range of ongoing and planned projects designed to improve diabetes outcomes.
Dr. Soriano was awarded a two-year F31 Fellowship from NIH to study the role of intimate partner involvement in daily diabetes management using continuous glucose monitoring, ecological momentary assessment, actigraphy, and other intensive longitudinal assessment methods. She has chaired and presented sessions at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.
Dr. Emily San Diego earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from The California State University, Dominguez Hills, prior to receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Social and Behavioral Sciences from The University of Memphis, School of Public Health. She has over six years of research experience in the areas of chronic disease prevention and management, behavioral science, health promotion, and health disparities. Her research aims to examine the influence of social determinants of health and psychosocial factors in type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevention and management and reduce T2D disparities in underserved communities using community-based participatory research approaches. As a research scientist at the Scripps Whitter Diabetes Institute, she examines innovative strategies and mechanisms for facilitating behavior change and improving T2D-related outcomes in minority populations.
Dr. Natalia Orendain attained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Public Health prior to earning her Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her research experience includes work on phase III and IV cardiovascular outcomes-based clinical drug trials and longitudinal neuroimaging studies of chronic pain, stress and youth development. Utilizing her experience with large datasets, Dr. Orendain provides statistical and support for a variety of Scripps research and quality improvement projects. She provides consultations on research aims and methodology, and performs statistical analyses. Dr. Orendain is particularly interested in investigating health disparities and social determinants of health.
Shelly Meese received her Master of Health Administration from Washington University and has more than 30 years of experience supporting innovative, impactful research efforts across an expansive range of academic specialties. As the project manager, she leverages her extensive experience to support research projects in collaboration with researchers at Scripps. She works closely with organizational leaders to determine research needs and delegates tasks as necessary to meet deliverables and milestones. Shelly is also a founding member of the Scripps Hub Academic Research Core (SHARC) and offers research navigation support to investigators system-wide in this capacity. In 2020, Shelly was formally recognized for her outstanding service in her role at Scripps and selected as Scripps Health Administrative Services Professional Employee of the Year.
The N. Paul Whittier Clinical Diabetes Research Center is part of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and partners closely with the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes within the Scripps Clinic Medical Group, located on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. The N. Paul Whittier Clinical Diabetes Research Center conducts sponsored and investigator-initiated studies that offer opportunities for individuals with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis to try new devices and medications to improve their glucose management and to reduce the risk for associated diseases such as retinopathy, cardiovascular disease, and advanced non-alcoholic fatty liver infiltration.
Examples of current trials being conducted in our center include:
- New once-weekly basal insulin alone and in combination with GLP1-Receptor Agonists (GLP1-RA), which provide better blood sugar control with less weight gain—remarkably, this means injection requirements can drop from 365 times a year to only 52
- Longer-term trials evaluating GLP1-RA (such as Ozempic, Rybelsus and Mounjaro) to treat diabetes and obesity and to prevent heart disease
- An investigator-initiated study, in partnership with gastroenterologists at Scripps Clinic, using a fibroscan device to assess patients with type 2 diabetes for non-alcoholic fatty liver infiltration and fibrosis
Participants receive exceptional care from our specially trained team of diabetes research specialists. Please call us if you have questions or an interest in participating at 858-824-5352.
To learn more about research studies at the N. Paul Whittier Clinical Diabetes Research Center and Scripps, view the active studies.
Our team includes:
- Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD, Corporate Vice President and Medical Director, Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- James McCallum, MD, Chief, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Amy Chang, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Matthew Levine, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Patricia Lorenzo, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Aakif Ahmad, DO, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Samantha Harris, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Raymond Plodkowski, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Lauren Vincent, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Health Inpatient Providers Medical Group
- Mitch Biermann, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
- Paul Pockros, MD, Staff Physician, Division of Gastroenterology, Scripps Clinic Medical Group
The research support team is led by an experienced clinical supervisor of Scripps Whittier Diabetes Clinical Trials. The team consists of 11 research nurses, coordinators, program managers and research assistants. This team has over 20 years of experience conducting more than 200 device and medication clinical trials specializing in type 1 and type 2 diabetes; device studies such as continuous glucose monitors, hybrid closed loop pumps and connected pen devices; diabetes prevention studies; remote patient monitoring in hospital and ambulatory settings; cardiovascular outcomes trials for obesity and diabetes; and screening and intervention studies for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
Our investigators have served on over 200 clinical trials in partnership with the following companies:
Glaxo Smith Kline