Pituitary Research Program

The Pituitary Research Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is engaged in a number of research studies and clinical trials that provide access to novel medical therapies and individualized long-term follow up for patients with pituitary tumors and pituitary disorders. Current studies explore the mechanisms of pituitary tumor development and the safety and efficacy of treating patients with Cushing’s disease and acromegaly with new medications, among other topics.

We also develop databases of patients to generate data for research and enable thorough, long-term follow-up care. These databases help us quickly identify patients who could benefit from new experimental therapies. One of our databases includes more than 400 patients with Cushing’s disease and tracks their long-term outcomes after treatment. We have published data from this ongoing study in a 2013 article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Another large database follows prolactinoma patients, tracking their symptoms at presentation, remission rates with surgical or medical treatment, and quality of life over time.

As an integrated part of Mount Sinai’s Pituitary Care and Research Center, we draw on the resources and expertise of clinicians from throughout the Mount Sinai Health System to provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for patients with pituitary tumors and pituitary diseases.  Our neuroendocrinologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, and radiation oncologists collaborate closely to give patients access to cutting-edge medical and surgical care.

The Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, about the size of a pea, located at the base of the brain. It is the body’s “master gland,” producing hormones that control many functions of the other endocrine glands. Specifically, the pituitary gland produces hormones that regulate the thyroid gland, reproductive function, salt and water balance, cortisol (the body’s stress hormone), and growth hormone. Together these hormones affect diverse functions in the body including metabolism, appetite, body composition, bone strength, mood, energy, and sleep.

The most common problem with the pituitary gland occurs when a benign tumor, called an adenoma, develops. Adenomas can produce excess hormones, block hormone production, or can be non-functioning. Symptoms vary depending on the type and size of the adenoma and can include vision problems, headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, menstrual cycle changes, body hair loss, sexual dysfunction, depression or anxiety, insomnia, and unintended weight loss or gain.

Clinical Training

ISMMS has a pituitary rotation for its fellowship program in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Disease. Every second-year fellow spends three months on this rotation to gain in-depth knowledge of pituitary diseases. The fellows work closely with our endocrinologists and neurosurgeons to learn about our team approach.