University of Florida Health Shands Children’s Hospital’s diabetes and endocrinology program is now ranked among the nation’s top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. It is the highest ranking ever for the program, which is joined in the standings by three other UF Health pediatric medical specialties, according to the 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospital rankings released today (June 21).
In addition to the No. 10 ranking for diabetes and endocrinology, UF Health’s distinguished specialties include pediatric pulmonology and lung surgery (No. 24), cardiology and heart surgery (No. 26) and neonatology (No. 35).
“These rankings reflect the essence of what takes place every day at UF Health: warm, compassionate care delivered by devoted teams of physicians, nurses and staff. Their dedication to our youngest patients is a source of pride and inspiration to us all,” said David R. Nelson, MD, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health.
It is the eighth time the neonatology program has been nationally ranked since 2010-11. For diabetes and endocrinology, it is the 14th consecutive year ranking among the nation’s top 30 programs.
“It is a true privilege to have families put their trust in us during their most trying moments. Our staff and faculty can take great pride in knowing they have continually earned that trust through their hard work and exceptional care,” said Colleen G. Koch, MD, MS, MBA, dean of the UF College of Medicine.
The diabetes and endocrinology program’s historically high ranking stems from an intense, long-term commitment to caring for patients and advancing research, said Michael J. Haller, MD, the division chief of pediatric endocrinology.
Some of the division’s accomplishments include a more than 30-year history of federal research support to develop therapies aimed at preventing and reversing Type 1 diabetes, efforts to improve glycemic control through increased use of continuous blood glucose monitors and insulin pumps, and a long track record of state and national advocacy.
UF Health also runs the nation’s largest treatment and clinical research program for Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes obesity and intellectual disability. In addition, the division’s obesity and metabolic program continues to expand to meet the urgent needs of the community while the telemedicine program gives children throughout Florida access to care for endocrine disorders.
“These rankings further validate the incredible work that our team does to take care of children and youth with endocrine disorders and our ongoing climb into the top 10 means that our colleagues across the country recognize and respect the outstanding work we do,” Haller said.
The hospital’s top 10 diabetes and endocrinology ranking is impressive but not surprising, said Rashmin C. Savani, MB, ChB, chair of the College of Medicine’s department of pediatrics and physician-in-chief of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. The program has earned worldwide respect based on more than 30 years of outstanding advances in diabetes research, Savani said.
“Our researchers have made incredible contributions to furthering the knowledge about the mechanisms that lead to Type 1 diabetes. They have been at the leading edge of that fight for decades and this is a recognition of that excellence,” he said.
The neonatology program’s ranking comes amid considerable research and clinical momentum in caring for fragile newborns, Savani said. Its highly regarded neonatal brain injury experts are working to identify which patients may fare poorly so they can be given more intensive care. The department’s neonatal sepsis expert is using artificial intelligence to sharpen the ability to identify patients who are at risk of becoming critically ill or having worse outcomes. A first-in-human clinical trial to develop novel treatments for aggressive, malignant brain tumors in children is also underway.
All those efforts are backed up by what Savani calls “sheer excellence in clinical care” — something he first noticed after joining UF Health about nine months ago.
“In every division, there is such an enthusiasm for providing the very best pediatric care,” he said. “Our faculty and staff are working exceptionally well together. It’s exciting to see everyone so dedicated to excelling in research and patient care.”