George K. Gittes, MD

  • Benjamin R. Fisher Chair and Professor of Pediatric Surgery and Pediatrics and Director, Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research
  • Chief of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
  • Scientific Co-Director of Research, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Administrative Assistant: Tamara Daviston

George Gittes grew up in La Jolla, California, and then attended Harvard College followed by Harvard Medical School, where he performed research throughout medical school and wrote an honors thesis under the mentorship of Judah Folkman, MD. He then returned to California to be a general surgical resident at the University of California San Francisco, initially under the chairmanship of Haile Debas, MD. During his seven-year tenure in San Francisco, he spent two years working in the laboratory of William Rutter, PhD in the Hormone Research Institute at UCSF, a pioneer in the field of molecular biology who cloned the insulin gene and created the first recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, as well as pioneered the cesium chloride gradient. Upon completion of his general surgical training in San Francisco, Gittes went to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he completed a two-year Pediatric Surgery fellowship. He then moved to New York University where he spent three years on faculty as Assistant Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Surgical Organogenesis.

Gittes’ research in pancreatic development expanded, and as he began to garner NIH funding, Gittes was recruited back to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where he served as the Director of Surgical Research, and rose to rank of Professor of Surgery and held the Thomas M. Holder and Keith W. Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Surgical Research. During that time in Kansas City he also was elected to the position of President of the Society of University of Surgeons. In 2005, he was recruited to become the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair of Pediatric Surgery, Surgeon-in-Chief, Director of Pediatric Surgical Research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Professor, Department of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 2018, after 13 years as the surgeon-in-chief, took emeritus status, and was appointed Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and Co-Scientific Director of Research at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

This transition has allowed him to focus more of his time on his research. He now lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Elissa, an Adolescent Medicine physician and medical school classmate. His two sons, Grant and Gregory, are both graduates of Brown University. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1999, and has finished a seven year stint as a standing member of the Metabolism/Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity NIH study section.

Professional and Scientific Society Memberships

  • American Society of Clinical Investigators, Member
  • American Surgical Association, Member
  • Society of University Surgeons, Member
  • Southern Surgical Association, Member
  • American Pediatric Surgical Association, Member
  • Surgical Biology Club, Member                       
  • Association for Academic Surgery
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow-Surgical Section
  • American College of Surgeons, Fellow
  • Plastic Surgery Research Council
  • British Associaton of Pediatric Surgeons
  • Society for Surgery for the Alimentary Tract
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Society of Cell Biology, Member           
  • Pacific Assocaiton of Pediatric Surgerons
  • Association of American Physicians  

Education & Training

  • AB, magna cum laude, Harvard College, 1983
  • MD, cum laude, Harvard Medical School, 1987
  • Internship in General Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, 1987-1988
  • Residency in General Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, 1988-1990
  • Research Fellow in Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, 1990-1992
  • Senior Resident in General Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, 1992-1993
  • Chief Resident in General Surgery, University of California at San Francisco, 1993-1994
  • Clinical Fellow in Pediatric Surgery, Children's Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, Missouri), 1994-1996

Selected Publications

Song Z, Fusco J, Zimmerman R, Fischbach S, Chen C, Ricks DM, Prasadan K, Shiota C, Xiao X, Gittes GK. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Signaling Regulates β Cell Proliferation in Adult Mice. J Biol Chem. 2016 Oct 21;291(43):22630-22637. 

Xiao X, Chen C, Guo P, Zhang T, Fischbach S, Fusco J, Shiota C, Prasadan K, Dong H, Gittes GK. Forkhead Box Protein 1 (FoxO1) Inhibits Accelerated β Cell Aging in Pancreas-specific SMAD7 Mutant Mice. J Biol Chem. 2017 Feb 24;292(8):3456-3465. 

Orabi AI, Wen L, Javed TA, Le T, Guo P, Sanker S, Ricks D, Boggs K, Eisses JF, Castro C, Xiao X, Prasadan K, Esni F, Gittes GK, Husain SZ. Targeted inhibition of pancreatic acinar cell calcineurin is a novel strategy to prevent post-ERCP pancreatitis. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Jan;3(1):119-128.

GLP-1/Exendin-4 induces β-cell proliferation via the epidermal growth factor receptor. Fusco J, Xiao X, Prasadan K, Sheng Q, Chen C, Ming YC, Gittes G. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 22;7(1):9100.

SMAD3/Stat3 Signaling Mediates β-Cell Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Chronic Pancreatitis-Related Diabetes.Xiao X, Fischbach S, Zhang T, Chen C, Sheng Q, Zimmerman R, Patnaik S, Fusco J, Ming Y, Guo P, Shiota C, Prasadan K, Gangopadhyay N, Husain SZ, Dong H, Gittes GK. Diabetes. 2017 Aug 3. 

Fusco J, Xiao X, Prasadan K, Sheng Q, Chen C, Ming YC, Gittes G. Diabetologia. 2017 Dec;60(12):2399-2408. GLP-1/Exendin-4 induces β-cell proliferation via the epidermal growth factor receptor. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 22;7(1):9100. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09898-4. 

Shiota C, Prasadan K, Guo P, Fusco J, Xiao X, Gittes GK. Gcg CreERT2 knockin mice as a tool for genetic manipulation in pancreatic alpha cells. Diabetologia. 2017 Dec;60(12):2399-2408. 

Bozadjieva N, Blandino-Rosano M, Chase J, Dai XQ, Cummings K, Gimeno J, Dean D, Powers AC, Gittes GK, Rüegg MA, Hall MN, MacDonald PE, Bernal-Mizrachi E. Loss of mTORC1 signaling alters pancreatic α cell mass and impairs glucagon secretion. J Clin Invest. 2017 Nov 6.

Sheng Q, Xiao X, Prasadan K, Chen C, Ming Y, Fusco J, Gangopadhyay NN, Ricks D, Gittes GK. Autophagy protects pancreatic beta cell mass and function in the setting of a high-fat and high-glucose diet. Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 27;7(1):16348.

Socorro M, Criscimanna A, Riva P, Tandon M, Prasadan K, Guo P, Humar A, Husain SZ, Leach SD, Gittes GK, Esni F. Identification of Newly Committed Pancreatic Cells in the Adult Mouse Pancreas. Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 13;7(1):17539. 

Xiao X, Guo P, Shiota C, Zhang T, Coudriet GM, Fischbach S, Prasadan K, Fusco J, Ramachandran S, Witkowski P, Piganelli JD, Gittes GK. Endogenous Reprogramming of Alpha Cells into Beta Cells, Induced by Viral Gene Therapy, Reverses Autoimmune Diabetes. Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Jan 4;22(1):78-90.

Full Publication List via NIH PubMed »

Research Grants

Benjamin R. Fisher Endowment (2005-Present).

NIH R01DK111460, EGF and TGF-Beta Signaling Synergy in Beta-cell Proliferation (PI, 12% effort), 2016-2019, $235,000 yearly direct funding.

NIH R01DK112836, Endogenous alpha-to-beta cell transdifferentiation in diabetes (PI, 20% effort), 2017-2021, $250,000 yearly direct funding.