Associate Professor Shireene Ratna Vethakkan obtained her MBBS from the University of Malaya, and Masters of Internal Medicine from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She then underwent endocrine training at the University of Malaya Medical Centre and a fellowship in endocrinology at the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes in St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne. This was followed by an MD(Doctorate of Medicine-Research) at the University of Melbourne focusing on islet-function and insulin-sensitivity in patients with type 1 diabetes post-islet-transplantation. Her expertise lies in the subspecialty of diabetology, in particular human islet-transplantation, lipotoxicity and beta-cell function. She is skilled in the evaluation of beta-cell function/insulin sensitivity utilizing computer modelling and the IVGTT, and can also conduct clamp studies.
She was appointed Head of the Division of Endocrinology&Diabetes , Department of Medicine in 2012 and is currently holding that post. She holds several grants and has researched amongst other things: the link between lipemia/maternal BMI and pregnancy outcomes, impact of ethnicity/culture on Vitamin D insufficiency/therapy in Malaysia, pituitary dysfunction in nasopharyngeal carcinoma survivors, and pharmcogenomic aspects of obesity/diabetes. Her most recent collaboration has been with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board/King's College Department of Nutrition, exploring the effect of dietary fat on pancreatic beta cell function and cardiovascular risk. She continues to be involved in research into the growing epidemic of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in Malaysia. She is the principal investigator and leader of an ongoing cohort study( in collaboration with the obstetric and paediatric units of the University of Malaya Medical Centre) evaluating the impact of maternal metabolic dysfunction on offspring health and wellbeing.
She has published papers in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Journal of Clinical Lipidology,Clinical Nutrition,Transplantation, Endocrine Practice, Diabetic Medicine and Journal of Diabetes Investigation. She has also supervised to completion many PhD, Masters of Science, Masters of Medicine and Endocrine Subspecialty Fellows.
Dr. Vethakkan is also an experienced consultant endocrinologist and physician. In the coming year, she intends to expand/improve diabetes/endocrinology services in UMMC by instituting short refresher courses for interns, nurses and other allied health staff, as well as organizing national diabetes/insulin camps and public education seminars for patients as part of the unit's community services.
In the next 5 years, she hopes to complete her research into the relationship between lipotoxicity and b-cell function in Asian gestational diabetes. She will be developing an online algorithm for inpatient diabetes management as well as a handbook of endocrine testing protocols that will be accessible to all hospital staff.
Long-term, she would like to acquire the skills and expertise to research the relationship between epigenetics and beta-cell function and further develop insulin pump services in UMMC.