Priyathama Vellanki, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine

Department of Medicine


BIRCWH Scholar: 2017 - 2019

Dr. Priya Vellanki is a clinically trained endocrinologist whose long-term career goal is to become an independent clinical investigator in the area of genotype-phenotype correlations and assessment of sex differences in insulin sensitivity and secretion.  Dr. Guillermo Umpierrez serves as her mentor during her BIRCWH appointment.   The objective of her BIRCWH award was to evaluate the underlying sex-specific and non sex-specific epigenetic markers associated with changes in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion in the field of ketosis-prone diabetes (KPDM).  KPDM is a unique subtype of diabetes where patients present with diabetic ketoacidosis resulting from acute loss of pancreatic beta cell function and severe insulin resistance. This phenotype is prevalent in African Americans and has a 2-3:1 male to female predominance. With intensive insulin treatment, many patients recover their beta cell function and have improvements in insulin resistance to allow for discontinuation of insulin or remission. Therefore, patients with KPDM represent a unique model to assess sex differences in the underlying changes leading to improvements in insulin sensitivity and secretion.

Dr. Vellanki has a strong background in clinical research with a focus on women’s health. During her fellowship, under the mentorship of Dr. Andrea Dunaif, she received a T-32 grant to study the correlation between sex-specific DNA variants and dysglycemia in a common reproductive disorder in women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In order to consolidate her skills in clinical research, she completed a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) during which she acquired skills in biostatistics, epidemiology and research methods. This work resulted in several abstracts and three publications.

Since becoming an Assistant Professor at Emory University in 2014, Dr. Vellanki has maintained an interest in understanding genotype-phenotype correlations in insulin sensitivity and secretion. In her clinical practice, many patients who present with diabetic ketoacidosis have KPDM. Therefore, she feels strongly that elucidating the underlying mechanisms in KPDM will have relevant implications for the majority of patients in her clinical practice. As a result, she has extended her study of genotype-phenotype correlations from common DNA variants to epigenetic markers of insulin sensitivity and secretion. Further, despite the high male prevalence, few studies have examined sex differences in the underlying mechanisms leading to changes in insulin sensitivity and secretion.



Awards received 

2017: Fellows Teaching Award, Emory University

2016: Outstanding Abstract Travel Award, Endocrine Society


Grant Funding

K23 - PI: Title: Epigenic Markers of Short- and Long- Term Near-Normoglycemia Remission in Patients With Ketosis-Prone Diabetes




Medical Director- Grady Endocrinology Clinic, Emory University

2012: American Board of Internal Medicine-Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Publications: View PubMed