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Chelsi Flippo

Chelsi Flippo, MD

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Chelsi Flippo, MD, joined the NIH in 2018 as a clinical fellow in the Pediatric Endocrinology Inter-Institute Training Program. She received her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine and then completed a pediatrics residency at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Dr. Flippo studies hypercortisolemic states, including Cushing’s disease and functional hypercortisolemia. In particular, she is interested in the utility of plasma copeptin as a potential marker for remission in Cushing’s disease.

We asked Dr. Flippo a few questions about her clinical interests and perspectives to learn more about the person behind the degree. Meet Dr. Flippo:

What influenced you to go into pediatric endocrinology?

Early in residency, I was fortunate to work with several wonderful pediatric endocrinologists, but Dr. Katherine Beckwith-Fickas was a new pediatric endocrinology faculty member who was full of enthusiasm and inspired me to consider endocrinology. I was intrigued by the variety of pathology in pediatric endocrinology and enjoyed the continuity that the specialty allowed, particularly with patients with diabetes mellitus. There was one patient who helped confirm that I should pursue my specialty—a teen female who presented overnight with acute onset lower extremity weakness. We ordered thyroid function tests after noting that her potassium was low, and she was ultimately found to have Graves’ disease resulting in thyrotoxic periodic paralysis. It was a fascinating case to me then and is still now.

How has your perspective of clinical research evolved from the first year to the third year of your NIH fellowship?

I began my fellowship with limited clinical research experience, so I was thrilled by the opportunities for research available at NIH. From first to third year, I’ve learned to appreciate the many team members required to successfully complete a well-designed study, analyze the data, and present the results. It has been an honor to be a part of the NICHD’s efforts to expand scientific knowledge in the field of pediatric endocrinology.

What is your most memorable experience while at the NIH?

Last fall I saw a young boy in clinic with Dr. Deborah Merke and Dr. Ashwini Mallappa for evaluation of precocious puberty. The patient had been evaluated at multiple pediatric endocrinology centers with no definitive cause determined. His primary pediatric endocrinologist, our team at NICHD, and several other centers who had evaluated him worked in a collaborative fashion to brainstorm possible causes, further evaluations, and management. In addition to pediatric endocrinology, his multi-center team involved specialists in urology and pathology. We now believe we have determined the cause of precocious puberty in this young boy’s case, and we look forward to publishing the results soon. The experience of working with all of these team members to provide answers for him and his family has been deeply rewarding.

What are your future goals following your fellowship?

I am thrilled to be starting a clinical position with the Pediatric Subspecialists of Virginia (Inova Fairfax) in August to practice the specialty that continues to challenge and excite me every day.

Do you have any hobbies outside of your research and medical work?

In regard to my life outside of fellowship, my interests are painting, running, and traveling. My most recent travel adventure was to Alaska to visit my sister, where we went camping, kayaking, and hiking on glaciers. My fiancé Luis and I adopted a dog named JoJo several months ago, and last month we bought and moved into our new home. Therefore, our dog and an ongoing list of home improvement projects have kept me quite busy in my spare time recently!