Celebrated Physician: Susmeeta Sharma, MD

Growing up in a family of medical doctors, Susmeeta Sharma, MD, knew from an early age that she would one day become a physician too. Her dad was an anesthesiologist and her mother, an OB/GYN.

“I’m not sure I’d be good at anything else,” she says with a laugh.

As director of pituitary endocrinology at MedStar Pituitary Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Sharma oversees the evaluation and treatment of pituitary and adrenal tumors, as well as other conditions such as prolactinoma, Cushing’s disease, acromegaly, and hormone deficiencies.

“There’s a complexity and logic to evaluating pituitary disorders that I find appealing,” she says. “And the impact you can make on a patient’s well-being through diagnosis and treatment is rewarding.

Before joining the MedStar Pituitary Center, Dr. Sharma completed a fellowship in reproductive and adult endocrinology focusing on pituitary and adrenal disorders at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She then stayed on as a junior faculty member and the Chief of Outpatient Endocrinology at NIH.

Dr. Sharma credits Lynnette Nieman, MD, a Senior Investigator and Chief of the Endocrinology Consultation Service at the NIH Clinical Center, for helping hone her research skills, which focus on pathogenesis and diagnosis of hormonally active pituitary tumors as well as development of non-surgical treatment modalities for management of pituitary tumors.

Another key mentor was John E. Nestler, MD, now Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine, where Dr. Sharma served her internship. Both physicians helped instill a love of mentoring young physicians along their path to clinical endocrinology and patient care—a commitment for which Dr. Sharma was recognized with the NIH Endocrinology fellowship program’s Dr. Phillip Gorden Distinguished Clinical Teacher Award, named for former director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Dr. Sharma hopes to develop research programs to complement those already underway at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

“There are many avenues to explore, such as different types of tumors, and why various patient populations develop certain kinds and not others,” adds Dr. Sharma.

Married to a cardiologist, Dr. Sharma practices her problem-solving skills at home by reading mysteries. She also enjoys gardening and cooking Indian food.

Have any questions?

Contact us for more information about the MedStar Pituitary Center or to schedule an appointment. Call us at 202-877-3627.

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Hypothyroidism: A Common Misdiagnosed Condition

Tired? Can’t focus? Mood swings? Your thyroid gland could be to blame. Hypothyroidism— an underactive thyroid—can trigger these symptoms.

Doctors say it’s one of the most misdiagnosed conditions.  Dr. Kenneth Burman, who is endocrinology chief for MedStar Washington Hospital Center, says hypothyroidism affects up to 10 percent of the U.S. population.

It is frequently misdiagnosed, because the symptoms are non-specific and easily mistaken for other health problems, according to Dr. Burman. 

In its earliest stages, hypothyroidism may cause no symptoms or vague symptoms, because it often develops gradually. But as thyroid hormone production decreases, the body’s metabolism begins to slow, resulting in fatigue and weakness, often with unintentional weight gain, sleepiness, inability to concentrate and depression.

Bianca Harris, an Environmental Services aide at the Hospital Center, was diagnosed with a thyroid condition 10 years ago. She advocates for testing when relevant symptoms occur. “If you are having anxiety, depression, mood swings, or memory issues, it may be time to get your thyroid checked.”

If your health care professional suspects hypothyroidism, the condition is fairly simple to diagnose.  A TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, in conjunction with assessment of thyroid hormones T4 and T3, measures whether the thyroid gland is functioning normally. 

Hypothyroidism is common in women, particularly those over age 50. However, teenagers, children and even infants can be affected by this condition. “It is especially important to make sure a pregnant woman is not hypothyroid,” adds Dr. Burman. “Untreated hypothyroidism, even a mild version, may contribute to pregnancy complications.”

If you think you have a thyroid condition, it is always wise to discuss what you are experiencing with your health care professional.

Have any questions?

We are here to help! Contact us for more information about hypothyroidism or to schedule an appointment. Call us at 202-877-3627.

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