UT Southwestern’s two newest Dedman Family Scholars in Clinical Care – Dr. Kimberly Goodspeed and Dr. Anna Tavakkoli – are both enthusiastically pursuing improved patient outcomes through new multidisciplinary efforts. One focuses on developmental disorders and rare diseases affecting young people, while the other is tackling obesity management in adults.
“I am honored by this appointment,” said Dr. Goodspeed, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology. “It’s an honor to be an advocate for the families we serve who are struggling with the challenges of developmental disabilities. The support of the Dedman Family Scholar Endowment validates their struggle and empowers us to work together toward a world with better treatments and improved access to care.”
“I am honored to be appointed a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care,” said Dr. Tavakkoli, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Population and Data Sciences. “It represents a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues in the Weight Wellness Program to develop a clinical program that could impact thousands of patients at UTSW and North Texas. In addition, the appointment will help to facilitate important clinical research in the growing field of endobariatrics.”
The Dedman Foundation established the Dedman Family Endowed Program for Scholars in Clinical Care in 2009 with a $12 million gift to the Southwestern Medical Foundation. The gift was matched to create a $24 million endowment to help recruit the most promising early career physicians to UTSW and launch their careers under the mentorship of senior clinicians and clinical scientists. The program includes a four-year grant worth up to $150,000 annually for each recipient to cover research expenses and salaries.
Dr. Kimberly Goodspeed
Dr. Goodspeed cares for children and young adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, many of whom have a specific genetic mutation as the etiology of their developmental disability.
“Many of these genetic developmental disorders are rare diseases, so expert care is limited, although the research community is increasingly focused on developing targeted therapies for each individual disorder,” she said. “In order to prepare for clinical trials on the horizon, we must have a deep understanding of what these patients struggle with most and how their disorders evolve over their lives. I plan to use the Dedman support to organize a multidisciplinary clinic where we can learn from our patients, educate the scientific community, and improve the care we provide these families as we wait for the novel new therapies of the future.”
Dr. Goodspeed’s vision is a multidisciplinary clinic that efficiently combines patient care with research. “Patients and families will receive comprehensive evaluations and have access to our team of experts who can work with local community providers to build a network of experts in each disorder. Simultaneously, we will streamline our acquisition of the valuable clinical information we obtain at each visit and use that data to advance our understanding of each disease,” she said.
A Dallas native, she studied biology and chemistry at Texas Christian University and earned her medical degree from UT Health Science Center at Houston. After completing her pediatrics residency at UT Southwestern/Children’s Medical Center, she became the first neurodevelopmental disabilities resident to complete the six-year program. She joined the UTSW faculty in 2018.
Dr. Anna Tavakkoli
Dr. Tavakkoli plans to help develop a multidisciplinary program for obesity management. “We are starting a bariatric endoscopy program to complement an existing metabolic weight loss clinic, which can provide a minimally invasive treatment option for weight loss. We are also collaborating with the Center for Human Nutrition to grow a clinical and translational research program that can help identify additional novel therapies in the future,” she said.
Obesity and its complications already affect more than a third of DFW residents, she noted. The goal of her multidisciplinary obesity program is to comprehensively address this growing issue and curb the obesity trend in North Texas.
“While weight loss can be achieved through lifestyle changes in some people, this isn’t possible in everybody,” she said. “Bariatric surgery is another option, but some do not qualify and it might be regarded as too invasive by others. Endoscopic bariatric procedures, such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, offer patients a minimally invasive treatment option that can achieve sustainable significant weight loss.”
Dr. Tavakkoli was drawn to medicine through her father, an ophthalmologist in Florida. “Growing up, I could see his passion for medicine and his patients and the satisfaction he derived from helping people.”
She majored in cell and molecular biology at the University of Michigan and earned her medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine. She completed a residency in internal medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and received advanced training in gastroenterology and endoscopy through separate fellowships at the University of Michigan University Hospital. She joined UTSW in 2018.