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Approximately 1.5 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes, which causes an inability to produce insulin and is one of the most common life-threatening chronic illnesses of childhood. At any one time, 20 percent of these individuals are transitioning from pediatric to adult care.

The Challenge
Most teens transition to adult endocrinologists who may not recognize their distinct needs as young adults and who are sometimes not equipped to offer appropriate resources.

Helping Hands

Jan and Arnie Miller of Houston recently donated $250,000 to help fund the start of the Type 1 Diabetes Transition Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital. The Millers would love for Houston’s philanthropic community to join them in building these resources.

Robert and Janice McNair Foundation Makes Next-Level Research Possible

How can we guarantee that patients like Hannah Bortz will live longer, more productive lives? How can we make sure that Type 1 diabetes remains a manageable disease — perhaps even a curable one — for generations to come?

Robert and Janice McNair were interested in these same questions. Through the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation, they established the McNair Scholars Program. Now talented young physicians and scientists are searching for the answers. Without generous support from the foundation, Texas Children’s might not have been able to recruit Drs. Maria and Matt Bettini, the dynamic duo who are the current McNair Scholars.

Here’s a snapshot of what they bring to immunology and diabetes/endocrinology research.

  • They trained at St. Jude’s Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Dario Vignali, one of the world’s leading researchers of immune function.
  • They earned Ph.D.s in immunology and molecular pathogenesis at Emory University in Atlanta.
  • The couple focuses on the immune cells involved in destroying the pancreas in Type 1 diabetes. Matt’s expertise is in the class of cells that govern the strength of the autoimmune response, while Maria focuses on the immune cells that attack the insulin-secreting beta cells.

What others are saying about Drs. Maria and Matt Bettini:


“McNair Scholars Matt and Maria Bettini are rising stars in the study of the immunology of  diabetes. Their impact on the field has already been profound.”

— Dr. Jordan Orange, chief of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology


“Matt and Maria have a sincere joy for discovery, as well as a collaborative spirit. Their presence will invigorate the Type 1 diabetes research community here at Texas Children’s.”

— Dr. Jake Kushner, chief of Diabetes and Endocrinology




What was your most embarrassing medical school moment?

Perhaps not surprisingly, I asked quite a few questions during my medical school lectures. I thought the other students hadn’t noticed. But one day I raised my hand and asked a question, and one of my classmates yelled out from across the room “BINGO!”

Turns out they were playing a game of “Stupid Question Bingo” and had sold cards to most of my classmates. My face was on many of the cards!

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?

A scientist (not an imaginative answer, given that I am a scientist). But I would also add that for many years, my dream was to run a bread bakery in a ski town.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what word would it be?