Discovering Regularity in Heterogeneity

3 min
Dre Nadine Taleb

“I’m where I’ve always wanted to be!” This sentence perfectly sums up Dr. Nadine Taleb’s passion for her research on forms of diabetes with atypical phenotypes, which she conducts at the CHUM’s Centre d’expertise en diabète. This start-of-the-art resource aims to help prevent this disease and improve care for those who suffer from it.

After studying medicine, Dr. Taleb specialised in endocrinology at the American University of Beirut in her home country of Lebanon. Deeply interested in research, it was the epidemiology of diabetes that piqued her curiosity because of its complexity and heterogeneity.

I love hormones, I’m fascinated by the fact that they travel all over the body and affect several organs, she summarized.

Her aspirations led her and her husband to Quebec, where she met Dr. Constantin Polychronakos, a paediatric endocrinologist and researcher at the MUHC, with whom she did a fellowship leading to the discovery of a gene linked to diabetes. Realizing that she preferred clinical research, she later completed a PhD at the IRCM on the role of technology in the management of diabetes and hypoglycaemia.

Rare Shapes under the Microscope

Dr. Taleb’s extensive career path led to her being appointed as a clinical researcher at the CRCHUM in May 2022. She is a member of the Diabetes Expertise Centre along with Dr. Ariane Godbout, Dr. Vincent Poitout, Thierry Alquier and Guy Rutter.

Her research focuses on the heterogeneity of diabetes, in particular the atypical forms that present characteristics that fall between those of type 1 and type 2, such as latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA).

As its name suggests, this form of diabetes occurs in adulthood and worsens over time as the autoimmune process involved destroys the pancreatic beta cells responsible for insulin production. She estimates that LADA could account for up to 10% of all cases of diabetes. 

I like heterogeneity and rare cases, because they help us to understand other forms of diabetes, she explains.

Her goal is to learn more about LADA in order to diagnose it more accurately, demystify its slow progression, identify the factors that trigger it and draw up an appropriate treatment plan to improve patients’ quality of life. 

There are currently no clear guidelines for the treatment of LADA, but immunomodulatory molecules that prevent the destruction of beta cells are proving to be a promising avenue. The clinical aspect of the research programme also includes optimizing the organization of care and the patient’s trajectory

Improving Quality of Life

Dr. Taleb is also a co-investigator in the BETTER project, which uses a registry of 3,500 people with type 1 diabetes (the first registry of its kind in Canada) to advance research into improving the quality of life and clinical practices associated with this disease. 

Analysis of the data collected will also enable her to build up a cohort of LADA patients in order to gain a better understanding of the disease’s onset and ultimately carry out randomised studies to assess the effectiveness of treatments.

Always keeping her patients in mind, she and a multidisciplinary team have also set up a clinic for young adults with diabetes (aged 18-25) who need support in taking over disease management from their parents. 

This portrait is taken from our 2022-2023 Activity Report

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Discovering Regularity in Heterogeneity



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