Q&A with Cleveland Clinic’s New Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute Chair: Bartolome Burguera, MD, PhD

International obesity expert to focus on prevention and innovative, multidisciplinary care

Cleveland Clinic has appointed Bartolome Burguera, MD, PhD, as its new Chair of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute.

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Dr. Burguera joined Cleveland Clinic as a staff physician and Director of Obesity programs in September 2013. He also received a staff joint appointment in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine in 2018. Additionally, Dr. Burguera is a Professor of Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. His clinical and academic interests are focused on the field of obesity, particularly the role of bariatric medicine and non-surgical weight loss interventions for obesity and diabetes.

In his new role, Dr. Burguera will lead one of the largest endocrinology practices in the world, with 40 endocrinologists, five endocrine surgeons and more than 20 nurse practitioners who specialize in endocrinology.

“I am honored to assume this role, and very excited about what the future holds for the Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute,” states Dr. Burguera. “We have worked together to develop subspecialty clinics and centers in the areas of pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, diabetes, obesity, gonadal dysfunction and calcium metabolism. When patients come to visit our endocrinology and metabolism team at Cleveland Clinic, we make sure we fully address their medical concerns.”

Recently, Consult QD had the opportunity to get to know this internationally recognized endocrinologist, and discuss his vision for the Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute.


Q: You have collaborated on major international obesity prevention and therapy initiatives, and helped develop obesity programs while working as a fellow at Mayo Clinic, as a staff consultant at Boston University, University of Pittsburgh and Son Dureta University Hospital in Spain. How did those experiences shape what you’ve accomplished so far at Cleveland Clinic?

Working at medical institutions on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean—in the United States and Spain—taught me that patients with obesity are discriminated against, both explicitly and implicitly, regardless of where they live. These patients are often treated with bias by their colleagues and, in many circumstances, by their physicians.

Obesity is a chronic disease. Many people with obesity develop significant medical problems as a consequence of their obesity. We lack a successful approach to this chronic condition.

I listen to patients with empathy and respect. I need to understand their concerns in order to work with them to develop therapeutic plans.

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Q: What do you consider the most exciting areas of opportunity in endocrinology and metabolism in the next five to 10 years?

Obesity is mainly responsible for the onset of the majority of chronic conditions that we treat daily in our clinics. We need to work together, with patients, to change the old medical paradigm of treating chronic conditions, many of which have been caused by weight gain.

We have an opportunity not only to optimize the treatment of chronic conditions (such as, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disease and lipid disorders), but also to play an important role in prevention. We are learning that when we help people to gain better control over their health by improving their diets, becoming more physically active and avoiding weight gain, they do not get many of these chronic conditions, or they more successfully achieve remission.

At Cleveland Clinic, we’ve developed an interdisciplinary approach, including working with our Employee Health Plan, centered on nutrition, physical activity, appetite control and optimization of sleeping habits, as well as psychological support focused on stress reduction and the treatment of anxiety and depression treatment.

In the next several years, we will continue to find innovative ways to treat patients with a focus on compassion and convenience. We want to create relaxed, supportive, personalized environments for the exchange of information. We have already seen the benefits that patients with obesity receive from shared medical appointments. We continue to roll-out telemedicine programs, and should able to provide optimal care when and where patients need it.


Q: What would you like our readers to know about your plans for the Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute?

We have one of the largest endocrinology practices in the world, and we work together to develop subspecialty clinics and centers in the areas of pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, diabetes, obesity, gonadal dysfunction and calcium metabolism. When patients visit our Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute, we make sure we fully address their medical concerns.

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We work together as a team to make sure our patients obtain a prompt, appropriate diagnosis and optimal treatment. When patients are coming from out of state, and need surgery, our endocrine surgeons make a special effort to schedule surgeries right away. We place special effort on facilitating access and providing optimal follow-up.

Our care is not only localized at Cleveland Clinic main campus. We offer endocrinology care in 22 family health centers and community hospitals across Northeast Ohio. Optimal endocrinology care is also provided by our colleagues in Florida and Abu Dhabi. We also provide virtual consults, MyChart Thyroid follow-ups, individual and shared medical appointments, as well as MyConsult second opinion distance health visits.


Q: Will you continue to provide patient care in your new role?

Yes absolutely. I really enjoy seeing patients and I have a busy practice of patients with obesity and diabetes. I especially enjoy seeing how improvement of an individuals’ lifestyle helps them to feel better, improve their quality of life, improve laboratory results, reduce the number of medications they take and, very importantly, reduce their cardiovascular risk.


Q: What are your thoughts about today’s healthcare environment? 

Healthcare is centered on treating established conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, depression. Unless we focus our efforts on disease prevention, we’re going to be in big trouble dealing with a population that is ill, less productive, and who will consume a very significant proportion of healthcare resources.

Dr. Burguera can be reached at 216.444.4042 or BURGUEB@ccf.org.