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Thomas Donner MD

Thomas W. Donner MD

Director, Diabetes Center; Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Donner is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and completed his internal medicine residency, chief residency in medicine and fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Following fellowship, Dr. Donner joined the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Maryland and served as the Medical Director of the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate there from 2004 - 2010. After joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 2010, his clinical and research interests have become fully dedicated to diabetes. He became Director for the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Diabetes Center in 2011.

Dr. Donner’s clinical and research interests have focused on ways to more effectively manage type 1 and 2 diabetes, and novel ways to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes. He has been a clinical investigator on anumber of NIH- and industry-funded diabetes research trials. He was a co-PI in the NIH-funded Veterans Affairs Implantable Insulin Pump Study, a Co-PI on the NIDDK-funded Diabetes Control and Complications Trial / Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Complications (DCCT / EDIC) Study for 16 years, and Co-PI for the Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation 2 Diabetes (BARI 2D). He served as PI for the Durable-response therapy Evaluation For Early or New-onset type 1 Diabetes (DEFEND-1), for which he served on the study’s steering and writing committees.

To better understand impairments in the human immune system leading to auto-immune type 1 diabetes, he has collaborated with Dr. Abdel Hamad on preventing B-regulatory cell apoptosis using a novel monoclonal antibody targeting the presumptive apoptotic factor. This antibody prevents the development of type 1 diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. He has more recently collaborated with Dr. Hamad to discover the role of a novel immune cell in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. This cell co-expresses functional B and T cell receptors, with a single B cell receptor clonotype in subjects with type 1 diabetes that encodes an autoantigen that potently stimulates autoreactive T cells.

Dr. Donner is currently a PI for the study An Open-Label, First-In-Human, Study Evaluating the Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of VC-02™ Combination Product in Subjects with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Hypoglycemia Unawareness, to determine whether subcutaneous implantation of pancreatic endodermal stem cells can lead to clinically meaningful endogenous insulin secretion.

He is also a PI for Johns Hopkins for TrialNet, a multicenter, international consortium of investigators studying ways to prevent type 1 diabetes and preserve insulin secretion in individuals with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Donner served on the Endocrine Society Self-Assessment Committee from 2013 to 2017 which annually updates the Endocrine Self-Assessment Program and Maintenance of Certification modules, and the American Diabetes Association’s Professional Practice Committee in 2014 and 2015 that oversees the writing of the annual Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes.

Insulin resistance is prevalent in patients with type 1 diabetes, and likely contributes to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease seen in these patients. Insulin replacement therapy, the standard of care for type 1 diabetes patients does not address insulin resistance. Dr. Donner has previously studied the effects of adding glucagon-like protein-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RA) to insulin-requiring patients with type 2 diabetes which showed clinically significant reductions in hemoglobin A1c, weight and insulin requirements. In collaboration with Dr. Allison Hays, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Donner will be investigating whether GLP-1 RA use will reduce cardiovascular risk in the type 1 diabetes patient population.


Dr. Donner has no relevant disclosures.

Recent Contributions to PracticeUpdate:

  1. Type 1 Diabetes Global Incidence and Prevalence in 2017