Letter from our Director

J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS

  • Director of Adolescent Medicine
  • Donald Orr Professor of Adolescent Medicine


Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to the Section of Adolescent Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Children’s Hospital at IU Health. The Section boasts a talented and ambitious interdisciplinary faculty to meet our core missions of clinical care, research, education and advocacy.

We have a variety of specialty clinics as well as primary care settings devoted to the care and well-being of the adolescent and young adult. From helping the adolescent who has been recently diagnosed with diabetes, to the injured adolescent athlete, or the teen who needs a comprehensive physical, we have an active clinical practice with several locations.

Our research endeavors continue to expand into new and exciting new areas and new partnerships and our faculty have more than $3.5 million in active grant support. One project, The Young Men’s Project, is part of an NIH initiative to expand the exploration of the millions of microorganisms that live in or on our body that affect our health. Adolescent males from ages 14 to 17 are being followed for up to 36 months using cellular phones to collect daily behavioral reports, as well as regularly scheduled biologic specimens to better understand the urethral microbiome. Other new grants are examining the physical and mental health care needs of detained youth in the juvenile justice system in order to determine how treatment may impact on recidivism. And our STRONG project will determine rates of three common sexually transmitted infections, symptoms, and risk behaviors among 2,000 young men between the ages of 14 and 24 drawn from community-based locations.

Our central educational activity is our Maternal and Child Health funded Leadership in Adolescent Health (LEAH) training project. LEAH’s mission is to educate and mentor the next generation of leaders in adolescent health who will influence public policy and public health experts, and to train clinicians, investigators and educators through interdisciplinary training in the disciplines of medicine, psychology, social work, nursing, and nutrition. Currently, we have a total of seven long-term trainees from these disciplines in addition to having provided adolescent-specific education to more than 200 graduate students and residents.

The Section also works to support adolescent-centric advocacy in order to improve the health and well-being of Indiana youth. This past year, in collaboration with the Indiana Coalition to Improve Adolescent Health, we published a handbook providing important health information and resources to Indiana youth entitled, The Little Book About a Whole Lot of Stuff. Moreover, we developed and have operationalized a web-based information site that allows youth to text questions about a variety of issues and receive answers to these questions ( www.JustAsk-In.org).

In conclusion, the Section of Adolescent Medicine continues to enjoy being one of the most productive Adolescent Medicine programs in the country with regard to clinical care, research and advocacy. We were able to initiate and accomplish many activities affecting adolescents and their health this past year, and with continued and expanded support, will accomplish more. We are looking forward to this upcoming academic year, with more ideas, increased energy to submit new proposals, and we will continue to enjoy the benefits of our synergism with our current and new partners.

J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS