Pediatrics professor, research pioneer Leona Cuttler passes away

Leona Cuttler CWRU
Leona Cuttler in 2009, after being profiled in Cleveland Magazine as one of its top doctors. Photo by Chris Walters.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine professor Leona Cuttler died Tuesday after a long battle with brain cancer. A professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, she was renowned for her excellence in research, policy and care for children.

“Dr. Cuttler’s unwavering energy and dedication, pursuit of excellence, wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, and especially her brilliance and creative vision contribute to her legacy as a clinician, researcher and mentor,” said Pediatrics Department Chair Michael W. Konstan. “[Her example] will continue to inspire our efforts to improve the health and well-being of all children.”

The inaugural recipient of the medical school’s William T. Dahms Chair in Pediatric Endocrinology/Diabetes Excellence, Cuttler also was the founding director of the Center for Child Health and Policy and vice chair for Child Health Policy and Community Health, both at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Cuttler published research on issues ranging from clinical trials of treatments for diabetes to the use of growth hormone for children of especially short stature. She also examined policy questions and economic impacts of initiatives relating to pediatric care.

In 2010, Cuttler joined faculty leaders at the medical school and France Payne Bolton School of Nursing in securing a $12.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to reduce obesity among Cleveland youth. The seven-year project aims to enhance well-being through a combination of interventions involving exercise, family engagement and educational efforts. As part of the project, the university partnered with UH Rainbow, the YMCA and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. This fall the research team published a piece regarding the project’s innovative design and methods in Contemporary Clinical Trials.

“[Leona] was fiercely committed to improving the health and lives of Cleveland’s children, particularly those most affected by the inequities in our society,” said Elaine Borawski, the Angela Bowen Williamson Professor of Community Nutrition and one of her collaborators on the NIH project in Cleveland. “We must all do what we can to carry her torch forward. We owe it to Leona and to the children she worked so tirelessly to serve.”

Services for Cuttler will take place at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at the Berkowitz-Kumin-Bookatz Memorial Chapel (1985 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights). She is survived by her husband, Benjamin Reichstein, and her children: daughter, Sara, and sons, Ari and Michael.