Ximena Lopez, M.D. Medical Director, GENECIS Program at Children's Health Assistant Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center
UTSW Physician Practicing at Children's Health
Growing up in Spain and Mexico, Dr. Ximena Lopez spent a great deal of her time hospitalized for severe asthma. That experience informs her daily work as a physician.
“I was impressed by the physicians who took care of me, and I have wanted to be one ever since,” she says.
Dr. Lopez focused her studies on the endocrine system, the collection of glands and organs that produce and regulate hormones in the bloodstream to control many functions of the body, including metabolism, growth and sexual development.
“Most endocrine conditions can be successfully treated, and that is extremely gratifying,” she says.
She joined Children’s Health℠ in 2010 and quickly established herself as an advocate for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria – a condition in which a person does not identify with the gender he or she was assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria is frequently associated with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
“There is a strong need for research in this field to improve the outcomes of our patients,” explains Dr. Lopez. “For example, it is still unclear which very young patients with gender dysphoria will persist as transgender individuals through adulthood. There is no objective diagnostic test available that can predict this.”
After almost three years of work, Dr. Lopez founded the GENder Education and Care, Interdisciplinary Support (GENECIS) program at Children’s Health℠ in 2015. It is the first such program in the Southwest that provides comprehensive mental and endocrine care for youth with gender dysphoria.
“Our program has grown from five patients to almost 60 referrals currently. In addition, we have integrated a multidisciplinary team that keeps growing,” she says.
In addition, Dr. Lopez is the principal investigator for a study evaluating the changes in psychological outcomes in adolescents with gender dysphoria followed in the program, most of whom are on endocrine therapy. In the near future, she hopes to expand her research and investigate the neurobiology of children with gender dysphoria with functional MRIs, as well as the effects of GnHR receptor agonists and cross-sex hormones on glucose and lipid metabolism in adolescents.
Management of children with gender dysphoria is complex and requires a collaborative focus, as well as an intricate attention to detail. Dr. Lopez finds her work captivating.
“I am constantly inspired by my patients and their families,” she explains. “It is extremely gratifying to see a child who is depressed blossom and become a happy individual with the adequate support and treatment.”
Dr. Lopez earned her medical degree from Universidad La Salle in Mexico. She completed her pediatric residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005; her pediatric endocrinology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; and her clinical research fellowship at Joslin Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in 2008. She is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and its sub-board on pediatric endocrinology, and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Endocrine Society and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.
Her previous and current research also focuses on type 2 diabetes and obesity, including:
- Interventional physiology on insulin secretion in adults
- The role of ceramides in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes in children
- Multicenter trials on new type 2 diabetes drugs
She is also an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Pediatric Endocrinology Division of
UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Outside of her practice, Dr. Lopez enjoys family activities outdoors with her son and husband. She practices taekwondo and flamenco dancing, and looks forward to opportunities to travel and explore new places.
Education and Training
Medical SchoolUniversidad La Salle (2000)
ResidencyUniversity of Illinois at Chicago College of Med (2005), Pediatrics
FellowshipMassachusetts General Hospital (2008), PEMET
Research & Publications
- Gender dysphoria in children and adolescents.
- Metabolic effects of endocrine therapy in adolescents with gender dysphoria.
- Obesity in childhood.
- Type 2 diabetes in pediatrics
- Impact of GLP-1 and GLP-1 Receptor Agonists on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 diabetes, Verge D, Lopez X Curr Diabetes Rev April 2010
- Insulin Enhances Glucose-Stimulated Insulin Secretion in Healthy Humans, Bouche C*, Lopez X*, Fleischman A, Cypess AM, O?Shea S, Stefanoviski D, Bergman RN, Rogatsky E, Stein DT, Kulkarni RN, Kahn CR, Goldfine AB Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A March 2010 107(10) 4770-5
- Family History of Diabetes Impacts on Interactions between Minimal Model Estimates of Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Effectiveness, Lopez X, Bouche C, Tatro E, Goldfine AB Diabetes Obes Metab February 2009 11(2) 123-30
- Human Insulin Analog Induced Lipoatrophy, Lopez, X, Castells M, Velazquez EF, Ricker A, Lin D, Mun E, Goldfine AB Diabetes Care March 2008 31(3) 442-4
- Hypoglycemia in Children (chapter), American Academy of Pediatrics Nutrition Handbook 6th ed Lopez X, Levitsky LL 2007
Professional Associations and Affiliations
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) (2014)
- Pediatric Endocrine Society (2006)
- American Academy of Pediatrics (2002)
Awards & Honors
- Graduation with honors from medical school (2000)