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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Ellen Irma Tamagna, M.D.

Picture of Ellen Irma Tamagna
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Ellen Irma Tamagna, M.D.

“Treating diabetes involves so much education–not just of the patient but for the doctors treating the patient. A good physician can really help improve the physical condition of a patient and give that patient a sense of control over the illness.”


Brad Sherman



Ellen Tamagna always wanted a career helping people, and with a family history of women physicians–her mother and an aunt both in practice long before women were common in the field–becoming a doctor was a natural ambition.

"My mother trained as a cardiologist," Tamagna recalled. "She fled the holocaust in Austria, my aunt fled from Poland. They both loved medicine, and I guess you could say they were my role models." Her mother practiced medicine out of an office in the basement of the family home, working evenings and weekends while raising her family.

Tamagna began medical school hoping to become a psychiatrist, but one night during a shift on the intensive care unit, a person with a rare, severe form of hyperthyroidism arrived at the hospital. The doctors on duty struggled to diagnose the potentially life-threatening condition and Tamagna was fascinated. Shortly after, with the help of a physician-mentor, she began to concentrate on endocrinology as her specialty and life's work.

As Director of Continuing Medical Education at Providence Holy Cross Hospital (PHCH) in Mission Hills and in private practice as an endocrinologist, Tamagna has been a leader treating and educating patients suffering from diabetes and hyperthyroidism.

"Endocrinology is challenging," Tamagna affirms. "You have very different patients with a variety of health problems. Making the right diagnosis can be challenging, and then managing the complications can be tough. Diabetes, in particular, is costly to treat, and some patients don't stick to their treatments."

Nominated as a Local Legend by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA-27), Tamagna's medical education programs are widely praised by the California Medical Institute of Medical Quality as innovative and thought-provoking. She also produces instructional programs on endocrinology, diabetes and gestational diabetes for the PHCH medical and nursing staffs.

Professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, she has written and co-authored papers on hyperthyroidism, hyperviscosity syndrome and other medical conditions. She received the PHCH's "Golden Apple" award in 1988 for Participation in Continuing Medical Education, as well as the 2001 Award for Leadership in Continuing Medical Education.

Tamagna began her career with a residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Hospital, University of Pittsburgh, followed by a Fellowship in endocrinology at Wadsworth Veterans Hospital, in Los Angeles.

"I love to lecture and teach endocrinology to doctors and medical groups," she says. "It's a way of helping a physician become a better doctor and it improves the outcome for the patients; they feel better, understand their treatment and take control of their lives.

"I'd like to be remembered as a good doctor who cared deeply for her patients, and as a teacher who helped others understand medicine and some of the problems and solutions to complex problems," admits Tamagna.



Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles


Endocrinologist with Facey Medical Group, Mission Hills


Director of Continuing Medical Education, Providence Holy Cross Hospital, Mission Hills; also, Member of Medical Executive Committee, Providence Holy Cross Hospital


Receives Award for Leadership, Continuing Medical Education, Providence Holy Cross Hospital




George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C.


Internal Medicine

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