Remembering Agnes Schonbrunn


The Endocrine Society is remembering Agnes “Agi” Schonbrunn, PhD, vice chair, Department of Integrative Biology & Pharmacology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who passed away in June.

Schonbrunn was an enthusiastic member of the Endocrine Society and was a member of the Annual Meeting Steering Committee at the time of her death. In the past, she was a member of and chaired the Laureate Awards, SATF, and Committee on Governance Affairs and had served as an associate editor of the Society’s journal, Molecular Endocrinology. She is also a recipient of the Gerald D. Aurbach Award for Outstanding Translational Research.

Her research was concentrated in the arena of somastatin and somastatin receptors. In fact, she was the first to identify somatostatin receptors functionally and biochemically and has worked on somatostatin receptor structure, signaling, regulation, and pharmacology for over 30 years and has published over 110 widely cited scientific papers. Aside from the Aurbach Award, she received the Nicholas T. Zervas Lectureship in Pituitary and Neuroendocrine Disorders from Harvard University.

“She will be long remembered for her passion for science, her commitment to teaching, and her service.”

In a 2015 editorial in Molecular Endocrinology entitled “Reproducibility in Research: A Cautionary Tale and Lessons Not Learned,” Schonbrunn discussed the use of scientists using very specific research compounds which often could not be accurately reproduced because they were proprietary. She laments that the compounds used in many experiments that are simply identified with an alphanumeric code, useful only to the group supplying the material and provides absolutely no information to scientific community. Schonbrunn referred to these compounds as “magic powders” and pondered, “How is it that many scientists and journals consider such ignorance acceptable and unavoidable?”

Schonbrunn served as president of Women in Endocrinology was a member of the Board of Directors of the Pituitary Society. “She will be long remembered for her passion for science, her commitment to teaching, and her service,” says Carmen W. Dessauer, PhD, professor and director, TIPS Training Program, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “She was a wonderful supporter of women in science and will be greatly missed.”

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