Laureate Award recipients

The Endocrine Society’s

Th e Endocrine Society Laureate Awards are presented to endocrinologists —members or nonmembers—from anywhere in the world for their exceptional contributions to endocrinology, whether they’re in practice, research, or education. Each recipient, selected annually by the Awards Committee, is presented with an award certificate and is honored at the Society’s annual Awards Dinner in June.

Michael O. Thorner, MBBS, DSc, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, received the 2013 Fred Conrad Koch Award. He is a basic and clinical research scientist with landmark contributions to the treatment of pituitary tumors, the discovery of GHRH and its receptor, and the actions and potential uses of GHRH and ghrelin mimetics in the treatment of sarcopenia of aging. Th is is the highest honor of the Society and is presented with the Koch Medal of The Endocrine Society.

Doris A. Stoffers, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is the recipient of Th e Endocrine Society’s 2013 Ernst Oppenheimer Award. Stoffers has made a series of seminal observations that have informed our understanding of pancreas development and are improving our understanding of diabetes and its treatment. The Ernst Oppenheimer Memorial Award was first presented by Th e Endocrine Society in 1944 and is the premier award to a young investigator in recognition of meritorious accomplishments in the field of basic or clinical endocrinology.

The 2013 Robert H. Williams Distinguished Leadership Award was presented to John Watson Funder, MD, PhD, of Prince Henry’s Institute in Melbourne, Australia. For over 40 years Funder has made outstanding contributions to endocrinology, from the laboratory to the clinic, from evolution to public policy. This award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding leadership in endocrinology as exemplified by the recipient’s contributions and those of his/her trainees and associates to teaching, research, and administration. Distinguished leadership in endocrinology and metabolism may be manifest in a variety of ways and activities (international, national, and local).

Gary D. Hammer, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, received the 2013 Edwin B. Astwood Award Lecture of The Endocrine Society. Hammer has become a leader in adrenal developmental biology and a major force in endocrinology. The Edwin B. Astwood Award Lecture is awarded for outstanding research in endocrinology, and the recipient presents a plenary lecture at the annual meeting to honor the late Dr. Edwin B. Astwood of Boston.

The Endocrine Society presented this year’s Clinical Investigator Award Lecture to Steven E. Kahn, MB, ChB, professor of medicine at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington. His broad and impactful contributions to our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of type 2 diabetes make Kahn a worthy recipient of the Society’s highest honor, presented to an internationally recognized clinical investigator who has made major contributions to clinical research related to the pathogenesis, pathophysiology, and therapy of endocrine disease.

Mitchell A. Lazar, MD, PhD,received the 2013 Gerald D. Aurbach Award. Lazar, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has made seminal discoveries in the area of the nuclear hormone receptors and their coregulators, particularly corepressors. His pioneering studies at the intersection of transcriptional regulatory mechanisms with physiology and metabolism have had a major impact on our understanding of metabolic disease. This award is presented for outstanding contributions to research in endocrinology.

Th e 2013 Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Service Award was given to Irving Spitz, MD, DSc, FRCP. Spitz is a professor of medicine at both Ben Gurion University in Israel and Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He advocated for the use of the progesterone receptor antagonist RU486, now widely used in the safe termination of pregnancy in many countries throughout the world. Th e Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of the 65th president of Th e Endocrine Society and presented in recognition of distinguished service in the field of endocrinology.

Donald P. McDonnell, PhD, received Th e Endocrine Society’s 2013 Roy O. Greep Lecture Award for his exceptional contributions to endocrinology. As a professor of medicine at Duke University, his mechanistic insights and the translation of these into the development of important therapeutics have had a major impact. Th e recipient of this award presents a plenary lecture at the annual meeting.

The Endocrine Society recognized Mark Molitch, MD, with the Distinguished Educator Award. Molitch is a professor of medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he has dedicated and committed his life to the education of his peers, clinical providers, and patients. Th is award was established by the Society in 1998 to recognize exceptional achievement of educators in the field of endocrinology and metabolism.

Michael Thomas McDermott, MD, received the Distinguished Physician Award. McDermott is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and is widely known for the breadth of his mastery in the broad field of endocrinology and diabetes. His 18-year effort exemplifies both a deep and broad academic career; one that surely deserves the accolade, established by the Society in 1998 to honor physicians who have made outs

Tony K. T. Lam, PhD, was awarded the Richard E. Weitzman Award, given to an exceptionally promising young investigator. Lam, an associate professor of physiology and medicine at the Toronto General Research Institute and University of Toronto, has greatly advanced our understanding of how the gut communicates with the brain to regulate metabolism. Lam has identified novel therapeutic targets in the gut and the brain to lower blood glucose, lipid levels, and body weight in experimental models of diabetes and obesity.

Berenice Mendonca, MD, is the recipient of Th e Endocrine Society’s International Excellence Award, a new laureate award that recognizes exceptional contributions to endocrinology either internationally or in the recipient’s home country. Mendonca is a professor of medicine at the University of Sao Paolo and quintessential leader-role model, whose lifetime work bridges basic science, clinical investigation and practice, endocrine education, and administration. This distinction acknowledges the important impact of the legacy of her contributions and of the bridges built among many countries and continents.

Steven Nagelberg, MD, in practice with Endocrine Metabolic Associates in Philadelphia, received the inaugural Outstanding Clinical Practitioner Award, which recognizes clinical practitioner members of The Endocrine Society who have made extraordinary contributions in medicine and to the public. For almost three decades, Nagelberg has been an outstanding contributor to the field of endocrinology as a clinician, educator, and leader both in Philadelphia and nationally. He exemplifies the best qualities of the physician-in-practice membership of Th e Endocrine Society.

The International Tools for obtaining a U.S. position

“I think you should leave the country.” I’ve always looked back, fondly, on this piece of advice from two of my influential mentors at Barts & the London. I like to think that Professors Monson and Burrin were encouraging me to broaden my horizons, and expand my resume by experiencing academic research in another country. At least, I’m sure that’s what they meant…

Spending some of your formative years as an academic researcher in another country has long since been an established part of the scientist’s career path. I use the term “career path” very loosely, as there isn’t really much of a path for scientist’s careers in the U.K.; more like a mud track. So, taking the step to go and work abroad is one that many young trainee scientists at least consider early on. And coming to work in the U.S., for so many reasons, is a common choice for many non-U.S. scientists.

Why and When Should You Go

Training and working overseas presents many interesting challenges as well as benefits, so your decision to move abroad shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the U.K., spending time in a U.S. lab (often referred to as getting your “Beento America (BTA) degree”), has traditionally been seen as a way to enhance your career prospects, by exposing you to a more dynamic research environment (certainly one that has always promised a better funded environment) and the chance to work with prestigious principal investigators whose names you’ll be associated with for several years after you finish working with them. Having said that, some trainees are already well-placed within their current institutes, and perhaps have a career track laid open to them, without the need to move overseas. Whatever your motivation, making the commitment to relocate in order to train abroad can often be seen as an indication of your commitment to science, something that future employers also take notice of when making appointments at the faculty level.

The issue of timing can be critical; when is the best stage of your training to go? There is no right or wrong answer to this, as it depends entirely on what sort of individual you are and what the position is that you’re going to. If you choose to undertake your first post-doctoral position abroad, recently graduated with your PhD, then you need to make sure the lab that you are moving to is going to provide you with the required environment for you to thrive. Personally, I moved to University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) for 16 months, having already completed four years post-doctoral training in the U.K. Consequently, I was relatively experienced and self-sufficient, and found the challenges of deciding what I wanted to work on (rather than being told what to do) invigorating and refreshing, rather than intimidating. On the other hand, a newly qualified post-doc might prefer to apply for a position that is supportive to their stage of career.

How to Get There

If you’ve made the decision to move to the U.S., great; but the work starts here. Finding a position can take some time, although the opportunities are often much greater in the U.S. than in other countries. There are several ways in which you can find your dream post-doc job. Many labs still advertise up-and-coming vacancies on either their lab Web pages, or through sites such as the EndoCareers® Placement Services. However, many other labs don’t advertise positions—instead, they are frequently approached by trainees, independently enquiring about potential opportunities. This second approach can work well. For example, I spent a little time considering which labs I wanted to work in, then I prepared an “application pack” that consisted of a cover letter, which was specific to the group that I was applying to, my up-to-date resume (CV), and three letters of support from my mentors; from six applications I received eight job offers, which is by no means any indication of how wonderful (or not) my application was, but more that good post-docs are always in demand. Of these eight offers, I chose to meet and interview with three labs, before finally making my decision to join the Ingraham Lab at UCSF. Th e whole process, for me, took just under six months, from application to receiving a contract.

Being able to visit the group that you want to work with is extremely useful, and something you might consider arranging as part of a trip to the annual ENDO conference (to save the expense of additional airfares). But if you can’t visit the lab of your choice, then you should at least e-mail some of the people that work there currently, or recent lab alumni; these people will give you an idea of what life is like in that lab, and often they can be refreshingly honest!

Funding Your Experience

Many people receive their initial funding in the U.S. from the principal investigator of the group that they go to work for. However, there are opportunities to obtain travel fellowships from certain organizations (e.g.) The Royal Society, HFSP, EMBO), and there are few things more impressive than turning up at your new lab with your own salary! If you are not able to bring your own funding, then discuss the option of applying for additional funding once you get to the U.S., as several funding schemes are open to non-U.S. citizens (e.g. AHA, NARSAD, Lalor Foundation). You might not be successful, but it’s a good training experience to write a grant (and it impresses your boss, if you can be bothered to try and obtain your own funding!).

The Outcome

So, what do you hope to get out of your time in the U.S.? For many of us who have been on this journey, the experience has served as a steppingstone to a faculty position back in our home countries. For others, the lure of staying in the U.S. has proved too strong, and they have made a more permanent transition to working in the U.S. for the long term. Whatever happens, time spent in a good U.S. research group is rarely time wasted, with the contacts and networks that you make proving invaluable in future years as you strive to make a career for yourself as an independent researcher. Was it worth it? For me, I’d do it all again tomorrow, if I could!

— Dr. Rob Fowkes, Senior Lecturer, Royal Veterinary College Member, Trainee & Career Development Core Committee


The Endocrine Society this month is sad to announce the passing of three of its members.

William H. Daughaday, MD, died after a protracted illness on May 3, 2013 in Milwaukee. He was 95. As the former director of the metabolism division at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Daughaday was a prominent and preeminent diabetes researcher. He also contributed trailblazing work in the study of growth hormones. Daughaday served as president of The Endocrine Society from 1971–1972, and for all his extraordinary work, he received the 1975 Fred Conrad Koch Award, the Society’s highest honor.

Ernest Louis Mazzaferri, Sr., MD, MACP, a highly decorated endocrinologist and leader in his field, passed away on May 14, 2013. Mazzaferri provided excellent care for his patients, and his contributions to medicine have inspired generations of physicians and faculty to rise to his level of excellence.

Usman Ahmad, MD, FACP, an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist in McKeesport, Pa., died suddenly on Monday, May 27, 2013. He was 67. Ahmad cofounded the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center McKeesport’s Lions Diabetes Center and was chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine. Ahmad himself suffered from diabetes and did not hesitate to tell his patients about his own experiences with the disease.


Zhenqi Liu, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Virginia, was named president of the Chinese-American Diabetes Association, which fosters scientific exchange and collaboration among association members as well as developing strong ties with the burgeoning research enterprise in diabetes and obesity within China. Liu currently serves on the JCEM editorial board, the Trainee and Career Development Core Committee, and co-chairs the International Endocrine Scholars Program of The Endocrine Society.

William Chin, MD, became executive vice president of Science and Regulatory Affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Chin—an internist and endocrinologist—manages the organization’s regulatory affairs portfolio, including implementation of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), clinical trials, and drug discovery and research collaboration, among other key issues. He had served as executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School since 2010, where he fostered interdisciplinary and interdepartmental research, and initiated a new program in therapeutics, including regulatory sciences.

Lovell A. Jones, PhD, will retire at the end of August from his position as the director of the Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity and Evaluation Research (DHCHEER) at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Jones is a leading researcher, working especially to address the inequities in medicine that minorities face, and was the University of Texas M.D. Anderson’s first tenured African American faculty member and the first and only African American full professor in the basic/behavior sciences. He says he will be looking at other opportunities to use his knowledge and skills.

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