Meet the 2017 Endocrine Society Laureate Award Winners

The Endocrine Society today announced it has selected 14 leaders in the endocrinology field as winners of the organization’s prestigious 2017 Laureate Awards.

These professionals are responsible for research breakthroughs that lead to the cures of tomorrow and for providing the gold standard of care for patients with hundreds of conditions and diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, obesity, hormone-related cancers, growth problems, reproduction, infertility and rare diseases, among others.

The Endocrine Society’s 2017 Laureate Award winners are:

  • Walter L. Miller, MD – Fred Conrad Koch Lifetime Achievement Award. The Society’s highest honor, this annual award recognizes lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the field of endocrinology. The award includes a $25,000 honorarium. As Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Miller has been the undisputed authority in understanding how the body produces steroids at the molecular level for a quarter of a century. His laboratory cloned human genes for factors that make steroids, and determined the genetic basis for a number of conditions involving hormone deficiencies. His honors include the Edwin B. Astwood and Clinical Investigator Awards from the Endocrine Society, the Clinical Endocrinology Trust Medal from the British Endocrine Societies, the Judson J. Van Wyk Award from the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the UCSF Distinguished Clinical Research Lectureship, Distinguished Alumnus from Duke Medical School, and the Henning Andersen and International Awards from the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology.
  • Eva L. Feldman, MD, PhD – Gerald D. Aurbach Award for Outstanding Translational Research. This annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to research that accelerate the transition of scientific discoveries into clinical applications. Feldman directs the Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. She is a clinician-scientist whose basic and clinical research has led to new disease therapies, changed clinical guidelines, and made her an opinion leader in neurology. She conducted pioneering studies on the causes of nerve damage in metabolic diseases and later used cell-based and novel mouse models as well as human transcriptomics to discover pathways that are disrupted in diabetic neuropathy. She developed a clinical tool for diagnosing diabetic neuropathy that is used worldwide and in multiple clinical trials. An author of more than 350 publications, she is a past President of the American Neurological Association, has received numerous awards, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
  • Joel S. Finkelstein, MD, MS – Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award. This annual award honors an internationally recognized clinical investigator who has contributed significantly to our understanding of the pathogenesis and therapy of endocrine and metabolic diseases. Finkelstein is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Director of the hospital’s Bone Density Center in Boston, MA. He has been one of the foremost researchers in male reproductive physiology and bone metabolism during the past 25 years. His research has improved understanding of the complex relationship between gonadal steroids and bone health and has led to new approaches to therapy. Finkelstein’s latest research found that estrogen deficiency plays a major factor in the loss of libido and erectile function, the increase in body fat, and the loss of BMD in hypogonadal men. These findings also have major implications for determining when hormone replacement may be appropriate in men.
  • Laurence Katznelson, MD – Outstanding Educator Award. This annual award recognizes exceptional achievement as an educator in the discipline of endocrinology and metabolism. A Professor of Neurosurgery and Medicine and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at Stanford University in Stanford, CA, Katznelson is an internationally renowned clinical investigator who is one of the elite endocrine educators in the United States. He has served as the Director of the Stanford Adult Endocrine Training Program and has won the Endocrine Division Teaching Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the School of Medicine. As the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, he supervises the educational experience for all of the residents and clinical fellows at Stanford. Katznelson has extended his educational outreach to hundreds of endocrine fellow worldwide through his role as the director of the Endocrine Society’s Early Investigators Workshop for Trainees Program.
  •  Janet E. Hall, MD, MSc – Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes distinguished service to the Endocrine Soceity and in the field of endocrinology. Hall is the Clinical Director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and heads the Reproductive Physiology and Pathophysiology Group. Since 1990, Hall has served continuously on the Endocrine Society’s journal boards and committees, as well as in leadership positions. She has been a strong advocate of clinical and translational research in the field, including stellar contributions as the Society’s first Vice President for Clinical Sciences and on the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology’s board. Through her service as the Endocrine Society’s President, and on its Annual Meeting Steering, Nominating, Laureate Awards and Strategic Planning Committees, Hall has highlighted the essential contributions that basic and clinical researchers and physicians-in-practice make to the field by working together and has championed the Endocrine Society’s commitment to health disparities in endocrinology.
  • Klaus H. Kaestner, PhD – Roy O. Greep Award for Outstanding Research. This annual award recognizes meritorious contributions to research in endocrinology. Kaestner is the Suor Butterworth Professor of Genetics and Associate Director of the Diabetes Research Center and the Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. He combined innovative mouse genetics with state-of-the-art functional genomics to understand the molecular and epigenetic basis of the development and function of the endocrine pancreas and liver. Kaestner discovered how liver development is initiated, and made major contributions to our understanding of liver metabolic function and sexual dimorphism in liver cancer. He also pioneered the exploration of the epigenetic and chromatin landscape of the endocrine pancreas. Kaestner’s groundbreaking discoveries of human islet cell plasticity and alterations of the beta cell epigenome have expanded our understanding of beta cell pathophysiology and opened the door to novel treatments for diabetes.
  • Matthias Tschöp, MD – Outstanding Innovation Award. Established in 2013, this award recognizes endocrinologists who have demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship to further endocrine research or practice in support of the field of endocrinology, patients, and society at large. Tschöp is the Director of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center and chairs the Division of Metabolic Medicine at Technische Universität in München, Germany. He discovered major components of endocrine gut-brain communication, based on which he developed several new clinical drug candidates for diabetes and obesity together with the chemist Richard DiMarchi. Described in more than 300 publications, Tschöp’s pioneering work has enabled basic research discoveries to transition to clinical testing. Tschöp discovered that the gastric peptide ghrelin acts as a hormone that regulates—but is also controlled by—food intake, body weight, glucose, energy and lipid metabolism. He went on to identify neuroendocrine circuits through which ghrelin and other gut hormones govern systemic metabolism, food intake and body weight in health and disease. This allowed him to co-discover several novel classes of unimolecular poly-agonists that reduce body weight, correct liver steatosis and improve glucose tolerance with unprecedented efficacy. With his work, Tschöp has pioneered multiple new technological as well as conceptual approaches leading to metabolic precision medicines poised to have major impact in the treatment of metabolic disorders.
  • Chandrika Wijeyaratne, DM – International Excellence in Endocrinology Award. This award is presented to an endocrinologist who has made exceptional contributions to the field in geographic areas with underdeveloped resources for hormone health research, education, clinical practice or administration. Wijeyaratne is Professor of Reproductive Medicine at the University of Colombo and Honorary Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at the De Soysa Hospital for Women in Sri Lanka. She is recognized nationally and internationally for her research on polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance in the people of south Asia, and medical disorders of pregnancy. Her pioneering studies revealed the high prevalence of metabolic abnormalities and gestational diabetes among South Asian women. She spearheaded an ambitious program for the identification, control and prevention of diabetes throughout Sri Lanka with funding from the World Diabetes Foundation. She continues to provide direct clinical care to patients with complex endocrine disorders and to pregnant women with life-threatening endocrine complications.
  • Teresa K. Woodruff, PhD – Outstanding Leadership in Endocrinology Award. This annual award recognizes outstanding leadership in fundamental or clinical endocrinology. Woodruff is the Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL, as well as immediate past Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center Basic Science program and Director of the Northwestern University Center for Reproductive Science. An internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology, Woodruff coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging between the oncology and fertility fields. She is the Founder and Director of the Oncofertility Consortium and of the Women’s Health Research Institute. She created the Women’s Health Summer Academy program, including the Oncofertility Saturday Academy. She received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2011 from President Obama for her work with the Women’s Health Science Program. Under her leadership as Endocrine Society President, the organization hired a new CEO, expanded its advocacy agenda and initiated changes to ensure its awards recognized members’ diverse accomplishments.
  • Margaret E. Wierman, MD – Outstanding Mentor Award. This annual award recognizes a career commitment to mentoring and a significant positive impact on mentees’ education and career. Wierman is a Professor of Medicine (Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Diabetes), Physiology and Biophysics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, CO. Throughout her career as a physician scientist, Wierman has mentored postdoctoral fellows, graduate and medical students, residents and fellows with an infectious enthusiasm. She ensures each has a strong scientific foundation to allow them to become “detectives” in understanding a complex patient or making an important experimental advance in the laboratory. Her insatiable thirst for new knowledge that can be applied to the laboratory bench and ultimately the bedside encourages trainees. She helps each mentee to develop the skill sets and expertise to accomplish their goals. Wierman has served as the Society’s Vice President, Clinical Science, and as President of Women in Endocrinology.
  • Larry D. Bowers, PhD – Outstanding Public Service Award. This award recognizes the individuals who best demonstrate dedication to public awareness or public service in support of the field of endocrinology and the patients who suffer from endocrine disorders. As Chief Science Officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency in Colorado Springs, CO, Bowers has made numerous outstanding contributions concerning the identification of performance-enhancing drugs, including hormones. Prior to joining USADA in 2000, he directed an International Olympic Committee-accredited drug testing laboratory for eight years where his clinical chemistry and endocrine expertise resulted in some of the current state-of-the-art analysis procedures, methodology and standards for the detection of banned substances used internationally. He lead the project to characterize the “designer steroid” tetrahydrogestrinone (THG) during the BALCO scandal, which resulted in the suspension of athletes such as Dwain Chambers, Tim Montgomery, and Marion Jones. Bowers’ achievements and dedication have played an instrumental role in leveling the playing field and protecting the rights and health of clean athletes globally for more than three decades.
  • Daniel Einhorn, MD, FACE, FACP – Outstanding Clinical Practitioner Award. This annual award recognizes extraordinary contributions by a practicing endocrinologist to the endocrine and/or medical community. Einhorn provides specialist care and clinical research for adults with endocrine disorders from his practice in La Jolla, CA while serving as the Medical Director of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and teaching at the University of California San Diego Medical School in San Diego, CA, where he is a Clinical Professor of Medicine. He is an important national thought leader in endocrinology, chairing consensus conferences, writing clinical guidelines, lecturing nationally and internationally, and serving on numerous clinical and research advisory boards for large pharma and device companies and also for several start-ups. He served as President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology and has been a frequent faculty member for the Endocrine Society annual meetings. He is beloved for his tireless efforts to contribute to better health and new knowledge.
  •  Rebecca S. Bahn, MD, FRCPI – Outstanding Scholarly Physician Award. This annual award recognizes outstanding contributions to the practice of clinical endocrinology in academic settings. Bahn is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and an Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition consultant in the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Internal Medicine in Rochester, MN. For more than two decades, Bahn has directed an NIH-funded laboratory at the Mayo Clinic dedicated to understanding the cause and improving the care for people with Graves’ orbitopathy, an eye complication associated with a type of hyperthyroidism. She led the first prospective clinical trials for a novel therapy for Graves’ orbitopathy in the United States and has become a magnet for national and international referrals of patients with the condition. A past president of the American Thyroid Association, Bahn has been honored with its Distinguished Service Award and was named “Women of the Year” by the ATA Women in Thyroidology group.
  • Nima Sharifi, MD – Richard E. Weitzman Outstanding Early Career Investigator Award. This annual award recognizes an exceptionally promising young clinical or basic investigator. As the Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, Sharifi has become a leader in castration-resistant prostate cancer research, using innovative strategies to rewrite the pathways of androgen synthesis and the endocrinology of prostate cancer. His laboratory identified critical enzymes and pathways for the conversion of adrenal-derived precursors to potent androgens in prostate cancer cells and a major genetic determinant of this capacity. Peers praised his bold approach to challenge dogma, his talent for designing the difficult but critically important experiments to directly address questions, his fearlessness when incorporating foreign techniques in unfamiliar areas to solve these problems, and his insistence on translating his work between bedside and bench.

Established in 1944, the Society’s Laureate Awards recognize the highest achievements in the endocrinology field, including groundbreaking research and innovations in clinical care. The Endocrine Society will present the awards to the winners at ENDO 2017, the Society’s 99th Annual Meeting & Expo in Orlando, Fla., from April 1-4, 2017.

An in-depth feature story highlighting all of the 2017 Laureate Award recipients will be published in the January 2017 issue of Endocrine News.

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