Meet the 2021 Laureates: Phillip Gorden, MD


Fred Conrad Koch Lifetime Achievement Award

Phillip Gorden, MD 


For the past 50 years, Phil Gorden has improved the lives of people around the world though his scientific contributions leading to enhanced diagnosis, characterization, and treatment of diabetes and other endocrine conditions. As a physician‐scientist, he has always been systematically patient focused, which created the framework for his lifelong commitment to biomedical research and the translation of research to improved treatments of complex diseases.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Gorden advanced the development and refinement of insulin and growth hormone measurements; clarified the role of the proinsulin molecule; contributed to work leading to the discovery of the insulin receptor; and characterized disorders caused by genetic mutations of, and autoantibodies against, the insulin receptor. His work in patients with severe insulin resistance led to breakthrough immunotherapy in patients with insulin‐receptor autoantibodies and to leptin replacement in patients with lipodystrophy.

This culminated with the approval by the FDA of leptin replacement in generalized lipodystrophy, an achievement rarely attained by independent academic researchers. His work in patients with insulinoma has enhanced our ability to identify and successfully localize and treat this rare neuroendocrine tumor.

In his role as National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases director from 1986 to 1999, he provided support for and leadership of numerous initiatives that culminated with large paradigm shifting clinical trials which continue to shape current practice, including the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications trial, LookAhead, and Diabetes Prevention Program, as well the launching of the National Diabetes Education Program.

Anyone who knows Phil recognizes him as a true gentleman who has a friendly southern style thanks to his start in Baldwyn, Mississippi. He has taught us that “Medicine without science is useless, yet science has got to be driven by humanity or it won’t be translatable.” Clearly, Phil Gorden continues to model this wisdom as he teaches the next generation of endocrinologists.

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