Molecular Endocrinology names new editor in chief


Steven R. Hammes, MD, PhD, has been recently named as the new editor in chief of Molecular Endocrinology, published by Th e Endocrine Society. Hammes is the Louis S. Wolk Distinguished Professor of Medicine and chief of the division of endocrinology and metabolism, department of medicine, at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y.

Molecular Endocrinology publishes research devoted to describing molecular mechanisms by which hormones and related compounds regulate function. It has a reputation as a high-visibility journal with very rapid communication of cutting-edge science in the signaling, metabolism, neuroscience, and tumor biology fields.

“I am thrilled that I was chosen to be the next editor in chief of Molecular Endocrinology,” Hammes says. “Not only have I served on the editorial board for many years, but I also publish regularly in Molecular Endocrinology and consider it one of the premier journals for basic endocrinologic research. To have the opportunity to give back to the journal and the Society that has done so much for me and my career is truly an honor.”

Hammes feels that Molecular Endocrinology is a high-impact journal where basic researchers interested in mechanisms of endocrine function and disease can both publish their own work and read about exciting advances from other laboratories. “What separates Molecular Endocrinology from some other journals is the rapid and thorough reviews from a very responsive group of editors, meaning that submitted manuscripts are reviewed and published quickly and fairly,” he explains. “Also, unlike other journals that focus on basic physiology, Molecular Endocrinology is published and supported by Th e Endocrine Society, meaning that the journal has more of a clinical endocrine focus – something both endocrine researchers and clinicians can appreciate.”

Living up to the high standards set by previous editors in chief is one of Hammes’ main goals, as he credits his predecessors with doing a tremendous job in making Molecular Endocrinology a premier journal. “As we move forward, I am fortunate in that I have eight new associate editors who are a truly remarkable and diverse bunch,” he says, adding that they have both basic research expertise as well as clinical acumen. “I hope that, with their help, we can continue to publish manuscripts that demonstrate how basic science can be used to explain both normal human physiology as well as human disease.”

Although Hammes has no specific plans to make any immediate changes at this point, he is looking toward the future and that future will include providing content in a manner that takes full advantage of emerging technologies. “As we start our term, the associate editors and I will work closely with Th e Endocrine Society to see how we can best serve its membership and how we can position Molecular Endocrinology to reflect their needs into the next decade.”

Hammes’ term as editor in chief of Molecular Endocrinology will begin on January, 1, 2014. He previously served on the journal’s editorial board from 2006 to 2011.

Molecular Endocrinology can be accessed online at:


In order to help hypothyroid patients take control of their disease and to raise awareness about the condition, Abbott Laboratories spinoff, AbbVie, has enlisted the help of actress Sofia Vergara for its “Follow the Script” campaign.

Th e campaign aims to educate those suffering from hypothyroidism about the importance of being consistent with the treatments their doctor prescribes, thus providing a “script” to ensure they consistently receive their needed medications. AbbVie is the manufacturer of Synthroid, a prescription synthetic thyroid hormone that is used to treat hypothyroidism. “AbbVie is proud to work with Sofia Vergara and support this education campaign,” said Maria Rivas, MD, vice president of global medical affairs at AbbVie in a statement. “Th e hope and aim of this campaign is to increase awareness about hypothyroidism and empower patients to engage in dialogue and work with their healthcare providers throughout their treatment.”

Vergara, Emmy-nominated for her role as Gloria on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family, is the ideal advocate for such a campaign. Th e actress, 40, had thyroid cancer at age 28, which resulted in her thyroid being surgically removed. She has been hypothyroid ever since and dependent upon thyroid medication. In a statement, Vergara said that she is known in her career to adlib or go “off script,” but not when it comes to her health, adding that she makes sure to “Follow the Script” to get what her doctor prescribed. Th e campaign is accompanied by a website——where Vergara and others share their stories about coping with hypothyroidism. Also on the website are interactive polls, symptom and treatment information, and tips for patients on dealing with their doctors and pharmacists.

REMEMBERING Boris Catz: 1923-2013

Th e Endocrine Society and its members are remembering the life of Boris Catz, an endocrinologist and thyroid specialist who was a clinical professor emeritus at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

A pioneer in the field of clinical endocrinology for more than 60 years, Catz was renowned for his innovative treatments of myxedema coma and exophthalmos. He received much acclaim for his pioneering work with Samuel Perzik in developing the total thyroidectomy to treat hyperthyroidism, cancer, multinodular goiter, and chronic thyroiditis not responsive to medical management. In his work with Franz Bauer, Catz first recommended total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment for exophthalmos and Graves’ disease. In addition, he authored two editions of the book Thyroid Case Studies and contributed numerous articles on thyroidology to a litany of medical journals.

Former Society President Leonard Wartofsky, MD, MACP, chairman, department of medicine at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., had the distinct honor of serving as the Boris Catz Lecturer at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. “Boris was an early pioneer in clinical thyroid disease, having trained with Dr. Paul Starr,” he says. “He established and supported the Paul Starr Award and Lectureship of the ATA for many decades and was a strong supporter of Th e Endocrine Society as well, most recently of the Sawin Memorial Library,” where he supplied an in-depth oral history in 2010.

According to Wartofsky, Catz and his surgical colleague, Samuel Perzik, postulated that Graves’ ophthalmopathy would not remit until all thyroid tissue — as an antigenic source — was destroyed. “To this end, he advocated total thyroidectomy followed by radioiodine,” he says. “Subsequent studies lent some credence to this theory.”

From Russia to Mexico

Catz’s path to an acclaimed career as a thyroid pioneer was, in a word, byzantine. He was born in the Ukraine in 1923 in a little village that no longer exists, called Troyanov, which he once described as coming directly out of Fiddler on the Roof. In 1928 his family immigrated to Mexico, where he considered himself lucky to have been since the Great Depression quickly overtook the U.S. shortly thereafter.

After attending Jewish schools in Mexico, Catz enrolled at the National University of Mexico, then the National University of Mexico Medical School because, as he said in a 2010 oral history for the Society, “that was the only university that would take me.” After graduation in 1947, he ended up working in a Mexican village near a cigar factory where his patients paid him in cigars…a habit he held onto for the rest of his life.

After being told to leave town or risk getting murdered – he published information in a required report about the town’s lackluster living conditions that angered the locals – he continued his studies at the University of Southern California (USC). Th at same year, 1948, he married his wife Rebecca Schecter, an American involved in the foot and mouth disease campaign who was sent to Mexico. While at USC he was mentored by Starr and Donald Petit and; as a fellow in thyroid he did clinical research with Austrian physician Ernest Geiger.

Pioneering Research

Th e following years were consumed with research on how best to treat thyroid disorders. Catz and Bauer were, Catz has stated, the first to recommend Iodine-131 treatments for thyroid cancer post-thyroidectomy. He participated on further treatment research such as Itrumil – a seemingly counter-intuitive mixture of iodine and thiouracil. “Who uses iodine and antithyroid drug at the same time?” Catz pondered in his oral history. “It will wash out. But the patients responded.”

Catz added that a very important discovery was made by his team at the time: When some antithyroid drugs were given with barbiturates, the result was often anemia or even death. He said that barbiturates were given in the time before Valium in order to calm patients down but that in some cases patients developed aplastic anemia and died. Catz and his team had their findings on this topic published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

Catz’s research continued unabated until 1955 when he became an American citizen…and then Uncle Sam called. Newly commissioned Capt. Catz reported for duty in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he was treating career soldiers as they were heading into civilian life. That tour of duty only lasted until 1957 when he returned to USC as a clinical professor, continuing his research and treating patients as the chief of the Thyroid Clinic at the Los Angeles County Hospital, all the while blazing a trail using experimental thyroid treatments that are still in use today.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles honored Catz in 1985 when it established the Boris Catz Thyroid Lectureship, which recognized his devotion to patient care, his role as an educator, and his trailblazing career in pioneering novel treatments for diseases of the thyroid. He was further recognized in 2002 by the American Thyroid Association with the Certificate of Distinguished Service.

Wartofsky fondly remembers his time as the Boris Catz Lecturer. He recalls making rounds with Catz, his trademark unlit Cuban cigar in his mouth, visiting his patients who obviously adored him. “He was irascible, bigger than life, and often painfully frank in his wit and criticism,” Wartofsky says, adding that much of his fi re dissipated after the death of his wife, whom he adored. “He will be warmly remembered by all who knew him.”

Aside from his emeritus status at Cedars-Sinai and USC, Catz continued his part-time private practice until just two weeks prior to his passing at age 90.

Much of the information in this article came from an oral history Catz gave for The Endocrine Society’s archives in 2010. The complete interview can be found at

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