Society Member Robert
J. Lefkowitz Wins 2012
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly to Robert J. Lefkowitz, M.D., and Brian K. Kobilka, M.D., for their groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of G-protein–coupled receptors, a family of receptors that enables cells to sense their environment and adapt accordingly. Lefkowitz, an Endocrine Society member, is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Kobilka is a professor of medicine and of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
For many years, scientists suspected that cells contained some kind of recipient for hormones, but what these receptors actually consisted of and how they worked remained a mystery. Lefkowitz used radioactivity to identify several receptors and gained an initial understanding of how they worked. Kobilka, who worked in Lefkowitz’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow, isolated the gene for the β-adrenergic receptor. The duo then discovered that this gene was similar to a receptor in the eye that captures light, rhodopsin. In time, they discovered a whole family of receptors that look and work in a similar manner. More than a thousand genes code for these receptors, which play key roles in sight, smell, taste, and other physiological functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose metabolism. About half of all medications achieve their effect through G-protein–coupled receptors.
“Robert Lefkowitz is a hero in the field of endocrinology and his Nobel Prize is well-deserved,” said William F. Young, Jr., M.D., president of The Endocrine Society. “His research has helped us understand the chemistry of cell communication and carries great potential in helping develop new and more effective treatments for many diseases and disorders.”
Dr. Lefkowitz has received numerous awards for his research, including three of The Endocrine Society’s prestigious laureate awards: the 2001 Fred Conrad Koch Award, the 1995 Gerald D. Aurbach Award Lecture, and the 1982 Ernst Oppenheimer Award.
Supported by The Endocrine Society and Pfizer, Inc., the Visiting Professorship Program in Growth Hormone Regulation and Disorders (VPGH) provides financial support to U.S. academic centers to invite distinguished faculty studying growth hormones for educational exchanges, such as seminars, lab visits, grand rounds, journal clubs, and lunch/dinner with students. The VPGH promotes greater awareness of cutting-edge growth hormone research, encourages young investigators to enter specialized endocrine research, and fosters research collaborations among academic centers. The Endocrine Society congratulates the 2012 VPGH Awardees: the University of Colorado Denver, which will host Dr. Shlomo Melmed of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and the University of Puerto Rico, which will host Dr. Beverly Biller of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Thyroid and Pregnancy
Fact Sheets from
Thyroid disorders, which are more prevalent in women than men, are of particular concern during pregnancy. Left untreated, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism pose a risk to both mother and baby. The possibility of malignancy may also be of concern to pregnant women with thyroid nodules. The Hormone Health Network’s updated series of three patient guides, based on The Endocrine Society’s revised clinical practice guideline on maternal thyroid dysfunction, address hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid nodules and cancer before, during, and after pregnancy. Visit www.hormone.org to read and download the patient guides.
Society Online Store
Shopping at The Endocrine Society’s online store just got better. In addition to its new look, the Web site is easier to navigate. Individuals can log on either as a guest or as a member. What’s more, members will automatically have their discounts included in the final purchase price. Publications and new products are now available. Go now to view the new online store at www.endosociety.org/custom_apps/publication/online_store.cfm?
New Clinical Practice
Webinars Now Available
The Endocrine Society recognizes a significant need for better care coordination to ensure that pediatric and adult providers—and their patients—are fully prepared for transitions of care. To meet this need, the Society recently spearheaded an initiative to develop transition of care resources specific to type 1 diabetes. The Society hosted a webinar in November to discuss these resources, which include a recommended approach to planning for pediatric practices, a clinical summary, a patient skill set, and more. To access copies of these resources, please go to www.endo-society.org/clinicalpractice/ transition_of_care.cfm.
In October, the Society also hosted a webinar for its newest clinical practice guideline, Evaluation and Treatment of Hypertriglyceridemia, which was published in the September issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The 60-minute, interactive webinar includes discussions of the diagnosis and definitions of hypertriglyceridemia, the causes of elevated triglycerides, and secondary causes of hyperlipidemia. The guideline also recommends treatment goals in patients with moderate hypertriglyceridemia. The guideline is now available through the Society’s Web site for free download (www.endo-society. org/guidelines/Current-ClinicalPractice-Guidelines.cfm). Bound copies will be available for purchase at the Society’s online store (www. endo-society.org/custom_apps/ publication/online_store.cfm?).
The archived sessions of these webinars can be accessed at www.endosociety.org/education/webinars/.
Refer a Member
Refer a new full member to The Endocrine Society. When your referred colleague or friend joins and mentions your name, you will receive a $20 Starbucks Card! Refer someone today and learn more about the program at www.Endo-Society.org/Referral.
NIH Loan Repayment Program Deadline Nears
To encourage scientific investigators to remain in the biomedical research field, the National Institutes of Health is offering to pay annually up to $35,000 of qualified researchers’ student loans through its extramural loan repayment program. Individuals who commit two years to conducting government-funded research in one of the following five fields are eligible: clinical research; pediatric research; health disparities research; contraception and infertility; and clinical research for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. All applications are due November 15. Visit www.lrp.nih.gov to learn more about the programs and to apply.
In Memoriam: Past President Seymour Lieberman, Ph.D., 1917–2012
Seymour Lieberman, Ph.D., a past president of The Endocrine Society (1975–1976) and professor emeritus of biochemistry at Columbia University in New York City, died on October 8. He was 95.
A leader in the field of endocrinology, Lieberman pioneered the study of the metabolism of steroid hormones. He was the first to suggest and provide evidence for the involvement of transient intermediates in steroid biosynthesis. He isolated cholesterol sulfate from natural resources and approximately 50 steroid metabolites and conjugates from human urine. He also created steroid-protein conjugates and antibodies to these hybrid molecules, many of which are now used in radioimmunoassay procedures for most of the steroid hormones. Finally, he developed a radioactive tritium-labeling procedure for peptides and proteins (such as ACTH, LH, and LHRF). At the time of his death, he was head of a research laboratory that focused on the role of steroids in hypertension—work he referred to as “my most important contribution.”
Born in Manhattan, Lieberman attended Brooklyn College, graduating at age 20. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University in 1941. After World War II, he went to Basel, Switzerland, to study with Tadeus Reichstein, Ph.D., a 1950 Nobel Laureate. Lieberman returned to United States to work at the Sloan-Kettering Institute and then at Columbia University, where he remained for 61 years.
Lieberman was known as a mentor and educator. Numerous professors and chairmen of departments throughout the United States and Europe got their start in his Columbia laboratory. For more than 30 years, he organized and led a weekly journal club that was attended by physicians and scientists from around New York City. During his presidency at The Endocrine Society, he championed the cause of young researchers and academicians to obtain access to the organization. In 1953, he won the Ciba Award, the Society’s award for young investigators under the age of 35. Lieberman also served as editor of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Later in his career, he was active in public health organizations related to reproduction and population control. He worked for the Population Council, the human reproduction unit of the World Health Organization, the Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center, and the Ford Foundation.
Lieberman was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and received the Roussel Prize, the Dale Medal from the United Kingdom Society for Endocrinology, the Distinguished Service Award from Columbia University, and the Boehringer Mannheim Award from the United Kingdom Association of Clinical Biochemists.
He was married to Sandra Spar, who died in 1993. He is survived by one son, Paul, and daughter-in-law, Genie Bailey, of Providence, Rhode Island, and two grandchildren, Jacob, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Alyson, of Philadelphia.
To learn more about Lieberman’s role in endocrinology, please view the oral history he made for The Clark T. Sawin Memorial Library, at www.endo-society.org/about/sawin/lieberman-video.cfm.
EndoCare Online connects clinician members to an array of free resources that are easy to search and order. You can order patient education materials, product coupons, samples and vouchers, product information, and a variety of patientassistance programs for each product at no cost. NEW for 2012: free ePrescribing! Learn more about this useful member benefit at www.endosociety.org/clinicalpractice.