Obituary: Endocrine Researcher Jens Sandahl Christiansen, 1948 – 2015

Jens Sandahl Christiansen
Jens Sandahl Christiansen

Jens Sandahl Christiansen, Professor of Internal Medicine, DMSci, FRCPI, Aarhus University Hospital has died at the age of 67.

A long-time active member of the Endocrine Society, Christensen served on several task force committees and spoke at several ENDOs. With well over 600 publications, his impact on the field of endocrinology is substantial and he received a number of scientific awards, both nationally and internationally. Perhaps most important, he was a well-respected physician to his patients and a brilliant teacher of both medical and postgraduate students.

An old adage says ‘You can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man’. Jens was a passionate cosmopolitan traveler, but he remained faithful to his inner Dane. He delighted in educating visitors as to the uniqueness and age of his ‘small Danish kingdom’. And as a true Viking, he loved to plunge into the freezing waters surrounding his homeland, preferably accompanied by reluctant and hypothermic foreign visitors.

As a very young man, Jens went to Copenhagen and graduated from medical school with a gold medal thesis about diabetes. This marked the beginning of a remarkable career as a clinician and scientist in the field of endocrinology. The early years of training at the Steno Diabetes Center (SDC) helped form his creative character. He immediately became a valued member of this unique scientific environment. He wrote his doctoral thesis at SDC about diabetic nephropathy and finalized his postgraduate education in Aarhus, where, in 1989, he became a consultant in internal medicine and endocrinology at the Aarhus University Hospital. He subsequently became a clinical professor in 1993. His steadfastness as a clinician resonated well with a local demand for a modernization of diabetes treatment, which he timely and conscientiously met.

He also initiated a series of clinical research projects in collaboration with senior and junior colleagues; this translated into a number of pivotal discoveries in the field of diabetic complications and clinical aspects of growth hormone (GH) research. He was the senior author of the first controlled trial of GH replacement in adult hypopituitary patients, which prompted a number of pioneering papers in that field.

He established a strong international network of colleagues in endocrinology and has served on numerous boards in several scientific societies. He was a co-founder and later president of the Growth Hormone Research Society (GRS), which – thanks to his continued commitment – is still going strong. He was passionate about GRS-sponsored workshops and consensus statements as well as the GRS/IGF International Congresses and participated vigorously in each.

Jens was also a bon vivant and famous for his after dinner speeches with juicy jokes and limericks. But he was also a family man and the role as a proud grandfather suited him very well. His wife Annette, children, and grandchildren were privileged to know and love him best.

The last three months of his life were dominated by a merciless cancer disease, but his good spirit and humor stayed with him to the end. His many national and international friends and colleagues may not miss the icy waters of Denmark, but they will surely miss him.

Jens Otto Lunde Jørgensen, John J. Kopchick, Bengt-Åke Bengtsson, Anne-Marie Kappelgaard

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