Remembering “a True Giant in Endocrinology and Neuroendocrinology,” Mary F. Dallman, PhD

dallman headshot

It is with sadness that we inform the endocrine community that Mary F. Dallman, PhD, passed away on December 21, 2021.

Mary was a true giant in endocrinology and neuroendocrinology. She received her BA from Smith College (Magna Cum Laude) and her PhD from Stanford with Gene Yates and did post-doctoral training in Stockholm with Bengt Andersson and at UCSF with Fran Ganong. Mary joined the UCSF faculty in 1970 and rose to professor and vice chair in the 1980s. In fact, Mary was one of the first women to be a tenured basic science faculty at UCSF and led the way for many others to follow.

When you joined Mary’s lab, you joined a real family where great — even wild and crazy — ideas were encouraged and nurtured.

Mary’s research was wide ranging and profoundly influential. She developed one of the first useable and reliable plasma ACTH immunoassays that revolutionized both basic science and clinical practice. As a graduate student, she developed the idea that there are different time domains and kinetics of glucocorticoid negative feedback. She knew more about the stress response and HPA axis dynamics than just about anyone. Her later career was devoted to understanding how feeding and “comfort food” are important in stress dynamics, endocrinology, and metabolism.

It is impossible to summarize Mary’s breadth and depth of research in a short space. She was honored by the British Neuroendocrine Society, Women in Endocrinology, Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, and the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology. Mary served as President of Women in Endocrinology and of the International Society of Neuroendocrinology; served on the Endocrine Society Council; and was an associate editor of Endocrinology.

But Mary’s most important attribute was the mentorship that she provided to at least three generations of endocrine and neuroendocrine scientists. When you joined Mary’s lab, you joined a real family where great — even wild and crazy — ideas were encouraged and nurtured. Mary was a unique character with the most joyous eccentricities and novel ideas in which we all reveled. Her laboratory was the nexus for many informal gatherings of graduate students, staff, and postdocs from all over the UCSF campus. She was a role model for all of us, but particularly for women in endocrinology. Many years after leaving Mary’s laboratory, we would still “run data” by her and she always had great insights into a new way of looking at results.

Mary was a unique character with the most joyous eccentricities and novel ideas in which we all reveled.

Mary was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Once you were part of Mary’s extended family, you were a “Dallmanite” forever. We cannot express the level of joy and excitement she brought to the laboratory every day. Also, hard to describe is her generous and caring personality — she touched us with her honesty, encouragement, constructive criticisms, and above all, life-long nurturing. We will all greatly miss her but will remember the good times we had and great science we did under her guidance, collaboration, and mentorship.

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