PES Trivia, at Your Fingertips
These tidbits were originally published in our 2015 President’s newsletters.
December 2015 – submitted by History Committee
2015 is the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the lowly bacteriophage, the semi-living viral entities that infect bacteria (FW Twort, Lancet 186:1241-1243, 1915). Phage studies yielded the principles of genetic recombination, DNA and RNA polymerases, restriction endonucleases, ligases and other enzymes, providing the ‘toolbox’; for the 20th century molecular genetics that revolutionized medicine and endocrinology. All contemporary molecular genetic diagnostics derive directly from studies of bacteriophages. 2015 is also the 100th anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, which is related to endocrinology only in that both are beautiful.
November 2015 – submitted by History Committee
The Society for Internal Secretions (which later became The Endocrine Society), was founded in 1917 by a charlatan who specialized in selling glandular extracts by mail order. Harvey Cushing was elected without his knowledge to the Society? presidency in 1920. He accepted, hoping to reform a field that he termed ”endo-criminology,” consisting largely of ”poppycock.” (Bliss M. Harvey Cushing: a life in surgery. New York: Oxford University Press; 2003. pp. 382-3.)
October 2015 – submitted by History Committee
The initial appreciation of the disadvantageous Ca/P ratio and buffering capacity in cows milk formulas contributing to neonatal tetany in non-breast-fed infants, which led to recommending adding calcium gluconate supplementation was by a pioneering pediatric endocrinologist Lytt Gardner when he was a research fellow with Allan Butler. His superb study published 65 years ago led to changes in formulas and the disappearance of the problem. (Gardner LI, McLachlan EA, Pick W, Terry ML, Butler AM. Etiologic factors in tetany of newly born infants. Pediatrics 1950;5;228-240)
September 2015 – submitted by History Committee
In 1928, Cammidge described cases of what he thought was a dominantly inherited form of mild hyperglycemia (Diabetes mellitus and heredity. Br Med J 2:738). It was not until 1974 that Tattersall noted a distinct dominant pattern of inheritance among subjects with mild diabetes occurring in the 2nd and 3rd decade of life (Mild familial diabetes with dominant inheritance. QJ Med 43:339-57).
August 2015 – submitted by History Committee
The correct determination of the human diploid chromosome number as 46 occurred 60 years ago at the University of Lund, Sweden with the historic photograph by Tijo that he labeled “Human cell with 46 chromosomes observed 1955 on December 22nd at 2.00 am”; the finding was published in April 1956 (Tjio J-H, Levan A. The chromosome number of man. Hereditas 42:1-6), ending a period of more than 30 years when the number had been thought to be 48. Their methods laid the foundation for the analysis of chromosome disorders beginning with trisomy 21 and sex chromosomal abnormalities in 1959. [Harper PS. The discovery of the human chromosome number in Lund, 1955-1956. Hum Genet 2006;119:226-32]
July 2015 – submitted by History Committee
It was 62 years ago that Pickering and Fisher validated the efficacy of sodium-L thyroxine treatment of thyroid ablated infant rhesus monkeys and two years later that Fisher, Hammond, and Pickering reported the efficacy of L-thyroxine therapy in the hypothyroid infant and child which led to the eventual supplanting of animal thyroid extract as the treatment of choice. [Pickering D E, Fisher DA. Growth and metabolism following L-thyroxine administration in thyroid ablated infant Rhesus monkeys. Am J Dis Child 86: 1-10,1953]
June 2015 – submitted by Jennifer Yee and Constantine Polychronakos
Eleanor Colle was one of the first women to establish a career in the developing field of pediatric endocrinology. She and Robert Ulstrom at UM published the first description of ketotic hypoglycemia [J Peds, May 1964; 64:632-51] reporting metabolic features of 8 pediatric subjects.
May 2015 – submitted by History Committee
Half a century ago, on October 9, 1965, a paper was received by the Israel Journal of Medical Sciences titled “Genetic pituitary dwarfism with high serum concentration of growth hormone: a new inborn error of metabolism?” authored by Zvi Laron, Athalia Pertzelan, and Shoshana Mannheimer. Published in spring 1966, this was the initial report of GH insensitivity that became known as Laron syndrome, describing 3 siblings of a consanguineous Yemeni Jewish family.
April 2015 – submitted by Del Fisher
2015 marks the 60th anniversary of the paper by Grumbach,Van Wyk, and Wilkins characterizing male chromosomal sex patterns in 20 patients with ovarian agenesis (Turner syndrome) using Barr body analysis of skin biopsies. They likened the syndrome to the castrated fetus in animal models and proposed a classification of ambisexual development in chromosomal males based on varying degrees of fetal testicular insufficiency. Barr body analysis subsequently became a routine approach to diagnosis. [Grumbach MM, Van Wyk JJ, Wilkins L. Chromosomal Sex in Gonadal Dysgenesis (Ovarian Agenesis): Relationship to Male Pseudohermaphroditism and Theories of Human Sex Differentiation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1955; 15:1161-1193]
February 2015 – submitted by Arlan Rosenbloom
In 1957, the uptake of 35S-sulfate by costal cartilage from hypophysectomized rats showed response to normal rat serum, but no response to GH at high dosage [Salmon JR, Daughaday WH. A hormonally controlled serum factor which stimulates sulfate incorporation by cartilage in vitro. J Lab Clin Med 1957;49:825-36]. Ergo, normal rat serum contained GH-dependent “sulfation factor.” The reason that the other assays were able to observe an effect of GH and these investigators were not had to do with the conditions of incubation. Later studies would show a delayed and lesser response of GH on uptake of 35S-sulfate and 3 H-thymidine (the expanded somatomedin hypothesis).
January 2015 – submitted by Walter Miller
“Thyroxine at 100:” John Kendall shared the 1950 Nobel Prize with Philip Hench and Tadeus Reichstein for isolating and characterizing several steroids, notably cortisol. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of his earlier isolation of thyroxine. Kendall reported purifying 100 mg of thyroxine in 1914, and in 1919 he detailed the purification and crystalization of 33 grams of thyroxine from 6500 pounds of pig thyroids (J Biol Chem 19:251-256; J Biol Chem 40: 265-334), but he failed to determine its chemical structure, which was reported by Charles Harrington in 1927. (Biochem J 21: 169-183)