This year’s Clark T. Sawin Memorial History of Endocrinology Lecture “A Chemist, a Patient and the 1950 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine: The Stories Behind the Stories on Cortisone” will be given by William F Young Jr. MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine on Sunday at 10:45 AM in Chapin Theater of the Orange County Convention Center. Dr. Young is a Past President of the Endocrine Society and is the current Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine Specialty Board in Endocrinology. He has published more than 250 articles on endocrine hypertension and adrenal and pituitary disorders, is the recipient of multiple education awards, and has presented at more than 400 national and international meetings. He recently shared his thoughts with the ENDO Daily about the importance of the Sawin Lecture and the story he plans to tell during the lecture.
ENDO Daily: The Sawin Lecture is a rather unique entry in a meeting full of science. How does a consideration of the history of an aspect of endocrinology fit into an otherwise research/clinical focused meeting?
Dr. Young: I think that the history of endocrinology uniquely informs us on how we got to where we are today; it gives us insights on how to make advances in basic science and improve patient care. In addition, and maybe it is because I have moved into the “old age” group myself, I have come to appreciate and treasure the history of endocrinology. This 45-minute story—amidst an exciting ENDO 2017 meeting packed with the latest discoveries in endocrinology—gives us all time to pause and reflect on some of the seminal achievements that have helped to shape endocrinology.
ENDO Daily: Why this story? What is it about the players and events behind cortisone synthesis and use that makes this topic special?
Dr. Young: This story originated at Mayo Clinic. Having been on staff at Mayo Clinic for 34 years, it is a story that is very familiar to me and one that I have been able to expand upon based on archival research. I have uncovered information and insights that have not been previously published or shared. Some of this story, although told 68 years ago, is unfamiliar to the current generations of endocrine scientists and clinical endocrinologists. It is a story of discovery science, clinical intuition, persistence, patient volunteerism and sacrifice, hopes, and dreams.
ENDO Daily: What do you hope attendees of the lecture take away from your presentation?
Dr. Young: My hope is that this story will remind us of our endocrine heritage and give us an opportunity to recognize the unlimited potential for discovery research and clinical investigation that is taking place in research laboratories and clinical endocrine centers across the globe. I hope that the answers will be found for questions rarely considered or asked. For example: 1) How can a box of breakfast cereal lead to the development of a class of endocrine pharmaceuticals that are used today more often than any other medication drug class?; 2) Who said: “I want to grow a great big oak tree; I am not interested in a bunch of blackberry bushes.”?; 3) What was the US National Research Council number 1 priority for the war effort in 1941?; 4) What role did pregnancy and jaundice play in the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1950?; 5) What happened to the first patient with rheumatoid arthritis to be treated with cortisone? These are but a few of the questions that will be answered during this presentation.