Inaugural Endocrinology Month in April Honors ‘Detectives’ who Solved Public Health Mysteries over Past 100 Years

April 01, 2016

Contact: Aaron Lohr
Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 202.971.3654
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Contact: Jenni Glenn Gingery
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Phone: 202.971.3655
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Endocrine Society’s Centennial draws attention to the field of endocrinology and scientific breakthroughs, saving millions of patient lives

Boston, MA - When a disease makes the body’s hormones go haywire, it often takes a skilled doctor or scientist to connect the dots of bewildering symptoms to determine the underlying problem.

Hormones – tiny chemical messengers that control functions throughout the body – can trigger indicators that may appear unrelated to the untrained eye. Like detectives, endocrinologists are specially trained to see the patterns among puzzling symptoms tied to hormonal disturbances. Endocrinologists are physicians who improve patients’ lives by diagnosing and treating their hormone disorders, and scientists who discover ways to cure and prevent these conditions.

To celebrate the endocrinology field’s rich tradition of solving medical mysteries, saving lives and the discovery of scientific breakthroughs like insulin, the Endocrine Society established Endocrinology Month. The Society is commemorating the first-ever Endocrinology Month in April 2016, during its Centennial year. It will be a recurring celebration every April going forward.

Endocrinology Month kicked off this weekend with the Society’s 98th annual meeting in Boston, MA from April 1-4. The event, called ENDO 2016, draws thousands of doctors and researchers from around the world to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. ENDO 2016 incorporates tributes to the field’s esteemed history, including the Society’s 10 Nobel Prize-winning members. U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts issued a floor statement paying tribute to the Society on its Centennial.

“Although millions of people around the globe are coping with conditions caused by hormonal disturbances, they often don’t realize that hormones are the underlying cause of their illnesses,” said Endocrine Society President Lisa H. Fish, MD. “Hormonal problems are key in diabetes, infertility, thyroid disorders, growth problems, osteoporosis, and breast and prostate cancers. Endocrinologists play an essential role in studying and treating all of these diseases. They are often the specialists other physicians turn to when they are confused by a patient’s symptoms.”

Endocrinologists have a long history of solving mysteries. Type 1 diabetes was considered a death sentence until Frederick Banting and Charles Best extracted insulin from dogs’ pancreas cells in 1921. This discovery – among the most significant in medical history – paved the way for the commercial production of insulin to treat diabetes.

Today, endocrinologists are searching for ways to turn diabetes from a chronic condition into a curable one. Scientists are building medical devices designed to do the job of a healthy pancreas, and researchers are studying ways to develop human pancreatic beta cells from types of stem cells.

Endocrinologists combat dozens of vexing public health problems afflicting tens of millions of people, including just a few examples below:

* About 415 million adults worldwide who have diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation;

* More than 36 percent of American adults who are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;

* An estimated 48.5 million couples worldwide who were infertile as of 2010, according to the World Health Organization; and

* More than 10 million American adults who have osteoporosis, according to the Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures report.

To educate the public about the importance of endocrinology, the Society’s public education arm, the Hormone Health Network, is debuting the Journey Through the Endocrine System mobile app to take tablet users on an interactive tour of the human body and the pathways hormones travel. To download the app, go to the iTunes store and search for “Endocrine Society's Hormone Health Network - Journey Through the Endocrine System”. Promotional codes for free downloads will be available at the Society booth during ENDO 2016. An Android version will be available through the Google Play store in the coming weeks.

Society leaders will be traveling to Capitol Hill April 28 to educate Members of Congress about endocrinology and the field’s role in keeping people healthy and discovering medical breakthroughs.

“Today’s endocrinologists face serious challenges that threaten important contributions to public health and biomedical research,” said Endocrine Society CEO Barbara Byrd Keenan, FASAE, CAE. “The number of people specializing in endocrinology is shrinking, even as more people are being diagnosed with hormone disorders such as diabetes. We need better policies to ensure there is adequate funding for endocrine research and to encourage new generations of promising young scientists and physicians to become endocrinologists and join this renowned field.”

For more information on Endocrinology Month and the Society’s centennial, visit http://escentennial.org. To join the discussion on social media, use the hashtag #Endo100.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.