Dr. H. Dalton Jenkins was the first full-time Endocrinologist in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (1959-1968). He received his training in Endocrinology at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of Harvard Medical School, under the supervision of Dr. George Thorn. Dr. Thorn trained a number of other notable Endocrinologists, including Drs. Peter Forsham (who later led a prestigious Endocrinology Division at the University of California San Francisco), Donald Frederickson and John Leutscher. Dr. Jenkins came from this group of excellent investigators who made major contributions to the knowledge of adrenal cortical physiology and functions as well as delineating the pathophysiology of a number of disorders of the adrenal glands.
Dr. Jenkins was a remarkable individual with a tremendous thirst for knowledge. He was an exceedingly gifted teacher and clinician and represented perhaps the finest in terms of clinical endocrinology in the United States. The first fellow trained under Dr. Jenkins was Dr Oren Gum. Soon there followed a succession of fellows, including Drs. Janet Schemmel, Don Brown and Helen Morris. Dr Gum ultimately pursued the field of Rheumatology and became head of the Rheumatology division of Tulane University in New Orleans. Drs. Schemmel and Brown pursued an active private practice in Endocrinology as well as carrying out teaching functions at the School of Medicine. Dr. Schemmel remained a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCHSC. Dr. Morris became a member of the National Jewish Hospital staff and conducted research focusing on the field of prostaglandins, holding the academic rank of Associated Professor of Medicine at the University. Dr. Robert Jaffe trained under Dr. Jenkins and became Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California in San Francisco. Outstanding individuals who came from other countries to take fellowship with Dr. Jenkins were Drs. Louis and Andre Dayer of Geneva, Switzerland.
While Dr. Jenkins was Head of the Division of Endocrinology, a number of notable advances occurred in the field. Drs. Berson and Yalow developed the radioimmunoassay technique for the measurement of polypeptide hormones. This enabled the field to advance remarkably, not only from the standpoint of better diagnosis of clinical disease but also by improving our capacity to understand the basic pathology of many endocrine disorders. Radioimmunoassays were developed for the measurement of insulin, growth hormone, glucagon, parathyroid hormone, ACTH and a host of other hormones that are secreted by various endocrine glands.
The Division of Endocrinology expanded in 1963 with the recruitment of Dr. Karl Sussman. Subsequently, Dr. Paul Beck, who had trained with Dr. William Daughaday at Washington University, St. Louis, joined the Division and greatly strengthened the clinical and research activities of the service.
As the number of practicing Endocrinologists increased and more sophisticated laboratory procedures became available, Endocrinology within the community underwent significant expansion. Among those who entered private practice in Colorado were Drs. John Watt, Ray Gutin, Howard Kerstein and Harold Birenboim. There was a considerable increase in endocrine expertise in Denver, and Endocrinologists were practicing in Boulder, Pueblo, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Endocrine disorders could be appropriately diagnosed and treated in many communities throughout Colorado as well as at the University medical center.
Dr. Jenkins left the School of Medicine in 1968 to set up a private laboratory to conduct specialized endocrine and other laboratory tests. Dr. Karl Sussman was appointed Head of the Division and remained in this position from 1968 until 1972. Under the aegis of Dr. Sussman, the Endocrine Division focused on performing both basic and clinical research in Endocrinology. Dr. Paul Beck, who had previously been involved with studies of the effect of pregnancy on various aspects of carbohydrate metabolism, was investigating the effects of oral contraceptive agents on carbohydrate metabolism and insulin secretion.
Drs. Sussman and Beck were joined by Dr. Fred Katz of Loyola University, who had a special interest in renin-aldosterone metabolism. Dr. Katz brought to the Medical Center expertise in sophisticated assays for studying the dynamics of aldosterone metabolism as well as being able to focus on hypertension and various disorders of renin-aldosterone metabolism. It was an exciting period in the Division of Endocrinology and the program trained such outstanding individuals as Dr. Nick Alsever of Pueblo and Dr. Mel Stjernholm of Boulder. These individuals contributed significantly to developing Endocrinology outside Denver and set up a major referral practice throughout the state. In addition, these two physicians maintained a strong academic orientation, writing articles in major journals, participating in the publication of books and also teaching at the School of Medicine.
Dr. Fred Katz assumed the leadership of the Endocrinology Division in 1972 when Dr. Sussman was appointed Chief of Medicine at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Dr. Katz contributed to the Division a strong orientation in general Endocrinology. While Dr. Katz was head of the Division, a number of fellows were trained in Endocrinology and ultimately entered private practice. New faculty appointed to the Division included Dr. Merrit Rudolph, who trained with Dr. Sidney Ingbar. Dr. Rudolph had a strong interest in thyroid disease and brought to the Medical Center in-depth knowledge in this area. Dr. Don S. Schalch came from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and had originally done his training with Drs. William Daughaday, David Kipnis and, subsequently, Dr. Seymour Reichlin. Dr. Schalch’s special interest was the pituitary gland, but also more broadly neuroendocrinology. He was responsible for the development of a number of immunoassays which were key to the advancement of knowledge in neuroendocrinology.
At this time the Division was quite effective; its five members were Drs. Katz, Rudolph, Schalch, Beck and Sussman. Fellows trained included Dr. Udo E. Heinrich, who became Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Heidelberg, West Germany; Philip Burstein, who was initially an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and later went into private practice and eventually into industry; and Dr. John M. Lock, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.
This was a period of transition, however, since Dr. Sussman was heavily committed to his duties at the VA Medical Center. Dr. Beck became the Associate Dean of Education in the School of Medicine and was no longer able to contribute in a major way to the Division of Endocrinology. However, Dr. Schalch continued to pursue the study of growth hormone and somatomedin metabolism. He was one of the leaders in this field, developing assays for measuring somatomedin and somatomedin-binding protein.
The Division underwent further transition when Dr. Katz left to enter the private practice of Endocrinology in Denver in 1976. There followed a period in which the Division was supervised by two acting heads, initially Dr. Sussman for a year (1976-77), followed by Dr. Schalch (1977-78). During this time, two notable Endocrinologists joined the General Medicine Department and worked also in the Endocrinology Practice, Dr. Richard L. Byyny (1977) and Dr. Mervyn Lifschitz (1978). Dr. Byyny later became Chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder and Dr. Lifschitz went into private practice at Rose Medical Center in Denver.
Dr. Jerrold Olefsky was appointed Head of the Endocrinology Division in 1978, resulting in a tremendous upgrading and expansion of the Division. Dr. Olefsky recruited a number of new faculty members: Dr. Robert Eckel (1979), who came from the University of Washington with a special interest in studying diabetes and disorders of lipid metabolism; and Dr. Richard Robbins (1981), who was trained by Dr. Seymour Reichlin, and was interested in the study of neuroendocrinology, particularly somatostatin synthesis and release from brain cells and the control of the secretory process within the brain tissue. Dr. Kathryn Horwitz (PhD) from the University of Texas at San Antonio also joined the faculty (1979), specializing in the study of estrogen and progesterone receptors in various tumor tissues, especially breast cancer.
Dr. Olefsky also brought to this institution expertise in the study of diabetes, particularly focusing on the action of insulin and delineation of the role of insulin receptors in modulating insulin action. Among the outstanding individuals recruited during his tenure, in addition to Dr. Eckel and Dr. Robbins, included Drs. Orville Kolterman (MD), Theodore Ciraldi (PhD), Stephen Marshall (PhD), Boris Draznin (MD, PhD; 1980), Paulos Berhanu (MD; 1981) and Fred D. Hofeldt (MD; 1984). A tremendous amount of creative and innovative research was undertaken during this exciting and productive period. Other trainees and faculty included Drs. Robert Henry; Masashi Kobayashi, who subsequently went to Shiga Medical School in Kyoto, Japan; Mel Prince, who subsequently went to University of Texas Medical School Galveston; and Stuart Gray, who became Senior Registrar, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Endocrinology Division developed a degree of sophistication in both clinical care and research, ranking it consistently as one of the best in the nation. Dr. Olefsky received numerous honors and awards for his outstanding contributions to diabetes research. He served as President of the American Federation for Clinical Research, a very prestigious position. Dr. Sussman soon thereafter became the President of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). In 1983, Dr. Olefsky accepted an appointment at the University of California San Diego; Drs. Kolterman, Marshall and Henry accompanied him to UCSD. Dr. Robert Eckel assumed temporary leadership of the Division as Acting Division Head (1983-1985).
[Source for the preceding section: History of the Department of Medicine, 1933-1985; Edited by: Gordon Meiklejohn MD and Charley J Smyth MD; printed by Intermountain Color, Denver, CO 1985; pages 85-90]
Dr. E. Chester Ridgway was appointed Head of the Division of Endocrinology on July 1, 1985 and later became the Frederic Hamilton Professor of Medicine. Dr. Ridgway attended Medical School at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, receiving his MD in 1968. He then did his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He subsequently did his Endocrinology Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he trained under Dr Farah Maloof. He later became Director of the Thyroid Unit at Massachusetts General and a national and international leader in the field of thyroid gland disorders, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. His studies of the regulation of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) secretion to control the thyroid gland resulted in very significant advances in the understanding of thyroid physiology and thyroid disease. His dynamic research resulted in numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the publication of over 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed medical and scientific literature, over 50 books and book chapters, and numerous invited national and international lectureships.
Dr. Ridgway was honored by being elected and serving as President of the American Thyroid Association (1996-1997) and President of the Endocrine Society (2003-2004). Throughout his career, he received many prestigious awards, including the following: American Thyroid Association (ATA) Distinguished Service Award (1999), ATA Paul Starr Award and Lectureship (2003), ATA John B Stanbury Thyroid Pathophysiology Medal (2008), Endocrine Society Robert H Williams Distinguished Service Award (2009) and the ATA Lewis E Braverman Distinguished Lectureship Award (2011). At the University of Colorado, he received the University’s highest honor, being selected as a Distinguished Professor of Medicine in 2011.
Under Dr. Ridgway’s leadership, the Endocrinology Division expanded further and became much more diverse with the recruitment of additional physician scientists to the faculty, including Drs. Arthur Gutierrez-Hartman (1985), Margaret Wierman (1987), Dan Bessesen (1990), Virginia Sarapura (1990), Jane Reusch (1992), John Merenich (1992), Bryan Haugen (1993), Cheryl Pickett (1994), Lisa Kosmiski (1995), Michael McDermott (1997), William Troy Donahoo (1997), Holly (Thompson) Wyatt (1998), Marc Cornier (1999), Whitney Woodmansee (1999), Diana Dills (1999), Leigh (Kish) Perreault (2001), Linda Barbour (2002), Carol Zapalowski (2002), Cecilia Low Wang (2003), Warren Capell (2003), Katherine Weber (2004), Janice Kerr (2006), Victoria Catenacci (2006), Rocio Periera (2006), Micol Rothman (2006), Joshua Klopper (2006), Irene Schauer (2006), James Falko (2006) and Jennifer Janssen (2007).
Drs. Berhanu, Dills, Picket and Zapalowski eventually left the Division for pharmaceutical or medical device companies. Drs. Merenich, Donahoo, Weber and Klopper later left to work at Kaiser Permanente in Denver. Dr Woodmansee briefly did research in the pharmaceutical industry and was then hired as a full time faculty member at Harvard Medical School and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. PhD faculty added to the Division during Dr. Ridgway’s tenure included Drs. William Wood and David Gordon, who made significant discoveries in the molecular biology of TSH subunit gene expression and regulation in the pituitary gland. This included the identification of promoter and enhancer regulatory regions and the transcription factors that interacted at these important sites. The Ridgway research group also elucidated the precise cell cycle pathways associated with thyroid hormone control of thyrotrope cell growth.
The Endocrinology Practice at University of Colorado Hospital was regularly recognized by US News and World Report as one of the nation’s top hospitals for diabetes and hormone disorders throughout this time. Dr. Robert Eckel served as the President of the National Association for the Study of Obesity (NASO), 1995-1996 and was President of the American Heart Association, 2005-2006. Dr. Eckel then became the Charles A. Boettcher Endowed Chair in Atherosclerosis. Dr. Kathryn Horwitz served as President of The Endocrine Society, 1998-1999. Dr. Horwitz was honored by being selected as a Distinguished Professor of Medicine in 2004. Dr. Jane Reusch was President of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 2002-2003.
Dr. Ridgway later became Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 2007 but remained active in the Endocrinology Division. In the summer of 2014, Dr. Ridgway was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic cancer, a disease that also afflicted his sister, and he passed away on July 31, 2014. An endowed fellowship was set up in his name to support future fellowship training needs. A memorial garden was dedicated to him on the south-east corner of the old Fitzsimons Army Hospital (Building 500) as a tribute to his many contributions to the University of Colorado and his love of gardening.
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