Endocrine diseases such as diabetes and hypogonadism have been described in documents left behind by the greatest civilizations of antiquity, dating back to 2000 BC and before. More recently, in the 19th century, complex endocrine syndromes such as Grave’s disease of the thyroid gland or Addison’s disease of the adrenal glands were identified. Yet, it was not understood until 1905 that such diseases originated from the abnormal release of specific chemical messengers made in these organs. At that time, Dr. Starling presented in his Croonian lecture at the Royal College of Physicians the concept of “hormone” as that of a chemical messenger produced in any tissue of the body, carried by the blood to other parts where they exert reactions affecting the organism as a whole. The rest is history... endocrinology was born as an official branch of medicine. The U.S. Endocrine Society was founded 100 years ago, and several medical conditions associated with impaired production of hormones have been detected since.
Up until 1850, our average life span was approximately 35 years of age. Since the application of the scientific method to the study of medicine, average life expectancy has increased by approximately three years per decade, reaching an average of 80 across most developed countries. While many infectious diseases have been defeated, diseases that stem from genetic inheritance or unhealthy lifestyles, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis have increased as we live longer lives. Three of these conditions--diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis--are classic endocrine diseases that are very prevalent in the general population, and more so in our region of the United States, where up to two-thirds and one-fourth of patients can be affected by obesity or diabetes, respectively.
Our Section of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism researchers support and facilitate innovative research toward the elucidation of the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus and the pathophysiologic basis of diabetic complications, development of new treatments and the implementation of translational research in diverse diabetes populations.
The Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism offers a training fellowship designed to provide excellent training in both clinical and research endocrinology in preparation for an independent academic career. If you are interested in training in the area of endocrine disease, please visit our fellowship page for program information and application.
If you have healthcare concerns about your endocrine system, meet the physicians of the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism section at Baylor College of Medicine, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Ben Taub General Hospital. We are a cosmopolitan group of physicians offering state-of-the-art expertise in every area of endocrinology, from the most frequent conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis to rarer conditions. Feel free to contact us to learn more.
Mark A Herman, M.D.
Chief, Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism