Steven K. Grinspoon, MD, director of the MGH Program in Nutritional Metabolism, was honored as the inaugural incumbent of the MGH Endowed Chair in Neuroendocrinology and Metabolism during a celebration on May 9, 2016, in the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The evening shined a spotlight on Dr. Grinspoon’s pioneering research, which has bridged the traditionally disparate fields of neuroendocrinology and obesity.
Funds from the chair will provide a permanent source of financial support for the MGH Neuroendocrine Unit to help advance understanding of disorders including pituitary disease, HIV and anorexia all characterized by neuroendocrine dysfunction and related metabolic abnormalities. The unit, widely regarded as one of the best in the country, treats patients around the world with pituitary disorders and resulting changes in body composition and substrate metabolism, including patients with growth hormone excess and deficiency, as well as Cushing’s disease and other conditions.
The evening shined a spotlight on Dr. Grinspoon’s pioneering research, which has bridged the traditionally disparate fields of neuroendocrinology and obesity. Ultimately, Dr. Grinspoon’s team recognized the consequences of altered growth hormone secretion in HIV patients and developed Tesamorelin, a hypothalamic peptide, as the first FDA-approved drug to reduce ectopic abdominal visceral adipose tissue among HIV-infected patients, a condition which can contribute to heart disease.
Investing in Discoveries
Regarding this breakthrough, Katrina Armstrong, MD, chief of the Department of Medicine, said, “For us to take our discoveries and move them to how we treat patients really requires an investment — that is fundamentally supported by philanthropy.“
“What we have is the culmination of many years of talent, time and dedication to taking care of patients and trainees.”
Anne Klibanski, MD, chief of the MGH Neuroendocrine Unit, described Dr. Grinspoon’s drug discovery as a “beautiful therapeutic advance,” and said, “What we have is the culmination of many years of talent, time and dedication to taking care of patients and trainees.”
A further milestone in Dr. Grinspoon’s career includes his work defining the mechanisms, potential treatment strategies and unique gender effects in HIV-infected women, who are disproportionately affected by heart disease. This work stemmed from his initial groundbreaking studies on the metabolic and neuroendocrine abnormalities in this population. Because of this work, Dr. Grinspoon and his team received one of the largest federal grants ever for HIV and the first one that tests prevention as a strategy for heart disease in this population.
Lead Donors for Endowed Chair
“These efforts started from observations in the clinic and led to physiological investigations, collaborations on molecular mechanisms and finally an international trial,” Dr. Grinspoon said. “Without the dedicated faculty in our program, none of this would have been possible.”
Dr. Grinspoon, whose tenure at Mass General spans 24 years, is also the director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at Harvard Medical School and a professor of Medicine. He has received a number of awards in recognition of his work, including being named the 2016 recipient of the Gerald D. Aurbach Laureate Award for Outstanding Translational Research from the Endocrine Society. He is also the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications.
“We need entrepreneurs in medicine, and Steve is one of them.”
The chair was made possible through the following lead donors: Coreen and Richard Packer in honor of Thomas Garvey Sr., as well as donations from Harold Grinspoon, Jeffrey Grinspoon, Alissa and Steve Korn, Izhar and Noni Armony and Walt and Arnee Winshall.
Britain Nicholson, MD, chief medical officer at Mass General, closed out the night, saying, “We need entrepreneurs in medicine, and Steve is one of them.”
For information about advancing care and research in neuroendocrinology and metabolism at Mass General, please contact us.