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History

The UCSF Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism is based on a rich foundation of pioneers, teachers, and visionaries who were thought leaders in their fields. The history of the Division is closely tied to that of the UCSF Diabetes Center. We highlight several of the key events and endocrinologists who were integral to UCSF:

1949: The Metabolic Research Unit (MRU) was established by the California State Legislature as an institute for clinical research and training in metabolic and endocrine diseases.

1952: Peter Forsham. Dr.Forsham pursued groundbreaking work on diabetes control, pituitary tumors, adrenal disorders, and “bone and stone” diseases. He helped with the development of human insulin and glucagon radioimmunoassays with Gerold Grodsky and John Gerich.

1960: Choh Hao Li. Hormone Research Institute established at UCSF and combined with Hormone Research Laboratory at Berkeley. Discovery of endorphins, isolation of human growth hormone.

1968: John Karam. Dr. Karem was among the first to delineate the role of obesity to the development of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinism in Type II diabetes. He demonstrated the insulin-sparing effects of the biguanides. With Jack Gerich, he helped to define the role of glucagon in normal physiology and diabetic pathophysiology. With Graeme Bell, he was the first to describe a diabetes Type I susceptibility gene (IDDM 2).

1982:William Rutter. Director of Hormone Research Institute. His laboratory cloned the insulin gene that helped to create human insulin for pharmacological use. His laboratory also cloned the Insulin receptor and Hepatitis B surface antigen.

1980: John Baxter, Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dr. Baxter was the first to clone rat, human and bovine growth hormone and prolactin genes and to show that bacteria could produce functional human hormones. This work led to the commercial production of ‘biosynthetic’ human growth hormone that is now used worldwide to treat human growth disorders, and biosynthetic bovine growth hormone which is used throughout the world to improve milk production. His group published the crystal structure of the liganded thyroid hormone receptor (TR) in 1995, the first crystal structure of a small molecule bound to a receptor.

2000: Diabetes center established at UCSF