Endocrine Abstracts (2001) 2

Society for Endocrinology Medal Lecturer

Michael Besser, St Bartholomew's and Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK Abstract

Professor Michael Besser qualified in medicine in 1960 at the Medical School of St Bartholomew's Hospital, and then undertook a number of junior medical posts there and at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the Royal Brompton Hospital. He started his academic work initially as junior lecturer in therapeutics in the Department of Pharmacology, rapidly rising to lecturer in medicine on the Medical Professorial Unit at the same hospital. During this time, he carried out research work leading to his MD in the field of psychopharmacology, where he also began his life-long interest in the relationship between drugs, hormones and mental processes. He further developed his interest in hormones in his year at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee working with Dr. Grant Liddle. He returned to Barts where in 1970 he was made senior lecturer and honorary consultant physician, becoming Professor of Endocrinology in 1974 and eventually Professor of Medicine in 1992. His earliest work on return to Barts from the USA was centred on the development and application of hypothalamic pituitary regulating peptides, and with Reginald Hall was amongst the first in the world to investigate their use in normal and abnormal endocrine disorders. This was initially into the use of TRH, somatostatin and GnRH, but then further developed with the identification of CRH and GHRH, and even more recently the GH-releasing peptides. At the same time, he began developing the investigative protocols and management plans for a whole variety of endocrine and especially neuroendocrine diseases, for which the Barts unit has become world renowned. As his department increased in size and authority, ever increasing numbers of junior doctors and research fellows came to this centre of international neuroendocrinology. Apart from generating a large list of publications throughout the endocrine field, he co-edited the first textbook of Clinical Neuroendocrinology (with Luciano Martini) and two text books of clinical endocrinology (with Reg Hall and Michael Thorner), and has been influential in all major international endocrine societies. He was awarded a DSc in 1981 from the University of London, an honorary MD from the University of Turin, Italy in 1985 and an honorary membership of the Association of American Physicians in 1985. He is honorary consultant to the Royal Navy and to the Government of Malta. He has been recognised for his clinical expertise and basic and clinical research from centres throughout the world. At the same time, he has had an enormous impact at St Bartholomew's Hospital, where he was at one time Chief Executive and for many years has played a leading role in its management, and that of its sister, the Royal London Hospital. His contributions to international endocrinology and neuroendocrinology are legion.

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