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Gigantism and Acromegaly
When I was 12 years old my little brother (he was 9 years old at the time) was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. As a child I always admired scientists and loved biology and archaeology, and so the exposure to my brother’s disease easily led to what I wanted to do: even before finishing high school I knew what I wanted to do: find what causes these damn things called pituitary tumors (which had changed so much the life of my brother and that of our whole family) and even better find treatments for them. See more about my motivation to better diagnose and treat pituitary tumors and some more info on my biography at Research and development in the molecular genetics of pituitary adenomas and related tumors – PubMed (nih.gov), at The Life and Career of Dr. Constantine Stratakis (healthtechzone.com) and at Joy and discovery are inseparable from academic commitment – PubMed (nih.gov).
I was very fortunate to be trained by some of the best Endocrinologists and Geneticists, in Athens, Greece, Paris, France and in Washington, DC. My teachers and mentors, from the late Jean-Pierre Luton in Paris, France (Obituary – Dr. Jean Pierre Luton (1933-2002), International Journal on Disability and Human Development | 10.1515/IJDHD.2003.3.3-4.103 | DeepDyve) to Dr. Lynn Loriaux (Lynn Loriaux – Wikipedia) to Drs. George Chrousos, Gordon Cutler, and Carolyn Bondy, at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, MD and Dr. Owen Rennert at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, helped me achieve my goal by 1995: establish a laboratory to work on the genetics, diagnosis and treatment of pituitary and adrenal tumors, by two favorite endocrine glands (Constantine Stratakis Lab | NICHD – Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (nih.gov).
In my laboratory at the NIH, we made many and important discoveries for both pituitary and adrenal tumors but the identification of the genetic defect leading to gigantism was probably one of our greatest discoveries covered by the media extensively because it solved the genetics of a fascinating disease that humans know from ancient times: extreme tall stature (Discovering X-linked acrogigantism: a new infant-onset overgrowth syndrome | NIH Intramural Research Program). Giants have captivated human societies and when I was looking for books in the field, I realized that there were not any that connected everything in one place: the mythology and history of gigantism, the recognition of acromegaly by Pierre Marie (Marie’s disease) and others, how the disease is diagnosed and treated today and of course its genetics.
Hence the idea to write this book to which some of the best in the field have contributed. The book shows us that gigantism and possibly acromegaly are often genetic diseases, inherited as a predisposition. What an amazing fact, only known today due to the advances in modern genetics. I presented some of that at my 2019 Dale Medal Talk interview (Meet the 2019 Society for Endocrinology Dale Medal Winner – The Endocrine Post (endocrinologyblog.org). The Medal was awarded to me for my work on pituitary tumors.
Fortunately, patients with pituitary tumors live better lives today than when my brother was first diagnosed in 1978. But there is a lot that remains to be done and I do hope that this book will help both our doctors and our patients (and their families) by providing in one place all advances and challenges for the future.
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