NICHD’s Pacak Receives Endocrinology Award
Dr. Karel Pacak recently received the Outstanding Clinical Investigator Award from the U.S. Endocrine Society and was elected to the Czech Medical Academy in recognition of his research achievements at NIH. For more than 20 years, Pacak has developed and led an internationally recognized program on neuroendocrine tumors called pheochromocytomas (PHEOs) and paragangliomas (PGLs).
Pacak’s award from the U.S. Endocrine Society stems from his significant contributions to understanding both the development of PHEO/PGLs as well as novel treatments for patients. He is among the most cited researchers in the field of PHEO/PGLs worldwide, with more than 2,000 citations each year.
In NICHD’s intramural program, Pacak serves as chief of the section on medical endocrinology and head of the developmental endocrinology, metabolism, genetics and endocrine oncology affinity group. He has published more than 620 articles, many of which focus on the clinical presentation, genetics, biochemistry and imaging of PHEO/PGLs. His team, in collaboration with colleagues, discovered several mutations that contribute to these tumors, including mutations in HIF2A, PHD1, IRP1 and SUCLG2 genes.
In 2012, Pacak’s team, together with NCI co-investigators, also identified a PGL-associated syndrome unique to women.
Pacak and colleagues were the first to introduce and implement a diagnostic technique for PHEO/PGLs using plasma metanephrines and methoxytyramine, which are now the clinical standard. The researchers have also made numerous contributions to imaging and therapies for these tumors. Most recently, their work on PHEO/PGLs led to a new diagnostic imaging algorithm and updated clinical guidelines in 2019.