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Gershengorn To Direct Intramural NIDDK

Dr. Marvin C. Gershengorn will direct the Division of Intramural Research in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in spring 2001. His appointment marks a return to NIDDK, where he worked 25 years ago as a clinical associate following his medical training.

"NIDDK is fortunate to have been able to attract Marvin Gershengorn to Bethesda to lead its intramural program," said director Dr. Allen Spiegel, who made the appointment. "He has achieved worldwide recognition for his work on signal transduction. As a physician-scientist, he brings a broad vision of biomedical research that will guide the NIDDK intramural program to a new level of excellence."

Dr. Marvin Gershengorn

Gershengorn, who has taught since 1976, is currently chair of the program in physiology, biophysics and molecular medicine at Cornell's Weill Medical College in New York City. An endocrinologist by training, he studies how receptors on cell surfaces receive signals from other cells and how these signals control cell function. His investigations deal mainly with the receptors for thyrotropin-releasing hormone, a regulator of some functions of the pituitary gland and the central nervous system, and for calcitonin, which influences bone metabolism. Because receptors make good drug targets, a better understanding of calcitonin's receptor could lead to improved medicines that would increase bone content in people with osteoporosis.

Gershengorn also works on an unusual receptor from herpesvirus 8. When this virus infects human cells, Kaposi's sarcoma can sometimes develop, and the gene for the receptor appears to participate in tumor development. Kaposi's sarcoma is a common tumor in certain African and European populations and among people with AIDS. Gershengorn's receptor work has earned him three patents for techniques that could aid in drug discovery, and his many awards include the Endocrine Society's Gerald D. Aurbach Lecture Award in 2000, the Solomon A. Berson Medical Alumni Achievement Award in Clinical Science from New York University School of Medicine in 1999, and the American Thyroid Association's Sidney H. Ingbar Distinguished Lectureship Award in 1998.

Among Gershengorn's plans for NIDDK: "I plan to expand research on diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and kidney disease, and to increase collaborations between intramural and extramural scientists across many disciplines. One of my highest priorities will be to emphasize studies of the development, physiology and pathology of pancreatic islet cells so that we may better understand and treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes."

His service to the larger scientific community includes leadership roles in several societies. He is on the board of directors for the American Thyroid Association and had been on the board of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and the Endocrine Society. He also has chaired the Endocrine Society's research affairs committee. In this last role, he has testified before Congress on the value of basic research and the need to better support both young and established physician-scientists, whose numbers have decreased in recent years. He was a consultant to the congressionally established diabetes research working group and a member of the NIH endocrinology study section, and he currently is a member of the editorial boards of the American Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

At Cornell, Gershengorn worked on the genomics initiative task force, which developed a plan to improve university efforts in computational, mammalian, plant and microbial genomics and bioinformatics, areas also of interest to NIDDK.

A native New Yorker, Gershengorn graduated from City College of the CUNY in 1967 and the New York University School of Medicine in 1971.

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