Our award lecturers

Every year ESE recognises the outstanding work of four leading endocrinologists. We got together with our award winners and asked them to take us through their career and the contribution they have made to the field of endocrinology. 

Annamaria Colao

Geoffrey Harris Award 

Love at first sight. I was a young student, with some experience in cardiology, pathology and, briefly, neurosurgery (it was not in my soul). My study of endocrinology began in a group focused on thyroid diseases. However, I fell in love with a charmer: so complex, difficult to interpret, with many qualities and attitudes, still to be entirely discovered... the hypothalamus.

Like all lovers, I decided to dedicate my work to better understanding – of the hypothalamus-pituitary unit. Regulation of the growth hormone/prolactin axis was the topic of my thesis for graduation, specialisation and PhD. I built a large group of researchers around hypothalamic-pituitary disorders.

Over the past two decades, we identified novel therapeutic strategies in pituitary tumours, far beyond acromegaly and
prolactinomas, including Cushing’s disease, non-functioning pituitary tumours and craniopharyngiomas. Developing solid research,
particularly concerning novel markers, is not trivial, and requires a broad range of experts in an integrated team.

We undoubtedly now know much more about the underlying molecular events but, despite extensive research and significant advances, pituitary tumours still present major challenges for patient management. My dream? To find the clue to treating the most malignant tumours, which still kill our patients today.

To learn more about Annamaria and her career join us for her Geoffrey Harris Award Lecture: Present and future of neuroendocrinology.

Davide Calebiro

European Journal of Endocrinology Award

Over the last 18 years, my research has focused on the basic mechanisms of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signalling and the alterations in endocrine disease. My group develops innovative microscopy methods that allow us to monitor GPCR signalling in living cells with unprecedented spatio-temporal resolution. These methods are so sensitive that they can visualise individual
receptors as they interact with their signalling partners. 

This has led to several unexpected discoveries, including the fact that GPCRs signal not only at the plasma membrane but also at intracellular sites, such as early endosomes or the Golgi complex. These findings are profoundly changing our understanding of how GPCRs function, and might pave the way to innovative drugs, capable of selectively modulating GPCRs at specific subcellular sites.

Moreover, with our expertise in GPCR signalling, we have helped clarify the pathogenesis of several endocrine disorders. This includes the discovery that activating mutations in the catalytic sub-unit of protein kinase A are responsible for adrenal Cushing’s

While a lot remains to be done, these basic discoveries will hopefully lead to new pharmacological therapies for endocrine and
metabolic diseases in the future.

Want to learn more? Attend Davide's European Journal of Endocrinology Award Lecture: Shining light on membrane receptors.

Richard Eastell

Clinical Endocrinology Trust Award

The fractures that result from postmenopausal osteoporosis have a major public health impact. We have several drugs we can use to reduce the risk of these fractures. Most of these are antiresorptive, such as the bisphosphonates, raloxifene, oestrogen and denosumab.

Until recently, the only anabolic agent available was teriparatide. However, in the last couple of years, two new agents have
been approved in some countries, namely abaloparatide (an analogue of parathyroid hormone-related protein) and romosozumab (an antibody against sclerostin). Important questions arise, such as should the anabolic drugs be given early in the course of osteoporosis or just in severe disease? What treatment should be given after these anabolic treatments?

The anti-resorptive drugs are very safe. However, it has become common practice to have ‘drug holidays’ in patients taking
bisphosphonates for 3−5 years, to prevent rare side effects, such as atypical femur fracture. Thus, the indications for treatment, the
order of treatment and the individualisation of treatment are all important considerations for optimal patient care. We highlighted
these issues in recent guidelines from the Endocrine Society, endorsed by ESE.

Richard will be presenting on this and more during his Clinical Endocrinology Trust Lecture: Postmenopausal osteoporosis: balancing the risks and benefits.

Olle Kämpe

European Hormone Medal

Autoimmune endocrine diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and autoimmune adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), often aggregate in families. Despite being universally lethal before the 20th century, the predisposing genetic variants have remained in the population, probably conferring advantages even at the price of an enhanced risk of developing autoimmunity. 

With carefully phenotyped patients and geographically matched controls, strong signals can be obtained in genome-wide association studies (GWAS), even with small cohorts in rare diseases. In patients with autoimmune adrenal insufficiency who are positive for 21-hydroxylase autoantibodies, genetic variants of MHC, BACH2 and AIRE have emerged as the most important risk genes.

Monogenic disorders, such as autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome (APS-1) and immune dysregulation, polyendocrinopathy,
enteropathy, X-linked (IPEX), have proved invaluable in understanding the events eventually leading to endocrine autoimmunity. These syndromes have helped us identify the genes AIRE and FOXP3, critical for important tolerance mechanisms. They also represent good examples of how research on rare disorders translates into novel diagnostic tools and better understanding of more common autoimmune disorders and, at the same time, improve clinical care practices for patients with APS-1 and IPEX.

Join us for Olle's European Hormone Lecture: Rare diseases as tools to understand autoimmunity to learn more about his work. 


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