March 4, 2018

Diseases

The importance of metabolic syndrome and the man behind it

This condition we now all take for granted was barely understood just 30 years ago.

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It’s kind of amazing, to me at least, that Jerry Reaven didn’t win a Nobel Prize for his work in elucidating the role of insulin resistance in metabolic syndrome (MetSyn for the cool kids), and the impact this had on the diseases that will kill most of us. This condition we now all take for granted was barely understood just 30 years ago. Dr. Reaven passed away on the 12th of February.

I was so lucky to have known him and to have learned from him. Jerry was so generous with me, humoring my endless questions and sharing with me paper after paper after paper. Here’s one of my favorites, though the folder in my computer “Jerry Reaven cool IR papers” has many he’s given me to choose from. I have the fondest memories of sitting in his office at Stanford and comparing notes with him. He was really curious about my “crazy” eating habits and (at some point) I may even tell the complete story of a crazy experiment we did on me in 2013. It was the closest I ever came to dying— literally—in the name of learning how a ketogenic diet influences fuel partitioning! I’m glad I survived that day, but it would have made for an interesting eulogy if I didn’t.

Jerry, those of us in the trenches of MetSyn owe you a huge gratitude for your amazing work and for the generation of scientists you’ve mentored. I’m a little more honored to be a Stanford alum today…thank you.

– Peter

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