April 13, 2020
1 min read

Endocrinology community remembers Alan J. Garber, MD, PhD, MACE

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Alan J. Garber
Alan J. Garber

Alan J. Garber, MD, PhD, MACE, a leading expert on diabetes and cardiometabolic disorders and long-time chief medical editor of Endocrine Today, died Thursday, April 9.

Garber served as chief medical editor of Endocrine Today since 2006, offering his expertise and insights into the science and practice of endocrinology over more than 200 issues.

"The Endocrine Today and Healio family is saddened by the unexpected loss of Dr. Alan Garber," said Katie Kalvaitis, Editorial Director at Healio. "Having worked with Dr. Garber on Endocrine Today since 2006, he contributed so much to our understanding of diabetes and endocrinology. During his tenure as Chief Medical Editor, he challenged our editorial team on an ongoing basis to expand our mindset on how to present editorial content. He will be missed."

Garber joined the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in 1974, where he was professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology. He was a charter member and past president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology. He was awarded the Master of the American College of Endocrinology distinction in 2018, among other honors conferred on him by medical societies.

AACE released a statement highlighting Garber’s contributions and accomplishments since he joined the organization in 2012, including writing committees for various consensus statements, guidelines, algorithms, resource centers and task forces and serving as co-chair of the 2005 Annual Scientific & Clinical Congress.

Since 2013, he chaired the task force that produced the annual AACE Comprehensive Diabetes Management Algorithm Consensus Statement, and he published widely on the treatment of diabetes and the cardiovascular effects of the disease.

“Over the years, Dr. Garber has been a well-known voice in our endocrinology community. ... While we are all saddened to lose one of the great contributors to our medical specialty, I am forever grateful for Dr. Garber’s dedication to health care and decades of contributions to our profession and the patients we serve,” AACE President Sandra L. Weber, MD, FACP, FACE, wrote in the statement.

Garber contributed many editorials and opinions to Endocrine Today. Below are a few items about his career.

Charter AACE member receives Master of Endocrinology award

A conversation with Alan J. Garber, MD, PhD

Career focuses on diabetes, its cardiovascular effects

Ralph A. DeFronzo

Alan was an outstanding clinician and scientist and the driving force behind the AACE guidelines for diabetes care. I remember the lively discussions during the development of the educational program for the launch of metformin in 1995. Oh, for the good old days. Alan will long be remembered for his multiple contributions to the advancement of diabetes care and clinical investigation. On a personal note, he was a great friend.

Ralph A. DeFronzo, MD
Director, Diabetes Research Unit
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Samuel Dagogo-Jack

At this time of global anxiety, the news of the passing away of Alan Garber, MD, PhD, compounds the discomfort we all feel. He was a towering figure in the field of endocrinology and diabetes research. Alan was a true physician scientist, who played a pivotal role in the clinical development of the treatments and guidelines we currently use for diabetes management. A gentleman and scholar, he had an uncanny ability to relate to peers and protégés with admirable decorum and grace. As a teacher, he epitomized elocution and clarity of expression. His departure creates an unfillable void in our specialty.

Samuel Dagogo-Jack, MD, DM, MSc, FRCP
Endocrine Today
Editorial Board Member
Professor of Medicine and Physiology
A.C. Mullins Chair in Translational Research
Director, Clinical Research Center
Director, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and MetabolismUniversity of Tennessee Health Science Center

Yehuda Handelsman

Alan Garber was a legend, a giant in diabetes, lipids, obesity and metabolism. Alan was a brilliant scientist, a researcher and a clinician. He had an amazing ability to translate research to clinical practice. I have known Alan for over 20 years. When I first met him, he was already larger than life, a leader committed to excellence and physicians’ education and dedicated to improving patients’ care. He was impressive, bright, analytical, a terrific educator and a mentor to me and many others, especially fellows. We shared a similar belief and approach to the comprehensive management of diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome. With time we became close friends. He followed me as president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and then of the American College of Endocrinology, where he led many important initiatives, guidelines and consensuses while still focusing on improving the wellbeing of the clinical endocrinologists. Alan was never short of opinions; he was tough and yet a team player and kind.

Alan was remarkably knowledgeable, a true all-round renaissance man who loved good food, music, the opera, art and the best of single malt Scotch. His contribution to medicine and health care will live on for many years to come. I will miss him.

Yehuda Handelsman, MD, FACP, FNLA, FASCP, MACE
Endocrine Today
Editorial Board Member
Medical Director and Principal Investigator
Metabolic Institute of America
Tarzana, California

Jonathan D. Leffert

Alan Garber touched many lives: his patients, his colleagues, his friends, his family and the endocrinology community for which he contributed so much important scientific and clinical information. I met Alan through our service on the AACE Board, and since our introduction almost 15 years ago, I knew that the sheer greatness of Alan Garber had touched me also. His intellectual prowess in all areas coupled with his direct, erudite communication skills was usually the last word in the discussion and for good reason. Alan’s concise analysis of an issue yielded a clear direction to move down the correct path. As I listened to Alan publicly and then followed up in private conversations, I felt his mentorship and desire to help me grow my leadership skills. While publicly, he was usually forceful in his delivery and tone, in private, he was gentle and very supportive. My fondness for Alan has made this loss of my friend very sad, but the opportunity to sit beside him and be touched by him will be a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Jonathan D. Leffert, MD
Endocrine Today
Editorial Board Member
Managing Partner, North Texas Endocrine Center

George Grunberger

Alan Garber was a true renaissance man, one of the last “quadruple threats.” It still pains me to write these lines in the past tense. Alan was a hard-core physician-scientist, basic and clinical researcher, an excellent clinician, superb teacher and a gifted leader-administrator. Anyone can look up his CV, but what you won’t find so easily is a description of his persona. I had been privileged to get to know Alan when I interviewed with him in early 1984 for a possible faculty position at Baylor. That first encounter was but the first of hundreds I would have with this remarkable person over the ensuing three and half decades. What struck you was his direct, take-no-prisoners approach. While he didn’t suffer fools easily, his personal warmth, passion and caring came through clearly enough. Alan was astute and erudite, with rarely matched art and clarity of expression which sometimes took one’s breath away. He could discuss basic biochemistry as well as clinical observations while quoting classics and discussing arts. His dedication to the education and careers of clinician scientists was exemplary and his ability to inspire excellence contagious. As we, over the years, served together on the national board of directors of both the American Diabetes Association and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, I had to admire his instincts and insights into the inner workings of medical associations and the ability to gain respect of his peers. That he was able to translate these talents into chairmanship of multiple task forces and committees, not even mentioning his presidency of both AACE and ACE, among others, was a boon to us all. One of his shining accomplishments remains his leadership of the AACE task force on Comprehensive Diabetes Management Algorithm, which has updated its recommendations every year. And to be able to do that with 20 clinical endocrinologists year in and year out without dissent, what a kudo to his mastery!

However, after all the usual professional stuff is described, what was probably everyone’s favorite impression of Alan was his legendary dedication to his family, his wife Susan, their children and grandchildren. Seeing the interactions with his closest family members confirmed one’s impression: Here goes a great man! May we all preserve the memory of Alan Garber and act to make him proud of us!

George Grunberger, MD, FACP, FACE
Chairman, Grunberger Diabetes Institute
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine and Molecular Medicine & Genetics
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Professor, Internal Medicine
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Visiting Professor, Internal Medicine
First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Martin J. Abrahamson

The things that come to mind when one thinks of Alan from a professional point of view is he was super smart, he was an outstanding clinical researcher-scientist, a superb lecturer and teacher, and a great clinician. Above all, he was so dedicated to seeing that the next generation of endocrinologists were adequately trained and prepared to enter the world of endocrinology, whether it was an academic world, whether it was a world of clinical practice or a mixture of both. One of the things that I admired most about Alan was his dedication to seeing that the fellows were trained properly.

He did so much as well in AACE — promoting the diabetes guidelines and spearheading the guideline task force that I was involved with with such enthusiasm and with leadership skills that were in many ways unparalleled in being able to take a bunch of people who each have their own ideas about how to manage diabetes and come up with a consistent and consensus guideline.

He also was a really dedicated father, husband and grandfather, who when we did meet would talk about family. He had such pride in everything his children and grandchildren were doing.  

Just an outstanding human being and, as we say in a certain language, a real mensch, in all respects.

Martin J. Abrahamson, MB, ChB
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Chief Medical Officer
Joslin Diabetes Center

Susan Samson

Dr. Garber was a generous and engaged mentor for those of us who were privileged to work with him. He impacted my career and growth as an endocrinologist in innumerable ways. When Dr. Garber reviewed your research or writing, one or two well-phrased sentences of critique from him would lead you on a journey through the literature with a new perspective. His world-renowned expertise crossed all boundaries of basic and clinical trial science through to the realities of patient care. He also had a wonderful sense of humor, and I remember him kindly admonishing me about some grammatical blunders in my writing, saying, “Now, you must realize that the people on the East Coast and West Coast do not think that we know how to write in Texas, so you will need to fix this issue.”

Susan Samson, MD, PhD, FRCPC, FACE
Endocrine Today
Editorial Board Member
Associate Professor, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Baylor College of Medicine