Reaven, Gerald M.

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REAVEN, Gerald M.

PERSONAL: Born in Gary, IN. Education: University of Chicago, A.B. (general studies), 1947, B.S. (biology), 1949, M.D., 1953.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Stanford University, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].

CAREER: University of Chicago Hospital, Chicago, IL, intern, 1953-54; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, residency in internal medicine, 1957-59; Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, research fellow in medicine, 1954-55, research fellow, 1959-60, instructor, 1960-61, assistant professor, 1961-65, associate professor, 1965-70, professor of medicine, 1970-95, professor emeritus, 1995—, chief of division of endocrinology and metabolic diseases, 1974-79, director of General Clinical Research Center, 1974-90, chief of division of gerontology, 1977-90, chief of division of endocrinology, gerontology, and metabolism, 199-95. Yale University, New Haven, CT, visiting associate professor of medicine, 1967-68. Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., San Francisco, CA, vice president of research, 1995—. Former chair, National Diabetes Advisory Board; former member of endocrinology and metabolic diseases advisory group, National Institutes of Health, and of U.S. Pharmacopeia advisory panel on endocrinology. Military service: U.S. Army Medical Corps, 1955-57.

MEMBER: Alpha Omega Alpha.

AWARDS, HONORS: William S. Middleton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Research, U.S. Veterans' Administration, 1987; Banting Award for Distinguished Scientific Achievement, American Diabetes Association, 1990; Josiah Kirby Lilly, Sr., Distinguished Service Award, 1995; Novartis Award for Long-standing Achievement in Diabetes, 2000; Kaiser awards for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding and Innovative Contributions; Lederle Medical Faculty Award; Veterans' Administration Hospital Medical Investigator Award.


Clinician's Guide to Non-Insulin-Dependent DiabetesMellitus: Pathogenesis and Treatment, M. Dekker (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with A. Colin Buck) Prostate Cancer: Questions and Answers, Merit Publishing International, 1995.

(Editor, with Ami Laws) Insulin Resistance: TheMetabolic Syndrome X, Humana Press (Totowa, NJ), 1999.

(With Terry Kristen Strom and Barry Fox) SyndromeX: Overcoming the Silent Killer That Can Give You a Heart Attack, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with Terry Kristen Strom) Type 2 Diabetes:Questions and Answers, Merit Publishing International, 2003.

Member of editorial boards for professional journals, including American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Journal of Gerontology, and Journal of Internal Medicine. Editor in chief, Hormone and Metabolic Research.

SIDELIGHTS: World-renowned diabetologist Gerald
M. Reaven's discoveries have pushed the field of adult onset diabetes into dramatically new directions, both in the areas of prevention and treatment. His work on diabetes led him to discover Syndrome X, a group of metabolic abnormalities now recognized as one of the leading causes of coronary heart disease. Originally, Reaven's studies focused on kidney disease and renal calcification, but increasingly turned his attention to diabetes mellitus and the role of insulin resistance in heart conditions. Reaven and his colleagues discovered that a number of insulin-resistant people are able to compensate by secreting large amounts of insulin, preventing the onset of diabetes symptoms but leading to a dangerous cluster of abnormalities that may be responsible for over half of all heart attacks.

Insulin Resistance: The Metabolic Syndrome X, edited by Reaven and Ami Laws, brings together a number of important articles on the sometimes-neglected aspects of diabetes. While diabetologists have focused on insulin since its discovery in 1922, it was assumed that absence of insulin was the major factor producing the disease. Doctors have become aware more recently that insulin resistance—Type 2 diabetes—is actually more prevalent. As Reaven and other pioneers discovered, hypertension, polycystic ovary disease, and other seemingly unconnected diseases can often be traced to this resistance. The book attempts to bring the medical community up to date on these developments. The first part covers the genetic and environmental factors that can affect insulin; the second focuses on insulin resistance.

As Jeffrey S. Flier explained in the New England Journal of Medicine, "The real excitement in this field derives from an examination of the important clinical syndromes that are viewed, at least by the authors, as being associated with—and possibly caused by—insulin resistance." Endocrinologist G. Frühbeck, writing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, felt that Reaven;s "book will prove very relevant to clinicians, basic researchers, as well as many health professionals with an interest in insulin resistance. Its target audience must surely be basic and clinical researchers involved in studying how insulin resistance and its compensating hyperinsulinemia play a major role in the pathogenesis and clinical course of high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, as well as polycystic ovary syndrome."

The medical implications of Syndrome X soon left the realm of disinterested scientific research and entered the mainstream. Obesity is one of the most important, and most lucrative, medical problems in America, and a number of authors seized on Syndrome X as a new way to market fad diets, leading to some serious distortions of the research. Before long, Reaven felt he had to respond. As he explained in a note posted on, "I first started thinking about writing Syndrome X: Overcoming the Silent Killer That Can Give You a Heart Attack, when I was interviewed by science writers who told me that my research results were being used by several authors of popular diet books. In these interviews, it became clear that the results of the studies published by my research group were being used in a very inappropriate manner."

As Reaven emphasizes, insulin resistance and high insulin levels do not cause weight gain or prevent weight loss. Instead, he focuses on the truly devastating dangers of Syndrome X, which can bring on a fatal heart attack, and the steps necessary to prevent that. Because Syndrome X is not a single abnormality but a cluster of metabolic changes, a number of patients go undiagnosed with this easily treated syndrome. As Reaven shows, people can protect themselves through a simple combination of diet and exercise that reduces all the coronary risk factors. Some of his advice is surprising, according to reviewers. "Contrary to accepted medical practice as well as common lore, Reaven says that these individuals who have developed heart disease should not be on low-fat diets," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Rather, Reaven recommends a proper balance of good fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, as well as exercise and lifestyle choices, to aid in the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. For Library Journal reviewer Janet M. Schneider, the result is "an excellent book on a disease that is becoming more common in the American population."



Annals of Internal Medicine, September 1, 1990, review of Clinician's Guide to Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus: Pathogenesis and Treatment, p. 416.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March, 2000, G. Frühbeck, review of Insulin Resistance: The Metabolic Syndrome X, p. 272.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2000, review of Syndrome X: Overcoming the Silent Killer That Can Give You a Heart Attack, p. 236.

Library Journal, February 1, 2000, Janet M. Schneider, review of Syndrome X, p. 109.

New England Journal of Medicine, October 28, 1999, Jeffrey S. Flier, review of Insulin Resistance, p. 1402.

Publishers Weekly, February 7, 2000, review of Syndrome X, p. 82.

Quarterly Review of Biology, March, 2000, Robert H. Henry and Sunder Mudaliar, review of Insulin Resistance, p. 95.

ONLINE, (April 10, 2004), "Syndrome X."*