The Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES) was initially established in 1972 as the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society (LWPES), by some of Wilkins’ former fellows. As the society grew from its 37 founding members and Dr. Wilkins’ influence faded, the name of the society was changed in 2010 and now counts about 1,500 members, mostly from the US and Canada. Pediatric endocrine training programs headed by (LW)PES members have welcomed fellows from throughout the world, many of whom have gone on to leadership positions in their home countries. Starting in 1981, the (LW)PES has collaborated with pediatric endocrine societies around the world in quadrennial meetings, fostering collaborations, transfer of ideas, devising joint practice guidelines, and enjoying one another’s fellowship and counsel. The PES presently has committees and special interest groups concerned with all aspects of pediatric endocrinology, assuring that our clinical and academic resources reflect both breadth and depth. To celebrate our 50th anniversary, selected members have written the historical manuscripts featured in this special issue of Hormone Research in Pediatrics. These historical reviews delve into the origins of our specialty, sometimes deep into antiquity, provide useful background information, and illustrate the kinds of intellectual struggles that have led to the development of contemporary pediatric endocrinology, worldwide.

Two detailed histories of pediatric endocrinology have been published previously. The first traces the often interacting origins of our specialty throughout the world [1]; the second focuses exclusively on North America [2]. Our challenge is to build on these and very briefly recount and specifically reflect upon the 50 years of the Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES).

Much of North American Pediatric Endocrinology can be traced to two cities – Baltimore and Boston. At The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. Edwards Park became Chair of Pediatrics in 1935 and asked Dr. Lawson Wilkins (1894–1963), who had been in private pediatric practice in Baltimore since 1922, to begin the first Pediatric Endocrine Clinic. Wilkins became widely known for case-based teaching and his patient-specific graphics at the meetings of The American Pediatric Society and at the 6th International Congress of Pediatrics in Zürich in 1950. Similar events occurred at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where Dr. Allan M Butler (1894–1986) became Chair of Pediatrics in 1942 and promptly appointed Dr.Nathan Talbot (1909–1994) to begin a Pediatric Endocrine clinic. These two programs trained what has been termed the first generation of North American (and many European, South American, and Asian) pediatric endocrinologists [1, 2].

Following Dr. Wilkins’ death in 1963, two of his former fellows, Drs. Robert M. Blizzard and Claude J. Migeon, organized biennial reunions for the Hopkins Endocrine Alumni beginning in 1965. These meetings grew to include physicians from beyond Hopkins, and it was felt that the time had come to create a formal, academic pediatric endocrine society. The membership criteria were “…anyone who has received 2 years of training and who thereafter has been engaged independently in the study and/or treatment of infants, children, and adolescents with endocrine or metabolic disorders for a period of at least 5 years by July 1, 1972. Contributing to the knowledge of endocrinology and metabolic diseases of the young will be an important factor in determining the qualification for membership.” (Letter to members, December 27, 1972, from Dr. Claude Migeon, President, the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society [LWPES]). Additionally, two letters of recommendation from members were required, and three publications were suggested. There were 37 founding members. Claude Migeon was elected as the inaugural president in 1971, and many subsequent presidents were also former fellows of Wilkins (or more recently, fellows of Wilkins’ fellows) (Table 1). A constitution and bylaws were approved in 1972, thus creating the LWPES; the initial regular annual dues were 15.00 USD. 2022 marks our 50th year. As the practice of pediatric endocrinology became more widespread, subspecialty programs were formed and accredited by the American Board of Pediatrics (Pediatric Endocrinology in 1978). As our sub-specialty grew, our society expanded, now numbering over 1,500 members. Today, fewer members trace their academic origins to Lawson Wilkins, and in 2010, the society changed its official name to the PES.

Table 1.

Presidents of the (LW)PES

Presidents of the (LW)PES
Presidents of the (LW)PES

Many knew that Dr. Wilkins did not see children with diabetes in his clinic, focusing instead on areas of endocrinology where he thought his clinical investigation could achieve substantial advances. Interestingly, about the same time of our origin, in 1972, the American Diabetes Association organized a Committee on Diabetes in Youth. Dr. Allan Drash (President of LWPES 1987–1988) took the opportunity to send a questionnaire to the members of the newly formed LWPES discussing members’ interest in this undertaking, including fellowship training in the study and care for children with diabetes mellitus. However, until the early 1980s, the consequence of Dr. Wilkins’ avoidance of diabetes was that many North American pediatric endocrine programs that had been started by Wilkins’ former fellows did not provide training in diabetes. The huge, NIH-funded Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), performed from 1982 to 1993, changed that overnight by demonstrating that “tight control” was clearly associated with improved patient outcomes [3]. This required intensive, team-based education, care, and follow-up, and revolutionized both the care of children and adolescents with diabetes and also how pediatric endocrine practice groups were organized and workload was distributed. Today, all North American pediatric endocrine training programs provide education for fellows in diabetes care, management, and research.

Meetings

In addition to the annual scientific meetings of the (LW)PES, beginning in 1981, we have held quadrennial meetings with the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE), soon joined by the Sociedad Latinamericano de Endocrinologia Pediatrica, the Japanese Society for Pediatric Endocrinology, the Australasian Pediatric Endocrine Group, the Asia Pacific Pediatric Endocrine Society, and most recently by the African Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Endocrinology (Table 2). Due to the COVID pandemic, the 2021 11th Joint International Meeting was postponed and will be held in Buenos Aires in 2023. These meetings underscore how pediatric endocrinology is of global importance, and how the (LW)PES has influenced pediatric endocrinology worldwide over the past half-century.

Table 2.

Joint international meetings

Joint international meetings
Joint international meetings

Committees

Over the years, the workload of our society has increased significantly. Numerous committees have been created to focus on specific areas of collective need with expertise from members within the pediatric endocrine community. When we were founded in 1972, there were 4 committees – Membership, Program, Finance, and Nominating, plus an ad hoc Public Affairs committee; now there are 14 committees (Table 3). In addition, in 2021, an ad/hoc PES/NIH liaison committee was formed to foster interaction of our society with the NIH. Also, the Awards and Honors Committee consists of current and prior PES leaders and is instrumental in determining research and honorific awards for junior and senior members.

Table 3.

Current PES committees

Current PES committees
Current PES committees

Clinical Practice Guidelines

Over the past 5 decades, the clinical practice of pediatric endocrinology has become more standardized and based on accumulated scientific evidence and best practices. The (LW)PES has been a world leader in authoring widely used practice guidelines (Table 4); many of these are published, as are position papers, which can be found on the PES website at https://pedsendo.org/clinical-resources/. Some are co-authored with The Endocrine Society or with sub-specialty interest groups. Historically, in 1984, an early crisis in pediatric endocrinology was the discovery that human cadaveric GH, which had been used for children with GH deficiency throughout the industrialized world, was a cause of Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease. The (LW)PES was among the first to call for the discontinuation of the use of cadaveric GH and to vigorously support the FDA approval of biosynthetic hGH produced by recombinant DNA technology. Similarly, statements by the Drug and Therapeutics committee over these decades often advised our members and constituency of appropriate use of medication – e.g., only using nonliquid preparation of hydrocortisone because of dispensing problems, drug shortages, and new and novel therapeutic agents. Recently, in 2021, the PES opposed local and national bills that harm transgender or gender-diverse youth [4]. Parent guidelines are also available on our website and many are co-sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Table 4.

Selected major clinical consensus statements

Selected major clinical consensus statements
Selected major clinical consensus statements

Expansion of Sub-Sub-Specialty Interests – Special Interest Groups

Increasing patient volumes and the creation of focused clinics within pediatric endocrine practices have led an increasing number of our members to sub-specialize in a few specific areas or conditions within pediatric endocrinology. To improve communication and quality of practice, the PES has created a dozen special interest groups that can provide specialized information to our committees. These special interest groups include Bone and Mineral, Advanced Practice Providers, Diabetes, Difference of Sexual Development, Ethics, Lipid, Obesity, PCOS, Adrenal, Transgender, Turner Syndrome, and Tumor Related Endocrine and Neuroendocrine Disorders.

Supporting Training and Research

Our Training Committee and our Committee on Maintenance of Certification work closely with The American Board of Pediatrics Sub-Specialty Board in Pediatric Endocrinology to ensure that all North American training programs are delivering appropriate education and clinical experience to fellows in training while recognizing specific local areas of emphasis. We are currently evaluating the pediatric endocrinology workforce needs for North America. Most recently, there has been an increase in development of programs emphasizing instruction in equity, diversity, and inclusion, particularly when delivering care to many of our disenfranchised populations. The PES supports fellowship research training by offering competitive fellowship grants and awards for “rising stars,” programs for international fellows, as well as supporting a Young Investigator Award. In honor of the 50th anniversary of PES, a named posthumous Rising Star Award for Raphael David, MD – a founding member of PES – was given by his wife, Dr. Irene Rosner David, in 2022. These grants and awards are described on the PES (https://pedsendo.org/).

Recognizing Achievement

The PES created the Judson J. Van Wyk Prize, which has annually recognized the lifetime achievements of outstandingly productive senior members since 2006 (Table 5). The PES has a series of honorific, named lectureships presented at the annual meeting, and has recently added Educator, Clinician, Mentor, and Senior Investigator awards.

Table 5.

Recipients of the Judson J. Van Wyk Prize

Recipients of the Judson J. Van Wyk Prize
Recipients of the Judson J. Van Wyk Prize

Indeed, we have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. To celebrate the long history of endocrinology, and especially the contributions from the PES over the past 50 years, we humbly submit to our readership this brief review of our history.

Not applicable.

The authors Sharon Oberfield, Alan Rogol, and Walter Miller declare no conflicts of interest.

No external funding was obtained for this report.

The authors Sharon Oberfield, Alan Rogol, and Walter Miller contributed equally in the conception and writing of this report, reviewed multiple versions, and approved the final version.

Not applicable.

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