October 31, 2014 — The recipient of the 2014 Van Meter Award, established in 1930 by the American Thyroid Association for outstanding contributions by a young clinical scientist to research on the thyroid gland is Christine Spitzweg, M.D., Professor in Internal Medicine/Endocrinology, Chair of the Thyroid Center, Co-chair of the Center for Neuroendocrine Tumors, and Head of the research laboratory for Molecular Endocrinology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany. Dr. Spitzweg delivered the Van Meter Award lecture, entitled “The sodium iodide symporter – its evolving role as theranostic gene in and outside of the thyroid gland” at the 84th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association on Friday, October 31st, in Coronado, California. The Van Meter Award receives support from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers of the journal Thyroid, and a generous endowment gift in memory of Jack Robbins.
Dr. Spitzweg has had a pioneering role in pursuing the medical applications of the sodium-iodide symporter (NIS) in diagnostics and in therapeutic gene therapy. Her research helped lay the foundation for the field of therapeutic applications of NIS. She is a Principal Investigator on a Nationwide Priority Program in German focusing on “Translation of Thyroid Hormone Actions beyond Classical Concepts,” which explores the use of NIS as a reporter gene to investigate non-genomic effects of the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 and the thyroid hormone analogue tetraiodothyroacetic acid (tetrac) on the tumor microenvironment.
Dr. Spitzweg is also the Principal Investigator of a large collaborative research grant to study image-guided, tumor-targeted radionuclide therapy in disseminated tumors using NIS as theranostic gene. She has conducted numerous studies designed to determine the factors that regulate endogenous NIS gene expression in various tissues and has applied NIS gene therapy to models of several cancers, including prostate cancer, hepatocellular and colon cancer and medullary thyroid cancer.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international membership medical society with over 1,700 members from 43 countries around the world. Celebrating its 91st anniversary, the ATA delivers its mission — of being devoted to thyroid biology and to the prevention and treatment of thyroid disease through excellence in research, clinical care, education, and public health — through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded professional journals, Thyroid, Clinical Thyroidology, and VideoEndocrinology; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators, support of online professional, public and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer. The ATA promotes thyroid awareness and information through its online Clinical Thyroidology for the Public (distributed free of charge to over 11,000 patients and public subscribers) and extensive, authoritative explanations of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer in both English and Spanish. The ATA website serves as the clinical resource for patients and the public who look for reliable information on the Internet.