Rebecca S. Bahn, MD, is American Thyroid Association’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

By November 19, 2011 March 3rd, 2024 Past News Releases

At its 81st Annual Meeting, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) presented the Distinguished Service Award to Rebecca S. Bahn, MD, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. The award honors an ATA member who has made important and continuing contributions to the ATA and will be presented at the association’s annual banquet. Dr. Bahn was president of the ATA in 2007-2008 and chaired the Hyperthyroidism Guidelines Task Force from 2008-2011 which published their recommendations in THYROID, June 2011, 21(6): 593-646. Dr. Bahn was the basic science program chair for the 75th annual meeting held in Palm Beach in 2003 and ATA representative to the Program Committee for the 12th International Thyroid Congress held in Kyoto, Japan in 2001. She has served as Editor of Signal, the ATA newsletter, and is currently Associate Editor of THYROID.

The primary focus of Dr. Bahn’s research is the pathogenesis of Graves’ ophthalmopathy and autoimmune thyroid disease. Her laboratory studies the mechanisms and consequences of immune system activation of orbital preadipocyte fibroblasts, the target cells in Graves’ ophthalmopathy, and the unique features of these cells that make them particularly susceptible to autoimmune attack in Graves’ disease. Dr. Bahn’s group is designing experiments to identify cross-reactive antigens that might help explain the clinical link between Graves’ ophthalmopathy, pretibial dermopathy, and Graves’ hyperthyroidism. At present, the group is focusing on thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR), the autoimmune target in Graves’ hyperthyroidism, and has shown that it is present in greater amounts in fat cells within orbital fibroblasts and connective tissue explants from patients with Graves’ ophthalmopathy than in normal orbital tissue. In addition, autoantibodies directed against TSHR stimulate orbital fibroblasts to develop into mature fat cells and to produce interleukin-6 and hyaluronic acid, cellular products typically found in the orbits of patients with Graves’ ophthalmopathy.

Dr. Bahn’s team is also currently conducting a clinical trial of rituximab for the treatment of severe active Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Other current studies are aimed at identifying clinical and immune predictors of disease progression and developing novel forms of therapy for the disease.

In addition to serving as president, Dr. Bahn has actively participated in the ATA in a variety of capacities throughout her career, including as program chair, annual meeting speaker and session chair, serving on the ATA Executive Council and Board of Directors, and as a member of Women in Thyroidology, the Education Committee, Program Committee, Nominations Committee, Publications Committee, Membership Committee, Public Health Committee, Development Committee, and Awards Committee. She has also participated on the ATA Ethics Task Force and Media Task Force.

About the ATA Annual Meeting
The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association will be held October 26-30, 2011 at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells (near Palm Springs), California. This four day creative and innovative scientific program, chaired by Drs. Anthony Hollenberg and Martha Zeiger, has carefully balanced clinical and basic science sessions on the latest advances in thyroidology. The ATA meeting is designed to offer continuing education for endocrinologists, internists, surgeons, basic scientists, nuclear medicine scientists, pathologists, endocrine fellows and nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals. Visit for more information.

About the ATA
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 individual membership organization with over 1,400 members from 43 countries around the world. Celebrating its 88th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology and Clinical Thyroidology for Patients; 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. Visit for more information.

Media Contact
Bobbi Smith
Executive Director
American Thyroid Association
Phone: 703-772-2462

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