PNA’s 25th Year: Reflections of Three Longtime Advocates

2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Pituitary Network Association. To honor this milestone we have asked some of the physicians most central to the PNA’s evolution to reflect on the pituitary journey we’ve been on together over the past quarter century. Thank you to Drs. Asa, Ezzat and Kelly for these kind words and for your friendship and support over the decades.

Asa1By Sylvia Asa, M.D., Ph.D Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of TorontoPathologist-in-Chief and Medical Director, Laboratory Medicine Program, University Health Network at the University of Toronto

I first got involved with the PNA in 1993 when I met Bob Knutzen at a pituitary conference in Los Angeles. Bob was truly a “giant”, with big shoulders to support others who needed his encouragement and assistance. My admiration for his ideas and dedication to pituitary patients has grown over the years that I have watched the progress of this phenomenal society that he has driven to success. I am honored to have participated in many meetings supported by the PNA, to have advised on scientific initiatives, and to have contributed to various publications sponsored by this group. However the real “high point” for me has been the opportunity to meet so many patients from across North America and around the world. Through personal interactions, a sophisticated website, and the promotion of pituitary centers of excellence, the PNA continues to be a leading force in ensuring that patients with pituitary disease receive the best care, from detection, through diagnosis and treatment, and even afterward, recognizing that the impact of pituitary disorders is lifelong.

EzzatBy Shereen Ezzat, M.D., FRCP(C), FACP

Professor of Medicine & Oncology, University of Toronto; Head, Endocrine Oncology Site Group, University Health Network
Toronto General Hospital

Bob is a unique gentleman, whom I met in the late 1980s in Los Angeles. Asking questions way ahead of his time, he was never satisfied with the limited responses that we had back then. Bob recognized the need to bridge the huge gap between the medical and patient communities. His vision was clear from the beginning. He also saw the future of communication and the potential power to reach out through the internet. The years and decades since have proven him to be spot on. Today, the world searches for answers across the net with variable success. The PNA has withstood the test of time for maintaining a level of professionalism that few medical societies and their websites can rival. Bob and the PNA have much to be proud of. However, their work is never completely done. The PNA needs the support of those who believe in its mission. Whether financial, academic, or otherwise, the PNA will need your input to help keep it current, progressive, and reachable to all those who need it.

Dr Dan Kelly smBy Daniel Kelly, M.D., Director, Pacific Neuroscience Institute
Director, Brain Tumor Center & Pituitary Disorders Centers
Providence Saint John's Health Center & John Wayne Cancer Institute

Thanks to the Pituitary Network Association and Bob Knutzen for their 25 years of support and education to pituitary patients and practitioners around the world.

While the PNA started as a small, single-handed effort in 1992 to raise awareness about acromegaly, it has grown into a highly influential global organization that has helped define the future course of diagnosing and treating patients with all types of pituitary disorders. While initially focused on helping patients understand their illness and finding an experienced “pituitary practitioner”, the PNA has been equally effective in persuading health care professionals to better educate the public about the amazing pituitary in sickness and in health.
The impact of the PNA has been far-reaching. It has encouraged the healthcare community to pay more attention to pituitary hormonal disorders both in their daily practice of medicine and in advancing pituitary neuro-endocrine research. It has stimulated the formation of countless pituitary support groups and patient educational events. It has encouraged “friendly competition” amongst Pituitary Centers and thus raised the bar of pituitary care around the world. The PNA website and Pituitary Patient Resource Guide have become hugely successful platforms for pituitary education and for providing an extensive listing of dedicated pituitary centers and their physicians.
Finally, one of the biggest impacts of the PNA has been its insistence on a true team approach to caring for patients with pituitary disorders. While there is much work to be done in this push for defining and organizing “Pituitary Centers of Excellence”, the PNA has been a leading catalyst for this much-needed effort. After 25 years, the impact of the PNA is clear. It has brought pituitary patients and practitioners closer together, and helped advance the art and science of pituitary care world-wide. We look forward to the next 25 years.

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