Jules Hirsch, Obesity Research Pioneer, Passes Away

July 30th, 2015 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

The New York Times reported this morning on the passing of Dr.  Jules Hirsch, a pioneer in obesity research. Twenty years ago, Dr.Hirsch and  colleagues produced a ground-breaking study showing  that,  weight is lost, metabolism slows down. This causes weight to plateau without even greater reductions in caloric intake. At some point, a patient becomes frustrated with the lack of progress and/or succumbs to the brain’s demand to assuage the sensation of hunger.

Dr. Hirsch provided a wonderful summary of brain and behavior vis a vis obesity in this 2003 publication in Cerebrum,  in 2003, from the Dana Foundation, Obesity: Matter  Over Mind.

Dr. Hirsch will  surely be missed by the generations of researchers and clinicians he trained, by colleagues throughout the world in obesity research ,as well as by family and friends.

For many years, Dr. Hirsch was a member of the Food and Drug  Administration’s advisory panel reviewing drugs for the treatment of obesity. As a witness to most of these hearings since 1998, I can say that fear spread across the faces of presenters from the pharmaceutical  company when Dr. Hirsch’s time came to ask questions. His approval  or disapproval had a wide impact on other panelists. Likewise, one could hear a virtual sigh of relief among pharmaceutical company presenters were there news Dr. Hirsch would be absent. His testament to scientific integrity will be surely missed.