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Monday, June 23, 2008

Xyndrome Blues

Almost 20 years ago, just out of medical school, I wanted to measure the effect of salt intake on insulin sensitivity in healthy volunteers. I reviewed the literature and soon found an article by Richard Bergman that described a piece of software he had developed for assessing insulin sensitivity (SI) by a computed mathematical analysis of the relation between the change in insulin and glucose clearance after a bolus of iv glucose.

At the time (this was years before e-mail), I called his office at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and found out that he was on sabbatical in Phoenix. When I finally tracked him down and got him on the phone, I explained who I was and what I wanted and he was most kind and actually sent me his software, which arrived a couple of weeks later in the mail on a 3.5-inch floppy (how did anyone do research before the internet?).

Anyway, this weekend, for the first time, I finally met Richard at the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR) meeting in Quebec City. Of course he did not remember speaking to me on the phone 20 years ago - but we did laugh about it.

Today, as some of you may know, Richard is the Editor-in-Chief of OBESITY and still extremely active in the field of insulin resistance.

At the Chair symposium, which focussed on various aspects of the endocannabinoid system in obesity and metabolism, Richard introduced the term "Xyndrome", a clever contraction of the terms "metabolic syndrome" and "syndrome X" (both terms are used to describe the cluster of abdominal obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, low HDL and elevated glucose associated with insulin resistance).

More interestingly, on Sunday, after the symposium, Richard and I got to play a set of blues at the post-symposium barn party hosted by my good friend Jean-Pierre Despres in his hometown just outside Quebec City. As many of you may know, JP Despres is perhaps the most prominent obesity researcher in Canada (nearly 500 papers at last count), who coined the term "hypertriglyceridemic waist". He is also the Scientific Director of ICCR and Head of the Canadian Obesity Network's Section on Heart Lung and Blood Vessels. More relevant in the context of this post, JP is also a singer and guitarist and recently recorded his first album.

Anyway, I not only finally got to meet Richard Bergman 20 years after speaking to him on the phone but also (even better) got to jam with him for a full set (he really is an awesome blues player!).

Thanks Richard for a great Jam! Thanks JP for bringing us together and making this happen!

Quebec City, Quebec

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