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Kirsten  Mills

ASBMR Mourns the Passing of Olav Bijvoet, M.D.

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ASBMR is sad to announce the passing of honorary member Olav Bijvoet, M.D., an esteemed researcher who helped to lay the foundation of modern research in bone and mineral metabolism. As the first physician to treat the then untreatable Paget’s disease of bone with calcitonin, he recognized the potential of antiresorptive agents for treating bone disorders. He also discovered pamidronate, the first nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate (N-BP) and was the first to recognize the significance of the nitrogen atom present in the molecule of pamidronate for the potency and the different mechanism of action of N-BPs.

 

Dr. Bijvoet actively promoted a multidisciplinary approach to research with specialists in the fields of endocrinology, nuclear medicine, oncology, radiology, pathology, rheumatology and urology.

For his contribution to the care of patients with Paget’s disease, he received the first JB Johnson Award of the American Paget Foundation. He was also a co-founder of the Dutch Society for Calcium and Bone Metabolism and the first Editor of Clinical Research of Bone and Mineral, which later merged with Bone.

 

Please feel free to share a kind note.

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Guest Jonathan Reeve

When I was starting my research fellowship and beginning to collaborate with John Parsons, before we could start studying the effects of teriparatide on bone formation and resorption using tracer methods, we had to be able to do successful metabolic balance studies. We were working in a brand new hospital with no experience of doing metabolic balance studies. Our first balance studies were completely unacceptable, with extreme variation between successive 6-day collections. Olav took me into his home for a week - despite having a large and effervescent family - and within a day had personally showed me how to get balance studies right (it all depended on getting really effective fecal homogenisation, though we later added the fecal marker Chromium-51 sesquioxide so as to sure of our precision). The rest of the week was a fast learning experience in the Leiden laboratory and wards and lots of warm hospitality afterwards in the family home.

 

We later collaborated on the first studies of teriparatide in the treatment of osteoporosis, which was open-minded of Olav since he then believed that anti-resorbers should provide a more or less complete answer to managing the condition.

 

Later, Olav sent me supplies of pamidronate for treating a very severe case of Gaucher's bone disease (I had the necessary permissions but he did not and I was sworn to secrecy). The patient was eventually taken over by Tim Cox and is now one of his most outstanding successes. Olav was a devout Catholic and it showed.

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Guest Malachi McKenna, Dublin

I only meet Dr. Olaf Bijvoet briefly once in 1983, and I heard him present once about the acute phase reaction to Pamidronate in 1982. I was familiar with his work on renal phosphorus handling (TmP/GFR) that he published in Clinical Science in 1969, which I read as a Medical Intern in 1978. That TmP/GFR remains the standard for the clinical assessment and clinical investigation of hypophosphataemic disorders over 40 years later is testimony to a great clinical scientist.

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