Piero P. Foa --- Obituaries
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Detroit Free Press
Wayne State University

Piero P. Foa --- Eulogies
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Diabetes Researcher Dr. Piero Foa
Jewish News, 11/19/05

Dr. Piero P. Foa was a dedicated medical researcher who spent his adult life studying the endocrine pancreas and its relationship to diabetes.

Dr. Foa’s contributions included the first convincing demonstration that glucose stimulates the secretion of insulin and that hypoglycemia stimulates the secretion of a second pancreatic hormone named glucagons, said son Richard.

Dr. Foa, 94, of West Bloomfield, died Nov. 12, 2005. His funeral, set for 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at Ira Kaufman Chapel, is on the same day he had been scheduled to be honored by the Dante Alighieri Society, an Italian cultural organization.

Born in Turin, he began his research career at the University of Milan, which awarded him his medical degree in 1934 and his doctor of science in 1938. He escaped fascist Italy in 1939.

After arriving in the United States, he was a research fellow at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and later at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he met his wife, Naomi, who was his research lab partner.

Dr. Foa spent many years as a professor of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Chicago Medical School. He came to Detroit in 1962 as the first chairman of the newly created department of research at Detroit’s Sinai Hospital as well as a research teacher of physiology at Wayne State University. After retiring from Sinai, he became a full-time professor at Wayne before retiring in 1982.

During his career, Dr. Foa authored four books and edited 15 anthologies of essays. He also has been published in more than 250 publications on the physiology of the endocrine pancreas and its relationship to diabetes.

Dr. Foa was honored many times for his research, including gold medals from the University of Milan as well as the Italian Diabetes Socety, the Wayne State President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, its Distinguished Services Award, the Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, election to the Wayne Academy of Scholars, and an award given by students for being the year’s best teacher.

Over the years, he has lectured in North and South America, Spain, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and Nigeria. More than 30 of his former students are continuing research he initiated in the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.

Aside from medical research, Dr. Foa also studied an interesting Jewish topic: the history of the Magen David. In the 15th century, his son noted, the six-pointed star was used by an ancestor as the family seal and as the mark of his work as a printer.

[...]

Contributions may be made to the Piero P. Foa Annual Lecture, Wayne State University Medical School, Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, 101 E. Alexandrine, Detroit, MI 48201; American Diabetes Association-Michigan, 30600 Telegraph, Bingham Farms, MI 48025; or Jewish Woman’s Foundation, 6735 Telegraph, Bloomfield Township, MI 38303. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.

Copy Editor Leonard Poger contributed to this story to this story.



Dr. Piero P. Foa: Professor, Diabetes Research Pioneer
by Joe Rossiter, Free Press Staff Writer
Detroit Free Press, 11/16/05

Dr. Piero P. Foa, hailed as one of Wayne State University's most influential teachers and a trailblazer in the field of diabetes research, died Saturday of natural causes at his home in West Bloomfield. He was 94.

Dr. Foa is credited with presenting the first convincing evidence that glucose stimulates the secretion of insulin and that hypoglycemia stimulates the secretion of a second pancreatic hormone called glucagon.

His discovery helped promote the fight against diabetes, a disease that, according to the American Diabetes Association, affects 20.8 million people in the United States, or 7% of the population.

A professor emeritus in the Department of Physiology, Dr. Foa's long and distinguished association with the School of Medicine began in 1962 when he came to Detroit as chairman of the Department of Research at Sinai Hospital and professor of physiology at Wayne State's School of Medicine.

As a teacher, Dr. Foa mentored graduate and medical students, fellows and visiting scientists from around the world. Many of his former students went on to achieve leadership positions throughout the field of physiology. Among them is Joseph Dunbar, PhD, who completed his dissertation with the assistance of Dr. Foa.

"The reason why he was so revered in the profession is because he was always the teacher, mentor and collaborator with other scientists, as well as with the students," said Dunbar. "He was always trying to promote excellent dialogue among students, as well as constant discussion with scientists, which is how he worked. Based on those traits, he was truly a leader."

Born in Turin, Italy, Dr. Foa received both a medical degree in 1934 and a doctorate in chemistry in 1938 from the University of Milan, where he served internships in medicine and surgery.

To escape the pressures of fascist Italy, he fled the country and arrived in the United States in 1939 to begin a research fellowship at Yale University.

He attended the University of Michigan as a research fellow until 1943. While at U-M, he met his wife of 64 years, the former Naomi Levin. He later held a faculty position at Chicago Medical School in physiology and pharmacology from 1944 to 1961.

Dr. Foa was the author of several books and published more than 250 articles on the subject of the endocrine pancreas and its relationship to diabetes. He also served as an international lecturer on the topic, traveling to South America, Europe and Africa. He was the recipient of numerous teaching and scientific awards throughout his distinguished career.

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(reprinted with the permission of Detroit Free Press publisher David Hunke)

In Memoriam, Piero P. Foa, MD, PhD
April 13, 1911 - November 11, 2005
From a Wayne State University web page.

photo of piero lecturing at Wayne

Piero P. Foa, MD, Ph.D, lauded as one of the WSU’s most influential teachers and a trailblazer in diabetes research, died on Friday, Nov. 11. Dr. Foa was 94-years-old.
 
A professor emeritus of the Department of Physiology, Dr. Foa’s long and distinguished association with the School of Medicine began in 1962, when he came to Detroit as chairman of the Department of Research at Sinai Hospital and professor of physiology at WSU. He served as acting chair of physiology in 1980-81.
 
In the span of his career, Dr. Foa celebrated many scientific accomplishments and accolades, including his presentation of evidence to establish that glucagons is a pancreatic hormone and the documentation of the mechanism of drugs used for the oral treatment of diabetes. Dr. Foa’s primary research focused on glucagons and insulin secretion and their role in the utilization of nutrients and the regulation of blood sugar levels.

“An advocate and practitioner of quality of opportunity, Dr. Foa has been the mentor of new generations of medical scientists, based solely on promise, talents and achievements. I have been proud to have been among them,” Dr. Dunbar has said.

Dr. Foa is the recipient of the School of Medicine Lamp Award bestowed by the medical students on their most influential teachers. He has been recognized internationally with numerous professional awards of merit, and was the recipient of the WSU Medical Alumni Association Weiner Award for distinguished achievement and the School of Medicine 1983 Distinguished Service Award. In 1999, the School of Medicine established the Piero P. Foa, M.D., Ph.D. Endowed Lectureship in the Department of Physiology.

Born in Torino, Italy, Dr. Foa received both a medical degree and doctorate in chemistry from the University of Milano, Italy, where he served internships in medicine and surgery. He went to the University of Michigan as a research fellow in surgery and medicine, and then served on the faculty of the Chicago Medical School before coming to WSU.

Dr. Foa is survived by his wife of 54 years, Naomi, along with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He lived in West Bloomfield.