History of the Division

The early years

Frank Sladen, M.D., was the chief physician at Henry Ford Hospital in 1915. There were no specialists in the field of internal medicine at that time. Dr. Sladen was joined by a group of physicians who divided up the potential specialty fields to be created for the hospital. These included Surgery (Dr. Roy McClure), Medicine (Dr. Frank Sladen), Obstetrics and Gynecology (Dr. Jean Paul Pratt, who was president of the Endocrine Society in the 1920s), and Pathology (Dr. Frank Hartman). Later, others joined the steadily enlarging physician staff.

Within the Department of Medicine, the Division of Metabolism was formed in the early 1920s with Dr. Daniel Foster as first chief. He was joined by Dr. William Lowrie, who later became the second chief of Metabolism.

The mid years

By the mid-1950s, several new divisions within the Department of Medicine had been created. Dr. Richmond Smith (later chief of Medicine) was recruited from Cornell to start a Division of Endocrinology at Henry Ford. The Division grew to include thyroid specialist Dr. Martin Miller, recruited from the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Raymond Mellinger, who may be considered the first Endocrinology Fellow; followed closely by Dr. Saeed Zafar.

Dr. Fred Whitehouse, after completing a fellowship at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, joined the Metabolism Division under Dr. Lowrie and later became the third chief of Metabolism in 1962.

In parallel with these developing specialties of endocrinology and metabolism came the specialization of General Medical Clinic #5, led by Dr. Robert Durham and later by Dr. Boy Frame whose interests in calcium and bone diseases permitted evolution of the division into a Bone and Mineral Division, if not in name, surely in fact. Dr. Frame recruited Dr. Michael Parfitt from England via Australia and Dr. Michael Kleerekoper from St. Louis. During this time Dr. D. Sudhakar. D Rao joined the group as a fellow and later as staff. Much of this interest was sustained by Dr. Harold Frost, chief of Orthopedics, who had great vision and interest in the pathogenesis of bone diseases. The clinical research work of this division became well known nationally.

In 1985, Dr. Mellinger was chief of Endocrinology, Dr. Whitehouse chief of Metabolism, and Dr. Frame chief of Bone and Mineral Disorders. A few years later, Dr. Frame became chief of the Department of Medicine and under his leadership, the divisions of Endocrinology and Metabolism conjoined, with Dr. Whitehouse as chief, and later the specialty of Bone and Mineral Disorders merged into the Division as well. In 1995, Dr. Dorothy Kahkonen became chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, which included the section of Bone and Mineral Disorders.

The 21st century

In October 2006, Dr. Abraham Thomas joined us from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School as Head of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone and Mineral Disorders.
In 2014 Dr. Arti Bhan was named Interim Head of the Division and was then formally appointed in 2015.


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