ROCHESTER, Minn. — The painstaking work of physician-scientists often serves humanity as a whole, although the labors seldom get recognized with fanfare. But the Netherlands showed deep appreciation recently when it awarded Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and researcher Colum A. Gorman, M.B., B.Ch., Ph.D., the esteemed Order of Orange-Nassau for his lifelong work and collaborations with the Netherlands. Dating back to 1892 as one of the two highest honors bestowed on citizens, the Orange-Nassau is given to individuals "who have rendered outstanding service to society."
"This is a great honor for Dr. Colum Gorman and well deserved, consistent with his strong dedication and service that he has given to his patients, medicine and Mayo Clinic over many years," says John Noseworthy, M.D., Mayo Clinic president and CEO.
Dr. Gorman's career involved 50 years of championing patient and translational research, including a lengthy interaction with the Netherlands. He attended medical school at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, arriving at Mayo Clinic in 1961 to specialize in endocrinology. His studies at Mayo Clinic focused on optimizing diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. (He served as a consultant during President George H.W. Bush's diagnosis of Graves' disease.) The scope of his research also included nuclear medicine, diabetes and Graves' ophthalmopathy.
Dr. Gorman was instrumental in developing partnerships between Mayo Clinic and several research centers and companies in the Netherlands to advance the common goal of improving the quality of life for an aging population. He was pivotal in establishing the Alliance for Healthy Aging, an initiative among Mayo Clinic, The Noaber Foundation, The University of Gronigen, the Vita Valley Group of companies and PGGM, the pension organization in Holland.
In the Netherlands, the minister of foreign affairs makes the final selection for the Order of Orange-Nassau, after nominees are reviewed by a royal advisory committee. Dr. Gorman, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, now emeritus, was presented the order in October 2012, by the Netherlands Ambassador to the United States Rudolf Bekink, who made a special trip to Minnesota for the ceremony, also attended by Dr. Noseworthy.