Wednesday, March 3, 2021

John Hans Menkes: Pediatric neurologist

The disease of Menkes syndrome is named after John Hans Menkes. Menkes, was born in Vienna on December 20, 1928. In 1939, following the German annexation of Austria, the family fled Austria and immigrated to the USA via Ireland.

Menkes, son and grandson of physicians, followed the family tradition and studied medicine, despite his wish to become a journalist.

He graduated high school in California. He then earned a B.S. and M.S. degree in organic chemistry at the University of Southern California and attended medical school at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Following a pediatric neurology residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, Menkes went to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he spent the rest of his life advancing the field of pediatric neurology and having an impact on the fields of genetics and dermatology.

Menkes became head of pediatric neurology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and later at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 1957 he began a pediatric neurology fellowship at the New York Neurological Institute of Columbia University.

In 1960s researchers observing defective wool in affected sheep turned to the Australian Wool Research Laboratories to establish a link between a copper-deficient diet and defective hair formation. The disorder was first described by John Hans Menkes in 1962. Menkes identified two inherited diseases: maple syrup urine disease which is a defect in amino acid metabolism, and a defect in copper transport which bears his name.

In 1974 he entered private practice but returned to academic medicine in 1984 as professor of neurology and pediatrics at UCLA.

He established the pediatric neurology program at UCLA. Menkes has published numerous papers and a textbook of child neurology. He has also written several novels. He has received some literary prizes.

He died from complications of cancer on November 22, 2008.
John Hans Menkes: Pediatric neurologist

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