June 21, 2002

King honored for 25 years of service

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From left, Dr. Steven Gabbe, Dr. Lloyd King, and Stanley Cohen, Ph.D., talk after the symposium last week honoring King’s 25-year career at Vanderbilt. (photo by Dana Johnson)

King honored for 25 years of service

A quarter century of scientific contributions by Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s dermatology chief, Dr. Lloyd E. King Jr., was honored last Friday with a symposium in Light Hall featuring Nobel laureate Stanley Cohen, Ph.D.

King’s work has ranged from helping to determine the function of epidermal growth factor and its receptor, to improving the treatment of brown recluse spider bites.

In his introductory remarks, Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine, said, “Every great medical school must have individuals like Lloyd King … who, because of their commitment to the institution over many years, really provide the culture, provide its values, provide what people know it to be.”

King, professor of Medicine, will resign from his post as chief of the Dermatology division at the end of June to pursue his research interests. Dr. George P. Stricklin, professor of Medicine and director of the Skin Diseases Research Core Center, will succeed him.

A native of Mayfield, Ky., King earned his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. After completing specialty training in dermatology and biochemistry, and teaching for five years at UT, King joined the Vanderbilt faculty as associate professor and chief of dermatology in 1977.

In the late 1970s, King collaborated with Cohen, distinguished professor of Biochemistry, emeritus, and Graham F. Carpenter, Ph.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, on work that characterized the EGF receptor. In 1986, Cohen was awarded a Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of EGF and for subsequent work at Vanderbilt that he said “has led to a new way of attacking the unregulated growth of certain cancers.”

Another speaker, Dr. Riley S. Rees, said his collaboration with King on the brown recluse spider helped determine the course of his career. Rees trained in plastic surgery at Vanderbilt and was an associate professor here before leaving in 1988 for the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, where he directs the Wound Care Center.

The Vanderbilt work helped establish the fact that brown recluse spider bites are actually wounds that don’t heal well, and respond better to conservative medical treatment than to surgery. “That was probably one of the most important things I ever did in my life,” Rees said.

Dr. John A. Zic, assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt, discussed his collaboration with King on the development of extracorporeal photochemotherapy as a treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

“Lloyd’s influence has been felt throughout the institution,” said Lillian B. Nanney, Ph.D., professor of Plastic Surgery and Cell Biology, whose work on the EGF receptor with King in the early 1980s led to better understanding of psoriasis and wound healing.

King said he plans to continue working with Nanney on mouse models of human skin disease. “Lloyd’s not any ordinary investigator,” she concluded. “He’s about to go on to some new discoveries, and I look forward to working with (him).”