The discovery of Carney Complex

A physician par excellence, a true clinical investigator to whom endocrine pathology owes a host of diseases and myriad observations; and all of that, as Dr Carney always (and proudly) says, without a cent of any grant funding (!). To paraphrase the words of a song I liked as a teenager, Dr Carney doesn’t ‘just like medicine; he loves it’ (and lives for it!). He did not need any grants to immerse himself in what he loved most – what a lesson for all of us clinician scientists!

Dr. Constantine Stratakis
(Joy and discovery are inseparable from academic commitment)

Perspicacity and perseverance lead to connecting the dots!

When I first read Dr. Carney’s paper on how he made the discovery of Carney Complex my mind immediatly went to the German word ‘scharfsinn’. This translates to astute or perspicacity. Personally I like perspicacity because it also includes the notion of farsightedness.

You should know that before genetic testing became readily available, and yes, even before the discovery of one of the main Genes (PRKAR1A) in Carney Complex was made, the way rare diseases were discovered was down to how persistent, commited and astute a clinician was.

Continuing the fruitless search

It also depended on how well a clinician could keep his/her interest of finding the links between rare diseases ongoing. What made things difficult was that signs and symptoms sometimes would only be described in one single patient with a unique combination of other diseases.

Dr. J. Aiden Carney is amongst a handful of people to have shown true grit and determination. Even when all odds stood against him and he was about to give up, he still perservered. We can count ourselves incredibly lucky that Dr. Carney dedicated so much of his life to connecting the dots between patients that others would have brushed aside and seen no connections in.

I hope you’ll enjoy his paper on the Discovery of the Carney Complex, a Familial Lentiginosis–Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome: A Medical Odyssey

— Jennifer

Dr. J. Aiden Carney and his wife in Dr. Harvey Cushing’s old office,
Yale University in New Haven, CT

J Aidan Carney born 1934 in County Roscommon, Ireland, is a pathologist associated with the Mayo Clinic. He is best known for describing what became known as Carney Complex (formerly Carney syndrome), the separate phenomenon of Carney’s triad, and Carney-Stratakis syndrome.

He graduated in medicine from University College Dublin in 1959, and interned in St. Vincent’s. After further work in Dublin he moved to the Mayo Clinic in 1962, becoming consultant there in 1966.1

Dr. Carney retired in 2018 at the age of 80! He had stayed on as a consultant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and made time to meet Carney Complex patients.

He and his wife sold their home in June of 2018 and moved into a retirement home that is part of the Mayo Clinic‘s buildings complex.

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