Who was Dr. William C. Baum?
The first discovery of primary hyperaldosteronism secondary to an aldosterone-secreting adrenal adenoma has been credited solely to Dr. Jerome Conn, an endocrinologist at the University of Michigan and for whom, Conn syndrome was named. Dr. William Baum, a urologist at the University of Michigan, however, was instrumental in the appropriate operation and historical aldosteronoma resection. Despite Dr. Baum’s important role in this discovery, he was never included as an author in any of the subsequent papers describing Conn syndrome and, few today would recognize his name. So, who was Dr. Baum and what happened? This historical article aims to revisit the history surrounding the discovery of aldosteronoma as a cause of Conn’s syndrome and to catalog the life and involvement of Dr. William C. Baum in that discovery.
The authors deeply thank Dr. William C. Baum’s son, Carl Baum, who provided access to Dr. Baum’s memoirs, numerous photographs, personal recounts, and timeline of his father’s life, career, and death. We also thank Dr. Norman W. Thompson who personally corresponded with the author (MRL) by phone. His insight and direct relationship with Dr. Baum was helpful in understanding the circumstances that surrounded the first aldosteronoma resection. Finally, we thank the Maritime Museum in Cortez, Florida, for providing the photograph of Dr. Baum restoring model ships. In particular, we thank Krystin Miner at the Maritime Museum for providing photographs of the models and dioramas that Dr. Baum created and to Amara Cocilovo Nash, a former Maritime museum employee, who put us in touch with Carl Baum.
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