“I am convinced that endocrinology is in everything. It is present in all fields of medicine as it is all about achieving balance — homeostasis.”
This is the conviction of Christian A. Koch, MD, PhD, FACP, MACE, professor and chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. Koch, board-certified in endocrinology and internal medicine, joined UF in May and has since been working to build upon the existing infrastructure within the division and expand clinical care, research and education.
A proud German-American, Koch entered the field of medicine right out of secondary school. Initially, his sights were set on music as he was quite interested in the idea of becoming a pianist. Exceptional grades and a passion for learning prompted his teachers and advisers to offer another option for him — medicine. He was assured that in medical school he could combine all his passions for the greater good.
“I knew I wanted to help people most of all, so I went to medical school and I enjoyed all that it had to offer, the biology, biochemistry, physiology — all of it,” Koch said.
In Germany, Koch received his medical degree from Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg. After a brief stint in the neurosciences in Germany, residency training would bring him to the United States where he completed an internship and internal medicine residency at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a fellowship in endocrinology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
The journey to UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville
Koch comes to the University of Florida from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has served as director of endocrinology since 2019. Prior to coming to Jacksonville, he was introduced to the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville by a product of the program — a fellow.
“Years ago, I came across an excellent fellow who was training at the College of Medicine – Jacksonville when I was a board review faculty member at the Cleveland Clinic,” Koch said. “Their work was exceptional and impressed me. I have been watching the growth of the campus ever since. Several years later, it’s now come full circle and I am fortunate to make a positive mark on this institution.”
Expanding the infrastructure for endocrinology on campus
As chief, Koch’s focus is to elevate the division by building upon the foundation already established on the Jacksonville campus.
“My vision is to have one of the most comprehensive endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism centers in Northeast Florida,” Koch said. “To effectively do that, there are certain things we need to hone in on the things we do extremely well and build on that.”
Koch highlighted three focus points: education, research and clinical care.
Education — Remaining focused on providing the best training and support to our residents and fellows. Their success is heavily tied to what they learn here and carry into medical facilities and environments across the world.
Research — Increasing research to implement patient-centered solutions. Find avenues and resources to expand endocrine oncology.
Clinical Care — Advancing clinical care by prioritizing patients and promoting positive outcomes.
A story behind the research
Koch’s body of work is extensive with more than 200 publications in medical journals, 70 book chapters, and more than 100 published abstracts. The focus of his research has been endocrine oncology, which includes the study of tumors that grow or mutate in endocrine glands. An endocrine gland is responsible for producing and secreting hormones that send necessary messages that impact important bodily functions.
“I have a lot of family members who died of cancer very young,” Koch said. “They had unusual types of cancers including carcinoid/neuroendocrine neoplasms, so I was always inquisitive about how cancer develops. This is the driving force behind my work.”
That work includes two of what he considers his most important studies: The molecular pathogenesis of hereditary and sporadic adrenocortical and adrenomedullary tumors, and Duplication of the mutant RET allele in trisomy 10 or loss of the wild-type allele in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2-associated pheochromocytomas.
A challenge for the road ahead
As his journey as chief begins, Koch has challenged himself and his faculty to practice Albert Einstein’s principle to never stop questioning and asking why things are.
“Remain inquisitive and don’t lose your passion,” Koch said. “If you stay inquisitive and engaged in scholarly activity and publishing, it can help advance medicine and benefit subsequent generations decades from now.”
Koch has received several awards, including Master of the American College of Endocrinology and was honored as a U.S. News & World Report Top Doctor from 2011 through 2023. His book, “Endocrine Hypertension,” was published by Springer in 2013. He is also a member of several associations, including the American and the German Endocrine Societies, as well as the American and German Diabetes Associations.
Christian A. Koch, MD, PhD, FACP, MACE
Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism