Dr. Claude J. Migeon, a longtime director of pediatric endocrinology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who helped establish the first gender identity clinic at Hopkins, died March 4 from heart failure. The Guilford resident was 94.
“Claude is probably one of the most distinguished pediatric endocrinologists in the country, and his major contributions went back to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in the field of steroid metabolism in children,” said Dr. George J. Dover, former director of the department of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
“He led the way in treating adrenal disorders and, most importantly, in the training of pediatric endocrinologists,” Dr. Dover said. “He was most proud of the people who came to him, and he did this for 50 years.”
Claude Jean Migeon was the son of Andre Migeon, a printer, and Pauline Descamps. He was born and raised in Lievin, France.
Despite the German occupation of France during World War II, he obtained a bachelor’s degree from the Lycee de Reims in 1942 while working with the French Resistance. He received his medical degree in 1950 from the University of Paris.
He completed pediatric training at the Hospital des Enfants Malades in Paris, and postdoctoral training in biochemistry at the University of Paris.
In 1950, he received a Fulbright Scholarship to study under Dr. Lawson Wilkins at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Wilkins had been the founder in 1935 of the first pediatric endocrine clinic in the world, located at Hopkins.
Dr. Migeon “conducted the first-ever treatment of a child with congenital adrenal hyperplasia with cortisone in 1950, setting the standard care for this life-threatening condition,” wrote his daughter, Nicole Migeon, of New York City, in a biographical profile of her father.
Dr. Migeon spent two years as a fellow under Dr. Wilkins, then completed a three-year research study with Dr. Leo T. Samuels, director of the department of biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. After that fellowship, Dr. Migeon returned to Hopkins in 1955.
When Dr. Wilkins retired in 1960, Dr. Migeon and a colleague, Dr. Robert Blizzard, were appointed co-directors in 1961 of the pediatric endocrinology division at Johns Hopkins.
Also in 1961, he married Dr. Barbara Ruben, who was a former Harriet Lane pediatric resident.
When Dr. Blizzard left Hopkins in 1974 to take a departmental chairmanship at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Dr. Migeon became sole director of the division. He held that position until 1994.
“Much of today’s knowledge of quantitative aspects of steroid secretion and metabolism in childhood is the result of the meticulous studies carried out by Dr. Migeon and his students,” stated the Johns Hopkins Department of Pediatrics in a profile of Dr. Migeon.
His studies “contributed greatly to the understanding of the long-term outcomes of patients with disorders of sexual development,” the Hopkins profile stated.
“His research had an early focus on steroid metabolism, defining the norms of adrenal function in infancy and childhood,” Ms. Migeon wrote.
Dr. Migeon joined with two Hopkins colleagues — Dr. Howard W. Jones Jr., a gynecological surgeon and reproductive medicine specialist and Dr. John W. Money, a psychologist and sexologist — on the 1965 establishment of the the first gender identity clinic at Hopkins.
As author of more than 300 publications between 1965 and 1978, Dr. Migeon was considered one of the world’s 1,000 most cited contemporary scientists.
“Claude Migeon’s contributions to the sub-specialty of pediatric endocrinology are best illustrated by the remarkable number of fellows he trained,” said Dr. Dover. Those fellows, he said, later “populated leadership positions in endocrinology internationally.”
Dr. Dover described his colleague as a “remarkable clinician and a phenomenal role model for the pediatric physician scientist. He was always interested in talking about science.
“He was a gentle and quiet individual, but was very clear in his opinions of how to train physicians,” he said. “I considered him one of my many mentors.”
He was also known for his patient care. Many of Dr. Migeon’s patients included multiple generations of the same family.
“He had a terrific sense of humor,” Dr. Dover said. “He also kept a French accent to a certain extent and was very proud of his French heritage.”
In 1972, Dr. Migeon and Dr. Blizzard formed the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrinology Society, with Dr. Migeon serving as its founding president.
He retired in 2016.
Dr. Migeon was the 1991 recipient of the Robert H. Williams Distinguished Service Award, which honors a member of the Endocrine Society, and in 2009 was presented the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrinology Society’s Judson J. Van Wyk Award. He also received the International Award of the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology in 2015.
Until his death, he was a board member of the American Memorial Hospital in Reims, France.
“He was a great teacher, scientist, mentor and professional influence to so many,” said his wife, who is a professor of pediatrics and researcher at Hopkins who is globally known for her work in genetics.
He was also co-author of “Remembering Doctor Lawson Wilkins: A Pioneer of Pediatric Endocrinology,” published in 2014. At the time of his death, he was writing an autobiography.
A former Roland Park resident, he later moved to Harper House in Guilford.
Plans for a celebration of life service to be held at Johns Hopkins are incomplete.