Society for Endocrinology - a world-leading authority on hormones

Issue 120 Summer 2016

Endocrinologist > Summer 2016 > Society News

Bone and Calcium Endocrine Network

Duncan Bassett and Colin Farquharson | Society News

The endocrine system plays a critical role in the regulation of skeletal development, maintenance and repair, and is essential for mineral homeostasis.

Disruption of endocrine signalling in vitamin D deficiency, parathyroid, thyroid, pituitary and adrenal disease and following gonadal failure leads to abnormalities of skeletal growth, remodelling and mineralisation. The resulting diseases are major healthcare challenges and include rickets, osteomalacia, primary hyperparathyroidism and osteoporosis.

Recent advances in endocrinology, driven by a combination of mouse genetics, integrative physiology and clinical observations, have established bone as a novel endocrine organ regulating phosphate homeostasis (fibroblast growth factor 23; FGF23), glucose metabolism (undercarboxylated osteocalcin) and bone formation (sclerostin). Whilst major advances have been made in understanding the pathophysiology of skeletal disease and translating this into novel treatments, many challenges remain.

To bring like-minded basic science and clinical researchers together, and encourage cross-disciplinary research, the Society for Endocrinology has established dedicated forums in key areas of endocrinology: namely Endocrine Networks. Specifically, the Bone and Calcium Endocrine Network (BACN) has been established to enable Society members with an interest in skeletal physiology and metabolic bone disease to come together, share research ideas and best clinical practice, and find solutions to the challenges they face.



The first meeting of BACN took place at the Society for Endocrinology BES conference 2015 in Edinburgh and, whilst it is still early days, BACN members have already had an impact.

  • BACN members have contributed to NHS England policy by consulting on the ‘Clinical Commissioning Policy Proposition: Cinacalet for complex primary hyperparathyroidism’.
  • They have also been involved in the British Society for Rheumatology nationwide survey to determine the frequency and nature of ‘Individual Funding Requests’ for the treatment of patients with skeletal disease.
  • Members have facilitated liaison between the Society for Endocrinology’s Clinical Committee and BACN to investigate new clinical research opportunities in asymptomatic primary hyperparathyroidism.



To encourage cross-institutional and collaborative research, network convenors can apply for an Endocrine Network Research Grant from the Society for Endocrinology. These grants, of up to £5,000, focused on Network activity, can allow for pump-priming successful bids for larger scale national or European funding opportunities including those from the National Institute for Health Research, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and Horizon 2020.

'Recent advances in endocrinology have established bone as a novel endocrine organ regulating phosphate homeostasis, glucose metabolism and bone formation'

The Society’s Themed Scientific Meeting Grant, open to all members, provides additional funding opportunities (of up to £10,000) to host short focused scientific meetings, to encourage community building between our younger and more experienced members.



BACN also has a vital role in ensuring that the Society for Endocrinology BES conference programme contains world-leading basic and clinical science in skeletal physiology and metabolic bone disease. This will be achieved by engaging with Network members to identify international leaders in the field for Society prizes and plenary lectures, as well as speakers for symposia and Meet the Expert sessions. Representation of BACN on the Society’s Clinical, Science and Programme Committees will ensure that the field continues to be strongly represented at the annual conference.

Over the forthcoming year, we will establish a BACN web page to develop and establish the Network as a forum and influential mouthpiece for its members. We will also facilitate and advertise BACN meetings at other national and international meetings frequently attended by BACN members, and promote the Network to other related learned societies, such as the Bone Research Society.

We are very keen to hear your suggestions for how the BACN can help you, as well as increasing the profile of bone and calcium as an endocrine specialty.

Duncan Bassett & Colin Farquharson

Network Leads

Find out more at or contact [email protected]

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