CPMC Researcher Recognized for Practice-changing Osteoporosis Research
Jun 25, 2021
Sutter Health
Steve Cummings, M.D.

SAN FRANCISCO – Steve Cummings, M.D., a researcher at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center and Executive Director of the San Francisco Coordinating Enter Center (SFCC), has been awarded the top honor from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). The William F. Neuman Award recognizes major scientific contributions and impact on research and clinical practice in the area of bone and mineral research.

Dr. Cummings, known worldwide for his studies of aging, longevity and breast cancer, is perhaps most often cited for his discoveries in osteoporosis and its treatment.

He and colleagues at the SFCC led the large clinical trials that resulted in U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and widespread use of most of the treatments used for osteoporosis, including Fosamax® (alendronate), Prolia® (raloxifene) and Evista® (raloxifene), as well as the studies that first established the value of bone density and risk factors for hip fractures that are widely used in clinical practice.

“Our team of outstanding scientists, data analysts and research staff at SFCC have done much of the research that is the basis of clinical care for osteoporosis and fracture prevention,” says Dr. Cummings. “When patients have bone density tests, when doctors recommend a treatment and when patients and doctors decide to stop or switch treatments, much of the evidence for those decisions comes from research by the SFCC.  Our team is extending our work to understanding and finding ways to slow aging.”

Dr. Cummings has published over 600 peer-reviewed, often high-impact publications since beginning his career as a physician-scientist in 1980. A residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in clinical epidemiology followed his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), as well as 38 years as a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UCSF. He also served as the Associate Chair of Medicine and Assistant Dean for Clinical Research at UCSF before joining CPMC.

Dr. Cummings has also been honored with election to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences.

“Dr. Cummings’ research has changed the way clinicians and researchers approach osteoporosis,” says Warren Browner, M.D., CEO of CPMC. “His colleagues at the ASBMR have honored him for a lifetime of contributions to epidemiologic research and mentorship. He authored seven of the 50 most referenced papers in osteoporosis and was recently listed as one of the 100 most highly cited researchers in the world.”

“Dr. Cummings is a supportive mentor and collaborator who has fostered the careers of highly successful researchers. His ability to envision the next big topic in science and assemble research teams to address new questions has advanced research topics in areas spanning ‘protons to populations’,” says colleague Greg Tranah, Ph.D., scientific director of CPMC’s Research Institute and director of Sutter’s Center for Precision Medicine Research.

Dr. Cummings’ research has taken knowledge of some of the most chronic, complex illnesses to new heights for the betterment of human health. But he continues to charge forward; there’s more work to be done: his list of new research projects include SOMMA, the first study to obtain muscle and fat biopsies in nearly 900 older adults to understand the basis of human aging and find molecular targets for treatments of aging-related conditions like sarcopenia.

He also leads the largest clinical trial ever conducted for Parkinson’s disease to test whether a single treatment with an FDA-approved drug for osteoporosis can reduce the risk of fractures and lower the mortality rate of older adults with Parkinson’s disease. The trial, called TOPAZ, is being conducted entirely from patients’ homes without the need for visits to a clinic.

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