William Nye, MD
Bill Nye joined the faculty in about 1968 to contribute to the Veteran’s Administration Endocrinology and Metabolism Division. His background was in lipid metabolism, and he quickly began participating in clinical research in cholesterol studies. Characterizing patients with "hyper-lipidemia" had just begun with the investigative use of lipoprotein fractionation by paper chromatography. The first disease abnormality was a "Pre-Beta lipoprotein band" visible in front of the normal beta lipoprotein band. So patients with this Prebeta lipoprotein were observed to commonly also have type II diabetes. This was the beginning of the recognition that elevated cholesterol was the consequence of a protein disorder, a so called "lipo-proteinemia", which changed the understanding of diseases of fat and cholesterol forever.
Bill initiated studies of patients with elevated blood lipids, and reported the relationship between elevated blood insulin levels and the Prebeta lipoproteinemia which they demonstrated. He also reported the correction of the lipoprotein abnormality following therapy with early anti-lipid medications. These observations in Native American and Anglo volunteers were among the first to establish the relationship between insulin secretion and hyperlipemia which has today become a basic fact of physiology.
To conduct these investigations, Bill and I would often leave Albuquerque before dawn, driving to the Gallop Indian Health Service Hospital to observe blood insulin and lipid values in men and women with obesity and/or diabetes. It is worth noting, that measuring serum insulin required a radioimmunoassay, which was unavailable from clinical laboratories in those early years, and were conducted in the UNM SOM research laboratories of the Endocrine Division. Those early morning drives with the sun-rise behind us are wonderful memories that Bill and I shared as we crossed the beautiful New Mexican countryside.
In those early years, there were so few faculty in Endocrinology or Metabolism that we joined together with Nephrology faculty for weekly teaching rounds. Included in these rounds with Bill and I were Martin Conway the new Endocrinologist from the Lovelace Clinic, Bob Wang and Gene Klinger from the VA Renal Division, and Ron Tatum the Endocrinologist from the community. Together we all led a dynamic teaching program for interns, residents and students. Bill was a fine person, a solid clinician, and dedicated scientist who contributed significantly to establishing a first-rate clinical research program at the Albuquerque VA Hospital. While his years with us were cut short, his contributions were important and enduring, with focus upon the value of research as the foundation for teaching.
— R. Philip Eaton MD, Emeritus Executive Vice President, UNM HSC