OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the legacy of endocrinologist Jean Wilson, whose discovery in 1969 of 5 alpha-reductase (5AR) and description of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) as the primary hormone associated with prostatic growth ushered in a golden age of collaboration between endocrinologists, oncologists, and urologists that led to some of the critical discoveries in the understanding and treatment of prostatic pathology. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A review of the medical literature between 1969 and 2020 was conducted and multiple authors interviewed. RESULTS: In 1969, Gloyna and Wilson demonstrated the reduction of testosterone to DHT in the prostate. With Bruchovsky, Wilson established that DHT was the primary hormone associated with prostatic growth. Wilson went on to show that androgens are involved in every aspect of prostate development, growth, and function. Wenderoth and Wilson then showed that a 5AR inhibitor blocked the prostatic growth. Subsequently, clinical trials with therapies targeting 5AR were led by Roehrborn and McConnell. Tilley and Wilson with Marcelli and McPhaul cloned the human androgen receptor at UT Southwestern in 1989 and provided the first evidence that androgen receptor was a transcriptional factor that could regulate its own expression in prostate cancer. Androgen receptor mutations explaining the molecular basis of androgen resistance syndromes were first described by Wilson, McPhaul, et al in the early 1990s. CONCLUSION: Basic, translational, and clinical research has played a pivotal role in our current understanding of prostatic disease. Much of this legacy is credited to Jean Wilson and the cross-pollination of world-class scientists across fields, whom he inspired.
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