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Jerry Palmer
March 6, 2024

In memoriam: Jerry Palmer

Dr. Jerry Palmer, professor emeritus (Metabolism, Endocrinology and Nutrition) passed away on Feb. 28. He was 80.
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Dr. Jerry Palmer received his medical degree from the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY, completed his residency at Dartmouth and an endocrinology fellowship at the University of Washington.

Jerry PalmerRecruited by founding Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Robert Williams, Palmer remained at the University of Washington for 45 years until his retirement and appointment to emeritus professor in 2019. He also served as chief of endocrinology at the Seattle VA for nearly 30 years.

One of his many significant accomplishments included creating the Diabetes Care Center at the UW, and directing the center for 12 years. 

"Jerry had a vision to begin a diabetes clinic at the University of Washington," said colleague Dr. Irl Hirsch. "In March of 1991, the Diabetes Care Center opened, and this vision resulted in today’s clinic at the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute. Today, the clinic has over 18,000 visits each year."

Palmer is probably best known for his scientific contributions, including vital roles in the seminal clinical diabetes trials which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how to optimize diabetes care.

"He was one of the original investigators in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT)/Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Complications (EDIC) study, which is now 41 years in duration (and counting)," said Hirsch.

"This NIH-funded trial answered the critical question if glucose control in type 1 diabetes had any impact in diabetes complications. In 1993, Jerry and other investigators from around the country told the world that indeed, glucose control is critical in avoiding complications. Today, diabetes therapies have accelerated at amazing speeds due to Jerry’s work in the DCCT."

He is also known for the discovery of insulin autoantibodies, which garnered him a nomination by international colleagues for a Nobel Prize in Medicine.

"Jerry was internationally known for his work in the autoimmunity of type 1 diabetes," said Hirsch. "His lab discovered the insulin autoantibody, one of the immune markers we now use to predict type 1 diabetes in children. Later, he developed a very difficult assay of T-cells, a measurement of cells that are reactive in the early stages of type 1 diabetes.

In 2011, he received the prestigious Outstanding Physician Clinician in Diabetes Award from the American Diabetes Association.

With all of his professional accomplishments, his main focus remained his family. Every summer he would host his children, grandchildren, and friends to his property on Herron Island.

He will be greatly missed.


Services will be held at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Federal Way on Saturday March 9 at 10am. Reception to follow.