LA Music Awards Honors UA Physician, Researcher, Professor Karen Herbst

Dr. Herbst was named Humanitarian of the Year for Medical Research of Rare Tissue Disorders, having been nominated by a patient she diagnosed and is treating for Dercum’s disease.

Dr. Karen HerbstKaren Herbst, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, was recognized at the 25th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards for her compassionate care of people with adipose tissue disorders.

Dr. Herbst, a board-certified endocrinologist, walked the red carpet with her patient Brian Sirk who nominated her for the Producer’s Choice Humanitarian of the Year award. She was announced the winner for her “Medical Research of Rare Tissue Disorders” during a ceremony at the Whisky a Go-Go, a famous nightspot on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, in September.

Dr. Herbst is an expert in adipose tissue disorders, including lipedema, Dercum’s disease, angiolipomatosis and Madelung’s disease. She cares for people with these disorders who travel from all over the world to see her in her clinic at Banner – University Medical Center South in Tucson. Sirk suffered from Dercum’s disease for decades before being diagnosed with the illness and receiving treatment by Dr. Herbst.

“This award means so much to me as there were many years in the beginning of my career when no one seemed interested in adipose tissue disorders” said Dr. Herbst. “Things are changing now and awareness is growing which means that there is hope we can find a cure for the more common adipose tissue disorders including Dercum’s disease and lipedema.”

Adipose tissue is connective tissue consisting chiefly of fat cells but also a variety of other cells, including immune cells. It also produces hormones and recently has been recognized as an endocrine organ. Dercum’s disease is a rare condition 20 times more common in women and characterized by multiple, painful lipomas, or benign soft tissue tumors on the trunk and upper arms and legs that is chronic, long lasting and tends to be progressive. Lipedema is a rare, under-diagnosed chronic disease that that occurs mostly in women and is characterized by bilateral, symmetrical fatty tissue excess, in the hips and legs. 

Thanks to recent private funding, Dr. Herbst plans to accelerate her research in adipose tissue disorders in the coming months.