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Aug 6

Dr. Salvatore Raiti, an internationally known pediatric endocrinologist – Baltimore Sun

Dr. Salvatore Raiti, an internationally known pediatric endocrinologist who was the first director of the National Hormone and Pituitary Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, died July 26 of heart failure at PowerBack Rehabilitation in Lutherville.

The resident of the Orchards neighborhood in North Baltimore was 83.

The son of Giovanni Raiti and Maria Raiti, Salvatore Raiti was born in Linguaglossa, Italy, and when he was an infant, he moved with his family to Mourilyan, Australia, which is in Queensland.

He earned his medical degree in 1958 from the University of Queensland, and after practicing medicine at the Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital in Herston, Queensland, he moved to London in 1961 to continue postgraduate studies in pediatrics at the University of London.

In 1963, Dr. Raiti was a fellow in the steroid training program at the Worcester Foundation in Shrewsbury, Mass.

Dr. Raiti came to Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1964, where he began a three-year fellowship in pediatric endocrinology.

He then returned to London, where he was a pediatric endocrinologist from 1968 to 1970 at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a facility devoted to caring for children.

In 1970, Dr. Raiti returned to Baltimore when he was named the first director of what was then the National Pituitary Agency, a division of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was also chief of pediatric endocrinology.

The human growth hormone, or HGH, was discovered in 1956 and found to be an effective therapeutic agent for the treatment of hypopitiutarism, which causes dwarfism in children and premature aging in adults.

In 1963, the National Pituitary Agency was first at Johns Hopkins Hospital and later at the University of Maryland, where its role was to collect human pituitary glands from cadavers and distribute them for those in treatment.

If such children receive regular injections of the hormone over a period of four to five years, it can mean a difference between reaching a maximum height of four feet and of attaining five feet, he told The Baltimore Sun in a 1971 interview.

The growth hormone is one of 10 secreted by the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, he said.

The growth hormone extracted from one pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, is only enough treatment for three or four days, he told The Sun in 1970.

It takes many glands to determine the growth pattern and metabolism in one patient. With more than 10,000 children suffering from hypopituitary dwarfism and many more who have other types of dwarfism, much more growth hormone is needed, and so investigators are searching for a way to synthesize it, he said.

By 1973, 2,000 children who had dwarfism had been successfully treated, reported The Sun in 1973.

At the time, Dr. Raiti said it was believed that the human growth hormone did not directly induce growth but stimulated the liver to produce another hormone called somatomedin.

What he was trying to do was make kids well, said Dr. Claude J. Migeon of Roland Park, a retired pediatric endocrinologist who worked alongside Dr. Raiti. Patients liked him very much, and he was very friendly and outgoing. He was always very kind and helpful to me.

Today, anabolic drugs are used to treat dwarfism.

During his career, Dr. Raiti contributed to 80 scientific reports in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters, and edited five medical books, including Advances in Human Growth Hormone Research and Normal at Any Cost.

After retiring in 1993, he continued working in emergency medicine for several more years, family members said.

He was a member of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, Baltimore City Medical Society, the Maryland State Medical Society, and the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Raiti enjoyed the theater, museums and symphony concerts, and especially liked to visit London, where he stayed at the Savoy Hotel.

He also like to take his wife of 40 years, the former Emilia Fava, dancing at the Rainbow Room in New York City

Dr. Raiti was a fan of classic, Victorian and mystery novels.

A devout Roman Catholic, he regularly attended Mass at St. Jude Shrine in downtown Baltimore.

He was a congregant of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered July 31.

In addition to his wife, Dr.Raiti survived by two sons, John G. Raiti of Seattle and Gerard Raiti of Los Angeles; and a granddaughter.

Dr. Salvatore Raiti, an internationally known pediatric endocrinologist - Baltimore Sun

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