Buck, Wasserheit elected to Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Drs. Linda Buck and Judith Wasserheit are among 65 individuals recently elected into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Buck is associate director of the Basic Sciences Division and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is also affiliate professor in the department of physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington. Wasserheit is director of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, a member of the Center's program in infectious diseases and professor of medicine at the UW. With five individuals newly elected to foreign-associate membership and another 68 members holding emeritus status, IOM membership now stands at 1,651.

"It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished and influential individuals to the Institute of Medicine," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. "Members are elected through a highly selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. Election is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health."

Current active members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their professional achievement and commitment to service. An unusual diversity of talent is assured by the Institute's charter, which stipulates that at least one-quarter of the membership be selected from outside the health professions, from such fields as the natural, social, and behavioral sciences, as well as law, administration, engineering and the humanities.

IOM studies

The Institute of Medicine is unique for its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization. Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on issues related to human health. With their election, members make a commitment to devote a significant amount of volunteer time as members of IOM study committees.

Studies from the Institute completed in the past year include: "The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public," an agenda for addressing the vulnerabilities that have hindered the optimal functioning of the nation's drug safety system; "Preventing Medication Errors," which documents the impact of drug-related mishaps and provides an agenda for improving the safety of medication use; "The Future of Emergency Care," a series of three reports that recommend steps to shore up the nation's struggling emergency care system; "Pathways To Quality Health Care," a series of three reports on redesigning how health-care providers' performance is measured and compensated to encourage improvements in health-care delivery; and "Progress In Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?," which assesses how well public and private organizations have done in pursuing and evaluating initiatives aimed at reducing the rate of childhood obesity.

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. For the complete list of new IOM members, visit the IOM Web site at www.nationalacademies.org.

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