P&S Faculty Elected to the Institute of Medicine

Four P&S faculty members were elected this fall to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to the IOM is one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health.

The new elected members from P&S are Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, the Paul A. Marks Professor of Genetics & Development, professor of medicine, and chair of the Department of Genetics & Development; Michael Shadlen, MD, PhD, professor of neuroscience; Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, PhD, the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and professor of medical sciences (in medicine); and James J. Cimino, MD, adjunct professor of biomedical informatics.

P&S now has 46 faculty members in the IOM.

Dr. Karsenty, who was trained as an endocrinologist, has used clinical data, evolutionary history, and mouse genetics to study all aspects of skeletal biology. After identifying the master gene of bone formation, Dr. Karsenty turned his attention to the physiology of the skeleton. His laboratory postulated and demonstrated the existence of a coordinated control of bone mass accrual, energy metabolism, and reproduction. His laboratory was the first to demonstrate the existence of a central control of bone mass, to uncover its road map, and to establish that bone is an endocrine organ. He showed that the bone-derived hormone osteocalcin is necessary, in mice and in humans, for glucose homeostasis, male fertility, and cognitive functions.

Dr. Shadlen, who is also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, investigates the neural basis of decision-making and cognition by studying neurons that process information to give rise to interpretations, decisions, and plans for behavior. His experiments combine electrophysiological, behavioral, and computational methods to advance knowledge of higher brain function. His work could eventually help patients with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, or other brain disorders by using knowledge of how the brain is supposed to work as a basis for efforts to correct its malfunctions.

Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic was a Fulbright Fellow at MIT when she became interested in the use of tissue engineering and emerging technologies to improve and save human lives. At Columbia, she directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, which works on engineering human tissues for application in regenerative medicine, stem cell research, and disease modeling. Her work is extensively published and highly cited; she has more than 70 licensed, issued, and pending patents, has founded two biotech companies, and is a frequent adviser to government and industry. She is the first woman from Columbia University to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Cimino was a professor of biomedical informatics and medicine at P&S before joining the NIH, where he is chief of the Laboratory for Informatics Development at the NIH Clinical Center and the National Library of Medicine. His primary research interests include medical concept representation and using it to support clinical decision-making.

A Mailman School of Public Health faculty member, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology, was elected to the IOM this year as a foreign associate. In addition to her Mailman appointment, she is associate scientific director for the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa.