October 17, 2008

Two gain election to Institute of Medicine

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Kathryn Edwards, M.D.

Two gain election to Institute of Medicine

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.

Vanderbilt Medical Center faculty members Kathryn Edwards, M.D., and Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., have been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies, the organization announced this week.

Comprised of top health experts and life scientists, the IOM serves as an adviser to the nation to improve health and promote health-related research. Edwards and Balser join 17 other Vanderbilt faculty members elected to the IOM in previous years.

“Becoming a member of the IOM represents recognition by your peers that you have made major contributions to medicine,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and an IOM member. “An honor of this sort reflects on our institution and helps confirm that Vanderbilt is a place where top minds and talents can do their best work.”

“I am absolutely delighted about this honor,” Edwards said. “It means that esteemed members of the scientific and medical community in this country acknowledge that what I have done over the past 28 years at Vanderbilt has had a positive impact on the lives of others.”

Edwards received her M.D. from the University of Iowa and residency training at Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University. Following fellowship and postdoctoral training at Northwestern and Rush Medical School, Edwards joined the Vanderbilt faculty as assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases in 1980. She now holds the Sarah H. Sell Chair in Pediatrics and serves as vice chair for Clinical Research for the Department of Pediatrics.

Edwards is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has served on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She conducts research on pediatric and adult vaccines and has performed many of the pivotal studies on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine safety and vaccine impact in the past two decades.

“The IOM is an exciting and compelling organization, and I'm delighted to have an opportunity to serve academic medicine through participation in its important initiatives. I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues in this way,” Edwards said.

After receiving his M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt in 1990, Balser trained as a resident and fellow in anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins, where he joined the faculty in 1995. He returned to Vanderbilt in 1998 as associate dean for Physician Scientists. In 2001 he was appointed the James Tayloe Gwathmey Professor and Chair of Anesthesiology. In 2004 he became associate vice chancellor for Research and was recently named dean of the School of Medicine (See story, page 1).

Balser is a member of American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the AAMC Advisory Panel on Research, and has chaired the NIH Director's Pioneer Award Committee. His studies in Nature, PNAS, and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology have established new paradigms for cardiac excitation-contraction coupling, and are yielding new targets for arrhythmia control.

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 human health issues. Members are elected by other members.