Ex-Provost Will Head Institute of Medicine

Fineberg will assume presidency of national health care group

Former Provost Harvey V. Fineberg ’67 has been appointed the seventh president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that advises the federal government on health policy issues.

Fineberg, who took a leave of absence from Harvard at the end of last semester after he was passed over for the University’s presidency, said he was excited about the appointment and eager to tackle the new challenges ahead.

“The IOM has this unique responsibility as the nation’s science adviser on matters of health,” Fineberg said. “My aim is to make it a vital player in the solution of the nation’s health problems.”

IOM was created by NAS in 1970 to enlist members of the health professions in examining health policy issues. It currently has 1,429 members, including Fineberg.

“It’s like having an all-star national faculty to work on the most pressing issues of the day,” Fineberg said.

Under his presidency, Fineberg said he hopes IOM will address such issues as “the public health infrastructure, the quality of health care, the under-insured and the capacity of service delivery systems to meet emergencies as well as long-term needs.”

Fineberg will succeed current IOM President Kenneth I. Shine on July 1, 2002.

He was nominated for the job by the IOM Council, the institute’s 20-member governing board, and appointed by NAS President Bruce Alberts, who is also a member of Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the University’s second-highest governing body.

“Harvey Fineberg combines a rich academic leadership experience with a continuing commitment to and involvement in the health of the public,” Shine said in a statement released yesterday. “He is an outstanding choice.”

Before taking on the role of provost in 1997, Fineberg served as the dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) for 13 years.

He has been a member of IOM since 1982 and has been involved in research projects for the Institute for 25 years.

Fineberg also served on the IOM’s Board on International Health.

“One of the things that I feel fortunate in is that I’ve been able over a sustained period to be involved in several projects at the IOM, so I begin with some familiarity,” Fineberg said.

Because Fineberg will serve a six-year term, he will have to give up his Harvard professorship.

“One of the pleasures of being at Harvard are the caliber and intellect of people that one interacts with on a daily basis,” he said.

Fineberg said he expects to find the same quality of colleagues at IOM.