For Professor Ichiro Kawachi, induction into the Institute of Medicine is “like getting voted into the baseball hall of fame.” And this year, he’s far from alone at Harvard—which provided 11 of the IOM’s 65 new members announced this week.
Although an organization largely dedicated to recognizing research, the IOM is also viewed as one of the most important branches of the National Academies—an influential advisory group on science, engineering, and medicine.
When asked why Harvard faculty members represent such a large proportion of this year’s new inductees, Cell Biology Professor Alfred L. Goldberg ’63 said that “Harvard is a particularly strong center for medical research.”
Isaac S. Kohane, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical School, added that the “stimulating environment [of Harvard] allows many novel ideas to be pursued.”
Kohane also said that the intellectual environment at Harvard is as diverse as it is progressive. The breadth of research that the newly-inducted professors have conducted is evidenced by their range of study—while one professor sought to sequence the genome of a parasitic worm, another applied computer models to disease outbreak.
Many recipients appeared to harbor a humility best articulated by Genetics Professor Gary B. Ruvkun, who said that “in my particular case...I could have imagined that the medical community wouldn’t have taken notice [of my work].”
All of the inductees interviewed by The Crimson echoed these sentiments, downplaying the significance of their research projects.
Ruvkun said that the great diversity of projects acknowledged represents not only the abilities of the inductees but also a “broadening of the taste of the medical community.”
In addition to Kawachi, Goldberg, Kohane, and Ruvkun, the Harvard professors recognized by the IOM include Sue J. Goldie, Daniel A. Haber, Joan Y. Reede, Clifford B. Saper, Megan Sykes, Bruce D. Walker, and Ralph Weissleder.