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Twelve Harvard Professors Elected to National Academy of Medicine

University Hall.
University Hall. By Justin F. Gonzalez
By Alexis K. Bolner and Kevin R. Chen, Contributing Writers

Twelve Harvard faculty members were elected to the National Academy of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in health and medicine, on Oct. 15.

The 12 were among 75 “regular” members and 10 international members elected for their “outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service,” according to the Academy’s press release.

The elected professors — from various schools, including Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences — are Richard S. Blumberg, Francesca Dominici, Benjamin L. Ebert, Evelynn M. Hammonds, Robert E. Kingston, Keith D. Lillemoe, Xihong Lin, Matthew L. Meyerson ’85, Charles A. Nelson III, Stuart L. Schreiber, Arlene Sharpe ’75, and Janey L. Wiggs.

“This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly remarkable set of scholars and leaders whose impressive work has advanced science, improved health, and made the world a better place for everyone,” President of the National Academy of Medicine Victor J. Dzau said in the press release.

Nelson, professor of pediatrics, neuroscience, and psychology, said he was surprised to learn of his election when he checked his email during a meeting in Toronto.

“I was so taken aback I came very close to blurting something out loud, like ‘oh my god,’ but then managed to bite my tongue,” he said.

Nelson said his research focuses on how brain development is impacted by adverse experiences, and he aims to use this knowledge to “develop interventions that can bring development back to even keel.”

“It’s enormously satisfying,” Dominici, a professor of biostatistics, population, and data science, said regarding her election.

Dominici’s research is about “developing and applying innovative statistical methods to understanding and reducing the impact of air pollution on population health,” with an aim to have “real impact in our government policy," she said.

Blumberg, a professor at the Medical School, said he was proud to have his group’s translational research recognized, but also hopes to have even greater impact in the medical field from his new position.

“We’ve been so successful in taking our fundamental ideas, based upon really great basic science, and bringing them forth into new drugs to treat diseases that have cut across a wide bunch of clinical barriers,” Blumberg said. “Now with the National Academy, maybe I can actually influence things in policy and guide things that I am passionate about in a different kind of way.”

Lin, a biostatistics professor at the School of Public Health, said the increased collaboration with members of the National Academy of Medicine will benefit her research.

She works on developing statistical and computational methods that can scale to analyze the massive amount of data in modern genetics and disease studies.

“I feel this will open new doors,” she said of her election. “I treasure the new opportunities to contribute to the National Academy of Medicine and … advance knowledge in biomedicine, public health policy, and health education so we can better tackle the emerging big problems in health.”

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