Two UCSF Scientists Named to Institute of Medicine

October 10, 2007
News Office: Jennifer O'Brien (415) 502-6397

Two UCSF faculty scientists are among the 65 newly elected members to the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute announced on Oct. 8.

The new UCSF members are:

Dr. Michael L. Callaham, professor of clinical medicine at UCSF and chief of the division of emergency medicine at UCSF Medical Center

Dr. Louis J. Ptacek, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and John C. Coleman Distinguished Professor of Neurology at UCSF

The election brings to 75 the number of UCSF faculty who are members of the prestigious Institute. Election to the Institute recognizes those who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. It is considered one of the highest honors in these fields.

As chief of emergency medicine at UCSF Medical Center, Callaham has played an integral role in establishing the Emergency Medicine Residency Program, and in helping create a new academic Department of Emergency Medicine in the UCSF School of Medicine. A national expert on quality and bias in peer-reviewed journals, he is the editor-in-chief of the "Annals of Emergency Medicine," which has an impact factor and citation rate in the top 15 percent of all scientific journals. Callaham's current work focuses on researching the flaws and shortcomings of the peer-review process and the development of international organizations including the World Association of Medical Editors, of which he is currently president, to set standards and improve journal objectivity and quality worldwide.

Ptacek investigates the genetic mutations that contribute to a variety of genetic disorders of the brain, nerve and muscle. The goal of these studies is to illuminate the causes of the conditions and develop better diagnostic markers and treatments. He focuses on three types of disorders. One involves circadian rhythms, also known as the body's "biological clock." Little is known about these rhythms at the molecular level, but evidence suggests that disruptions in their regulation may affect disease processes, possibly provoking or exacerbating asthma attacks and migraines, contributing to breast cancer risk and affecting the response of breast cancers to treatment. Another area of research focuses on so-called episodic disorders, including seizures, headaches and cardiac arrhythmias. A third focuses on neurodegenerative diseases. In each case, the work involves identifying the genetic contributions to both normal variation and diseases through study of families with these disorders.

The Institute of Medicine's total active membership is now 1,538. The Institute also elected four individuals as foreign associates, bringing the total members in that category to 84. With another 70 members holding emeritus status, IOM's total membership is now 1,692.

Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine is a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on issues related to human health. With their election, members make a commitment to devote a significant amount of volunteer time as members of IOM study committees.

Current active members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their professional achievement and commitment to service. The Institute's charter stipulates that at least one-quarter of the membership be selected from outside the health professions, from such fields as the natural, social, and behavioral sciences, as well as law, administration, engineering, and the humanities.

UCSF is a leading university that advances health worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences and health professions, and providing complex patient care.

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