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Director’s Update: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Announces New Members

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The Institute of Medicine (IOM) on October 13, 2008 announced the names of 65 new members and five foreign associates in conjunction with its 38th annual meeting. Among the new members are six scientists who worked at or received funding from NIMH. They are:

Husseini Manji, MD, formerly of the NIMH intramural research program and now vice president for central nervous system and pain, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Titusville, N.J. While at the NIMH, he investigated the molecular and cellular underpinnings of severe mood disorders and was involved in the preclinical and clinical development of improved therapeutics.

Helen Mayberg, MD, professor of psychiatry, behavioral sciences, and neurology; and Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair in Psychiatric Neuroimaging and Therapeutics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta. Her research uses functional neuroimaging to characterize the neural systems mediating mood and emotions in order to define the brain mechanisms underlying major depression.

Michael M. Merzenich, PhD, professor emeritus of otolaryngology, and founding member, Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on understanding how the cerebral cortex represents, remembers, controls and employs sensory information.

Terry Sejnowski, PhD, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Francis Crick Professor, Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.; and professor of biology and neurosciences, University of California, San Diego. He creates computer simulations of how key brain areas contribute to learning and memory -- knowledge which ultimately may provide medical specialists with critical clues to combating Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.

William Vega, PhD, professor, department of family medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. His work focuses on comparative epidemiologic and clinical mental health and substance abuse services research in diverse populations.

Gary L. Westbrook, MD, senior scientist and co-director, Vollum Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland. He studies brain cell communication and dysfunction in neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

The Institute of Medicine is unique for its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization. Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on human health issues. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer a significant amount of time as members of IOM committees, which engage in a broad range of studies on health policy issues.