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October 18, 2004

UCSD Medical Faculty Named To Prestigious National Organization
Salk And TSRI Also Have New Members

By Leslie Franz

Two members of the UCSD School of Medicine faculty have been elected to the Institute of Medicine, the arm of the National Academy of Sciences that is both an honorific society and an advisory body on health and health policy matters.

Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medicine, and John West, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, were among the 65 new active members announced by the IOM on Monday, October 18. This brings the total number of UCSD members to 25.

New members from San Diego also include Ernest Beutler, M.D., of The Scripps Research Institute, and Tony Hunter, Ph.D., of The Salk Institute.

Members are elected based on their professional achievement and their commitment to service, with election “considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health,” according to IOM President Harvey V. Fineburg. Members commit a significant amount of volunteer service in IOM studies and activities on a range of health issues of national importance.

“The election of these two distinguished individuals to the IOM is a testimony to their leadership in medicine and the significant contributions they have made in their fields,” said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “UCSD is proud Dr. Kaushansky and Dr. West are members of our School of Medicine They are highly respected representatives the faculty who not only to do superb work in the laboratory and classroom, but also in their service to the public.”

“This is a well-deserved honor for two colleagues whose activities and influence have extended well beyond the traditional classroom, laboratory and clinical setting,” said UCSD Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Edward W. Holmes. “They are consummate physician-scientists whose passion for research and discovery is matched by their commitment to advancing knowledge and affecting change in the teaching and practice of medicine.”

Kaushansky is a leading hematologist who has conducted seminal research on the molecular biology of blood cell production. His team has cloned several of the genes important in the growth and differentiation of blood cells, including thrombopoietin, a key regulator of platelet production. He is an accomplished clinician, and he has been a champion of the need to train more physician-scientists who can bridge the gap between the laboratory and the clinical arena, translating research discoveries into improved treatments and technologies for the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease.

He earned his B.S. and M.D. at UCLA, and completed his training, including his fellowship in hematology, at the University of Washington. He was named Chair of Medicine at UCSD in 2002. He has been awarded the Dameshek Award from the American Society of Hematology, and received the Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society for Medical Research. He is the immediate past-president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and recently stepped down as editor-in-chief of the journal Blood.

From the heights of the Chilean Andes and Mt. Everest, to the zero-gravity environment of space, West has taken his pioneering studies on the effects of low-oxygen environments and weightlessness on the human lung to unconventional laboratories. He has been highly honored for his contributions to the understanding of pulmonary function and the forces that affect it. His findings have led to the improved management of respiratory function in patients with diseases such as emphysema and pulmonary tuberculosis, techniques to alleviate hypoxia in miners and others who labor at high altitudes, and the understanding of the potential impact of space flight and long-term occupation of space stations on astronauts.

Acknowledged as one of the world's foremost authorities on pulmonary physiology, West has been a member of the UCSD faculty since 1969. He has been a long-time advisor to NASA, a principal investigator on several space shuttle missions, and he led the first dedicated medical expedition to Mt. Everest, obtaining the first measurements of human physiology on the Everest summit. His textbook, “Respiratory Physiology: The Essentials” has been translated into 13 languages. He has published 21 books and almost 400 scientific articles, and has served on numerous national and international scientific committees. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Barcelona and Ferrara, and is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Science. He is a recipient of the Edward Livingston Trudeau Medal, the highest award of the American Thoracic Society, for his contributions to the control, prevention and treatment of lung disease.

Recent studies released by the IOM include Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, Saving Women’s Lives: Strategies for Improving Breast Cancer Detection and Diagnosis, and Insuring America’s Health: Principles and Recommendations.

News Media Contact: Leslie Franz (619) 543-6163




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