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October 15, 2001

Contact: Sue Pondrom (619) 543-6163  

UCSD Faculty Elected to Institute of Medicine   

Two UCSD School of Medicine faculty are among 60 individuals elected to membership in the prestigious Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences.  The announcement was made today at the Institute’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Daniel R. Masys, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine and director of biomedical informatics for the School of Medicine, was elected an active member; and William L. Nyhan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and founding chair of the department, was elected to senior membership.

The Institute’s active members, elected on the basis of their professional achievement, serve without compensation in the conduct of studies, conferences, and other Institute inquiries into matters of national policy for health and agree to volunteer on behalf of the Institute in its governance and studies.   Senior members include those with non-voting status and members over age 66.

Masys is an expert in bioinformatics, making vast amounts of complex medical knowledge more accessible with the aid of computers. His research interests are Internet-accessible medical records and health information, Internet utilities for conducting clinical research, and the analytical informatics of gene expression profiling using microarray technologies.

A former chief of the International Cancer Research Data Bank of the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Masys was also director of the NIH Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, which is the computer research and development division of the National Library of Medicine. He was the founding director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information that maintains GenBank, the public database that makes available information from the Human Genome Project.

Nyhan is a pioneer in the study and treatment of metabolic diseases in children, including rate disorders.  He first described Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, a condition caused by a defective gene on the X chromosome and characterized by self-mutilating behaviors such as lip and finger biting and/or head banging.  Nyhan has also helped identify the underlying deficiencies and develop successful nutritional treatments for many other difficult to diagnose disorders.

Beginning in 1969, Nyhan served as the first chairman for UCSD’s newly formed Department of Pediatrics.  He was chair for 17 years and now serves in the department’s division of biochemical genetics. 

In addition to authoring the classic textbook, Disorders of Amino Acid, Nyhan is also the author of The Atlas of Metabolic Diseases.  Among his many awards are the Robert Guthrie Award for advances in biomedical and molecular genetics from the American Association for Mental Retardation, and the 1999 American Academy of Pediatrics Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to Masys and Nyhan, 19 UCSD faculty are currently members of the Institute. 

Also elected to 2001 membership from San Diego are Salk Institute researchers Fred Gage, Ph.D., and Stephen Heinemann, Ph.D.  Both Gage and Heinemann are adjunct professors of neuroscience at UCSD and members of the UCSD Graduate Program in Neurosciences.


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