UCSD Health SciencesUCSD Health Sciences
October 16, 2000 

Media Contacts: Leslie Franz, UCSD (619) 543-6163 

                              Warren Froelich, Salk (858) 453-4100 Ext. 1646


Three San Diego scientists, including two from UCSD and one from The Salk Institute, are among the 60 new members elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine. In its announcement Monday, October 16, the IOM named as new members:

JERROLD M. OLEFSKY, M.D., professor of medicine and chief, endocrinology and metabolism division, UCSD School of Medicine and the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, San Diego; and Scientific Director of the Whittier Institute for Diabetes.

Olefsky has made seminal contributions to the basic understanding of insulin action, and has been a pioneer in identifying the role of human insulin resistance as a primary cause of Type II diabetes. Using molecular biologic approaches, he has helped define the intracellular pathways for insulin and growth factor action, and the fundamental mechanisms of insulin resistance. By integrating basic science research with clinical investigation, he has been instrumental in the development of insulin-sensitizing drugs that are now standard therapies for Type II diabetes. His current work includes studies of genetically altered mice, leading to improved understanding of the role of specific genes in insulin resistance and sensitivity. In his clinical studies, he is designing "array gene chips" that could provide a new method for measuring gene expression in subjects normal and Type II diabetes. He has been honored with the Banting Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievements from the American Diabetes Association, the C.H. Best Award from the Toronto Diabetes Association of the ADA, the Mayo Soley Award, among others.

LARRY R. SQUIRE, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurosciences, and psychology, UCSD School of Medicine; and research career scientist, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Diego.

Squire investigates the organization and neurological foundations of memory and learning. His research involves patients, non-human primates and rodents, and combines the traditions of cognitive science and neuroscience. His work has provided a basis for understanding the role of specific brain structures in learning and memory. Squire has published numerous landmark findings based in part on his extensive observational and post-mortem studies of amnesia patients, leading to the first conclusive evidence of the exact role of the hippocampus and related areas in long-term memory. He has been honored with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award form the American Psychological Association, the William Middleton Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the McGovern Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Karl Lashley Prize from the American Philosophical Society.

WYLIE W. VALE, Ph.D., head, Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, and professor, The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.; adjunct professor of biology, UCSD.

Vale is an authority on peptide hormones, small molecules produced by the brain that affect diverse physiological functions including appetite, mood, heart rate, growth and responses to stress. Vale's laboratory has isolated several key brain hormones and identified many of the molecules that are essential for these activities. Among the list is the brain hormone CRF (for corticotropin releasing factor), which has been shown to play a central role in the stress response. Agents that block CRF from reaching its targets in the brain are in clinical trials for treatment of depression and anxiety. Evidence exists that CRF also may play a role in addiction and anorexia nervosa. Drugs based on other molecules isolated by Vale are used clinically to treat growth deficiencies and precocious puberty.

With the election of Olefsky and Squire, UCSD now has 18 members in the IOM, and with Vale's election The Salk Institute now has three members.

With Monday's announcement, the IOM's total active membership is now 613. IOM also announced five people honored by direct election to senior membership, bringing that roll to a total of 711. The number of foreign associates now totals 56 with the election of five this year.

Current active members elect new members from among candidates chosen for their major contributions to health and medicine or to related fields such as social and behavioral sciences, law, administration, and economics. The Institute's charter requires that at least one-fourth of the members be drawn from other than the health professions.

Election to the Institute is both an honor and an obligation to work on behalf of the organization in its governance and studies. With their election, members make a commitment to devote a significant amount of time as volunteers on committees engaged in a broad range of studies on health policy issues. Current IOM projects include studies on the creation of a medical system to support long-duration space travel beyond Earth orbit, the development of new technologies for the early detection of breast cancer, and the safety and efficacy of the anthrax vaccine used by the U.S. military.