Five Elected to the National Academy of Medicine
The National Academy of Medicine today announced that five members of the CUIMC faculty—Sonia Yris Angell, Andrea Baccarelli, Wendy Chung, Kam W. Leong, and Patricia Stone—have been elected to the academy.
Members of NAM, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine, are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement. Membership is one of the highest honors bestowed in the field of medicine. The election reflects the high esteem of peers and colleagues. NAM members are part of a group of distinguished individuals who have made important contributions to health, medicine, and science.
Since 1970, when the Institute of Medicine was established as part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, the organization's work and recommendations have shaped health research, practice, and policies that improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
The five new CUIMC members:
Sonia Yris Angell, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of medicine in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, was selected for her leadership in the nation’s first municipal regulation to ban transfat, launching national coalitions to reduce sodium and sugar in our food supply, working globally to improve control of hypertension, and for global leadership in modeling environmental change to sustainably reduce risk and save lives.
As a public health expert, Angell works on policies and programs that make places where we live, work, and play, healthier for all of us. She was previously deputy commissioner at New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, overseeing the Division of Prevention and Primary Care, and was the founder and director of its Cardiovascular Disease Program. She also was a senior adviser for global noncommunicable diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, the Leon Hess Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health, was selected for his pioneering work showing that environmental chemicals and lifestyle risk factors adversely affect the human epigenome, thereby producing adverse lifetime health consequences.
Baccarelli also serves as director of the Laboratory of Precision Environmental Health. An epigeneticist and clinical endocrinologist, Baccarelli helped develop powerful new tools in environmental epigenetics, not only to document the health risks of a variety of synthetic toxins, but also as an avenue to prevention and even targeted therapies. His lab has produced numerous publications at the intersection of epigenetics, molecular epidemiology, and environmental health. Over the course of his career, Baccarelli has expanded the vocabulary of epigenetics, showing how environmental damage inscribes itself in the body.
Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, the Kennedy Family Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and leader of the Precision Medicine Resource in the Irving Institute, was selected for identifying the genetic basis for over 45 monogenic conditions (two of which bear her name) across a wide range of diseases and leading the pivotal study of newborn screening for spinal muscular atrophy.
Chung was the original plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned the ability to patent genes and served on the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Genetic Testing. She is a board-certified clinical and molecular geneticist with 20 years of experience in human genetic research of monogenic and complex traits including diseases such as breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, inherited arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies, obesity, diabetes, congenital diaphragmatic hernias, and autism.
She has received the American Academy of Pediatrics Young Investigator Award, the Medical Achievement Award from Bonei Olam, the New York Academy Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Biomedical Science, and the Rare Impact Award from the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Chung is renowned for her teaching and mentoring and received Columbia University's highest teaching award, the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Kam W. Leong, PhD, the Samuel Y. Sheng Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (in Systems Biology in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons), was selected for his innovative developments in multifunctional nanoscale technologies for delivering drugs, antigens, proteins, siRNA, and DNA to cells.
Innovations in the Leong Lab focus on the design of therapeutic biomaterials for gene editing, drug and gene delivery, and regenerative medicine. He is developing nanocarriers that can deliver gene-editing elements to the liver for metabolic disorders, and studying the gene-editing efficiency in other tissues such as the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. He is also working on the construction of human tissue-on-chips for disease modeling and drug development, particularly in using tissue-engineered blood vessel to model Marfan Syndrome and atherosclerosis, and generating patient-specific brain organoids to model neuropsychiatric disorders and opioid usage disorder.
Leong is internationally recognized as a leader in the development of nanoscale therapeutics. In 2013 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.
Patricia Stone, PhD, RN, the Centennial Professor of Health Policy and director of the Center for Health Policy in the School of Nursing, was selected for her expertise and sustained scholarly efforts in real-world comparative and economic evaluations of improving the quality of care and specifically preventing health care-associated infections.
Stone is dedicated to educating nurses in health policy methods as well as developing and disseminating knowledge that informs policymakers at the local, state, and national levels. She has a long history of research and has been the principal investigator on many federal and foundation-supported grants. She has served on a number of important policymaking committees, co-chaired two National Quality Forum Technical Advisory Panels, and served as an expert for the Massachusetts Expert Panel on Healthcare-Associated Infections and the California Health Department.
Her work on the cost of health care-associated infections has been cited in major publications, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and the Health and Human Services Healthcare-Associated Infections Action Plan and has contributed to recent changes in health policy.