3 UC Berkeley professors elected to National Academy of Medicine

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Three UC Berkeley professors were elected Monday to serve in the National Academy of Medicine, or NAM, for their research on issues related to health and medicine.

The new NAM members include chemistry professor John Kuriyan, molecular and cell biology professor Barbara Meyer and public health professor Hector Rodriguez. In the selection process, current NAM members assess a series of candidates and recognize individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

According to Meyer, appointment to the NAM entails more than just an honorary position, as members of the NAM act as medical research advisers.

“Their expertise in science, medicine, health, and policy in the U.S. and around the globe will help our organization address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau in a press release. “It is my privilege to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”

Kuriyan was recognized for work done in his lab on the structural mechanisms of the protein molecular machines that malfunction in cancer and for contributing to the understanding of how certain cancer drugs, such as Gleevec, achieve specificity, a term that refers to a drug’s accuracy and precision.

Meyer was honored for her groundbreaking work on chromosome dynamics that impact gene expression, development and heredity, according to the NAM press release.

Rodriguez was recognized for his research focused on examining the impact of health care teams and primary care reorganization on patient engagement, patient experience of care and outcomes — particularly for socioeconomically vulnerable populations.

“I was thrilled to hear the news and I am extremely grateful to my mentors and close collaborators for making this honor possible,” Rodriguez said in an email.

Kuriyan echoed these sentiments, stating in an email that he is “very happy and deeply honored” to have been elected to the NAM.

Originally founded as the Institute of Medicine in 1970, the NAM addresses critical issues in health, science and medicine, and is composed of people from around the world with a variety of areas of expertise. The NAM also works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering to provide “independent, objective analysis and advice” to the United States, according to the NAM press release.

Along with Kuriyan, Meyer and Rodriguez, there are 12 other active and retired NAM members at UC Berkeley, according to the NAM general directory. A total of 75 new U.S. members and 10 international members were honored at the organization’s annual meeting, bringing the NAM’s total membership to 2,178.

“This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly remarkable set of scholars and leaders whose impressive work has advanced science, improved health, and made the world a better place for everyone,” Dzau said in the NAM press release.

Contact Clara Rodas at [email protected]/a> and follow her on Twitter at @ClaraRodas10.