October 13, 2008 Media contact: Shantell Kirkendoll
E-mail: smkirk@umich.edu
Phone: 734-764-2220

Two Medical School faculty elected to Institute of Medicine

Drs. Howard Markel and Juanita Merchant join prestigious group

Howard Markel

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Juanita Merchant

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Ann Arbor, Mich. – Two members of the University of Michigan Medical School faculty are among the 65 new members elected Monday to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, a prestigious group for researchers in the medical sciences, health care and public health.

With their election, Drs. Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., a physician, medical educator and historian of medicine, and Juanita L. Merchant, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of internal medicine and of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, have achieved one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

The Institute of Medicine is unique for its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization on matters of health and science policy. The IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analyses and recommendations on health issues.

Membership in the IOM is extended to those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service. Members devote a significant amount of volunteer time as members of the IOM study committees.
 
“Those elected to the IOM have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on the health of our country,” said Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D. “It’s an honor for two worthy faculty members and a recognition of the excellence that abounds at Michigan.”
 
The University’s new members are:
 
Howard Markel
Markel, M.D., Ph.D. is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine, Director of the Center for the History of Medicine, and professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, history, psychiatry, and health management and policy at the Medical School.
 
A prolific author and contributor to numerous scholarly and popular publications, his work examines the parallels between medical history and modern medicine, covering such topics as diverse as pandemic influenza preparedness planning; politics and medicine; and immigration, disease and public health.
 
His research, essays and commentaries extract lessons that inform contemporary public health policymaking and planning efforts. Most recently, Markel’s collaborative study with the Global Migration and Quarantine division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the 1918-19 influenza pandemic has played a major role in shaping the policies of the federal government, nations around the globe, and the World Health Organization as they consider how to mitigate future pandemics.
 
Juanita L. Merchant
Merchant, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of internal medicine and of molecular and integrative physiology at the Medical School. Merchant’s research is focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying normal and cancerous epithelial cell growth in the luminal gastrointestinal tract. Her recent studies involve the use of animal and cell culture models to dissect the pathways through which bacterial colonization leads to ulcer development and subsequently cancer.
 
Ongoing projects in Merchant’s laboratory have revealed that outer membrane proteins stimulate the gastrin and interleukin-8 promoters, and may be a general mechanism by which bacterial proteins activate mammalian cell signaling pathways and gene expression.
 
In particular, Merchant, a member of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, has found that bacterial overgrowth and specific cytokines mimic the pathology observed with Helicobacter pylori infection in mice, suggesting that chronic atrophic gastritis is not a host response specific to this organism, but is the general response of the stomach to bacterial colonization.
 
Also at the annual meeting Monday, UM faculty member Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., was presented the Walsh McDermott Medal for distinguished service. Since his election to the IOM in 1979, Omenn, a professor of internal medicine, human genetics, and public health and director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Biology, has chaired numerous activities, such as the IOM's health care quality initiatives.
 
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