By Nina Bai, UCSF News Center
A clinician-scientist and a cardiologist from UC San Francisco are among the 70 new members and 10 international members elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), among the most prestigious honors in the fields of health and medicine.
Election to the NAM recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service in the medical sciences, health care and public health. The most recent UCSF faculty to join this distinguished group are Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD, the Robert B. and Ellinor Aird Professor of Neurology, executive vice chancellor and provost; and Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc, professor of medicine.
Lowenstein is a clinician-scientist who studies both the basic science and clinical aspects of epilepsy. His laboratory work in the 1990s addressed the fundamental mechanisms by which a normal neuronal network transforms into a hyperexcitable network capable of producing or relaying seizure activity. Among his team’s discoveries was that seizure activity in an adult model of temporal lobe epilepsy causes a marked increase in the birth of hippocampal neurons. Lowenstein then turned his attention to the genetic basis of epilepsy, helping to create the international Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project and the Epi4K Center without Walls, which, by compiling the most extensive and detailed phenotype dataset in the history of epilepsy research, has led to an entirely new understanding of the genetic architecture of epilepsy.
On the clinical side, Lowenstein has specialized in the treatment of unusually prolonged seizures, known as status epilepticus, leading two five-year multi-centered clinical trials that helped define the optimal therapy for this condition.
Lowenstein is a dedicated and highly-regarded teacher, and has received essentially every major award related to medical student education granted at UCSF and nationally. In recognition of his actions for social justice, he was received the UCSF Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the UCSF Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, and the UCSF Chancellor Diversity Award for Disability Service. He delivered the UCSF “Last Lecture” in 2013.
Redberg is a cardiologist and health policy expert. She directs the UCSF Flight Attendant Clinic and has received numerous awards for her work in women and heart disease.
Besides her clinical work, Redberg has pursued a longstanding interest in health policy. Her research has focused on the regulatory process for high-risk medical devices and the strength of evidence that supports them. She is a strong proponent of high-quality data to support safety and effectiveness of medical devices and has testified multiple times before Congress on these issues. Redberg enjoys working with UCSF students and residents on this research and has been recognized by several UCSF mentoring awards.
She has been the editor-in-chief of JAMA Internal Medicine since 2009 and initiated an ongoing series in the journal, called “Less is More,” that highlights areas of health care with little or no known benefit. Several articles published under her leadership have prompted the FDA to issue warnings about faulty drugs and devices. Redberg also serves on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on Medicare payment policy.
New members to NAM are elected by current active members. This year’s newly elected class brings NAM’s total active membership to 1,812 and the number of international members to 151. The elections bring UCSF’s membership in the NAM to 102.
The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the national and the international community.