The IOM/NAM 50th Anniversary

Celebrating a legacy of impact. Forging a healthier future.

The National Academy of Medicine was founded in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine under the congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences to provide independent, evidence-based health advice to the nation at a time of rapid social change. In the ensuing decades, the IOM/NAM established an enduring reputation as a trusted and influential advisor with, as the New York Times put it, the power “to transform medical thinking around the world.”

Among its many historic impacts, the IOM/NAM established the public health research agenda for HIV/AIDS; catalyzed the quality and patient safety movement in U.S. health care; established dietary reference intakes for Americans; upheld the safety of childhood vaccinations; helped shape the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and advised global organizations’ response to outbreaks of Ebola and Zika. In 2017, the NAM debuted a new mission statement: To improve health for all by advancing science, accelerating health equity, and providing independent, authoritative, and trusted advice nationally and globally.

Throughout 2020, we will highlight examples of the IOM/NAM’s impact in the past half-century and thank the members, volunteers, sponsors, and staff who make our work possible. As we celebrate our legacy, we will also examine the critical challenges of the future and redouble our commitment to serve the health of the public for decades to come.

The Next 50 Years in Health & Medicine: Anniversary Symposia Series

With generous support from the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation, the NAM will host three regional scientific symposia exploring “The Next 50 Years in Health and Medicine,” leading up to our 50th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The first symposium, which will focus on immunology & vaccines, digital innovation, and climate & migration, will take place April 7 at the University of California, San Francisco. Join our events listserv to be notified when registration opens.

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Celebrating Our Members

The NAM has more than 2,100 U.S. and international members elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement in health, medicine, and biomedical sciences. NAM members are the architects of scientific breakthroughs; domestic and global policymakers; leaders of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations; and dedicated clinicians and educators. Nearly 50 NAM members are recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine, Chemistry, or Peace. Through a commitment to volunteer service, our members guide the work and advance the mission of the NAM and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).

“The NAM is the premier health policy body in the United States. Because its members are outstanding scientists, leaders, and policy-makers, and because its products are evidence-based and rigorous, the NAM can uniquely influence the course and direction of health and healthcare.”

Steven Schroeder (Class of 1983)

Director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco

Honoring Our Volunteers

Every year, over 7,000 dedicated individuals serve without compensation on study and oversight committees or as reviewers of NASEM reports. Many are members of the NAM, National Academy of Sciences, or National Academy of Engineering, and many are not. Their service is valued, honored, and appreciated both within our organization and by the nation. The National Associates program, established in 2001, exists to formally recognize the NASEM’s most dedicated volunteers for their outstanding contributions. In the space below, we offer a rotating feature of National Associates who have made important contributions to the work of the IOM/NAM since 1970. 

Hugh Tilson began volunteering with the National Academies in 1985 when he joined the efforts that led to the 1988 Future of Public Health report. During his tenure he has served as a member and chair of committees, as a member and chair of roundtables, as a member of the Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, and as liaison to studies and projects. Hugh chooses to spend time serving the National Academies because of the dedication that organization has to integrity, scholarship, and independence. The project that gives Hugh the most pride is the Future of Public Health because the publication moved the needle toward national consideration of the public health infrastructure.

Recognizing Our Staff

The exceptional staff of the IOM/NAM and the National Academies work alongside members and volunteers to produce consensus studies, facilitate roundtables and forums, plan and execute public workshops, and more. We are grateful for the indispensable leadership and dedication of our staff since 1970. The Cecil Award, established in 2000, recognizes staff from throughout the National Academies who have demonstrated superb skill and commitment in furthering the mission of the NAM. Below, we offer a rotating feature of Cecil Award winners.

Heather Cook joined the IOM in 2005 and currently serves as a Senior Program Officer. In the past several years she has directed the Food Forum, a group that brings together perspectives from the food industry, the federal government, academia, and non-profits around topics of mutual interest related to food and nutrition. Cook is especially proud of the 2013 consensus report, Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School because, not only was it the first study she directed, but because it helped to provide a foundation for continued work on physical activity with the Food and Nutrition Board.

Thanking Our Sponsors

As an independent, nonprofit organization, the NAM relies on philanthropic dollars to advance its mission. Gifts from generous individuals, foundations, corporations, federal agencies, and other organizations are essential to realize our vision for a healthier future. Contributions help the NAM provide expert advice to the nation, inspire bold ideas around the globe, and build leadership capacity for the future of health and health care. We are deeply grateful for the generous support of our sponsors. 

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