In a letter to NAM members today, Victor J. Dzau outlined plans and priorities for his second term as president of the Academy. Dzau’s election, announced in January, marked the first time in the organization’s history that the membership has elected its president. The full text of Dzau’s letter appears below.

Dear NAM Members,


It is a great honor to have been elected by you for a second term as president of the National Academy of Medicine. Thank you for your belief in me. Congratulations also to Carlos del Rio, our newly elected Foreign Secretary, and to our five elected Council members: Karen DeSalvo, Linda Fried, Paula Hammond, Mae Jemison, and Kelsey Martin. We are fortunate to have such distinguished leadership on our Council.


This election was an important milestone for our organization – marking the first time the membership has voted for its own President and Foreign Secretary (following the inaugural vote for Home Secretary that elected Jane Henney for a second term in 2018). We had an outstanding turnout – over 50 percent of members voted. For those who are newer to our organization, the election (as opposed to appointment) of officers is a defining feature of the governance structure that went into effect following the Institute of Medicine’s reconstitution as an independent Academy in 2015. Now, 5 years after the creation of the NAM and 50 years after the founding of the IOM, we have a fully member-elected leadership team for the first time. As we begin the new decade and celebrate our anniversary year, it is truly a special moment in the history of our organization.


On this occasion, I would like to outline plans and priorities for my next term as president. Above all, I am committed to furthering the Academy’s mission, maximizing its impact, and advancing its influence both nationally and globally. The next decade will present a challenging landscape in many ways – from transformative science and technology to global health inequity and climate change to social polarization and misinformation. To do the most good, we must be proactive, resilient, innovative, and collaborative in the ways we anticipate challenges, develop solutions, and communicate with policy makers, stakeholders, and the public.


In the coming years, we will continue to implement the NAM’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, which was designed to serve as a living document and long-term roadmap for the Academy. In particular, we will:


  • Ensure that science and evidence continue to serve as the foundation of our work by upholding our commitment to evidence and rigor, incorporating new approaches to scientific inquiry, and leveraging the breadth and depth of expertise across the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. For example, this year, we will publish two new NAM consensus reports. The first, in partnership with the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society, will guidetechnical, scientific, medical, regulatory, and ethical requirements for human germline genome editing, should society conclude such applications are acceptable; the second, an update to one of our most influential reports in history, will establish a vision for the nursing profession in the new decade. In addition, our core advisory programs – including the Leadership Consortium, Culture of Health, Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, and Health Policy Fellowships and Leadership Programs – are going strong and building capacity for sustained growth.
  • Chart the course for the future of health and medicine in the U.S. and globally through a focus in three critical areas: 1) social and ethical implications of advances in science and technology; 2) health inequity; and 3) emerging issues of global concern including climate change, artificial intelligence/machine learning and big data, healthy aging, and science translation. Just last week, we launched the Committee on Emerging Science, Technology, and Innovation in Health and Health Care, and later this month we will host a working meeting to identify ways to support the future of physician scientists. In late spring, we will launch the planning group for NAM major initiative on Climate Change and Human Health, and in July we will announce the first round of winners for the NAM Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards. In partnership with One Mind, we will also help launch a transformative new global initiative to improve mental health: the Healthy Brains Financing Initiative.
  • Diversify and activate NAM members and cultivate future leaders by increasing diversity and inclusion among the membership and improving election processes, as well as by strengthening connections with the next generation of health and medical leaders. In March, we will host our second annual Emerging Leaders Forum, which will gather approximately 100 exceptional early- to midcareer scholars and practitioners and NAM members for expert presentations, mentorship, networking, and dialogue about professional challenges and opportunities. My priorities also include modernization of member elections; updating and strengthening the NAM conflict-of-interest policy and oversight; further developing processes related to our code of conduct; and leading a strategic planning effort for the National Research Council.

Finally, as you know, our anniversary year is an important opportunity to not only reflect on the IOM/NAM’s impact since its founding in 1970, but also position our organization to address the most critical challenges of today and tomorrow. A major part of this effort is an Anniversary Symposia Series focused on “The Next 50 Years in Health and Medicine.” Each of three regional symposia (in the Western, Central, and Southern United States) will examine three urgent priorities identified by a planning committee of NAM members. The first, taking place April 7 in San Francisco, will explore vaccines and immunology, digital innovation, and climate change. The topics of the second and third symposia, to be hosted in Texas and Illinois this summer and fall, will be announced soon. I hope to see many of you there! For more on the symposia series and other anniversary activities, please visit Our anniversary celebration will culminate October 17-19 with the 50th NAM Annual Meeting and a celebratory gala for NAM members and invited guests, held at the National Building Museum. Please save the date now for this weekend of very special events.


As we reflect on the NAM’s historic role in guiding science and policy, it is an important moment for members to give back to our organization. To respond nimbly and authoritatively to the health and medical challenges of the next half-century will require dedicated and flexible resources. As part of the anniversary year, we have established a series of member giving challenges, including a 50 percent increase in participation. We need just over 300 first-time gifts to reach our goal! To learn what your gift supports, contact NAM’s Director of Development, Dawn Abel.


I am deeply proud of all that we have accomplished together since the creation of the NAM in 2015, as well as the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves in the years ahead. None of it would be possible without the expertise and volunteer spirit of NAM members; the generosity and dedication of our donors; and the commitment and creativity of our staff. It is a great privilege and a joy to work with an organization made up of people so universally committed to improving the lives of others. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to serve.


— Victor J. Dzau, MD 

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