The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) honored three members today at its annual meeting for their outstanding service. The honorees are David Relman, Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor in Medicine and professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University; David Eaton, dean and vice provost emeritus of the Graduate School of the University of Washington; and Sara Rosenbaum, Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at George Washington University.
“I am delighted to honor these extraordinary members who have demonstrated their significant leadership and dedication to improving health and furthering science,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Year after year, their generous service to the NAM and the National Academies in so many roles has been critical to our work helping to shape sound policies and address challenges in some of today’s most complex issues in health and medicine.”
Relman received the Walsh McDermott Medal, which is awarded to a member for distinguished service to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine over an extended period. His contributions have been focused at the intersection of microbiology, emerging infectious diseases, national and international security, and the ongoing revolution in the life sciences and associated technologies. Since 2002, he has served on 15 committees, boards, or forums, including as chair, co-chair, or vice chair for four of them. During Relman’s time chairing the Forum on Microbial Threats from 2007-2017, he strengthened laboratory science as part of the forum’s approach and helped spearhead early leadership in promoting the beneficial roles of microbial communities in human, animal, plant, and environmental health. In addition, Relman has advised on many workshops, including several meetings with foreign academies of science that were to address technical and potentially sensitive issues in international security and arms control. Relman helped lead influential studies that had a lasting impact on science policy in the United States and around the world. For example, the 2006 report Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences resulted in the development of a process by which technological advances might be assessed and future risks of their malevolent use considered. In addition, Relman was vice chair for a 2011 study that reviewed the scientific approaches used during the FBI’s investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings. He currently chairs a standing committee that is advising the U.S. Department of State on unexplained health effects in government employees at overseas embassies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Relman is playing an active role in the National Academies’ efforts to provide rapid responses to questions from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on various matters related to understanding SARS-CoV-2.
Eaton was awarded the David Rall Medal, which is given to a member who has demonstrated distinguished leadership as chair of a study committee or other such activity, showing a commitment substantially above and beyond the usual expectations. An NAM member since 2011, Eaton is a leader in environmental health research and policy. Beginning with his participation on the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology from 1996-1999, Eaton has chaired three consensus study committees, been a member of five others, and served as reviewer and review coordinator of several other projects. Most notably, under his leadership, the Committee on the Review of the Health Effects of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems authored an impactful report in 2018 on the public health consequences of e-cigarettes that is still cited widely today. As a committee chair, Eaton is known for encouraging camaraderie among committee members, allowing for collective thinking to evolve while balancing the need to bring ideas into a cohesive report, helping facilitate agreement among members by drawing them back to the evidence, and bringing together the talents and expertise of all involved to the final product.
Rosenbaum received the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal, which is awarded to a member from a discipline outside the health and medical sciences who has contributed to the mission of the NAM over a significant period. Rosenbaum is a leading scholar of health law and public health, particularly related to the law governing the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs. She has advised presidential administrations and Congress on issues ranging from national health reform and financing the health care safety net to child health policy and the application of federal civil rights laws to health care. Since becoming an NAM member in 2012, Rosenbaum served as a member of the Report Review Committee for six years, chair of the Committee on the Evaluation of the Supplemental Security Income Disability Program for Children with Speech Disorders and Language Disorders, and the Section 11 (social sciences, humanities, and law) chair and vice chair on the NAM Membership Committee. Rosenbaum’s significant contributions to the NAM prior to becoming a member include serving on the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowships Board, Committee on an Oral Health Initiative, Committee on Review of Priorities in the National Vaccine Plan, as well as consensus study committees focused on vaccine and immunization financing and policies and access to health care services. Rosenbaum is known for her creativity translating policy into law and discipline in legal analysis and legislative drafting, along with her unwavering commitment to the underserved, particularly children.
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 nation and the international community. Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors. The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.