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Two Physician-Researchers from Duke Join the Institute of Medicine

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DURHAM, N.C. - The dean of the medical school along with a pediatric AIDS researcher at Duke University Medical Center have been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Election to the institute is based on major contributions to the field of medicine and is considered both an honor and an obligation to further progress on health policy issues.

The IOM announced this week it had elected Dr. Edward W. Holmes, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Dr. Catherine M. Wilfert, emeritus professor of pediatrics and microbiology, as two of 55 new members to its board. They join nine other IOM members who are faculty at Duke University and its medical center.

"Catherine Wilfert and Edward Holmes are esteemed physician-scientists and fully deserving of this important recognition. I know the Institute of Medicine will benefit from their expertise and insights," said Dr. Ralph Snyderman, Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University Medical Center, who is also an IOM member. "The work of the institute contributes to the health of the public and I can't think of two more suitable contributors to that mission."

Holmes, native of Winona, Miss., spent 21 of his 30 years as a researcher at Duke before leaving for administrative posts at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Duke last year to become dean of the medical school, a newly refined position which carries responsibility for all research and education conducted in the school.

His career in research has concentrated on genetics and metabolic diseases. For the past 15 years, he has studied a genetic defect that appears to work in favor of patients with congestive heart disease, and has worked to design drug therapy to mimic the effect of the positive genetic defect. Holmes received Duke's Distinguished Alumnus Award in November.

"I am pleased to have been selected for membership in the Institute of Medicine," Holmes said. "This group helps set the agenda for American medicine and research, and I look forward to serving in any way that I can."

Wilfert is known for her research into the natural history and treatment of AIDS in children, and her involvement in clinical trials testing the effectiveness of new anti-HIV medications. She came to Duke in 1969 as an assistant professor of pediatrics, and by 1980 she held full professorships in both pediatrics and microbiology and was appointed chief of pediatric infectious diseases. In 1998, she became professor emeritus.

"Being elected to the Institute of Medicine is such a flattering and humbling experience, especially when you look at the people who have already been elected," Wilfert said. "It's such a privilege to join them."

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