Pharmacology chair Lori Isom elected to National Academy of Medicine

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Lori Isom, chair of the Medical School’s Department of Pharmacology, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors for a clinician and scientist.

Lori Isom
Lori Isom

Isom is the Maurice H. Seevers Collegiate Professor of Pharmacology and professor of molecular and integrative physiology, and of neurology. She has served as director of the Program in Biomedical Sciences and assistant dean for graduate education in the Medical School.

The academy recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service and who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

“I am very honored and humbled to have been chosen by my peers for inclusion in the National Academy of Medicine,” Isom said.

“This election is a tribute to the group of incredibly talented students and postdocs who have trained in my lab, to the brilliant research faculty members who help to run my research program every day, to our scientific collaborators, especially Jack Parent at the University of Michigan, and to our patients with Dravet syndrome and their families.

“I am also grateful to my husband, Kelley, and daughters, Helena and Audrey, who have been unwavering in their support of my career.”

Isom’s research program at U-M focuses on voltage-gated sodium channel function and the roles of sodium channel gene variants in developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, including a rare disease called Dravet syndrome. 

Isom showed, in collaboration with Parent, that the high risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, with Dravet syndrome may result from a predisposition to cardiac arrhythmias and neuronal hyperexcitability. Parent is the William J. Herdman Professor of Neurology and professor of neurology in the Medical School, and a research professor at the Michigan Neuroscience Institute.

In addition to her research activities, Isom serves as principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded Pharmacological Sciences Training Program T32 grant, co-chairs the Dravet Syndrome Foundation Scientific Advisory Board, serves on the Board of the American Epilepsy Society, serves on NIH grant study sections, chaired the NIH ESTA study section, and serves on editorial boards of scientific journals.

She has received numerous awards for research and mentoring, including her current NINDS Javits R37 MERIT award and the Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and a fellow of the American Epilepsy Society.

“It is my privilege to welcome this extraordinary class of new members. Their contributions to health and medicine are unmatched. They’ve made groundbreaking discoveries, taken bold action against social inequities, and led the response to some of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said NAM President Victor J. Dzau.

“This is also the NAM’s most diverse class of new members to date, composed of approximately 50 percent women and 50 percent racial and ethnic minorities. This class represents many identities and experiences — all of which are absolutely necessary to address the existential threats facing humanity. I look forward to working with all of our new members in the years ahead.”

“To be elected to the National Academy is an incredible honor and could not go to a more deserving, accomplished individual,” said Marschall Runge, dean of the Medical School, CEO of Michigan Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs. “Dr. Isom is a pillar of our research and education community, and we are grateful for her leadership.”

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