A leading expert on cancer genetics, a pioneering researcher who studies stressors that impact health, and the dean of the Medical School known for his research in medical education are among the newest members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
Dr. Eric R. Fearon, Arline T. Geronimus and Dr. James O. Woolliscroft have received what is considered one of the highest honors in the health and medical fields. Those elected to the IOM are chosen by current members, in recognition of their major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.
Fearon, the Emanuel N. Maisel Professor of Oncology and professor of internal medicine, human genetics and pathology, is a nationally recognized investigator in the field of cancer genetics. His laboratory pursues research to address how cancer gene defects contribute to the development and progression of colorectal and other cancers. A major goal of the research is to develop novel strategies for prevention and early detection, as well as treatment of colorectal cancer.
Fearon is the deputy director and associate director for basic science research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. In these roles, he works to coordinate multidisciplinary research on the mechanisms underlying cancer development, along with efforts to translate the laboratory observations to new clinical applications for improved diagnosis and management of cancer.
Fearon also serves as the division chief of Molecular Medicine & Genetics in the Department of Internal Medicine. He co-directs the Cancer Center’s Cancer Genetics Research Program, which focuses on identifying genetic and epigenetic alterations in cancer, as well as on applying the emerging information for improvements in risk assessment, prevention, pre-symptomatic diagnosis, early detection and therapy of cancer.
Geronimus is a professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health and associate director and research professor at the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research. She is an international leader in the development of biopsychosocial models of population health, making seminal contributions to theory, methodology, empirical research and practice.
Best known for originating the interdisciplinary theory of “weathering,” Geronimus focuses on the complex influence of material, environmental and psychosocial stressors on racial/ethnic health inequality from the societal to cellular level, with implications from the fetal stage through old age. In addition to its many scientific applications, the weathering approach informed the AFL-CIO Gulf Coast Revitalization Project after Hurricane Katrina and the development of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, a national network to advance a sustainable environment while creating economic opportunity.
Geronimus has served on President Obama’s Health Care Advisory Committee, the Advisory Board of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives to Revitalize U.S. Cities. Consultancies include the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Federal Reserve Bank, National Center for Health Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She has received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Award, and has been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Bristol in England. She is a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
Woolliscroft, dean of the Medical School and the Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine, is an internist and internationally recognized leader in medical education. He has devoted his career to improving physician education, and as dean has emphasized education at all levels.
A pioneer of rigorous medical education programs in outpatient health care settings, he has published many influential papers about medical student and resident assessment and skills development — including assessment of the humanistic attributes of residents in the clinical care/clinical training setting.
As dean, Woolliscroft developed a new model for global collaborations that leverages the unique strengths of each partner institution to advance global health through high-impact research.
He is guiding the Medical School through the current transformation of academic health care, and has made critical investments in research infrastructure that allow basic, translational, clinical and health outcomes researchers to engage in innovative science backed by a common research vision. Fueled by a commitment of more than $100 million in institutional funds, the effort — called FastForward — will help shape the future of human health and global health care policy.
With the election of Fearon, Geronimus and Woolliscroft, U-M now boasts 53 past and present members of the IOM.