ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan experts in genetic and statistical analysis, Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), head and neck cancer, health policy and nursing are among the new members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
Gonçalo Abecasis, Carol Bradford, Eva Feldman, Mark Fendrick, Susan Murphy and Kathleen Potempa were elected to the IOM in recognition of their major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. With their election, the U-M now has 59 past and present members of the IOM.
Gonçalo R. Abecasis, the Felix E. Moore Collegiate Professor of Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, is a leader in the genetic analysis of complex human traits. His team has developed statistical methods, computational algorithms and software that facilitate quick and accurate analysis of genetic studies of human disease. His studies, and those of other scientists using his tools, are enabling a better understanding of human genetic variation and its role in disease biology.
Abecasis has made contributions to our understanding of conditions as diverse as heart disease, diabetes, psoriasis and macular degeneration. Ongoing projects will result in the detailed sequencing and analysis of some 25,000 deep human genomes over the next 12 months—an unprecedented amount of data.
He has co-authored more than 200 scientific papers. His prizes and honors include the 2014 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the 2013 Overton Prize from the International Society for Computational Biology, the 2008 University of Michigan School of Public Health Research Excellence Award and a 2005 Pew Charitable Trust Award as a promising young biomedical researcher. In the past five years, his publications have been referenced more than 50,000 times by other scientists, placing him near the top of Thomson Reuters list of the world's most cited scientists in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Abecasis currently leads the university's biostatistics department, which is training a new generation of scientists and making contributions to the statistical and computational machinery for the analysis of diverse types of biomedical data—including not only genomic data but also electronic health records, registry data and health surveys, a variety of imaging data types and environmental exposures, among others.
Dr. Carol R. Bradford, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical School and the Charles J. Krause, M.D., Collegiate Professor of Otolaryngology, is an otolaryngologist and an internationally recognized leader in the treatment of head and neck cancer.
Bradford specializes in head and neck cancer surgery and reconstruction, as well as cutaneous oncology and sentinel lymph node biopsy. Her research focuses on identifying and evaluating biomarkers that can predict outcomes in head and neck cancer patients, and developing therapies to combat certain types of head and neck cancer that are resistant to traditional forms of treatment. Bradford has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles.
During her 16-year tenure as co-director of the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, she helped to advance it from a small program with a few members to one with 30 members from 10 departments and five schools. She continues to play an active role within the program.
Bradford is the honored recipient of several awards, including the Jeanne Cady Solis Award for American Medical Women's Association Mentorship and the 2009 Physician of the Year Award from Castle Connolly. She is also the past president of the American Head and Neck Society.
Dr. Eva L. Feldman, the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology at the Medical School and director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, is an internationally renowned expert in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. She has devoted her career to finding new therapies and treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and is at the forefront of applying stem cell research to human disease.
As a clinician-scientist, Feldman treats patients and also directs a laboratory staffed by some 30 scientists who are deciphering the mysteries of conditions ranging from diabetic neuropathy to Alzheimer's disease. She is director of research for the U-M ALS clinic and is the principal investigator of the first-ever FDA-approved human clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for ALS. The second phase of the trial is complete and Feldman anticipates moving to a broader test of the therapy in 2015. She has more than 23 years of continuous NIH funding and is currently the principal or co-investigator of five major National Institutes of Health research grants and three private foundation grants as well as the author of more than 275 original peer-reviewed articles, 59 book chapters and three books.
Feldman counts among her greatest accomplishments the training of both scientists and neurologists. Nine scientists have received their Ph.D. degrees under her supervision, she has trained 50 postdoctoral fellows in her laboratory to become neuroscientists, and 40 neurologists have trained under her to specialize in the understanding and treatment of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. She has served as the recent president of the American Neurological Association and holds many honors and awards in her field.
Dr. A. Mark Fendrick is a professor of internal medicine at the Medical School and a professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health. As director of the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, he has performed pivotal research and evaluation projects analyzing how clinician payment and consumer engagement initiatives impact access to care, quality of care and health care costs.
Fendrick is a leading advocate for the development and implementation of innovative health plans that align benefits with the clinical value, not just the cost, of preventive services and treatment options. He has fostered collaborations for such plans with government agencies, health plans, professional societies and health care companies, leading to the V-BID concept's inclusion in several state and national policy initiatives including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Earlier this year, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced that would enable Medicare Advantage plans to test the V-BID concept. In recent weeks, V-BID was included in a federal request for proposals for innovative Medicare and Medicaid health plans.
The author of more than 200 articles and book chapters, Fendrick is also a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and serves on the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee.
Susan A. Murphy, the H.E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of Statistics, professor of psychiatry and research professor at the Institute for Social Research, is developing new methodologies to evaluate courses of treatment for individuals coping with chronic or relapsing disorders such as depression or substance abuse.
In contrast to the treatment of acute illness, where clinicians make a single decision about treatment, doctors treating chronic ailments make a sequence of decisions over time about the best therapeutic approach based on the current state of a patient, the stage of the disease and the individual's response to prior treatments. Murphy developed a formal model of this decision-making process and an innovative design for clinical trials that allow researchers to test the efficacy of adaptive interventions.
While the standard clinical trial paradigm simply tests and compares "one shot" treatments in a defined population, Murphy's Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial is a means for learning how best to dynamically adapt treatment to each individual's response over time. Using SMART, clinicians assess and modify patients' treatments during the trial, an approach with potential applications in the treatment of a range of chronic diseases—ADHD, alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease—involving therapies that are regularly reconsidered and replaced as the disease progresses.
Murphy won a 2013 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant for her work. She is part of a new multi-university Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge initiative consisting of computer scientists, engineers and statistical and biomedical researchers working together to turn the wealth of mobile sensor data available through new and rapidly evolving wearable sensors into reliable and actionable health information.
Murphy's team will develop data analysis methods that continually analyze and re-analyze individual responses to cell phone interventions. The data analysis methods will incorporate how individuals respond to the intervention to individualize when, where and what interventions will be most effective.
Kathleen M. Potempa, dean and professor at the School of Nursing, is an internationally recognized leader in nursing, education and science—as well as the integration of education, practice and research in clinical settings. Her research has focused on fatigue, exercise and cardiovascular fitness in physically impaired populations and on community-based approaches to improving health behavior.
A notable area of her work involved defining the exercise capacity of post-stroke hemiplegic patients and demonstrating that aerobic exercise can be sustained at a level sufficient to control blood pressure and significantly improve fitness and other health parameters. She has more than 110 scientific publications and more than 100 national and international scientific and professional presentations, and has served on national and international expert panels and committees on research, including NIH review panels.
Potempa became a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2001 and was elected to serve as president from March 2010 through 2012. She was a member of the Nursing Advisory Council of the Joint Commission in 2010-11, and recently completed service as a member of the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health, an appointment made by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Potempa currently serves as a Wall Street Journal health expert, and her work in global health has included keynote presentations at international conferences around the world. In partnership with Thailand's Ministry of Public Health, she's at the forefront of an effort to build the country's research capacity, specifically in the area of noncommunicable diseases with funding from Fogarty International, NIH. She also co-developed with Mahidol University of Thailand the Joint UM-MU Institute for Nursing Excellence.