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Two BU professors have been inducted into the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a branch of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that confers membership on people in the health and medical fields who combine outstanding professional achievements with a commitment to service. Among the 70 new IOM members nationwide are Brian Jack, a School of Medicine professor and chair of family medicine and chief of family medicine at Boston Medical Center, and Alan Jette, a School of Public Health professor of health policy and management and director of the Health & Disabilities Research Institute. They join IOM’s active membership of just 1,753, a respected body that offers independent analysis and recommendations on important health issues.
“Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine,” says Karen Antman, dean of MED and provost of the Medical Campus, who is also a member. “Dr. Jack has made invaluable contributions to the field of medicine, specifically his extensive research regarding hospital readmissions.” Robert Meenan (MED’72, GSM’89), dean of SPH, who has worked closely with Jette for three decades, lauded his colleague for his longtime leadership in the field of disability. “Through Alan’s insightful studies, disability has become better understood by being more measurable, and his findings have led to important changes in major government policies and programs,” Meenan says.
Although his election came as a pleasant surprise, Jette, who from 1996 to 2004 was dean of Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, has been working with IOM for several years. He chaired the institute’s Future of Disability in America project, which led to the release of a landmark report in 2007 that shaped national priorities in the field of disability. Trained as a physical therapist, he worked with patients in the clinical setting before earning a doctorate in public health, hands-on experience that informs his work helping communities and the Social Security Administration to develop assessment tools. Jette, whose work embraces several fields, recently completed a study of older people who have fractured a hip, and did a clinical trial looking at the benefits of extending traditional rehabilitation.
“We work with social scientists, physicians, nurses, epidemiologists, physical and occupational therapists,” says Jette. He sees the aging of the American population—a major focus of the IOM panel he chaired—as a huge challenge to researchers studying prevention and management of late life disability.
“Election to the IOM is a great honor,” says Jack, whose team has earned international recognition for developing Project RED, a set of 12 detailed steps for reengineered discharge, which reduces hospital readmissions. The IOM membership also recognizes Jack’s work with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which presented him with its External Partner award for his role on a panel on preconception care. Jack has devoted much of his career to improving global health, working on family medicine training programs in Hungary, Romania, Albania, and Lesotho. He believes that preventing “poor maternity outcomes is indeed possible, and in developing family medicine training programs around the world that meet the needs of society, all came about from observations in my clinical work and my reflections on how we can do better.”
The IOM is one of several branches of the National Academy of Sciences, along with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. It seeks to help both government and the private sector make informed health decisions. Every year, thousands of professionals, IOM members and nonmembers, volunteer their expertise to work on studies launched as specific mandates from Congress or at the request of federal agencies and independent organizations.