Three Professors Inducted into Prestigious Institute

Continuing as one of the leading institutes in modern science, UCSD saw three of its top scientists recognized for their respective work in the field of medicine by being inducted into the prestigious Institute of Medicine.

Professors Jerrold M. Olefsky, professor Larry R. Squire and Wylie W. Vale were among the 60 elected to the Institute.

Olefsky said he was deeply honored by his induction.

“”I was extremely pleased and complimented on the election to such a highly prestigious organization,”” Olefsky said.

Olefsky has been at UCSD for 18 years working, mostly with insulin action in the body and its resistance as the primary cause for Type II diabetes. Olefsky’s work has been crucial in the development of insulin-sensitizing drugs now used as standard therapy to patients with Type II diabetes.

“”This is a major election for [Olefsky] and for the school as well,”” said Betsy Hansen, secretary to Olefsky for the past 27 years.

Currently, Olefsky is working on the design of array gene chips, which provide a method of measuring gene expression. The ribonucleic acid of normal patients can be compared to that of patients holding the gene leading to Type II diabetes. Areas where certain genes are over- or underexpressed can pinpoint the area of disorder.

Olefsky is also presently working with genetically altered mice for a greater understanding of the role of certain genes in insulin.

Induction into the Institute of Medicine will enhance the mantlepiece in the Olefsky home. Olefsky has been previously awarded with the Banting Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievements from the American Diabetes Association, the C.H. Best Award from the Toronto Diabetes Association of the ADA, and the Mayo Soley Award.

Squire’s work deals mainly with cognitive science and neuroscience and specifically relates to long-term memory.

Much of Squire’s findings came from his observations of postmortem studies of amnesia patients.

Among his findings are the exact location of the hippocampus and other areas of long-term memory.

Past awards won by Squire include the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, the William Middleton Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the McGovern Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Karl Lashley Prize from the American Philosophical Society.

Vale works for the Salk Institute and is an adjunct professor of biology.

Vale is a leader in the field of peptide hormones, hormones of the brain, which can affect various psychological functions such as mood, appetite, heart rate, growth and response to stress. A particular hormone, CRF, has been examined in the stress factor of humans.

CRF has been seen to be a factor in depression, addiction and anorexia nervosa.

At this time, an agent that can block CRF from reaching its target in the brain is being developed and is in clinical trials.

Vale has isolated numerous molecules within the hormones that have led to the development of drugs to treat growth deficiencies and premature puberty. Squire and Vale were unavailable for comment.

UCSD has 18 members in the Institute of Medicine. Induction into the Institute is an honor, but there is also a responsibility to work on behalf of the organization; members are committed to aiding the Institute on projects of their particular expertise.