National Academy of Medicine Elects Two UCSD Researchers

Two UCSD researchers were elected to the National Academy of Medicine on Oct. 17, the university announced in a press release. Cheryl Ann Marie Anderson and James F. Sallis are both members of the department of family medicine and public health as well as professors at UCSD.

Anderson and Sallis were elected along with 70 other new members and nine international members, joining the ranks of the 1,866 medical professionals already in NAM, over 50 of whom are current or former UCSD faculty and staff.   

The Institute of Medicine stems from the National Academy of Sciences, which was authorized by Abraham Lincoln and founded in 1870. The National Academy of Medicine was created in 1970 to replace the Institute of Medicine and expand its activities. Being elected to the academy is one of the highest honors in the field of medicine. Members of the Academy of Medicine are unpaid and serve alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as advisors to the national and international community.

To join the National Academy of Medicine, potential members must be nominated by existing members. These nominations are then reviewed by the nominee’s sub-group, such as public health. Finally, the nominees are voted on by the entire membership of the academy.

Salis explained that as most of those who are nominated are ultimately not elected to the NAM, his induction legitimized his career efforts.

“Most nominations are not successful, so it’s a tough process,” Sallis told the UCSD Guardian. “The honor of being elected to this distinguished group is an important validation of the work I have dedicated my career to.”

Sallis’ research focuses on how the design of cities can determine residents’ levels of physical activity.

“We are finding that our sprawling, car-centric approach to development in the US makes it impossible or difficult for people of all ages to walk and bike for transportation,” Sallis explained. “Lack of quality parks in many neighborhoods contributes to less recreational activity. These patterns fuel the epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases.”

Using his research, city leaders and real estate developers have begun to design cities and roads with the goal of getting people to be more mobile.

Anderson, on the other hand, has devoted her career to nutrition and chronic disease prevention. She studies the effects of dietary and lifestyle patterns on heart disease, obesity and blood pressure.

Anderson stated that being honored for her work was hugely gratifying.

“Election to the National Academy of Medicine [NAM] is incredibly meaningful,” Anderson said. “I am humbled and tremendously grateful to join a prestigious group of scientists in receiving the NAM’s highest honor. Over the years my participation on NAM committees has been an important source of inspiration and education.”

In the future, Anderson plans to expand her research to improve the understanding of nutrition and diet in the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of chronic diseases.

“My future will include continuing to grow my research program to include nutrition balance studies and improved understanding of the role of sodium in health,” Anderson told the Guardian. “I am motivated by the knowledge that there are three lifestyle factors, suboptimal diets, physical inactivity and tobacco use, that contribute to the four health conditions that account for 50 percent of deaths in San Diego.”