Two faculty members have been elected to the Institute of Medicine. They are Nobel laureate H. Robert Horvitz, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology, and Leona Samson, the Ellison American Cancer Society Research Professor. They are among 65 new members of the IOM, bringing the total active membership to 1,382.
Horvitz is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator affiliated with the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and the Center for Cancer Research. He shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in physiology or med-icine for discovering and characterizing the genes controlling cell death in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic round-worm. He later showed that these genes interact with each other in cell death, a normal process in every living cell, and that these genes correspond to existing genes in humans.
Samson, a professor of biological engineering and toxicology in the Biological Engineering Division, directs the Center for Environmental Health Sciences and is affiliated with the Computational and Systems Biology Initiative. Her research focuses on understanding how cells, tissues, animals and ultimately people respond on exposure to environmental toxicants in general and alkylating agents in particular.
Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute performs independent analysis and recommendations on issues related to human health. Members volunteer on IOM committees, which engage in a broad range of studies on health policy issues.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 5, 2003.