Vollum Director, Richard Goodman, Elected to Institute of Medicine

11/01/05  Portland, Ore.

Richard H. Goodman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Goodman, also professor of cell and developmental biology, and biochemistry and molecular biology, OHSU School of Medicine, and senior scientist at the Vollum, is one of 64 new members elected to the institute Monday. His membership brings the institute's total active membership to 1,461.

IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg said the recent elections mark a milestone for the institute, which is celebrating its 35th year this year.

"...It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished individuals as members," he said. "Election recognizes those who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. It is considered one of the highest honors in these fields."

Other IOM members from OHSU include President Peter Kohler, M.D., elected in 1994; Jerris R. Hedges, M.D., vice dean and professor of emergency medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, elected in 2000; and Brian J. Druker, M.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who holds the JELD-WEN chair of leukemia research, OHSU Cancer Institute, elected in 2003.

Goodman, director of the Vollum since 1990 and a member of the OHSU Cancer Institute, called his election to the Institute of Medicine "a terrific honor."

"I still view myself primarily as a medical doctor," said Goodman, who earned his medical and graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania in 1976. "I trained in a medical school and spent the early part of my career doing medicine and endocrinology, so being recognized by a group like this is very gratifying."

He added: "A lot of the work we do is related in some ways to diseases or to disease mechanisms. The experience not only of going to medical school, but doing clinical medicine, clearly colors the kinds of problems we choose to work on and the way we do science."

Goodman's laboratory focuses on determining how extracellular and intracellular signals are integrated to control the onset and level of gene expression. This transcriptional regulation determines how genes are turned on and off.

Last December, Goodman's lab published a technique, developed in collaboration with scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and State University of New York, Stony Brook, for characterizing a family of genes regulated by the "cAMP response element binding" protein, or CREB. The molecule is among a group of proteins called transcription factors that interact with regulatory elements in DNA that are responsible for increasing or decreasing the level of gene expression in cells.

The technique involves linking DNA from a cell with the transcription factor protein, then isolating the complex through a process called immunoprecipitation. Strips of 21-nucleotide-long DNA are then released from the immunoprecipitated DNA to create "genomic signature tags," which are then identified in the international genome database. The method uncovered about 6,300 regulatory regions that mapped to distinct sites on the genome.

The technique could give a critical boost to the new era of genomic discovery set forth when the Human Genome Project was completed a few years ago.

Jack Dixon, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, cellular and molecular medicine, and chemistry and biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, nominated Goodman for the Institute of Medicine honor. He said he has followed Goodman's work for more than 20 years.

"Dick has made a series of important discoveries that have provided critical insights into the regulation of gene expression by cAMP, one of the key signaling molecules in eukaryotic cells," he said. "One also admires Dick's leadership at the Vollum Institute and Oregon Health & Science University, as well as his service on the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive Disease Board of Counselors, Advisory Council, and Blue Ribbon Panel. He is, by any measure, a distinguished physician/scientist."

Kohler said Goodman's career exemplifies the mix of medical discovery and academic leadership the IOM celebrates in its prestigious membership. His 2002 election to the National Academy of Science, which recognizes exemplary basic research advancement, provides him with a rare double membership, he noted.

"Dr. Goodman's research and leadership at the Vollum Institute has helped make OHSU a world leader in cellular and molecular neuroscience," said Kohler. "His acceptance into the Institute of Medicine is not only an incredible honor for him; it's an honor for OHSU."

Goodman said that honors received by other Vollum faculty in recent years, such as appointments to the National Academy of Sciences, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, enhance OHSU's reputation as an academic medical institution.

"I don't think that the people elected into these organizations are necessarily any better than people who aren't," he said. "However, it does seem to follow that most of the really good medical schools have some representation in these groups. As we get more and more people into these kinds of organizations, it makes it easier to recruit top-notch scientists and it makes for an even stronger institution. It is very gratifying to see that living in the beautiful and more laid-back Northwest doesn't necessarily preclude receiving some recognition from the outside academic community."

With their election, IOM members make a commitment to involve themselves in the work of the institute, which conducts studies and other activities addressing a wide range of issues in medical science, health services, public health and health policy. Some current studies are a project to recommend appropriate nutritional standards for foods sold in schools, an evaluation of the nation's system for ensuring the safety of prescription drugs after they have reached the market, and an assessment of emergency health care in the United States and recommendations for improving it.