OHSU Vollum Co-Director Gary Westbrook elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine

10/13/08  Portland, Ore.

Election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and recognizes outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service

Gary Westbrook, M.D, senior scientist and co-director of the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Westbrook, also a professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine and incoming director of OHSU’s Neuroscience Graduate Program, is one of 65 new members elected to the institute this year. His membership brings the total active membership to 1,576.

"It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished and influential individuals to the Institute of Medicine," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D. "Members are elected through a highly selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health."

Membership in the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.  Current active members elect new members.

 “Election to the Institute of Medicine is an honor bestowed upon the leaders in academic medicine and election in the Basic Biomedical Sciences category is particularly competitive,” said Richard H. Goodman, M.D., Ph.D., and Vollum director. “Gary's election recognizes his scientific accomplishments in synaptic physiology, a field in which he has made fundamental contributions. Gary's career has been characterized by his dedication to service, scientific leadership and commitment to education.”

Other IOM members from OHSU include Goodman, elected in 2005; and Brian J. Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator who holds the JELD-WEN chair of leukemia research, elected in 2003.  

Westbrook is best known for 25 years of pioneering work on synaptic transmission – the way nerve cells transmit information throughout the central nervous system. Past honors include a Javits Award and a Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health, as well as awards from the Klingenstein Foundation, McKnight Foundation and the Max Planck Society in Germany.

Westbrook also is widely recognized for his work as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurscience from 2002 to 2007; he started the magazine’s “Neurobiology of Disease” section in 2004. He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, the NIH Council of Councils which oversees the Common Fund and promotes trans-NIH innovation, and several scientific advisory boards in the United States and Germany.

In addition, Westbrook is actively involved in the development of the Jungers Center, which is a Neurology/Vollum effort to promote discovery science related to neurological disease, and co-directs the OHSU Brain Institute.

About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with 12,400 employees. OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

As a leader in research, OHSU earned $300 million in research funding in fiscal year 2008. OHSU serves as a catalyst for the region's bioscience industry and is an incubator of discovery, averaging one new breakthrough or innovation every three days, with more than 4,100 research projects currently under way. OHSU disclosed 132 inventions in 2007 alone, and OHSU research resulted in 33 new spinoff companies since 2000, most of which are based in Oregon.