Institute of Medicine honors members for outstanding service

October 21, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies honored members Donald Berwick, R. Alta Charo, and Ellen Wright Clayton for their outstanding service today at the IOM's 43rd annual meeting.

Berwick received the Walsh McDermott Medal, awarded to an IOM member for distinguished service over an extended period. He served on the IOM Committee on the Quality of Health Care in America, which produced the landmark reports To Err Is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm, as well as on several "offspring" committees that resulted in additional volumes in the Quality Chasm series. His contributions to the language and essential ideas articulated in the reports were critical, and it is this work that best exemplifies the nature of his service to the IOM. Not only a key leader in the creation of a scientific, philosophical, and ethical framework for what health care must become, Berwick was also exceptional at convening groups and encouraging consensus among them. He has served both domestically and internationally as an IOM representative to the broader public. His two decades of work at Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and later at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), constituted an effective dissemination agent for the principles and recommendations of the IOM. Berwick has tirelessly promoted the IOM's vision and achievements while speaking, consulting, and leading clinical improvement activities around the globe. As a member of the Committee on Improving the Patient Record in the late 1980s, the IOM Council, and many other committees, he has been an unflagging contributor and leader for the IOM, and he exhibits qualities of an ideal IOM member through his commitment to science, collaboration, service, and patients. Berwick is former president and CEO of IHI and former CMS administrator.

Charo was presented the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal, awarded to an IOM member from a discipline outside the health and medical sciences. She has been a dedicated contributor to the work of the IOM and the Academies, having served on numerous committees and two boards. For more than a decade, her expertise as an attorney and ethicist in committee deliberations has been invaluable on a series of complex and controversial topics. Her knowledge of federal policy and federal agencies in all their breadth -- from law to regulation -- and her vigorous engagement in discussions have proved instrumental in questioning assumptions, provoking deeper inquiry and dialogue, and posing crucial questions to further the work of the committees on which she has served. As a subcommittee chair on the Committee on the Assessment of Health Outcomes Related to the Childhood Immunization Schedule, Charo illustrated superb skills in leading difficult discussions on issues of trust, patient autonomy, science literacy, and parental concerns, and in finding avenues for reaching consensus. Additionally, her contributions to The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public were extensive and included sections on the history of drug regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and an assessment of the FDA before and after drug approval. The FDA has acted on a majority of the report's recommendations and, as a result, has profoundly changed its process for handling drug safety issues. She has enriched committee deliberations and reports with her academic scholarship and detailed knowledge of some of the most critical issues in government health and science policy. Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law & Bioethics in the School of Law and School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Clayton received the David Rall Medal, which is given to an IOM member who has demonstrated distinguished leadership as chair of a study committee or other such activity, showing commitment above and beyond the usual responsibilities of the position. Clayton is the chair of the IOM Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice and holds a record of extraordinary service as a member and chair of many IOM committees. She chaired two IOM committees on family planning against a backdrop of considerable public and political attention to contraceptive service policies. Additionally, she chaired the Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Under her leadership and direction, the committee produced a report that represents the single most definitive review of the epidemiological, clinical, and biological evidence regarding possible adverse events associated with vaccines covered by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. With the knowledge that this work would be central to ongoing litigation concerning vaccine safety, Clayton assisted the committee in formulating sober, evidence-based conclusions about the possible biological mechanisms and causality relevant to a series of vaccines. This was an immense effort, and her leadership and commitment to the highest integrity made this a prime example of the value of the IOM's work. Clayton was co-chair of the Committee on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States and currently serves as a member of the IOM Council. She exhibits a level of diligence and dedication that is rare, and the fact that she continues to be asked to provide expert consultation is a tribute to the quality of advice and leadership she provides. Clayton is Craig Weaver Professor of Pediatrics and professor of law, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
-end-
Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.

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