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Spring 2002 Vol. 2 No. 1

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Institute of Medicine

Institute of Medicine Stands Ready to Face New Challenges in the 21st Century

IOM President Kenneth I. Shine (photo by Bachrach)

Over the course of my tenure as president, I have had the opportunity to see the Institute of Medicine and its work grow substantially in reputation and impact. And as we move forward into the 21st century, the Institute will be faced with an additional important challenge -- helping the government confront the dangers and aftermath of terrorism. The Institute of Medicine has joined with the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in undertaking a series of activities related to counterterrorism, including several new projects dealing with vaccine development, public health, and bioterrorism. The Institute has a long history of activities that bear on terrorism, such as identifying new and emerging microbial threats and addressing problems in the public health infrastructure, both of which are essential to combat illness and disease, including threats from terrorism.

Also of importance to us is the continuing collaboration of physicians and scientists of many countries who are dedicated to improving health. While such interaction may not change the attitude of terrorists, it can substantially influence the environment in which they work by bolstering research and public health infrastructures and improving the health and economic status of poor countries. One such effort is the InterAcademy Medical Panel, which recently held the first international meeting of academies of medicine to discuss a health issue of worldwide concern. Thirty-nine countries were represented in a discussion of global strategies to combat infectious diseases and microbial resistance to antibiotics. The keynoter for this meeting was Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg, who spoke on the international challenge of emerging infections and bioterrorism.

Public health is now recognized as an area of critical national security importance. The IOM stands poised to advise the government on issues such as vaccine safety, military and veterans' health, health care delivery and quality, uninsurance and its consequences, and biomedical research involving stem cells and cloning. Harvey V. Fineberg, former provost of Harvard University and dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, has been selected the next president of the Institute of Medicine. Fineberg combines a rich academic leadership experience with a continuing commitment to and involvement in the health of the public. He is an outstanding choice to lead the Institute in its mission to improve health for Americans and around the world.

    President, 1992 to 2002
    Institute of Medicine

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Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences