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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC scientific director elected to Institute of Medicine
Oct 13, 2008 - 3:59:37 AM

David H. Perlmutter, MD, scientific director and physician-in-chief at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The IOM was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. The institute provides unbiased, evidence-based, authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society and the public at large. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Dr. Perlmutter, the Vira I. Heinz Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is one of only 65 new members and five foreign associates who are being announced at the IOM's annual meeting Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. Current active members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their professional achievement and commitment to service.

Since joining Children's Hospital in 2001, Dr. Perlmutter has led an effort to expand the hospital's basic and clinical research program so that it is ideally poised to investigate the molecular basis of pediatric disease and to develop innovative new therapies for childhood illnesses. Under his leadership, Children's Hospital has become among the fastest growing pediatric research program in the country in terms of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding from 2000.

It's a tremendous honor to be elected to the Institute of Medicine. I view this recognition as a testament to the great people with whom I have had the opportunity to work in my clinical and research lives at several wonderful institutions, Dr. Perlmutter said. As a physician-scientist, I've dedicated my career to improving children's health, through my basic research and clinical care of young patients, and by fostering the development of new generations of physician-scientists and clinicians who are dedicated to child health issues.

Dr. Perlmutter has carried out basic research on alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, the most common genetic liver disease of childhood, for more than 20 years. His work has led to many new concepts about the pathobiology of liver disease in this deficiency and has suggested several new concepts for chemoprophylaxis of chronic liver injury, hepatocellular carcinoma and emphysema in this genetic disease. He is the principal investigator on three NIH grants in this area and also now holds four other NIH grants, including the Child Health Research Center of Excellence Award for training pediatric physician-scientists in the molecular basis of pediatric disease.

Election to the Institute of Medicine is a unique and particularly noteworthy recognition of an individual's professional achievements and contributions to the medical sciences and health care. I can think of no one more deserving of such an honor than Dr. Perlmutter, whose basic research has elucidated the fundamental etiology of pediatric liver disease and whose translation of that knowledge into clinical practice has improved the health of countless children, said Arthur S. Levine, MD, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. However, it is his mentorship of an emerging cadre of young physician-scientists and his transformation of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Pediatrics into one of the nation's strongest pediatric research enterprises that secure his enduring legacy in medicine and science.

Dr. Perlmutter's research has been recognized by numerous awards including the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He has served as the president of the Society of Pediatric Research and is now a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Dr. Perlmutter earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester and his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in pediatrics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and his fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Children's Hospital Boston.

After several years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Perlmutter joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children's Hospital. From 1992, he was the director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at St. Louis Children's, and in 1996 he became the first to hold the Donald Strominger Endowed Professorship of Washington University School of Medicine. In 2001 he left St. Louis to take his current position in Pittsburgh.

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