David H. Perlmutter Elected to the Institute of Medicine

Issue Date: 
October 20, 2008


David H. Perlmutter, the Vira I. Heinz Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM).

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.

Also the scientific director and physician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Perlmutter is one of only 65 new members and five foreign associates announced at the IOM’s Oct. 13 annual meeting. Current active members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their professional achievement and commitment to service.

“David Perlmutter’s election to the Institute of Medicine is one of the highest forms of recognition that can be earned by a physician-scientist, and, given his major contributions to pediatric research, it is an honor that is very well deserved,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “In addition to achieving stature as a pioneering researcher in his field, Dr. Perlmutter is a highly regarded academic leader here at Pitt, who has helped build one of the fastest-growing and most- respected programs of pediatric research in the country.”

Perlmutter, who joined the Pitt faculty and Children’s Hospital in 2001, 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 National Institutes of Health (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.

Perlmutter has led an effort to expand Children’s Hospital’s basic and clinical research program so that it can investigate the molecular basis of pediatric disease and develop innovative new therapies for childhood illnesses. Under his leadership, Children’s Hospital has one of the fastest-growing pediatric research programs in the country in terms of NIH funding.

“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, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at the University. “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.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to be elected to the Institute of Medicine,” said Perlmutter. “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. 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.”

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.

Perlmutter earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Rochester and his medical degree at 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, 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 assume his current positions in Pittsburgh.

Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues, the IOM provides unbiased, evidence-based information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large.