Professors Davidson and South-Paul, Alum Gitlin, and Residency Alum Offit Elected to IOM

Issue Date: 
October 24, 2011

Two University of Pittsburgh faculty members, an alumnus of Pitt’s School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences, and a medical researcher who completed his residency training at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an honor that is considered among the highest in the field.

The IOM, during its 41st annual meeting on Oct. 17, announced the election of the following Pitt people:

• Nancy E. Davidson, Pitt professor of medicine, Hillman Professor of Oncology, associate vice chancellor for cancer research, and director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers;

• Jeannette E. South-Paul, Pitt’s UPMC Andrew W. Mathieson Professor and chair, Department of Family Medicine;

• Jonathan D. Gitlin (A&S ’74, MED ’78), the James C. Overall Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who serves on the Pitt medical school’s Board of Visitors; and

• Paul A. Offit, chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of pediatrics in the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Offit returned to campus as  a symposium presenter during Pitt’s three-day 2005 observance of the 50th anniversary of the announcement that the Pitt research team’s Salk polio vaccine was “safe, effective, and potent.”

Nancy E. DavidsonNancy E. Davidson

In a statement, IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg said, “Each of these new members stands out as a professional whose research, knowledge, and skills have significantly advanced health and medicine, and their achievements are an inspiration.”

Current IOM members select new ones from the health sciences, medicine, and public health in a rigorous process, and election requires a commitment to volunteer on boards and for other activities carried out by IOM in its role as an independent, science-based advisor on health issues to decision makers and the public. The IOM was established in 1970 as the health branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jeannette South-PaulJeannette South-Paul

Davidson, who came to Pitt in 2009, is an internationally renowned expert in breast cancer research and treatment. Her research focuses on the role of hormones, particularly estrogen, on gene expression and tumor growth in breast cancer. She also has guided several important national clinical trials of potential new therapies, including the use of chemoendocrine therapy for premenopausal breast cancer and antiangiogenesis therapy for advanced disease.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and medical degree from Harvard Medical School.

South-Paul studies maternal and child health as well as fitness, and she maintains an active family practice, including maternity care. She joined Pitt in 2001 after more than two decades as a family physician in the U.S. Army. She became the first female chair of a Pitt medical department and the first Black female chair in the nation of a medical department at a nonhistorically Black college or university. In 2004, The Joy McCann Foundation named South-Paul a McCann Scholar, with a $150,000 award—the only national honor by a private foundation to recognize mentors in medicine, nursing, and science.

Jonathan GitlinJonathan Gitlin

South-Paul received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and, in 1979, a medical degree from Pitt.

Gitlin’s research explores fundamental aspects of nutrition, with an emphasis on copper metabolism. Copper is a nutrient that is essential to cellular respiration, pigment formation, and antioxidant defenses, among other bodily processes. Gitlin’s research also focuses on the human disorder Menkes syndrome, a fatal disease characterized by sparse and coarse hair, growth failure, and deterioration of the nervous system. It is caused by a defective gene that regulates the metabolism of copper in the body.

Paul A. OffitPaul A. Offit

Offit is a leading researcher in the fields of virology and immunology and a well-respected voice on the science, safety, and value of childhood vaccinations. His work includes 25 years spent on the development of RotaTeq, one of two vaccines used to fight rotavirus, a disease that is the leading cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children. He is also one of the most public faces of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism.

Offit received his Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University and his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.