President and professor — Salovey and Medzhitov — elected to Institute of Medicine

Yale President Peter Salovey and immunologist Ruslan Medzhitov of the Yale School of Medicine, have been elected as new members of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the most prestigious bodies in health and medicine.

Salovey: emotional intelligence

Salovey’s research has focused on how effective communication and promotional techniques can persuade people to change risky behaviors relevant to cancer and HIV/AIDS. His lab compared the effectiveness of contrasting interventional approaches — either presenting the benefits accrued by adopting a healthier behavior or warning of the risks of not adopting that behavior. Investigative studies by Salovey, the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology, have been widely used in tailoring educational and public health messages about adopting healthier behaviors to prevent or detect disease.

Salovey was also one of the pioneers, along with his collaborator John D. Mayer, in developing the concept of emotional intelligence — the belief that people have a wide range of emotional as well as intellectual skills that can be developed and monitored in order to guide their thinking and actions. His seminal research on the ways that human moods and emotions affect behavior and decision-making and his lab’s development of methods to study and measure these factors laid the groundwork for establishment of the science-based Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The principles of emotional intelligence arising from Salovey’s work have since been applied around the world.

As a researcher, Salovey has been honored with a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, a National Cancer Institute CIS Partner in Research Award, and a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Excellence Award. He is the founding editor of the Review of General Psychology and was an associate editor of the journals Emotion and Psychological Bulletin. Salovey has also served as Yale College dean and provost of the university; is a professor in the Yale School of Public Health, Yale School of Management, and Yale Cancer Center; and is former deputy director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale. Earlier this year he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Medzhitov: innate immune system

Medzhitov is the David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He has made pioneering contributions to the understanding of innate immunity, which provides immediate defense against infection. His studies helped elucidate the critical role of toll-like receptors (TLRs) in sensing microbial infections, mechanisms of TLR signaling, and activation of the inflammatory and immune response.

Medzhitov has received many honors for his large body of work. Earlier this year, he won both the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation inaugural international prize in immunology, and the inaugural Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. The Lurie award, which honors early career researchers whose findings have advanced basic biomedical science, was given to Medzhitov for his groundbreaking discoveries about the workings of the innate immune system. Medzhitov was also co-recipient of the 2013 Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science along with Richard Flavell, professor and chair of the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Immunobiology.

In addition, Medzhitov was one of three scientists awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for 2011, and he received the 2010 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research. Also in 2010, Medzhitov was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the elite corps of researchers from the nation’s top scientific institutions. His role in elucidating the workings of the innate immune system won him the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists in 2007.

‘Two very different scientists’

The Institute of Medicine, established by the National Academy of Sciences in 1970, is an honorific membership body that also advises lawmakers, health professionals, and the public on healthcare and health policy. In recent years IOM members have studied the health implications of the Affordable Care Act, weight-gain guidelines during pregnancy, environmental factors in breast cancer, nutrition rating systems and graphics on food packaging, crisis standards of care during catastrophic disasters, treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the cardiovascular effects of second hand smoke.

“Peter and Ruslan are two very different scientists who represent the spectrum of excellence we have among our Yale faculty,” said Dr. Robert J. Alpern, dean of Yale School of Medicine and the Ensign Professor of Medicine. “We are delighted that once again this has been recognized by the IOM.”

“This is a great honor for me, and I am delighted to share this recognition with my Yale colleague, Ruslan Medzhitov,” Salovey said. “I'm grateful to the National Academy of Sciences, and I look forward to contributing to the important advisory role of the Institute of Medicine in addressing the challenges of our nation's health and health care policies and institutions.”

“I am very grateful to be elected to the Institute of Medicine,” Medzhitov said. “It is a great honor to join the ranks of the institute and to contribute to its mission.”

Salovey and Medzhitov are among 70 new members and 10 foreign associates elected to the IOM this year, bringing IOM’s total membership to 1,966.