Two faculty members at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have been elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors medical scientists in the United States can receive.
Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., and David M. Holtzman, M.D., were recognized for their major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health and commitment to service.
Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Genome Sciences, and Holtzman is the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and chair of the Department of Neurology.
Gordon is internationally known for his research on gut development and how gut microbes affect normal intestinal function, and predisposition to health and to certain diseases. His research has shown that our gut microbes are biomarkers, mediators and potential therapeutic targets in the war against the worldwide obesity epidemic. By sequencing the genes present in gut microbial communities of obese and lean mice, and by observing the effects of transplanting these communities into germ-free mice, he has shown that microbial communities from obese mice have an increased capacity to harvest calories from the diet. His work in humans is focusing on lean, obese and malnourished twins in order to obtain a deeper understanding of how we acquire our gut microbes, the genomic and metabolic underpinnings of their beneficial relationships with us, and how they help shape the nutritional needs of humans living in various parts of the world.
Gordon earned a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, a medical degree from the University of Chicago and completed post-doctoral research at the National Institutes of Health. He has been on the faculty since 1981 and has mentored about 100 doctoral and M.D./Ph.D. students and post-doctoral fellows. His many honors include election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has published 400 research papers and holds 23 U.S. patents.
Holtzman is known as one of the leading experts in researching the underlying mechanisms that lead to Alzheimer’s disease in an effort to improve diagnosis and treatment. In addition to seeing patients at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Memory Diagnostic Center, Holtzman leads a research team working with animal models of Alzheimer’s and works closely with the Washington University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. His group has been instrumental in revealing mechanisms underlying how dangerous amounts of a protein called amyloid-beta (Abeta) begin to accumulate in the brain many years before symptoms arise. These basic science investigations have evolved over the years and are beginning to bridge the gap into the clinical arena.
Holtzman earned bachelors and medical degrees from Northwestern University. He completed an internship, residency and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco, where he established the Memory and Cognitive Disorders Clinic and was assistant professor of neurology from 1991-1994, before joining the faculty at Washington University.
Past honors include the MetLife Foundation award for research on Alzheimer’s Disease, a MERIT award from the National Institute on Aging and being selected as one of the Scientific American 50. He has published hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals, teaches medical students and supervises post-doctoral trainees.
Gordon and Holtzman are among 65 members whose elections to the Institute of Medicine were announced by the National Academy of Sciences Oct. 13. As members, Gordon and Holtzman make a commitment to devote a significant amount of volunteer time on committees engaged in a broad range of health-policy issues.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.