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Release: Immediate

Merchant elected to prestigious Institute of Medicine

IOWA CITY, Iowa ­James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., University of Iowa professor and head of preventive medicine and environmental health, has been elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

The institute's members, elected on the basis of their professional achievement, serve without compensation in the conduct of studies, conferences and other inquiries into matters of national health policy. Established in 1970, the institute conducts studies of health and medicine policy issues; issues position statements on these issues; cooperates with major science and professional societies in this field; identifies qualified individuals to serve on study groups; and disseminates information to the public and other health professionals.

Merchant, a nationally recognized expert on public health policy, joined the UI faculty in 1981 with joint academic appointments in preventive medicine and internal medicine. He has developed and directed a number of UI programs and centers and has served on many national and international committees and advisory boards in the areas of public health, occupational and environmental health, and rural health policy.

He was named head of the UI department of preventive medicine and environmental health in June 1997, overseeing the department's four divisions: biostatistics, epidemiology, occupational and environmental health, and health management and policy.

Merchant also is instrumental in developing the UI's Public Health Initiative (PHI), which includes the formation of a School of Public Health at the university. The school would educate and train Iowa's current and future health care professionals in public health, serve as a statewide public health resource, promote prevention and public health research, and provide outreach services to Iowans. Last month the Iowa Board of Regents approved the UI's request for special purpose appropriations, which will be sent to the governor and general assembly, to help fund the PHI.

"Dr. Merchant has long been recognized as exceptional physician, scientist, teacher and health policy advocate," said Robert Kelch, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine. "We are proud that Jim has been elected as a member to the Institute of Medicine. It's a very prestigious honor."

Other UI faculty and administrators who are members of the Institute of Medicine are Kelch; UI President Mary Sue Coleman, Ph.D.; John Eckstein, professor emeritus and former medicine dean, M.D.; John Colloton, UI vice president for statewide health services; François Abboud, M.D., professor and head of internal medicine; Nancy Andreasen, professor of psychiatry, Ph.D. M.D.; James Clifton; professor emeritus of internal medicine, M.D.; Antonio Damasio, M.D., professor and head of neurology; Myrtle Adelyotte, M.D., professor emeritus and former dean of the College of Nursing; Jennifer Niebyl, M.D., professor and head of obstetrics and gynecology; and Michael Welsh, M.D., professor of internal medicine.