National Academy of Medicine welcomes two new members from Penn

The Perelman School of Medicine’s Marylyn D. Ritchie and PIK Professor Sarah A. Tishkoff are among 100 new members to be elected this year to the Academy, one of the highest honors in health and medicine.

Marylyn Ritchie and Sarah Tishkoff
Marylyn D. Ritchie and Sarah A. Tishkoff are Penn’s newest elected members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Two faculty members from Penn, Marylyn D. Ritchie and Sarah A. Tishkoff, have been elected members of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in health and medicine and recognizes people who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Ritchie and Tishkoff are among 100 new members elected by current members. Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the NAM addresses issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires actions across sectors. With their election, NAM members make a commitment to volunteer their service in National Academies activities.

“It is my privilege to welcome this extraordinary class of new members. Their contributions to health and medicine are unmatched—they’ve made groundbreaking discoveries, taken bold action against social inequities, and led the response to some of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “This is also the NAM’s most diverse class of new members to date, composed of approximately 50% women and 50% racial and ethnic minorities. This class represents many identities and experiences—all of which are absolutely necessary to address the existential threats facing humanity. I look forward to working with all of our new members in the years ahead.”

Marylyn D. Ritchie is a professor in the Department of Genetics, director of the Center for Translational Bioinformatics, associate director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics, and associate director of the Center for Precision Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine. Her work has focused on understanding the genetic architecture of complex human diseases, leading to new bioinformatics tools for big data analysis in genetics, genomics, and clinical databases. She is being recognized “for paradigm-changing research demonstrating the utility of electronic health records for identifying clinical diseases or phenotypes that can be integrated with genomic data from biobanks for genomic medicine discovery and implementation science.” Ritchie has been previous honored as a Genome Technology Rising Young Investigator in 2006, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2010, a KAVLI Frontiers of Science fellow by the National Academy of Science in 2011-14, and she was named one of the most highly cited researchers in her field by Thomson Reuters in 2014.

Sarah A. Tishkoff is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Genetics and the School of Arts & SciencesDepartment of Biology and is director of Penn’s Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity. Her election recognizes her status as “a pioneer of African evolutionary genomics research.” Her research combines field work, laboratory research, and computational methods to examine African population history and how genetic variation can affect a wide range of traits, for example, why humans have different susceptibility to disease, how they metabolize drugs, and how they adapt through evolution. Tishkoff is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of an NIH Pioneer Award, a David and Lucile Packard Career Award, a Burroughs/Wellcome Fund Career Award, an ASHG Curt Stern award, and a Penn Integrates Knowledge endowed chair.