Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Dr. David E. Housman of the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research is one of 60 new members elected to the Institute of Medicine.
Current active members elect new members from among candidates chosen for their major contributions to health and medicine or to related fields such as social and behavioral sciences, law, administration and economics.
With a focus on analyzing the genetic basis of human diseases, Dr. Housman, the Novartis Professor of Biology, identifies and characterizes mammalian genes. For example, he contributed to the isolation of the gene for Huntington's disease. His lab is also exploring the genetics of leukemia, childhood kidney cancer and myotonic dystrophy.
In addition, Professor Housman wants to better understand how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy and radiation by studying genes that play a role in the body's response to drugs and radiation treatments.
Professor Housman received the BA and PhD from Brandeis University. He has been a member of the MIT faculty since coming here as an assistant professor in 1975. In 1994, Professor Housman was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology.
Election to the IOM is both an honor and obligation to work on behalf of the organization. With their election, members make a commitment to devote a significant amount of volunteer time on committees engaged in a broad range of studies on health policy issues.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 25, 1998.