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Two on Yale faculty elected to Institute of Medicine

Medicine@Yale, 2014 - Mar Apr


Leaders in emotional intelligence and immunity join prestigious corps

Yale University President Peter Salovey, Ph.D., and immunologist Ruslan M. Medzhitov, Ph.D., the David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology, have been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one of the most prestigious bodies in health and medicine.

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, and professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and in the School of Management, have been widely used in tailoring educational and public health messages about adopting healthier behaviors to prevent or detect disease.

Along with John D. Mayer, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire, Salovey was a pioneer in developing the concept of emotional intelligence—the belief that people have a wide range of emotional and intellectual skills that can be developed and monitored to better 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 the establishment of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The principles of emotional intelligence arising from Salovey’s work have since been applied around the world.

Medzhitov, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, 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.

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

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. In 2013 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Medzhitov was co-recipient of the 2013 Vilcek Prize for Biomedical Science, and of the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for 2011. He is also a past recipient of the Else Kröner Fresenius Award and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. His role in elucidating the workings of the innate immune system won him the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists in 2007.

The IOM is an honorific membership body that also advises lawmakers, health professionals, and the public on health care and health policy. Salovey and Medzhitov are among 70 new members and 10 foreign associates elected to the IOM, bringing IOM’s total membership to 1,966.