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National Academy of Medicine elects three new members from Emory, honors a fourth
Photos of Wilbur Lam, Danielle Lam, and Ighovwerha Ofotokun

(From left) Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, Daniele Fallin, PhD, and Ighovwerha Ofotokun, MD, MSc, were elected to the National Academy of Medicine on Monday.

— Emory University

The National Academy of Medicine announced Monday that three individuals from Emory University have been elected to the Academy, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Daniele Fallin, PhD, Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, and Ighovwerha Ofotokun, MD, MSc, were among the 90 regular members and 10 internal members elected during the National Academy of Medicine’s annual meeting on Monday for having demonstrated “outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.” 

“In any year, we would be proud to see one of our faculty members elected to the National Academy of Medicine, but the fact that three extraordinary individuals have been elected in 2023 is a testament to the eminence of Emory faculty,” says President Gregory L. Fenves. “Dr. Fallin, Dr. Ofotokun, and Dr. Lam all share a profound commitment to serving humanity through their research, leadership, and patient-focused breakthroughs. They are innovative and dedicated to improving health for people across the nation and around the world.”

Established originally as the Institute of Medicine in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine addresses critical issues in health, science, medicine, and related policy and inspires positive actions across sectors. It works alongside the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions.

New members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” says Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of health care, and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.”

The Academy also announced last week the selection of Judy Wawira Gichoya, MBChB, as one of the Academy’s 2023 Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Scholars. The honor is awarded to early- to mid-career professionals from a wide range of health-related fields and provides them a platform to collaborate with the Academy and its members to “advance science, combat persistent challenges in health and medicine, and spark transformative change to improve health for all.” 

Learn more about each of the Emory honorees below:

Daniele Fallin, PhD

Serves as the James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. With more than 250 scientific publications that have been cited more than 22,000 times, Fallin’s globally-recognized research focuses on applying genetic epidemiology methods to studies of neuropsychiatric disorders including autism, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder and to developing applications and methods for genetic and epigenetic epidemiology, as applied to mental health and development. Fallin has led multiple CDC- and NIH-funded projects researching how environments, behaviors, genetic variation, and epigenetic variation contribute to risk for psychiatric disease, particularly autism.

Prior to joining Rollins, Fallin worked at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she served as chair of the Department of Mental Health, Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor, Bloomberg Centennial Professor, and held joint appointments in the school’s departments of epidemiology and biostatistics and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s departments of medicine and psychiatry. During that time, she also directed the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. For more than a decade, Fallin led the Maryland site of the Study to Explore Early Development and of the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation. She was also the inaugural principal investigator of the B’more Healthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study, one of 25 sites of the NIH’s HBCD study, for which she continues to serve as an associate director of the administrative core to guide epidemiologic design. Fallin earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida–Gainesville and a PhD in genetic epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University.

Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD

The W. Paul Bowers Research Chair and Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech and clinical pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also serves as associate dean of innovation for Emory University School of Medicine and as chief innovation officer for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center. Lam is a member of the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics Research Program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute, a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and an inductee of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. Lam is also principal investigator of the NIH-funded Atlanta Center for Microsystems Engineered Point-of-Care Technologies, which is part of the NIH’s Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network and serves as the Test Verification Core of the NIH RADx initiative for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. 

Lam’s multidisciplinary research interests involve developing and applying novel technologies using micro/nanotechnology, microfluidics, and cell mechanics to research, diagnose, and treat hematologic and oncologic processes. His laboratory is dedicated to translating their technologies as “cheap tech” solutions to enable and empower pediatric patients globally to more easily monitor their own conditions at home. This research led to several key discoveries, such as a smart phone app that uses photos of the fingernails of anemia patients to determine the level of hemoglobin in their blood, replacing the need to draw blood. Lam earned his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkley, his MD from Baylor College of Medicine, and completed his fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and residency in Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. 

Ighovwerha Ofotokun, MD, MSc

Serves as the Grady Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and professor of Behavioral, Social, and Health Education Sciences at the Rollins School of Public Health. Ofotokun is a staff physician at Grady Memorial Health System, the associate dean for research development at Emory School of Medicine, the associate division director for research of Emory University’s Infectious Diseases Division, and the co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research Clinical Core. 

Ofotokun is a clinician-scientist who has devoted his career to caring for individuals living with HIV and combating the long-term consequences of HIV among vulnerable populations. His research has focused on the threat that age-related comorbidities pose to healthy aging in persons with HIV and the disproportionate burden in women. Ofotokun was a leading member of the seminal ACTG 5257 trial that contributed to the 2015 revision of the US HIV treatment guidelines to prioritize a drug class that is better tolerated by women.

Ofotokun is the author of over 240 peer-reviewed publications, has contributed substantially to the expanded representation of women and minorities in biomedical research, he leads several large NIH-funded domestic and international studies, and was recently appointed to lead the adult cohort of NIH’s Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) initiative, which is one of the largest studies – with over 80 U.S. sites and 14,000 participants – aimed at understanding the long-term post-acute impacts of SARS-COV-2 infection. Ofotokun earned a medical degree from the University of Benin, a Master of Sciences from Emory University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Ibadan. 

Judy Wawira Gichoya, MBChB, MS

A multidisciplinary researcher – trained as both an informatician and an interventional radiologist – who serves as an associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Gichoya is a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute and holds professional memberships with Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology, Society of Interventional Radiology, Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine and American Medical Informatics Association.

Drawing upon extensive experience with open-source communities and contextual knowledge in Africa, Dr. Gichoya hopes to leverage her skills to build capacity for data science in Africa.

Dr. Gichoya’s research interests include studying clinical disparities for minimally invasive procedures, validating machine learning models for health in real clinical settings, exploring explainability, fairness, and a specific focus on how algorithms fail. She has worked on the curation of datasets for the SIIM (Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine) hackathon and ML committee. She volunteers on the ACR and RSNA machine learning committees to support the AI ecosystem to advance development and use of AI in medicine. Gichoya earned an MD from Moi University in Kenya, a Master of Science in Health Informatics from Indiana University Purdue University and completed a medical internship at Kiambu District Hospital. Gichoya also completed post-doctoral training in informatics at Regenstrief Institute, a residency in diagnostic radiology at Indiana University, and a fellowship in interventional radiology at Oregon Health Sciences University.

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