In October 2019, Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, co-executive director of the Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Election to NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
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. A diversity of talent among NAM’s membership is assured by its Articles of Organization, which stipulate that at least one-quarter of the membership is selected from fields outside the health professions — for example, from such fields as law, engineering, social sciences and the humanities.
“These newly elected members represent the most exceptional scholars and leaders whose remarkable work has advanced science, medicine and health in the U.S. and around the globe,” says Victor J. Dzau, president of NAM. “Their expertise will be vital to addressing today’s most pressing health and scientific challenges and informing the future of health and medicine for the benefit of us all. I am honored to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”
Dr. Mardis, who is also the Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair in Genomic Medicine, and a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, joined Nationwide Children’s in 2016. She has authored more than 350 articles in prestigious peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals and has written book chapters for several medical textbooks. Honored with the Morton K. Schwartz award from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in 2016, Dr. Mardis has been listed since 2013 as one of the most highly cited researchers in the world by Thompson Reuters.
Dr. Mardis has been a member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) since 2007, was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of the AACR in 2019 and served AACR president in 2019.
A world-renowned researcher, Dr. Mendell has been a pioneer in the care of neuromuscular diseases for more than 40 years. He was the first to standardize and publish on corticosteroid treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) that preserved ambulation in affected boys. In 2007, he led the first-ever phase 1 clinical trial using AAV, a viral-based gene therapy approach in children with muscular dystrophy, paving a path for this promising approach. More recently, he demonstrated in the first exon-skipping clinical trial in North America, an alternative method to overcome the gene defect in a specific variant of DMD. A prolific author of nearly 400 publications, Dr. Mendell recently co-edited the book, Muscle Gene Therapy – Second Edition, published in 2019.
Dr. Mendell led the phase 1/2 clinical trial, which was the first effective gene therapy for SMA type 1, the most severe form of SMA that typically results in death by age 2. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was the People’s Choice for Science Magazine’s 2017 Breakthrough of the Year. In May 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zolgensma® for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) for pediatric patients less than 2 years of age, including those who are pre-symptomatic, recognized by newborn screening. To date, Zolgensma has treated more than 600 children with SMA worldwide.