October 12, 2010

President Skorton, Prof. Fins Elected to Prestigious Institute of Medicine

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Correction Appended, Oct. 13

Cornell President David Skorton and Prof. Joseph Fins, chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College, were elected Monday to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Skorton and Fins joined 65 other prominent individuals who have “made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences,” according to a press release from the IOM website.

Created under the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM “serves as adviser to the nation to improve health” through reports, forums and other activities, according to its website.

“I am deeply honored to be a part of the Institute of Medicine, with its timely and critical focus on evidence-based advice to the nation on health and health care,” Skorton said in a statement. “To be able to recognize at the same time the election of Dr. Joseph Fins, an esteemed colleague and friend at Weill Cornell Medical College, makes this a double honor.”

Prominent members in the 1,778-member organization include famed economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University, and Princeton President Shirley Tilghman, who is also a leading researcher in molecular genetics.

Skorton is a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College, as well as a professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. He received his M.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1974, and completed his medical residency and fellowship at the University of California at Los Angeles. At the University of Iowa, he served as an assistant professor of internal medicine before being named president of that university in 2002.

Prof. Fins received his M.D. degree from WCMC in 1986, and completed his residency at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. His primary area of interest currently lies in ethics cases regarding brain injury and consciousness. His expertise has made him a go-to source for the media during high-profile medical cases. During the Terri Schiavo case several years ago, his expert opinion that Schiavo was indeed in a persistent vegetative state was cited by numerous media outlets.

“I am grateful for this honor and for the opportunity to be joining an organization that has done so much for America’s health. I am also especially pleased to have been elected with President Skorton,” Fins said in a statement.

Correction: The original article incorrectly stated Prof. Joseph Fins’ position on Terri Schiavo’s vegetative state. In fact, Fins’ expert opinion was that Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. The Sun regrets the error.

Original Author: Jeff Stein