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David DeMets Elected to Institute of Medicine

Madison, Wisconsin - A UW-Madison professor who has helped guide the design and analysis of hundreds of clinical trials across the country has been elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IoM), part of the National Academies.

 

David DeMetsDavid DeMets, the Wisconsin Alumni Medical Foundation Max Halperin Professor of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, is one of only a few biostatistics experts to be chosen for the IoM.

 

The list of newly elected members was announced today during the organization’s 42nd annual meeting.

 

The National Academies, which also include the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council and National Academy of Engineering, are private, nonprofit institutions founded in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln to provide scientific advice to the nation.

 

Executive orders to broaden the work of the Academies by Presidents Wilson, Eisenhower, and H.W. Bush have affirmed the importance of their service to the nation.

 

“It’s such an honor to be nominated, much less elected, into this select group of individuals,” said DeMets. “The IOM is a fairly influential body. The reports they generate are always taken seriously and get a lot of attention, especially by Congress and the executive branch, as well as other federal and scientific agencies.”

 

The IoM  is contracted by various sponsors, often federal agencies, to investigate issues and develop reports of their findings and recommendations. The two largest tasks DeMets will be a part of include serving on these IOM panels or reviewing reports they generate.

 

“I was stunned to be elected to the IOM,” said DeMets. “First, it’s not typical that biostaticians get nominated or elected. There is only a handful that I know of with this IOM honor at present. Second, this isn’t an honorary position. Members are expected to serve the IOM on various panels working on important issues brought to them It’s unusual for someone my age to be elected, but I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon.”

 

Election to the IOM is the last step in a rigorous process that lasts several months and goes through several rounds of selection. DeMets was nominated by Dr. Thomas Fleming, professor of statistics and biostatistics at the University of Washington, and Dr. Gilbert Omenn, professor of internal medicine, human genetics and public health, and director of the Center for Computational Medicine and Biology at the University of Michigan.

 

DeMets has produced more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and authored four textbooks on the design and analysis of clinical trials. In the last few decades, he’s been increasingly active in the monitoring of the progress of trials - whether they’re progressing as planned or showing early emerging trends of potential harm or overwhelming benefit, and therefore may be terminated sooner than planned.

 

He launched his professional career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1970 at a time when clinical trials began to play a bigger role in health research, putting him in a position to be heavily involved in the role, design, conduct and analysis of these early trials. His efforts helped establish the foundation for conducting clinical trials, of which he is most proud.

 

DeMets earned his PhD in biostatistics from the University of Minnesota in 1970. Having been at the NIH for 12 years, he came to the UW in 1982. He was founder and served as the SMPH’s chair of the biostatistics and medical informatics department for 27 years until stepping down in 2009.  



Date Published: 10/21/2013

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Last updated: 12/12/2013
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