Two professors in the School of Medicine have been elected to the Institute of Medicine, considered one of the nation’s highest honors for those in the fields of health and medicine.
Myron S. Cohen, J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and epidemiology; and Terry R. Magnuson, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor, chair of the department of genetics and vice dean for research in the School of Medicine, are among the 70 new members announced by the institute. Cohen also is associate vice chancellor for global health.
Cohen arrived at UNC in 1980, and in 1981 UNC Hospitals admitted its first AIDS patient, a man with hemophilia. For the next 30 years, Cohen’s research has focused on the transmission and prevention of transmission of HIV. With a team of investigators at UNC, he helped to develop laboratory methods to measure HIV in genital secretions as well as methods to detect the best antiviral agents to reduce replication of the HIV virus.
Cohen is the architect and principal investigator of the multinational HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 trial, which demonstrated that antiretroviral treatment prevents the sexual transmission of HIV.
This work was recognized by Science magazine as the “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2011. Cohen serves on the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research Advisory Board, the NIH AIDS Research Advisory Council, and the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Scientific Advisory Board. He is the co-principal investigator of the NIH HIV Prevention Trials Network.
At UNC, he has served as chief of the division of infectious diseases since 1990. Much of his research has been conducted internationally, especially in Malawi and China, and in 2007 he was named founding director of the new Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases. In 2005, he received the Thomas Parran Award for lifetime achievement in STD research from the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association. Cohen was the 2008 recipient of the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest honor in the 16-campus UNC System.
Magnuson was recruited to UNC in 2000 as founding chair of the department of genetics and director of the newly established Carolina Center for Genome Sciences. He also created the Cancer Genetics Program in UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. A founding member of the International Mammalian Genome Society, Magnuson also served on the external advisory committee for the Mouse Genome Database at the Jackson Laboratory and was chair of the Jackson Laboratory Board of Scientific Overseers.
He served on the board of directors of the Society for Developmental Biology and also for the Genetics Society of America and is currently a senior editor of the journal Genetics. He was appointed by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine to help establish guidelines for work with human embryonic stem cells and is a member of the NIH stem cell working group. He currently serves as vice chair of an Institute of Medicine committee conducting an evaluation of the California Stem Cell Initiative. He was elected to the American Academy of Sciences in 2007 and the AAAS in 2009. Magnuson was appointed as the School of Medicine’s vice dean for research in July 2010.
The work in the Magnuson lab focuses on the role of mammalian genes in unique epigenetic phenomena such as genomic imprinting and X-chromosome inactivation. The lab also studies the tumor suppressor role of the BAF/PBAF chromatin remodeling complexes and has developed a novel genome-wide mutagenesis strategy. The Magnuson Lab has published more than 150 papers in these research areas.
The institute, part of the National Academies, has 1,928 members, including 21 from UNC with the addition of Cohen and Magnuson. Current members elect new members from among candidates nominated for their accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. Members commit to volunteer on institute committees, which carry out a broad range of studies on health policy issues.