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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 31, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 9
Pioneering Emergency Physician Appointed to Institute of Medicine

By David March
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins emergency medicine specialist Gabor Kelen was elected last week to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. With the appointment, Kelen, a professor and chair of Emergency Medicine at the School of Medicine, joins 44 other Johns Hopkins faculty elected to the IOM, which has 1,461 members worldwide.

Established in 1970 by the National Academies, the IOM honors professional achievement in the health sciences and serves as a national advisory group for independent analysis and recommendations on issues related to medicine, biomedical sciences and health.

Kelen, who joined Johns Hopkins in 1984, was among the first emergency medicine physicians in the country to conduct original research in the then developing field. His pioneering work, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Annals of Internal Medicine, helped establish Emergency Medicine as a full academic department at Hopkins in 1994, with Kelen as its first director.

Kelen's research was essential to exposing the extent of the HIV epidemic and subsequent adoption of universal precautions in health care to prevent its spread. He was the first clinician-scientist to refute the notion of universal testing of patients for HIV or other infectious diseases as a prerequisite to rendering care or performing procedures, instead turning the focus to universal precautions. Kelen also promoted the economic effectiveness and compassionate roles that emergency services play in delivering health care to people with HIV.

Shortly after 9/11, he became the founding director of the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, which helps Johns Hopkins to prepare for calamitous events and assists with national and international disaster-relief efforts. Most recently, CEPAR provided assistance to victims of the tsunami in Southern Asia, hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast and the earthquake in Pakistan. Kelen's current research interests are in developing the scientific foundations and methodologies necessary to study the expert field of disaster response.


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