The Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 21, 2002
October 21, 2002
VOL. 32, NO. 8


Two Elected to Institute of Medicine

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Professors David Valle and Robert E. Black have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, a prestigious body that brings together national leaders in the fields of health and medicine, social and behavioral sciences, law, administration and economics to develop solutions to a broad range of health policy issues.

Valle is professor of pediatrics, ophthalmology and molecular biology and genetics at the School of Medicine. Black is the Edgar Berman Professor and chairman of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Hopkins, Valle also serves as director of the predoctoral training program in human genetics with the Johns Hopkins Institute of Genetic Medicine. His research interests include identifying the genes responsible for human inborn errors of metabolism and diseases of the retina. He has particular expertise in gyrate atrophy, an inherited disease that usually causes blindness by midlife. His research team cloned the genetic mutation that causes the disorder, and he led the team at Hopkins that created a mouse model that enabled researchers to further study the biochemistry and proteins involved in the disease process. The work is fundamental to the development of new treatments but also for understanding similar mechanisms at work in a variety of disorders.

"David Valle has a continuous record of discovery that has unlocked cellular mechanisms, leading us to understand several metabolic disorders," said George J. Dover, director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and a longtime colleague of Valle's. "His skills in clinical pediatrics have made him an outstanding mentor for students, residents and faculty. Valle's co-editorship of the most important textbook in medical genetics, The Metabolic and Molecular Basis for Inherited Disease, has brought clarity and scientific rigor to countless individuals seeking to understand the complexities of genetic medicine."

Valle completed both his internship and residency in pediatrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and conducted his postdoctoral research in metabolism at the National Institutes of Health. In 1976, he was named director of the pediatrics genetics clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a position he held for more than 20 years.

Throughout his career, Robert Black has focused his research and professional activities on reducing the number of unnecessary deaths in developing countries due to diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, measles and malnutrition, which the World Health Organization estimates to claim the lives of more than 9 million children each year.

He continues to conduct epidemiologic research on the interaction of infectious diseases and nutrition, clinical and community-based trials of new vaccines to prevent childhood infectious diseases, and trials of nutritional interventions to reduce infectious disease morbidity and mortality, as well as improve growth and development. Black's work includes the implementation of disease control and nutrition programs in developing countries and conducting evaluations of their effectiveness and mortality impact. He is currently engaged in studying the effectiveness of zinc and iron supplementation in children and nutritional counseling programs as well conducting randomized trials of vaccines to prevent rotavirus, Hemophilus influenza type B, pneumococcal, and shigella.

"Bob Black has dedicated his career to saving lives and improving the health of millions of children throughout the world. Election to the Institute of Medicine reflects the esteem in which he is held by his scientific colleagues. He will now have additional opportunities to influence important health policy debates and steer their direction," said Alfred Sommer, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health and elected member of the Institute of Medicine.

In addition to his duties as professor and chair, Black is director of the Institute for International Programs, which assists faculty and students with the administration of international public health programs. He received his medical degree from Hahneman Medical College in Philadelphia and his postmedical training from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also earned his master's degree in public health. Black joined the faculty in 1985. He has worked extensively in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Kenya and Peru, and has current research in Uganda and Zanzibar.