The University Record, October 23, 2000

Cantor, Clark and James elected to Institute of Medicine

By Amy Reyes
News and Information Services

Provost Nancy Cantor, School of Public Health Dean Noreen M. Clark and Sherman A. James, professor of public health and chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, were elected Oct. 16 to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

Their election to the prestigious group brings the total membership to 711, of which approximately 20 are current and former faculty members.

Established in 1970 as a unit of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute is broadly based in the biomedical sciences and health professions, as well as related aspects of the behavioral and social sciences, administration, law, the physical sciences and engineering.

The Institute’s members, elected on the basis of their professional achievement, serve without compensation in the conduct of studies, conferences and other Institute inquiries into matters of national health policy. Election is both an honor and a commitment to serve in Institute affairs.

Members are elected by current members, who select candidates based on their major contributions to health and medicine or to related fields, such as social and behavioral sciences, law, administration and economics. At least one-fourth of the members are drawn from professions other than the health arena.

Institute members volunteer their time as members of committees that are devoted to studies on a broad range of health policy issues. Recent studies have focused on the future of the smallpox virus, the current state of cancer care, the medical use of marijuana, and donor organ procurement and transplantation.

Prior to July 1996, Cantor served as chair of the Department of Psychology and professor of psychology at Princeton University. Prior to that she spent 10 years at the U-M as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Social Research, serving as associate dean for faculty programs at the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies in 1989–91, when she left Michigan for Princeton.

As a psychologist, Cantor has spent much of her career investigating how human social intelligence connects individuals to their social environments, as individuals perceive opportunities and uncertainties in situations, set goals and expectations, anticipate outcomes, modulate effort, and retrospectively try to understand what happened and why.

She began by using the tools of cognitive psychology to experimentally demonstrate the complexity of social knowledge structures (self and social prototypes) that serve as the lens through which we perceive ourselves, other people and life situations. Her research has followed the life task goals that individuals set across the life course and the cognitive-behavioral strategies that allow them to cope with the significant ups and downs of daily life.

Clark is the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health. She is the National Program Director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Allies Against Asthma program and is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Clark’s primary research specialty is management of disease and she has conducted many large-scale program evaluations. She is attempting to identify the elements of self-regulation, and uses management of asthma and heart disease as models for examining constructs. Her studies of asthma self-management have contributed to the research literature and the field of practice by demonstrating that educational interventions can decrease hospitalizations and medical emergencies in low-income families. Her work has resulted in an archetype educational program for health care facilities distributed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and used in hundreds of clinics nationally and internationally. A program developed in subsequent research to adapt the model for use in public schools is being disseminated by the American Lung Association and has to date reached over 100,000 American school children. Other model programs for the management of asthma and heart disease currently are being evaluated by Clark and her research team.

James is the founding director of the School of Public Health’s newly established Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health. He holds joint professorships in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education and the Department of Epidemiology.

He also is a senior research scientist with the Survey Research Center at the Institute for Social Research and is a faculty associate with the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies. James was the School of Public Health’s associate dean for academic affairs in 1996–97.

A social epidemiologist, James’ research focuses primarily on the psychosocial and behavioral determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in African Americans. He is the originator of the “John Henryism” concept, which hypothesizes that repetitive, high-effort coping with social and economic adversity is a major cause of the high rates of CVD (especially hypertension) typically seen in poor and working class African Americans.

James is active in international as well as national public health research and teaching endeavors. He has served on four National Institutes of Health (NIH) study sections, and three NIH data and safety monitoring committees.