U-M pharmacologist Lori Isom elected to the National Academy of Medicine

October 18, 2021
Written By:
Kelly Malcom
  • umichnews@umich.edu

Lori Isom, professor and chair of the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Pharmacology, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors for a clinician and scientist.

Lori Isom

Lori Isom

Isom is the Maurice H. Seevers Collegiate Professor of Pharmacology, professor of molecular and integrative physiology and professor of neurology. She has served as director of the Program in Biomedical Sciences and assistant dean for graduate education at the U-M Medical School.

The academy recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service and who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

“I am very honored and humbled to have been chosen by my peers for inclusion in the National Academy of Medicine,” Isom said. “This election is a tribute to the group of incredibly talented students and postdocs who have trained in my lab, to the brilliant research faculty members who help to run my research program every day, to our scientific collaborators, especially Jack Parent at the University of Michigan, and to our patients with Dravet syndrome and their families. I am also grateful to my husband, Kelley, and daughters, Helena and Audrey, who have been unwavering in their support of my career.”

Isom’s research program focuses on voltage-gated sodium channel function and the roles of sodium channel gene variants in developmental and epileptic encephalopathy, including a rare disease called Dravet syndrome.

Isom showed, in collaboration with Parent, a professor of neurology, that the high risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, with Dravet syndrome may result from a predisposition to cardiac arrhythmias and neuronal hyperexcitability.

In addition to her research activities, Isom serves as principal investigator of the NIH-funded Pharmacological Sciences Training Program T32 grant and co-chairs the Dravet Syndrome Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. She also chaired the NIH ESTA study section and serves on the Board of the American Epilepsy Society, on NIH grant study sections and on editorial boards of scientific journals.

Isom has received numerous awards for research and mentoring, including her current NINDS Javits R37 MERIT award and the University of Michigan Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and a fellow of the American Epilepsy Society.

“To be elected to the National Academy is an incredible honor and could not go to a more deserving, accomplished individual,” said Marschall Runge, dean of the U-M Medical School and CEO of Michigan Medicine. “Dr. Isom is a pillar of our research and education community, and we are grateful for her leadership.”

National Academy of Medicine President Victor Dzau says this is NAM’s most diverse class of new members to date, composed of approximately 50% women and 50% racial and ethnic minorities.

“It is my privilege to welcome this extraordinary class of new members,” he said. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unmatched—they’ve made groundbreaking discoveries, taken bold action against social inequities, and led the response to some of the greatest public health challenges of our time.”