Rimer elected to prestigious Institute of Medicine

October 13, 2008

Dr. Barbara K. Rimer

Dr. Barbara K. Rimer

Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, Alumni Distinguished Professor and dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been elected to membership in The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the organization announced this week.

Sixty-five new members and five foreign associates were chosen, bringing the IOM’s total active membership to 1,576. Also selected this year from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was Etta Pisano, vice dean for academic affairs in the UNC School of Medicine since 2006. Pisano is Kenan Professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, director of the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Membership in the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service. Current active 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.

“It is a great pleasure to welcome these distinguished and influential individuals to the Institute of Medicine,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. “Members are elected through a highly selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.”

The Institute of Medicine is unique for its structure as both an honorific membership organization and an advisory organization on matters of health and science policy. Established in 1970 as a component of the National Academy of Sciences, the IOM has become recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues.

Rimer, a behavioral scientist, was appointed dean in January 2005. She is Alumni Distinguished Professor in the School’s Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. Rimer served in several academic and government positions before coming to the School, including as deputy director for population sciences at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. She was professor of community and family medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine and then director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences of the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. She is the first woman and first behavioral scientist to serve as the School’s dean.

Since becoming dean, Rimer has focused on several priorities, including improved communications. She also has collaborated with faculty leaders to develop strategic initiatives to address obesity, global health, health disparities and water. A primary initiative is to create a supportive and diverse environment at the School. To that end, one of Rimer’s first acts as dean was to create the position of special assistant to the dean for diversity. She has emphasized the translation of research into policies, programs and practices that improve health.

As Dean, she leads a team of more than 275 faculty members, 1,600 students and 400 staff members.

A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Rimer received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1970. She earned a master’s of public health from Michigan in 1973 and a doctor of public health from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1981.

“Barbara Rimer richly deserves this important distinction, and I’m just delighted that she has received it,” said IOM member Herbert Peterson, MD, chair of the School’s Department of Maternal and Child Health.”She’s not only an outstanding leader of our School but also a distinguished behavioral scientist and cancer researcher who has made great strides in translating research into improved clinical and public health practice.”

Elected to the IOM last year, Peterson was inducted into the institute Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. Other members from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health are Barbara Hulka, Kenan Professor Emeritus of epidemiology and former chair of the department, and Sheila Leatherman, UNC health policy and management research professor and a Gillings Visiting Professor.


Note: Dean Rimer can be reached at (919) 966-3215 or brimer@unc.edu.

Institute of Medicine contact: Christine Stencel, Media Relations Officer, (202) 334-2138 or news@nas.edu.

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.