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Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, Elected Member of Prestigious Institute of Medicine

IOM Membership is One of the Highest Accolades for Outstanding Professional Achievement and Commitment to Service in Medicine and Health

NYU Langone Medical Center announced today that Dan R. Littman, MD, PhD, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology, a professor of pathology and microbiology, and a faculty member in the Molecular Pathogenesis program in the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Seventy new members and ten foreign associates were named during the IOM’s 42nd annual meeting on October 15. Dr. Littman is NYU School of Medicine’s ninth faculty member to be elected into the IOM.

“Being elected into the IOM is an extraordinary honor and is evidence of the remarkable and important contributions Dr. Littman has made to science and medicine,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean & CEO at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We congratulate Dr. Littman on receiving this significant distinction.” 

A renowned immunologist and molecular biologist, Dr. Littman has made seminal contributions to numerous fields including understanding the molecular basis of immune recognition, HIV pathogenesis, T-cell differentiation and selection and most recently, the role of commensal bacteria in immune system development and regulation. Dr. Littman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a member in the National Academy of the Sciences, and is a fellow in both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. 

Dr. Littman has been a leader in applying molecular biology and mouse genetics to study specification of T lymphocyte lineages and the differentiation of inflammatory T helper cells. Early in his career Dr. Littman isolated the genes for the CD4 and CD8 co-receptors and determined how their expression is regulated and their signaling influences selection of helper and cytotoxic cells.  His group subsequently went on to demonstrate that CD4 and CCR5 collaborate as co-receptors for HIV, leading to therapeutic targeting of CCR5 in AIDS, and the demonstration that HIV evades host innate responses by failing to replicate in dendritic cells. In recent work, Dr. Littman discovered that the nuclear receptor ROR-gamma-t regulates differentiation of Th17 cells and lymphoid tissue inducer cells, and identified compounds that inhibit its activity and may be effective for autoimmune disease therapy. He identified a commensal gut bacterium that selectively induces Th17 cells and promotes autoimmunity in mice, which may be relevant for human diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, thought to be influenced by imbalanced microbiota. His work has thus had major impact in both immunology and virology, and is being translated into therapies for multiple diseases.

Established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences, IOM is recognized as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on health issues. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. 

"The Institute of Medicine is greatly enriched by the addition of our newly elected colleagues, each of whom has significantly advanced health and medicine," said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg. "Through their research, teaching, clinical work, and other contributions, these distinguished individuals have inspired and served as role models to others. We look forward to drawing on their knowledge and skills to improve health through the work of the IOM."

The newly elected members raise IOM's total active membership to 1,732 and the number of foreign associates to 112. With an additional 84 members holding emeritus status, IOM's total membership is 1,928. IOM's charter ensures diversity of talent among the Institute's membership by requiring at least one-quarter of the members to be selected from fields outside the health professions, such as engineering, social sciences, law, and the humanities.

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