Two UChicago physicians elected to National Academy of Medicine

Profs. Vineet Arora and Ernst Lengyel honored for scientific and professional achievements

Profs. Vineet Arora and Ernst Lengyel of the University of Chicago have been elected members of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, honoring their pioneering scientific and professional achievements in the field.

Arora is an academic hospitalist and medical educator who specializes in improving the learning environment for medical trainees and the quality, safety and experience of care delivered to hospitalized adults. She is an internationally recognized expert on patient handoffs in health care and also has broad expertise in using technology, such as social media, to improve medical education. The Academy honored her “for pioneering work to optimize resident fatigue and patient safety during long shifts.”

Lengyel is a leading gynecologic oncologist and expert in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer. His research is focused on understanding the biological basis of metastasis and in characterizing the metabolic changes that occur in ovarian cancer cells. The Academy honored him “for his leadership on the biology of ovarian cancer and research that has advanced knowledge of signaling in the tumor microenvironment.”

Arora and Lengyel are among the 100 new members from around the world announced Oct. 21.

“Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and acknowledges individuals who have demonstrated outstanding scientific and professional achievement in biology, medicine, and related fields,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, the Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor, dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine, and executive vice president for medical affairs.

Arora’s work bridges clinical medicine and medical education to transform the learning environment and the quality of care delivered in teaching hospitals. She has served as principal investigator of numerous federal and foundation grants that explore novel scientific approaches to improving patient care while also enhancing workplace learning in teaching hospitals. A UChicago faculty member since 2004, she is a professor in the Department of Medicine.

Arora is an elected member to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, which recognizes physician-scientists for an outstanding record of scholarly achievement in biomedical research, and serves on the American Board of Internal Medicine Board of Directors.  As an advocate for gender equity across health care, she has leadership roles in several organizations dedicated to advancing women leaders and combating sexual harassment in health care, including Women of Impact, TIME'S UP Healthcare and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.

Lengyel is a clinically active surgeon. His laboratory employs high throughput screening using sophisticated organotypic 3D models to evaluate the efficacy and mechanisms of action of new compounds in preclinical models to prepare for their translation to the clinic. His research team also applies advanced “-omics” techniques to characterize differences between primary and metastatic ovarian cancer in human tumor tissue to gain broad insights into ovarian cancer biology and develop a rationale for ovarian cancer treatments.

In a 2019 study published in Nature, Lengyel and his colleagues described a new treatment target that could prevent the rapid spread of high-grade serous carcinoma, the most common and deadly form of ovarian cancer, which originates in the fallopian tubes or ovaries and spreads throughout the abdominal cavity. This project is being further developed toward clinical testing by the NCI Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) program. His research team is also part of the Human Cell Atlas, a project supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to map all of the cells in the human body. The team will characterize the different cell types in the female reproductive tract to understand the origins of gynecological diseases like fibroids, endometriosis or cancer.

A UChicago faculty member since 2004, he is the Arthur L. and Lee G. Herbst Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago.

The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health, biology, medicine and related fields. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as a scientific and policy adviser to the nation and the international community.

—Adapted from a story that first appeared on the UChicago Medicine website.