Ann McKee, Ralph Sacco ’83 Elected to National Academy of Medicine

Two members of the BUSM community have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM): Ann McKee, MD, Chief of Neuropathology, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Director of the BU CTE Center, and Ralph L. Sacco, MD, MS (BUSM’83), professor and chair of Neurology and Olemberg Family Chair of Neurological Disorders at the University of Miami, an international expert in stroke epidemiology, prevention, and health disparities.

NAM membership is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service. Members are elected by their peers from among candidates nominated for their accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

Dr. McKee’s research focuses on the long-term effects of concussion, subconcussion and blast injury in contact sports athletes and military veterans, including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Her work has shifted the prevailing paradigm of scientific thought regarding head trauma; she has demonstrated that “mild” head trauma, particularly repetitive mild head trauma, is not just an acute injury – it can provoke a persistent and progressive neurodegeneration, CTE, which continues long after the traumatic exposure. McKee has published more than 70 percent of the world’s cases of CTE ever reported and created the Veterans Affairs-Boston University-Concussion Legacy Foundation (VA-BU-CLF) brain bank, the world’s largest repository of brains from individuals exposed to traumatic brain injuries (more than 550) and neuropathologically confirmed CTE (more than 320).

Dr. McKee is a board-certified neurologist and neuropathologist who publishes widely on many neurodegenerative diseases. She has provided expert testimony to Congress and the Senate. She recently received the Alzheimer’s Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and was named to the 2018 TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world and Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe. Dr. Sacco is an internationally known neurologist and professor of public health sciences, human genetics and neurological surgery. He has published extensively in the areas of stroke prevention, treatment, risk factors, outcomes, disparities and genetics, and also is chief of the Neurology Service at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Sacco has been continuously NIH-funded as a PI since 1989 with nearly $100M.  He was the founder and principal investigator of the NINDS-funded Northern Manhattan Study, the Florida Puerto Rico Collaboration to Reduce Stroke Disparities, AHA/ASA Bugher Center of Excellence, as well as co-investigator of multiple other NIH grants. His research contributions have elucidated the social and environmental determinants of cerebrovascular and cognitive disorders and shaped brain health awareness campaigns especially in underserved populations. His work has influenced our understanding of vascular risk factors such as race-ethnicity, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, physical activity, alcohol, lipids, metabolic syndrome, diet, and inflammatory markers and he has published more than 650 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Sacco is listed among the 2017 and 2018 highly-cited researchers in medicine.

In addition Dr. Sacco was the first neurologist to serve as the president of the American Heart Association from 2010 to 2011. He is also serving as President of the American Academy of Neurology, 2017-19.

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 and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community. Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors. The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.