David Amaral, distinguished professor and Beneto Foundation Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the MIND Institute, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine.
An autism expert, Amaral joins an elite group of physicians and scientists in the National Academy of Medicine. Only 100 new members are elected each year from the U.S. He is one of 13 UC Davis faculty members who have been elected to the Academy since its founding in 1970 and the only one from UC Davis elected this year.
Election to the National Academy of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. The honor recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. New members are elected by current members who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.
Amaral, who spent the early part of his career at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, joined UC Davis in 1995 as a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience. He was the founding research director of the MIND Institute. For the past 20 years his focus has been on understanding the biological bases of autism spectrum disorder. He coordinates a comprehensive and multidisciplinary analysis of children with autism called the Autism Phenome Project. He is also the director of Autism BrainNet, which uses postmortem brain tissue for autism research.
“I am very excited to become a member of this prestigious organization,” said Amaral. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the National Academy of Medicine to increase research and education about autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders and to foster more enlightened treatment of people with autism and their caregivers.”
Amaral also directs the National Institutes of Health Autism Center of Excellence working to provide innovative and targeted autism treatments. He has held numerous national leadership positions in autism research organizations, edits a national autism journal, and published more than 300 papers. In 2016 he was appointed to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“This is a well-deserved honor for David,” said John Morrison, director of the UC Davis California National Primate Research Center who was elected to the Academy in 2016. “David has been one of the country's leading neuroanatomists for decades, and perhaps more importantly, he has applied those skills and insights to the understanding of autism from the perspective of neural circuitry. The MIND Institute at UC Davis is one of the leading centers for autism research in the country, and David has been a major contributor to the extraordinary work carried out at the MIND Institute.”
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.