Davidson elected to National Academy of Medicine

October 16, 2017 By Marianne Spoon

University of Wisconsin–Madison neuroscientist and professor Richard Davidson has been elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the premier authority dedicated to the health and medical sciences. The academy awards this honor to the world’s top experts who demonstrate outstanding professional achievements and commitment to service in the field.

Photo: Richard Davidson

Richard Davidson

Davidson, the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at UW­Madison, is best known for his research studying emotion and the brain. Since arriving on campus in 1984, he has authored more than 375 papers exploring the neural bases of emotion, interventions that may be helpful for promoting well-being, and positive qualities of mind such as kindness, compassion and empathy.

Davidson and his team have pioneered the use of imaging technology to measure changes in the brain related to psychological well-being, most notably the first recorded changes induced by meditation and related contemplative practices.

In recent years, he has expanded his work to begin understanding the mind and human behavior in spaces outside the lab, such as in the classroom and the workplace. He has become an outspoken proponent of viewing emotional well-being as a public health issue on the international stage, such as the World Economic Forum, where he serves on the Global Council on Mental Health.

“College of Letters & Science Professor Richard Davidson’s extraordinary work brings much-needed scientific evidence to enrich the medical sciences and promote human flourishing around the world,” says Letters & Science Dean Karl Scholz.  “He is an exemplar of the Wisconsin Idea, tirelessly disseminating his and other UW–Madison discoveries to the state, country and world.”

The 60 newly-elected members announced today bring the total membership of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) to 2,127. Current active members elect new members based on their accomplishments and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

“These newly elected members represent the most exceptional scholars and leaders in science, medicine and health in the U.S. and around the globe,” says National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “Their expertise will help our organization address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care to benefit us all. I am honored to welcome these distinguished individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”