Two Mayo Clinics doctors in Rochester have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, which is considered one of the highest honors in the health and medical field.

Michael Yaszemski and Andrea Cheville were selected late last month for the prestigious designation. Only five Mayo employees have previously been elected to the academy, which has just 1,800 active members.

"To have colleagues from distinct practice areas recognized in the same year is an incredible honor for them individually and for Mayo Clinic as a whole," Mayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy said. "Such recognition underscores the commitment of our physician-scientists in advancing research to address unmet patient needs, educating the next generation of physicians and scientists, and providing unparalleled care for patients and their families."

Dr. Cheville is a professor and chair of research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation on Mayo's Rochester campus. She also directs the cancer rehab and lymphedema clinic, while serving as the medical director of the Care Experience Program in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

"Dr. Cheville's research has brought significant improvements in identifying, preventing and remediating disability in people with chronic illness," Noseworthy said. "Her work has led to innovations in clinical practice at our cancer rehabilitation and lymphedema clinic, namely integrating palliative principles into the holistic rehabilitation of patients with late-stage cancer."

Additionally, Cheville was recently appointed to the Health Services Organization and Delivery Study Section within the National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review. Her position there will help determine which funding requests are approved.

Dr. Yaszemski is a spinal surgeon who routinely cares for patients who have skeletal defects that require reconstruction. He was previously featured in the Post Bulletin for leading the 20-hour surgery on Cannon Falls native Tess Pfohl that removed a cancerous tumor that had encircled her spinal cord. A team of nine specialists completed the surgery and the thriving 27-year-old paraplegic announced Oct. 21 that she's been cancer free for 26 months.

Dr. Yaszemski is the director of Mayo's Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory in Rochester, in addition to serving as the deputy director at Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine. He was educated at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lehigh University and is a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His long-term goal, according to Mayo, is to change the way that debilitating, life-threatening musculoskeletal conditions are treated, primarily by relying upon biodegradable polymers.

"Dr. Yaszemski is known as a strong clinical collaborator and he has built a differentiated surgical practice at Mayo Clinic," Mayo Clinic's Department of Orthopedic Surgery chairman Mark Pagnano said. "His team approach to complex spine surgery often often includes colleagues in neurosurgery and is exemplary in the singular focus on the needs of the patient.

Noseworthy added: "Dr. Yaszemski's achievements reflect his commitment to provide healing for patients with extremely complex conditions. His service and dedication to patients, and moreover our country, is extraordinary."

Dr. Yaszemski is the former chairman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Board and the deputy editor of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research. His four-year term on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Arthritis, Muscoloskeletal and Skin Diseases begins in January.

Other Mayo physicians who have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine include Thoralf Sundt in 1991, Andrew Engel in 2003, Denis Cortese in 2005, Richard Ehman in 2010 and Clifford Jack in 2013.

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