Gil Omenn

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Gilbert S. Omenn
Alma materPrinceton University, Harvard Medical School, University of Washington
Scientific career
FieldsGenetics, Public Health
InstitutionsUniversity of Michigan.
External video
video icon "Distinguished University Professorship Lecture - Gilbert Omenn", University of Michigan, March 28, 2017.

Gilbert S. Omenn M.D., Ph.D. is an American medical doctor and researcher. He currently is the Harold T. Shapiro Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan; professor of Computational medicine & bioinformatics, Molecular medicine & genetics, Human genetics, and Public health; and the Director of the UM Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics.[1] He is the discover of Omenn syndrome, a genetic disorder that is fatal in infancy unless treated.[2] Omenn has served as editor of the Annual Review of Public Health from 1990–1996.[3] and as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).[4] He has published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers and reviews and is the author or editor of 18 books.[5]


Omenn received a B.A. from Princeton University (class of 1961)[6] and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School (1965).[7] He interned and did his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.[8]

Omenn worked with Christian B. Anfinsen at the National Institutes of Health from 1967-1969,[9] doing research as part of military service.[8] In 1969, he joined the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, Washington as a fellow, working with Arno G. Motulsky in medical genetics.[10] He went on to earn a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington, which he received in 1972.[11]


As a fourth-year student, Omenn studied prenatal diagnosis of inherited conditions. He discovered what is now known as Omenn syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by the loss of T-cell function. It is generally fatal in infancy, but some cases have responded to treatment.[12][2][13]

In 1971 Omenn joined the faculty of medical genetics at the University of Washington.[10][8] Omenn was appointed as a White House Fellow in 1973-1974, under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was one of two staff on Nixon's Project Independence, looking for ways to lessen America's dependence on imported oil. He was also part of a diplomatic mission to convince France not to share nuclear information with Pakistan.[14] Omenn worked with the Atomic Energy Commission on international nuclear policy.[15]

As of 1974 Omenn was first appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board, as an alternate for Frank Press, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Omenn's title was Assistant Director of Human Resources, Office of Science and Technology Policy.[16] During 1977-1981, Omenn worked with the Carter administration, first as an assistant to Frank Press, the President's advisor on Science and Technology Policy, and then as Associate Director in the Office of Management and Budget.[8]

Omenn founded the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Washington in 1975.[10] He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator for 1976-1977.[17] He was promoted to a full professorship in medicine in 1979.[10] While at UW, Omenn began working with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, to conduct clinical trials in cancer prevention. He served as principal investigator of the beta-Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial (CARET) seeking preventive agents against lung cancer and heart disease.[18][19][20]

In 1981, he was a visiting professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University and the Brookings Institution's first Science, Technology, and Policy Fellow.[8][21]

In 1982, Omenn became Chair of the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) and then Dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, serving from 1982-1997. He continues to be an affiliate professor of the university.[22]

In 1982, Omenn and Elaine Faustman at UW introduced a multi-disciplinary course on Risk Assessment and Risk Management.[10] Omenn's work on risk emphasizes science-based risk analysis and the importance of assessing health and ecological risks, communicating information, and reducing risks to health and the environment.[23] From 1982-1988, Omen chaired the National Research Council's Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy.[24] From 1990 to 1992, he served on the National Commission on the Environment, resulting in publication of "Choosing a Sustainable Future: The Report of the National Commission on the Environment" (1993).[25] From 1994-1997, Omenn chaired the Presidential/Congressional Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management ("Omenn Commission").[24][8] The commission was mandated by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and disbanded as of August 31, 1997.[26][27]

We are stretching beyond the limits of science to discuss risk. So it is not surprising that scientists disagree on risk estimates or on what should be done, if anything, to reduce those risks. Nevertheless, the public finds such disagreement disconcerting, and the cartoonists mock us!... We need to explain better what is known and what is speculated.– Gilbert Omenn, 1996[23]

In 1997 Omenn moved to the University of Michigan.[8] From 1997 to 2002 he served as Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and as Chief Executive Officer of the University of Michigan Health System.[8][15] In 2015 he was named the Harold T. Shapiro Distinguished University Professor of Medicine.[28]

Omenn was a founder of the international Human Proteome Organization (HUPO) in 2001, a member of the Council of HUPO's pilot Plasma Proteome Project from 2002 through 2010, and chair of the Human Proteome Project from 2010 through 2018.[29][30][31]

Omenn is Past President (2005-2006)[32][4] and Past Chairman of the Board (2006-2007) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[33] He is a longtime director of Amgen Inc. and of Rohm & Haas Company.[5] Omenn served as editor of the Annual Review of Public Health from 1990–1996.[3][34] As of 2020, he joined the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH).[35]

In 2012, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Fellowship program created the Gilbert S. Omenn Fellowship, to be awarded in his name.[36] The inaugural Omenn Fellow was Deidra C. Crews.[37]




  1. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D." Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics. University of Michigan. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b Wong, Serre-Yu; Roth, David B. (1 May 2007). "Murine models of Omenn syndrome". Journal of Clinical Investigation. 117 (5): 1213–1216. doi:10.1172/JCI32214. ISSN 0021-9738. PMC 1857244. PMID 17476351.
  3. ^ a b Omenn, Gilbert S. (1990). "Preface by the Gilbert S. Omenn". Annual Review of Public Health. 11. doi:10.1146/annurev.pu.11.010190.100001.
  4. ^ a b Omenn, Gilbert S. (15 December 2006). "Grand Challenges and Great Opportunities in Science, Technology, and Public Policy". Science. 314 (5806): 1696–1704. doi:10.1126/science.1135003. ISSN 0036-8075. S2CID 153488170. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Biography Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D". Galectin Therapeutics Inc. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  6. ^ Barnes, Steve (February 24, 2006). "Woodrow Wilson School creates 'Scholars in the Nation's Service' program to encourage government service". Princeton University. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  7. ^ "The Gilbert S. Omenn Lecture". Harvard Medical School. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Gilbert S. Omenn chosen as executive V.P. for medical affairs". Michigan News. University of Michigan. September 4, 1997. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  9. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn". The Hastings Center. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e Vartan, Starre (2021). "New Labs for a New Era in Public Health". UW Public Health Magazine. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  11. ^ The President's Commission on White House Fellows (1969). The White House Fellows. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  12. ^ a b "Gilbert S. Omenn receives David E. Rogers Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC)". Human Genetics. University of Michigan. November 5, 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  13. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S. (19 August 1965). "Familial Reticuloendotheliosis with Eosinophilia". New England Journal of Medicine. 273 (8): 427–432. doi:10.1056/NEJM196508192730806. PMID 14328107.
  14. ^ Kassab, Elizabeth (July 8, 2001). "Regent White to be White House fellow". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  15. ^ a b Gavin, Kara (March 23, 2017). "Omenn lecture to focus on bridging science and policy world". The University Record. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  16. ^ National Cancer Advisory Board (1974). National Cancer Program: Report of the National Cancer Advisory Board Submitted to the President of the United States for Transmittal to the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  17. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD Investigator / 1976—1977". Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Dr. Gilbert S. Omenn". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  19. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S. (1 May 1998). "Chemoprevention of lung cancer: The Rise and Demise of Beta-Carotene". Annual Review of Public Health. 19 (1): 73–99. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.19.1.73. ISSN 0163-7525. PMID 9611613. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  20. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S. (June 2007). "Chemoprevention of lung cancers: lessons from CARET, the beta-carotene and retinol efficacy trial, and prospects for the future". European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 16 (3): 184–191. doi:10.1097/01.cej.0000215612.98132.18. hdl:2027.42/86621. ISSN 0959-8278. PMID 17415088. S2CID 29553114. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  21. ^ Gustafson, Sven (April 4, 2019). "Former U-M Health System CEO: Health care reform will come this year". Special to The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  22. ^ Houtz, Jolayne (November 23, 2020). "Omenn-Darling 50th anniversary gift to UW School of Public Health will transform environmental health research". University of Washington News and Events. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  23. ^ a b National Research Council (1996). "Gilbert S. Omenn, University of Washington". Linking Science and Technology to Society's Environmental Goals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. pp. 449–452. doi:10.17226/5409. ISBN 978-0-309-05578-9. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  24. ^ a b c "IOM honors Omenn with medal". University of Michigan Record. October 24, 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  25. ^ World Wildlife Fund; National Commission on the Environment (1993). Choosing a Sustainable Future: The Report of the National Commission on the Environment. Island Press. ISBN 9781559632324. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Presidential Commission on Risk Assessment and Risk Management". EPA. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  27. ^ Clarke, David (1995). "The Elusive Middle Ground in Environmental Policy". Issues in Science and Technology. 11 (3): 63–70. ISSN 0748-5492. JSTOR 43311431. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  28. ^ Brown, Kevin (May 21, 2015). "Nine faculty members named Distinguished University Professors". The University Record. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  29. ^ Ignjatovic, Vera (1 Feb 2019). "Q&A with Gil Omenn". Human Proteome Organization. University of Melbourne, Australia.
  30. ^ Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan (10 February 2004). "Scientists Tackle Human Blood Plasma Proteome". NewsWise. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  31. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S. (2021). "Reflections on the HUPO Human Proteome Project, the flagship project of the Human Proteome Organization, at 10 years". Molecular & Cellular Proteomics. 20: 100062. doi:10.1016/j.mcpro.2021.100062. ISSN 1535-9476. PMC 8058560. PMID 33640492. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  32. ^ Pinholster, Ginger (5 May 2015). "Gil Omenn: 'Grand Challenges' Stress Hope, Curiosity". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  33. ^ "AAAS Board of Directors, Officers, and Information" (PDF). American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  34. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S. (1996). "Preface". Annual Review of Public Health. 17. doi:10.1146/annurev.pu.17.031704.100001.
  35. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., Joins the FNIH Board of Directors". The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. June 11, 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn Fellowship". Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). January 25, 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  37. ^ "Gilbert S. Omenn Fellowship". National Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Amesite Inc. Strengthens Commitment to Supporting Online Learning in the Healthcare Sector with the Appointment of Gilbert S. Omenn". Amesite Inc. March 9, 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  39. ^ "Walsh McDermott Medal – Past Recipients". National Academy of Medicine. Retrieved 26 October 2021.

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