Dr. Diana D. Cardenas, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the UW School of Medicine and chief of rehabilitation medicine at UW Medical Center, is one of 65 new members elected to the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences. Her election brings the number of UW faculty members in the Institute of Medicine to 38.
New members are elected by the Institute’s current members after being nominated for major contributions to health and medicine, or to related fields. This year’s class of new members brings the Institute’s total active membership to 1,416, with an additional 76 foreign associate members.
Members devote some of their time to working on the Institute’s committees, which study a broad range of health policy issues. Those committees have issued studies on topics such as improving breast cancer diagnosis and detection, expanding health coverage, and boosting public understanding of health information.
A 1969 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Cardenas earned her medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1973. She completed her internship and residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation medicine at the UW in 1976, and joined the UW faculty in 1981. She has been the clinical director of UWMC’s Spinal Cord Injury Service since 1987, and director of the UW Medicine Spinal Cord Injury Clinic since 1990. In 2001 she earned an master’s degree in health administration from the UW.
Cardenas specializes in the treatment of spinal cord injury and spina bifida, a condition in which the spinal cord fails to develop normally. She is researching new treatment methods for urinary tract infections, one of the most common medical problems for people with spinal cord injuries. She is also examining new methods of care for spinal cord injury patients suffering chronic pain. Cardenas has established an evening education program aimed at teaching Puget Sound-area residents with spinal cord injuries how to prevent medical problems associated with their injuries and how to improve their quality of life.
Cardenas is listed in both the Who’s Who of American Women and the Castle Connolly Guide of America’s Top Doctors. In 1996, she won the New Jersey Medical School Excellence in Teaching Award in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and in 2003, she won the 4th Annual Ben L. Boynton, M.D., Lecturer award from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In 2004 Cardenas was appointed to the National Advisory Board on Medical Rehabilitation Research in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She has previously served on two Institute of Medicine committees: one that identified important areas of future research in rehabilitation medicine, and another that provided guidelines for improving the prevention and treatment of injuries.