Dr. Balsam received her Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Philosophy from Cornell University. She then attended the New York University School of Medicine from which she was awarded a Doctor of Medicine. After pediatric internship at Bellevue Hospital, New York, she completed residency training in pediatrics and a fellowship in metabolic disease, both at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Following formal medical training, Dr Balsam worked in Guam and the Trust Territories of Micronesia as Chief of the Crippled Children’s Services Program (Department of Public Health, Government of Guam), developing and leading the program for care of children with chronic disease and instituting health maintenance practices to prevent chronic disorders in children. She served as well as the first Medical Director for the Head Start Programs for Guam and the Trust Territories.
She then joined the United States Navy, where she served progressively as a staff pediatrician, pediatric department chair and residency program director, and then medical director/chief of the medical staff, executive officer and commanding officer (civilian CEO equivalent) of various teaching hospitals. From 1995 to 1998 she served in London as the Fleet (Senior) Medical Officer for the Commander in Chief, Naval Forces Europe, where she was responsible for medical aspects of peacetime and wartime healthcare for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as for medical aspects of multi-national military exercises and contingencies throughout Europe. As the Lead Agent for TRICARE Europe, she coordinated efforts of the Navy, Army, and Air Force to establish the managed healthcare program for the military in Europe.
In 1998 she was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, United States Navy. Her final naval assignment, 1998 to 2000, was as Commander of Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia, a large tertiary care teaching hospital with several regional clinics and 5000 staff personnel. She additionally led the start-up of the TRICARE managed healthcare system for military families in the mid-Atlantic region. In the year 2000, Admiral Balsam retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, with numerous personal awards including three Legions of Merit, a Superior Service medal, and recognition for leadership in strategic and business planning, policy formulation, resource management, and continuous quality improvement.
After retiring from the Navy, she joined the team at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health, to improve the well-being of children through the ambitious research of the National Children’s Study. She is a senior member of the team that leads this large, longitudinal study of effects of the environment on child health and development.
Dr. Balsam is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she has served on numerous committees, including the post 9/11 Task Force on Terrorism and Children. She has authored several scientific publications, most of which pertain to metabolic disorders in children.