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), leading the program for children with chronic disease and instituting health maintenance practices to prevent chronic disorders in children. She then joined the United States Navy, where her various roles included chairing a pediatric department, directing a residency training program, medical director/chief of the medical staff, and 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 health care for the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as for medical aspects of multi-national military exercises and contingencies throughout Europe. As Lead Agent for TRICARE Europe, she coordinated efforts of the Navy, Army, and Air Force to establish the managed health care program for the military in Europe. In 1998 she was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. Her final naval assignment, 1998 to 2000, was as Commander (CEO) of the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia, a large tertiary care teaching hospital, and director of the TRICARE Program for the mid-Atlantic region. Throughout her service in Executive Medicine, she continued her clinical interest in caring for pediatric patients with diabetes.
In 2000, Admiral Balsam retired from the Navy, 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. She then studied photography for 2 years, and in 2003 joined the team at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health, to study the effects of the environment on child health and development through the ambitious research of the National Children’s Study.
Dr. Balsam is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she served on various committees, including the Task Force on Terrorism and Children. She has authored several scientific publications, most of which pertain to metabolic disorders in children.