Godschalk Research Fund strengthens biomedical innovation

By Aaron Conley

Kyle Riedmann

Zenobia Godschalk and Mark Godschalk, BA’92, of Atlanta, Georgia, have established the Zenobia and Mark Godschalk Research Fund within the School of Medicine Basic Sciences to support novel research in biology or immunology. The inaugural award of the research fund has been presented to Kyle Riedmann, a cell and developmental biology graduate student in the lab of Julie Bastarache.

“Our graduate student research is the backbone of our thriving enterprise, and with the support of this generous fund, we are thankful to partner with the Godschalk family in support our trainees’ efforts and innovation,” said Kathy Gould, Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training. “We are proud of Kyle and his work and know he will serve us well as the first fund recipient.”

Riedmann’s research focuses on how endothelial-epithelial communication influences the lung microvasculature during acute respiratory distress syndrome. The award will support Riedmann’s discovery work, which seeks to understand the role of exosomes in mediating barrier dysfunction in ARDS patients and determine if these extracellular vesicles can serve as a biomarker to predict ARDS progression.

Both Godschalks are leaders in technology-based businesses and have witnessed how innovation has fueled the tech world. Seeing the impact of biomedical innovation on addressing COVID-19 and the impact of newer treatments for friends who have had personal battles with disease motivated them to support innovation in biomedical discovery through their philanthropy at Vanderbilt.

“Innovation is the lifeblood of what we have tried to do with our careers in the tech world,” the Godschalks said. “With our philanthropy, we have tried to support innovation in other spaces that are important to us. We have been proud of the innovation coming out of Vanderbilt during COVID-19 that impacted the world, and it inspired us to develop this fund. We want to drive valuable innovation and breakthroughs in biomedical discovery that can help impact human health.”

“It is truly humbling to be surrounded by a community of alumni and supporters who understand how important our trainees’ work is in developing the latest and greatest discoveries,” Gould said.

About Zenobia and Mark Godschalk

Zenobia Godschalk is first-generation Zoroastrian/Chinese American and immigrated to the U.S. with her family during the Iranian revolution as a child. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics and industrial engineering. She is the founder and CEO of ZAG Communications, a full-service public relations and marketing firm serving technology companies. Concurrently, she is a co-founder and the senior vice president of communications for the Hedera ecosystem, a public blockchain for building decentralized applications. She has helped launched and grown multiple $1-billion-plus technology companies. Zenobia volunteers at Vanderbilt as an innovation mentor for the Wond’ry and nationally to grow the number of women in the technology field.

Mark Godschalk received a bachelor of arts in 1992 at Vanderbilt University. After Vanderbilt, Mark received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Through 30 years of experience, Mark has worked on diverse enterprise software and services businesses and has helped launch multiple innovative companies and completed two initial public offerings. Mark is currently the founder and CEO of DBL Partners, which serves venture capital firms and seed-to-series B-stage startups. In addition to this role, he is CFO & COO of Rain Capital.

“We have both been risk takers in our careers,” the Godschalks said. “Without risk you cannot have breakthroughs, but with risk you have many failures. Through this fund we want scientists who can make real change to have the ability to take risks and try more experiments in order to unlock breakthroughs.”