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From the dean

Back to Vestigo Issue 3

Photo of Larry Marnett standing in his office wearing a gray suit, blue tie, and eyeglasses.
Larry Marnett, dean of Vanderbilt School of Medicine Basic Sciences (Photo by John Russell)

Dear alumni and friends:

Welcome back to Vestigo! We are pleased to share more stories about the people and programs of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences. Our third issue highlights more great science as well as the behind-the-scenes structures and activities that make it possible.

The stereotype of the lone scientist working diligently on a lifelong pursuit is fading, as science is increasingly done by teams of students, postdocs, staff, and faculty. The collection of scientific advances highlighted in this issue reflects that reality, underscored by national efforts to map all human tissues at the molecular level (page 14).

Multi-investigator collaborations can be fostered by centers focused on exciting research areas that span various disciplines. Our newest is the Center for Extracellular Vesicle Research, which brings together researchers from across the university and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (page 34).

Our research core facilities provide frontier techniques and instrumentation and are an integral part of our research efforts. The Molecular Design and Synthesis Core, for instance, makes drugs and chemical probes and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary (page 8). Our cover article (page 10) highlights the origin story and recent work of our newest core, the Vanderbilt Neurovisualization Laboratory, which has expanded the frontier of microscopy through visually stunning techniques that make tissue transparent.

Grants managers help faculty manage the complex life cycles of research grants and contracts. The exceptional individuals interviewed on page 30 are true unsung heroes of the Basic Sciences.

Most of the research in the School of Medicine and the medical center is performed by talented and passionate Ph.D. students and postdocs. Our Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training provides a support system for them and is legendary throughout the international biomedical community for its efficiency and impact (page 27).

Many of our researchers come from countries outside the U.S. In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, we highlight on page 32 some of the incredibly talented international scientists who enrich our campus.

Vestigo brings to life the people and programs of Basic Sciences, but it’s not the only way we communicate the impact of our work to the community. Earlier this year, we established a Lab-to-Table Conversations event series that brings scientists and celebrities together for panel discussions of compelling contemporary topics (page 22). Don’t hesitate to let us know of ideas for stimulating discussions! Email us at




Lawrence Marnett
Dean of Basic Sciences