Sealy named to VUSM diversity leadership role

January 26, 2017

Linda Sealy, Ph.D., has been named associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Basic Sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Sealy, who has been on faculty since 1986, is associate professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Cell and Developmental Biology and Cancer Biology. “Linda has done a tremendous amount to enhance diversity and inclusion at Vanderbilt. Her use of holistic approaches for graduate admission has helped propel Vanderbilt to a leading position in the training of underrepresented minorities. She has worked tirelessly to make this a welcoming and supportive environment for graduate training,” said Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., dean of Basic Sciences and Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research.


Casagrande recalled as neuroscience pillar, supportive mentor

January 26, 2017

Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine noted for her contributions to the visual sciences, died peacefully at her home on Saturday, Jan. 21, surrounded by her husband, James Andrew “Mac” McKanna, and sons James and Paul McKanna. She was 74.

Known internationally for her contributions to evolutionary, developmental and sensory systems neuroscience, Dr. Casagrande was a professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Psychology.

“She was a true pillar of our department for over 40 years,” said Ian Macara, Ph.D., the Louise B. McGavock Professor and chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. “(She) gave her heart and soul to science.


Lindsley’s drug discovery efforts land ASPET Award

January 13, 2017

Craig Lindsley, Ph.D., a leader of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s groundbreaking drug discovery program, is the 2017 recipient of the Pharmacia-ASPET Award in Experimental Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). 

In a news release, ASPET said Lindsley was honored for “his pioneering use of technology-enabled synthesis, which led to fundamental and transforming effects on medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and drug discovery.” The award will be presented April 22 during ASPET’s annual meeting in Chicago.

Investigational new drug for Alzheimer’s scheduled for first study in humans

December 28, 2016

Vanderbilt University scientists, led by P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD), have received notification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that testing in humans may proceed for an investigational new drug for Alzheimer’s disease after more than 10 years of research by scientists at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

It is relatively uncharted territory for an academic drug discovery group to take a molecule from the laboratory setting to the clinical trials stage.

Sealy, Hasty, Sanders Appointed to Basic Sciences Leadership Team

December 21, 2016

Dean of Vanderbilt Basic Sciences, Larry Marnett, announced the appointment of three outstanding colleagues to the leadership team of the VU Basic Sciences of the School of Medicine effective January 1, 2017.

Linda Sealy will serve as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Linda has been on the faculty of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics since 1986 and since 2006, has had a joint appointment in Cancer Biology. Her research focuses on the relationship between cell signaling and transcription in the control of cancer cell growth.  Since 2007, Linda has served as Co-Director, then Director, of the Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD), an NIH-sponsored grant for the graduate training of underrepresented minorities. Under her leadership, the IMSD program has propelled Vanderbilt to the top echelon of institutions training minority Ph.D.’s. In fact, Vanderbilt was recently identified as the top producer of African-American Ph.D.’s in the US in biological and biomedical sciences. Her advocacy for holistic admission in graduate recruiting has been recognized nationally as a critical advance in expanding the pipeline of graduate students to include underrepresented minorities. Linda has won numerous awards for her contributions to diversity in graduate education, including the Levi Watkins Jr. Faculty Award for Promoting Diversity and the inaugural Bishop Joseph A. Johnson Jr. Distinguished Leadership Professor Award. 

Alyssa Hasty will serve as Associate Dean for Faculty Development. Alyssa has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics since 2003 and since 2014, she has been an investigator of the Tennessee Valley Veteran’s Administration Research Institute. She is an active member of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and the Digestive Diseases Research Center. Alyssa’s research interests are in diabetes and obesity, most recently focusing on the role of macrophages in promoting inflammation and insulin resistance in obesity. Alyssa has been very active in mentoring students as Director of Graduate Studies in MPB and faculty as Director of Career Development of the DDRC and Chair of the Women on Track Steering Committee. She is also Faculty Head of House of Murray House. Alyssa is currently participating in the Hedwingam van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program at Drexel University.

Charles (Chuck) Sanders will serve as Associate Dean for Research. Chuck has been on the faculty of the Biochemistry Department since 2002 and is an active member of the Center for Structural Biology. Chuck’s research interests focus on the role of membrane proteins, especially with flexible or unfolded structures, in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular and neurologic disorders. Chuck has won many awards for his research including the Hans Neurath Award of the Protein Society and the Stanley Cohen Award of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He has been a very active participant on research committees at Vanderbilt (e.g., Co-chair of TIPs Review Panel) and has served on multiple NIH study sections. He was Associate Editor of the journal, Biochemistry, from 2004-2015 and was interim Editor-in-Chief from 2015 to 2016.

Blind wins Tabor award for work on nuclear lipids

December 20, 2016

In August, Raymond Blind of Vanderbilt University won the Journal of Biological Chemistry/Herb Tabor Young Investigator Award at the 2016 Phospholipid Signaling in Cancer, Neurodegeneration and Cardiovascular Disease Conference in Steamboat, Colorado. Blind, who has demonstrated that lipid-signaling enzymes can activate genes, received the award from JBC Associate Editor George M. Carman from Rutgers University.

Moses elected to National Academy of Inventors

December 16, 2016

Harold (Hal) Moses, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director emeritus of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Moses, professor and interim chair of Cancer Biology, is among 175 academic leaders named to the 2016 class of NAI Fellows.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction awarded to academic leaders who have demonstrated a “spirit of innovation” in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible positive impact on society.

Vanderbilt earns top rankings, including a No. 1, for successful minority recruitment in master’s and Ph.D. programs

December 13, 2016

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education has ranked Vanderbilt University No. 1 in the United States for the number of doctoral degrees awarded to African Americans in the biological and biomedical sciences for 2014-15. Vanderbilt also earned top 10 rankings for graduate-level degrees in the physical sciences, education and nursing.

“This ranking is an endorsement of our university-wide efforts to recruit and support diverse students, especially in the STEM fields,” said Susan R. Wente, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Building a diverse pipeline of Ph.D. and master’s students who will go on to mentor the next generation of students and researchers is critical to our success not only as a university, but as a nation.”

Basic Science Research Advisory Committee formed

December 2, 2016

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) has formed a new Basic Science Research Advisory Committee.

The committee, which is inclusive across all VUSM departments, will hold quarterly meetings that will serve as a forum for generating ideas and opportunities. The committee’s first meeting will take place on Dec. 9, 2016.

The committee’s formation is in response to feedback from this summer’s Strategic Direction planning process, which identified the importance of continuing to incorporate the institution’s academic capabilities into Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s (VUMC) strategic initiatives.
Contributions from the Basic Science Research Advisory Committee’s members are intended to help guide how the basic sciences will continue to develop, expand and innovate.

“The committee’s purpose is to offer input into new and ongoing research and educational operations and initiatives for faculty across the School of Medicine,” said Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., Mary Geddess Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research and Dean of Basic Sciences for VUSM.

NIH recognizes exciting new way to control mosquitoes

December 2, 2016

In a new study, Vanderbilt pharmacologist Jerod Denton, Ph.D., Ohio State entomologist Peter Piermarini, Ph.D., and colleagues report an experimental molecule that inhibits kidney function in mosquitoes and thus might provide a new way to control the deadliest animal on Earth.

Symposium honors Casagrande’s career

December 2, 2016

Colleagues of Vivien Casagrande, Ph.D., celebrated her distinguished career in the visual sciences with a “Lifetime of Vision” symposium Nov. 18 in Biological Sciences/Medical Research Building III.

Casagrande, who joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1975, is professor of Cell & Developmental Biology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Psychology and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator. Her studies, which have mapped the visual brain circuitry in a variety of species, have advanced understanding of the development and evolution of the mammalian visual system.

A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association of Anatomists, Casagrande has received a Chancellor’s Award for her research and an Outstanding Teacher award from the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

Reducing antidepressants’ side effects

December 2, 2016

Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., Ana Carneiro, Ph.D., and colleagues used pharmacological and genetic models to show that chronic SSRI treatment causes decreased levels of a serotonin receptor (5-HT2AR) on platelets. They showed that inhibiting SERT increases extracellular serotonin, which desensitizes the 5-HT2AR and reduces platelet activation.