David Sweatt studies how brain chemistry affects learning and memory

October 13, 2016

Homecoming came early this year for Vanderbilt alumnus David Sweatt, who joined the faculty as chair of Pharmacology this summer, 30 years after receiving his Ph.D. from the department he now leads.

Basic Science, Extraordinary Impact

October 7, 2016

The discoveries that can change the course of human health forever often begin in the tiniest places: in molecules and cells, at the most fundamental intersection of physics, chemistry and biology. What makes a gene misfire? How do nerves talk to each other? What makes a cell resist one chemical but not another?

Understanding how these cellular and molecular processes work—and how they can go wrong—is key to developing effective treatments for diseases. It’s also the focus of basic biomedical research at Vanderbilt.

Motoring to the tips of the brush border

October 6, 2016

The epithelial cells that line organs like the intestines and kidneys build a special surface called the “brush border,” which consists of a dense array of finger-like microvilli. Matthew Tyska, Ph.D., and colleagues are exploring the molecular machinery that builds the border, which is critical for healthy organ function.

2016 Middleton Award recipient! Dr. Richmond

September 30, 2016

Ann Richmond, Ph.D. is one of two recipients of the 2016 William S. Middleton Award.  This award is the Veterans Health Administration Biomedical Laboratory Research & Development's highest honor for outstanding achievement in biomedical research. 

The award recognizes Dr. Richmond’s exemplary record of involvement in, and service to, the VA and to the biomedical profession, as well as for her seminal contributions to our understanding of the role of chemotactic chemokines in modulating infection, wound healing, growth of malignant tumors, and maintenance of health through immune surveillance.  Her laboratory was the first to demonstrate that chemokines have transforming properties in tumor development, inducing tumor formation, and angiogenesis and her basic science research has supported a number of clinical trials of immunotherapeutic agents for melanoma and gastrointestinal malignancies.  Dr. Richmond's highly translational research in precision medicine and tumor immunology will have a broad impact on the healthcare of veterans.

To honor Dr. Richmond, BLR&D will publish an announcement in a prestigious scientific journal.  Dr. Richmond will receive $50,000 per year for three years in research support.  She also will receive a cash award of $5,000 and an inscribed plaque commemorating her scientific achievements.  The Tennessee Valley Healthcare System also will receive a plaque honoring Dr. Richmond.

See Reporter Article

Study reveals new clues to cystic fibrosis ‘gender gap’

September 22, 2016

A research team led by structural biologists from Vanderbilt University has come up with the first detailed molecular explanation for a factor that may contribute to the so-called cystic fibrosis (CF) “gender gap.”

There is evidence that women with CF die on average two to three years earlier than do men with the devastating lung airway disease. The researchers said their findings, which were published in Science Advances, an offshoot of Science magazine, may lead to improved treatments for CF.

Researchers eye potential schizophrenia ‘switch’

September 22, 2016

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have discovered a key mechanism that explains how compounds they’re developing can suppress schizophrenia-like symptoms in mice without side effects.

On the basis of this discovery, reported this month in the journal Neuron, “we now have much stronger understanding of the therapeutic potential and mechanism of action of compounds that are advancing to clinical development,” said P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery.

New fund honors spirit of Cohen’s innovative research

August 25, 2016

When Tom Daniel, M.D., joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in December 1986, Stanley Cohen, Ph.D., had just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of epidermal growth factor (EGF).

“Stanley was part of the reason I came to Vanderbilt,” said Daniel, who recently retired as chair of Research at Celgene. “He was a sort of cultural anchor for me considering Vanderbilt as a rich intellectual environment in which my research could advance.”

Program helps Ph.D. students find non-academic careers

August 18, 2016

In 2013, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) received one of 10 grants from the National Institutes of Health called BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) to help train scientists for a variety of diverse careers. The program grew from a workforce study indicating that 80 percent of people with biomedical Ph.D.s are employed in careers outside of conventional faculty positions. Three years later officials and students at the school say that it has already achieved its early goals and continues to expand. Vanderbilt’s program under the BEST grant is called ASPIRE (Augmenting Scholar Preparation and Integration with Research-Related Endeavors).

New center will examine addiction at molecular level, develop treatments

August 17, 2016

Vanderbilt University researchers from diverse scientific disciplines are joining forces to help crack the stubborn mysteries of addiction. Through the new Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research (VCAR), their goal is to define the molecular events that drive addictive behavior and, ultimately, to develop new treatments that can help people sustain long-term recovery. “Addiction is a brain disease, a chronic disease that needs to be managed as we would manage any other chronic disease,” said the center’s founding director, Danny Winder, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Pharmacology and Psychiatry.

Foundation’s support speeds search for new schizophrenia drugs at Vanderbilt

August 15, 2016

Research in the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD) aimed at developing innovative new treatments for schizophrenia just received a powerful assist from The William K. Warren Foundation.  The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based foundation announced it will increase its support by another $1 million, as VCNDD’s game-changing schizophrenia program approaches the point at which candidate drugs will be selected for testing in clinical trials. Two previous awards from the foundation have totaled $7.25 million since 2014.

NIH grant bolsters mass spectrometry research initiatives

August 11, 2016

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a major renewal grant to continue the National Research Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The five-year, $10.5-million grant will support groundbreaking projects aimed at visualizing, at the molecular level, retinal disease, ovarian cancer, the impact of diabetes on the kidney and brain, and host-pathogen interactions in infectious diseases, said the grant’s principal investigator, Richard Caprioli, Ph.D.