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The MPB Graduate Program

Welcome to the Vanderbilt Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Graduate Program website! We seek to prepare students for successful careers by training them to critically evaluate new scientific information, develop and execute creative research proposals that address important issues, and effectively organize and convey scientific information.  We are very proud of our students! Below, you will find some of their recent accomplishments. Questions about the MPB Graduate Program should be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Richard O’Brien.





  • January 2020: Jack Walker (Powers lab) published a co-first author paper titled, “Tacrolimus- and sirolimus-induced human beta cell dysfunction is reversible and preventable” in JCI Insight 5(1).
  • May 2020: Jack Walker (Powers lab) also published a co-first author paper titled, “Integrated human pseudoislet system and microfluidic platform demonstrate differences in GPCR signaling in islet cells” in JCI Insight 5(10).
  • August 2020: Jack Walker (Powers lab) published a paper titled, “Dapagliflozin Does Not Directly Affect Human α or β cells in Endocrinology 161(8).
  • November 2020: Jessica Biddinger (Simerly lab) published a paper titled, “Leptin suppresses development of GLP-1 inputs to the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus” in eLife, 9.


July 2020: Heather Caslin Findley (Postdoc in Hasty lab) was awarded a fellowship for "The Influence of Trained Innate Immunity on Macrophages in Metabolic Disease".

September 2020: Jessica Thomas (Postdoc in Colbran lab) was awarded a fellowship for "Somatosensory function in mice with CaMKII mutations linked to autism".

  • March 2020: Michelle Bedenbaugh (Simerly lab) was awarded funding for her NIDDK F32 grant award: "Melanocortin 3 receptor in neural circuits linking reproductive state and metabolism".
  • March 2020: Matthew Cottam (Hasty lab) was awarded funding for his F31 NRSA grant award: "The role of T cells in adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance during weight cycling".
  • August 2020: Ashley Christensen (Gannon lab) was awarded funding for her F31 NRSA grant award: “Physiological and functional effects of beta-cell-specific inactivation of the PGE2 receptor EP3”.


Honors and Awards

2020- 2021: Sam Centanni, postdoctoral fellow in Danny Winder's lab.

2020- 2021: Samuel Centanni (Winder lab) received the 2020 Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association Postdoc Honorable Mention Award for demonstrating his excellence in research, scholarship, presentations, awards, service and mentoring.