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Marnett stepping down as dean of VUSM Basic Sciences

Posted by on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Around the Medical Center, Spring 2022 .

Lawrence Marnett, PhD, who has served as dean of Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine Basic Sciences since its creation in 2016 and has led its dramatic ascension as one of the nation’s top biomedical research and doctoral programs, will step down as dean, effective June 30.

Marnett, Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, University Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry and professor of Pharmacology, will return to the faculty in 2023 after taking a sabbatical.

Marnett was appointed dean at the time of the legal separation of the University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2016. Under Marnett’s leadership, the University made the bold move of creating a new “home” and funding model for the departments and centers that aligned with its mission of research and graduate training and provided stability and cutting-edge opportunities for growth that are unique among peer institutions.

For the past five years, Marnett has led the Departments of Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Pharmacology, along with their associated centers, institutes and programs. More than 1,000 faculty, students, fellows and staff are part of the vibrant Basic Sciences community.

The Basic Sciences have been highly successful in attracting external funding to support research and training under Marnett’s leadership. All four School of Medicine Basic Sciences departments ranked in the top five research institutions receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health: biochemistry ranked No. 1; cell and developmental biology and molecular physiology and biophysics both ranked third; and pharmacology ranked fifth.

Since 2019, the Basic Sciences have established the Dean’s Faculty Fellows program and secured the endowment of the Stanley Cohen Innovation Fund and the creation of the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Marnett also initiated the creative restructuring of the first-year curriculum of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program and the development of an advisory council on mental health and wellness.

Under his tenure, 60% of faculty recruits were women or from underrepresented backgrounds.

Marnett has been committed to fostering and building trans-institutional science collaborations at Vanderbilt through his work with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, and through multiple transinstitutional initiatives under the University’s Academic Strategic Plan. Marnett has also been a champion of elevating awareness of the impact of the Basic Sciences among peers and on a broader stage. These efforts have included the Lab-to-Table Conversation Series and the creation of Vestigo, a periodical with an in-depth view of research, trainee accomplishments and faculty successes.