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Symposium honors Moses’ storied cancer research career

Posted by on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Around the Medical Center, Winter 2018 .

Harold (Hal) Moses, MD, with his wife, Linda, right, and Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, at a symposium honoring his illustrious career. Photo by Steve Green.

Members of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) community and others whose lives and careers have been influenced by legendary cancer investigator, educator and administrator Harold (Hal) Moses, MD’62, have endowed the Linda and Harold L. Moses, MD, Career Development Fund.

The fund will support the next generation of physicians, scientists and scholars, and was announced during a daylong research symposium held in October 2017.

Moses, a past chair of the Department of Cell Biology (now Cell and Developmental Biology) and founding director of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), recently moved to emeritus status as a Vanderbilt faculty member and administrator.

Moses pioneered an entirely new area of cancer research when he described and purified a transforming growth factor known as TGF-beta. He and his colleagues determined that TGF-beta could both assist tumor growth by promoting the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), but also serve as a tumor suppressor, making this growth factor the “molecular Jekyll and Hyde of cancer.”

Nearly every branch of cancer research has been influenced by this knowledge about the role of TGF-beta in human cancers and new research continues to build on this groundbreaking discovery.

During the research symposium, “TGF-beta: Discovery to Translation,” an array of guest speakers from around the country who worked alongside Moses during his career or whose own research was influenced by Moses’ findings, described the importance of his role in their lives.

“Our world is Hal-centric,” according to R. Daniel Beauchamp, MD, deputy director of VICC. “He is a gravitational force that keeps us locked on this effort and this university.”