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Rathmell to lead new Center for Immunobiology

Aug. 20, 2015, 10:18 AM

Jeffrey Rathmell, Ph.D., has been recruited to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) to lead a new Center for Immunobiology, a structure supported by the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, the Department of Medicine and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC).

Jeffrey Rathmell, Ph.D.

He has been named a professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and will serve as co-leader of the Host Tumor Interactions Research Program at VICC.

Rathmell comes to Vanderbilt from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, where he serves as associate professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and of Immunology in the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, as well as director of Graduate Studies of Pharmacology. He will join Vanderbilt Sept. 1.

“We are very excited to have recruited Jeff to Vanderbilt. He is internationally recognized for his research in the area of immunometabolism, he is an excellent mentor and colleague, and he has outstanding leadership experience in the area of graduate education,” said Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH, Ernest W. Goodpasture Professor of Pathology, director of the Division of Host-Pathogen Interactions and associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology.

In his laboratory research, Rathmell has examined the metabolism of blood cells.

“I study metabolism in the immune system and how cells get their nutrients and grow, which also allows them to proliferate and change their functions. This system is altered in leukemias where the cells are growing out of control and the same processes are altered in autoimmune diseases and inflammatory settings like asthma or in anti-tumor immune responses,” Rathmell said.

His work at Vanderbilt will focus on the field of immunometabolism and how nutrient and metabolic pathways can influence immune responses in normal and diseased settings.

“Vanderbilt has great immunologists across the medical school, and the main goals of the new Center for Immunobiology will be to foster basic immunology science, which touches on many different fields and diseases, and to help build the immunology community,” said Rathmell.

“We are delighted to welcome Jeff to VICC and look forward to his contributions and leadership as we grow cancer immunology from basic and translational research to clinical investigation,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of VICC.

Rathmell completed his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, and earned his Ph.D. in Immunology at Stanford University, California. He completed a graduate fellowship with the National Science Foundation during his Ph.D. training. He undertook post-doctoral training at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania, where he earned fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Irvington Institute for Immunological Research.

He received the Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Scholar Award from the National Cancer Institute, the Scholar Award from the V Foundation for Cancer Research, was named a Research Scholar by the American Cancer Society, the Bernard Osher Fellow of the American Asthma Society and a Leukemia and Lymphoma Scholar.

Rathmell has a distinguished career as a teacher and mentor for many young investigators and is in demand internationally as a scientific lecturer.

He has authored more than 90 research articles and serves as a member of the editorial board for several scientific journals.

When not at work, Rathmell is a prolific runner and spends time almost daily either training for or competing in marathons.

He also enjoys collegiate sports and said he is looking forward to attending Vanderbilt sporting events.

He is married to W. Kimryn Rathmell, M.D., Ph.D., Alexander Professor for Translational Science and associate director for Training and Education at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who is joining Vanderbilt as director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. Kim Rathmell specializes in research and treatment of patients with renal cell carcinoma.

The couple has a daughter, Dori, 15, and son, Peter, 20.

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