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School of Medicine’s Patel receives Presidential Early Career Award

Feb. 19, 2016, 2:43 PM

Sachin Patel (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, is one of 106 researchers named today by President Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, D.C., ceremony this spring.

Vanderbilt’s Christopher Lemons, Ph.D., assistant professor of Special Education, also received a Presidential Early Career Award.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” Obama said. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

This year’s recipients are employed or funded by the following departments and agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and the intelligence community. These departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions.

Sachin’s research focuses on the role of endocannabinoids in stress-induced neuroadaptation. Psychosocial stress is a key trigger for the development and exacerbation of a variety of psychiatric disorders including depression, addiction, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. By understanding the molecular, structural and physiological adaptations in endocannabinoid signaling that occur in response to stress, Patel is attempting to uncover novel bio-markers and pharmacological targets for drug development. In addition, his research might provide insight into the pathophysiology of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized at this level, and it certainly validates the hard work we have been doing over the past five years,” Patel said. Presidential recognition is a clear boost to the careers of all the recipients, and I’m grateful to all the wonderful mentors I have had at Vanderbilt and beyond for helping me get this far, and the NIH for nominating me for this award.”

The awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.

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