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Mchaourab to lead Chemical and Physical Biology program

Sep. 20, 2012, 11:10 AM

Hassane Mchaourab, Ph.D.

Hassane Mchaourab, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Physics and Chemistry, has been named the new director of the Ph.D.-granting Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB) program at Vanderbilt University.

Mchaourab succeeds Al Beth, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, who had served as the program’s founding director since it was established in 2007.

The program has awarded six doctorates since 2011 and currently has 44 doctoral participants in different years of training with faculty mentors from the School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science.

A member of the Vanderbilt faculty since 2000, Mchaourab also directs Vanderbilt’s involvement in the federally funded Membrane Protein Structural Dynamics Consortium. Its goal is to learn how the structure and movement of membrane proteins determine their functions.

“I am excited at the opportunity to lead the CPB program,” Mchaourab said. “Through its curriculum flexibility and specialization tracks, the CPB program has provided a unique opportunity for Vanderbilt students to be trained at the interface between disciplines.”

Mchaourab said he is looking forward to working with the core CPB faculty to enhance student didactic and research experiences through expanded advanced topic courses and track realignment.

The goal, he said, is to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of chemical, physical and structural biology.

The CPB program is designed for students with backgrounds in chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics and other quantitative sciences who are interested in biological and biomedical research.

It currently has four tracks:

• Chemical biology;

• Imaging sciences;

• Molecular and cellular biophysics; and

• Structural biology, computational biology and molecular biology.

“The CPB Ph.D. program was created so that students could be efficiently trained at the interface of the chemical and physical sciences and the biological sciences in a highly coordinated way,” Beth said.

“It serves as a prime example of how a trans-institutional initiative can lead to something that is greater than the sum of its parts,” he continued. “It further demonstrates how the close ties between the outstanding research programs at Vanderbilt University, which are all in close proximity, can work together to create something very unique.”

Beth also was founding director of the interdepartmental first-year graduate CPB Admissions program, now called the Quantitative and Chemical Biology (QCB) program.

He received the Gerald S. Gotterer Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009 for his central role in creating these innovative new programs.

“Many of the leading medical schools in the country have established similar programs over the past decade in response to the need for an interaction between quantitative sciences and biological research,” said Roger Chalkley, D.Phil., senior associate dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET).

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