May 23, 2013

2013 Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards

The 2013 Vanderbilt University Medical Center Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards, which were presented during Wednesday’s Spring Faculty meeting, included awards for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research. Award recipients were nominated by their faculty colleagues and chosen by the Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards Selection Committee.

The 2013 Vanderbilt University Medical Center Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards, which were presented during Wednesday’s Spring Faculty meeting, included awards for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research. Award recipients were nominated by their faculty colleagues and chosen by the Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards Selection Committee.



Frank H. Boehm Award for Contributions to Continuing Medical Education — William Schaffner, M.D., professor and chairman, Department of Preventive Medicine

William Schaffner, M.D.

Schaffner received his Bachelor of Science degree from Yale University, and his medical degree from Cornell University. After completing his residency in Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, he served as an epidemic intelligence service officer with the U.S. Public Health Service before returning to Vanderbilt as chief medical resident and instructor in Medicine. He was appointed assistant professor of Medicine in 1969, full professor of Medicine and Preventive Medicine in 1979 and chairman of Preventive Medicine in 1982. Schaffner also was chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases from 1982 to 1989.

Schaffner’s career has been dedicated to preventing infectious diseases and, through his untiring commitment to public as well as professional education, to advancing public health policy and communicable disease control. He has written more than 400 scientific articles and textbook chapters, and regularly serves as a consultant to the state, national and world health organizations. He has held leadership positions in several professional societies, and serves on the editorial boards of several prestigious scientific journals.

He has trained numerous physicians, infectious disease specialists and public health professionals, and has taught courses on hospital epidemiology, infection control and best immunization practices to prevent and control the spread of influenza, HIV and other infectious diseases. In addition, he is one of the nation’s most recognized and trusted medical experts as he is interviewed frequently by national news outlets on a host of topics related to infectious disease and public health.

Schaffner has received numerous honors for his distinguished contributions to the advancement of public health, prevention education and epidemiology including, in 2010, the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished University Professor Award. In receiving the Boehm Award Wednesday, Schaffner said, “It’s a privilege to be a communications ambassador for Vanderbilt on behalf of our faculty.”


Gerald S. Gotterer Award for Innovation in Educational Programming That Has Proven Effective — Charlene M. Dewey, M.D., M.Ed., associate professor of Medical Education and Administration, and of Medicine

Charlene M. Dewey, M.D., M.Ed.

Dewey earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and her M.D. at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. In 1993, she completed her residency and chief residency in Social Internal Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center. Dewey spent 15 years on faculty of the Baylor College of Medicine, where she received numerous teaching awards.

In 2004, Dewey received her master’s degree in Medical Education from the University of Houston. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2007 with joint appointments in the Department of Medical Education and Administration, Division of the Office for Teaching and Learning in Medicine (OTLM), and the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health. She is co-director of the Center for Professional Health (CPH), and in 2008 she became a member of the Vanderbilt Academy for Excellence in Teaching.

Dewey is an effective leader in faculty development, resident teaching and leadership skills, helping medical students develop skills in physical diagnosis and history taking, and in patient education. As director of the OTLM’s Educator Development Program, she coordinates and facilitates hands-on faculty workshops and she has mentored several junior faculty and trainees. As chair of the Faculty & Physician Wellness Committee, she guides the development and implementation of education and prevention strategies to support faculty and physicians in need of assistance with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Dewey is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Medical Colleges Section on Graduate Education, and a diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and of the National Board of Medical Examiners. As first lady of Meharry Medical College and a member of several non-profit boards, she also has been frequently honored for her commitment to her community.


F. Peter Guengerich Award for Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows or Residents in the Research Setting — Christopher V.E. Wright, D.Phil., Louise B. McGavock Professor, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Christopher V.E. Wright, D.Phil.

Wright received his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Warwick, and his doctorate in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. From 1985 to 1990, he did postdoctoral work, first at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge, and then at UCLA. In 1990, Wright joined the faculty at Vanderbilt as an assistant professor of Cell Biology. Within seven years, he was a full professor in the renamed Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Wright is a member of a premier group of researchers working on pancreas organogenesis, differentiation of the insulin-producing beta cell and the potential for stem cell therapy to address pancreatic dysfunction. He published the first description of the gene pdx1, which – it has since been learned — is essential for development of the pancreas and for maintenance of the adult beta cell. In humans, certain mutations in this gene are associated with increased risk for developing a form of type 2 diabetes. Wright also discovered that pdx1 and another regulatory gene, Ptf1a, signal progenitor cells to become pancreas. Wright is an investigator in the Beta Cell Biology Consortium, an international effort to develop cell-based therapies for diabetes funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has contributed to nearly 150 scientific publications.

In 1999, Wright was appointed director of the Program in Developmental Biology, a cross-campus, multi-disciplinary group of 285 researchers that fosters innovative and interspecies approaches to studying fundamental questions in embryonic development. He is the principal investigator of a longstanding NIH training grant that is a cornerstone of the Program in Developmental Biology, and served for several years as his department’s representative to Vanderbilt’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program. Since 1990, he has mentored 15 graduate and M.D./Ph.D. students and 12 postdoctoral fellows, and has encouraged them to gain teaching experience as course directors.


John S. Sergent Award for Teaching Medical or Graduate Students in the Small Group Setting — Amy Fleming, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics

Amy Fleming, M.D.

Fleming earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from the University of Virginia, and in 1993 enrolled in both the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the United States Air Force Reserves Health Professional Scholarship Program. Upon receiving her M.D. in 1997, she entered active duty in the U.S. Air Force, achieving the rank of major in 2004 and remaining in inactive ready reserve for a year before her honorable discharge in 2005. She completed her residency and chief residency in Pediatrics at the San Antonio Military Pediatric Center.

From 2004 to 2007, Fleming was a pediatric hospitalist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a core member of the team responsible for inpatient education of medical students and pediatric residents. In 2007, she joined the Vanderbilt Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hospital Medicine. Fleming was appointed director of Medical Student Education in the Department of Pediatrics in 2009 and continues to practice as a pediatric hospitalist, teaching patients, families and other learners at all levels.

During the past several years, Fleming has facilitated several small problem-based learning groups for medical students, served as faculty mentor to several pediatric residents, and mentored the research of more than 20 medical students, residents and fellows on a wide range of topics. As a Master Clinical Teacher and director of the Third Year Pediatric Clerkship, she works with students to develop their clinical reasoning, physical exam and presentation skills.

Fleming also serves on the Medical School Admissions Committee. She has received several awards for her contributions to medical education at Vanderbilt, including the Shovel Award, the medical school’s highest teaching award. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and plays leadership roles in the national organizations involved in medical education.



William J. Darby Award for Translational Research that has Changed the Practice of Medicine Worldwide — Jeffrey A. Sosman, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and professor of Medicine

Jeffrey A. Sosman, M.D.

Sosman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University. After receiving his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he completed a medical residency and medical oncology fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. He had faculty appointments at Loyola University and the University of Illinois before coming to Vanderbilt in 2001 as professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology and director of the Melanoma Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). He also is co-leader, with Albert Reynolds, Ph.D., of the Signal Transduction and Cell Proliferation Program.

Sosman is committed to developing and testing new drugs and targets for the treatment of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, while working closely with basic researchers to understand the underlying mechanisms of this disease. He has contributed to more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and has participated in clinical trials that have advanced the treatment of melanoma. Many of these recent advances have been made possible by the ability to screen patients for mutations in genes such as BRAF that increase their risk of developing melanoma or which affect their tumor’s response to treatment.

Sosman participates in VICC’s Personalized Cancer Therapy initiative, which offers cancer patients routine “genotyping” of their tumors to determine which treatment will be most effective. During the past three years, he has contributed to clinical trials of new “personalized medicines” that have caused significant tumor shrinkage, nearly doubled overall survival rates, and which appear to delay the development of resistance to treatment.

In 2009, he received the first American Cancer Society Mary Hendrickson-Johnson Melanoma Professorship, a five-year, $400,000 award for “landmark” contributions to melanoma research. He also is part of multi-center teams that have received major support from the Melanoma Research Alliance and the Stand Up To Cancer Initiative.


Sidney P. Colowick Award for Research that Serves as a Platform for Discovery in Diverse Areas — Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D., William K. Warren, Jr., Professor of Medicine and professor of Pharmacology

Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D.

Lindsley earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Chico, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University. In 2001, after brief stints at Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly, he joined the Medicinal Chemistry Department at Merck & Co. in West Point, Pa., where as senior research fellow/group leader of the Technology Enabled Synthesis group, he developed a streamlined approach for lead optimization, resulting in the accelerated delivery of six preclinical candidates.

A pioneer in the development of selective allosteric modulators, Lindsley came to Vanderbilt in late 2006. He is director of Medicinal Chemistry in the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery, which is focused on development of allosteric modulators of G protein-coupled receptors for the treatment of schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Fragile X syndrome and depression. Lindsley also directs the Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated Probe Development, part of the NIH-supported Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network, and he has contributed to the development of the first selective inhibitors of the enzyme phospholipase D, and which could represent a new class of drugs for treating cancer.

In introducing his award, Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., chair of Pharmacology on scholarly leave of absence this year, said, “Craig’s role here at Vanderbilt has been nothing short of transformative … He led the chemistry effort in the neuroscience drug discovery program that allowed four novel programs to advance to the clinical candidate stage in 2011, and three of which will be in Phase I clinical trials this year.”

Lindsley has published more than 225 scientific papers, holds 28 issued U.S. patents, and has filed more than 238 patent applications since arriving at Vanderbilt. He has been honored nationally for his “major impact” on medicinal chemistry research.


Ernest W. Goodpasture Award for Groundbreaking Research that Addresses the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease or Important Biological Problems in Immunity — Christopher R. Aiken, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Christopher R. Aiken, Ph.D.

Aiken received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Virology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 1995, he joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an assistant professor. In 2005, he was appointed full professor in what is now known as the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. Since 2006, he has served as director of Graduate Studies for the department’s Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology.

Since the early 1990s, Aiken has studied the biological processes that control replication of HIV-1. He and his colleagues made the original discoveries that the Env glycoproteins that form the viral envelope are tightly associated with the immature HIV-1 core, and that immature HIV-1 particles are repressed for fusion to their target T lymphocytes by an activity of the gp41 cytoplasmic tail. These discoveries have implications for efforts to produce an effective HIV-1 vaccine.

Recently Aiken’s group, led by postdoctoral fellow Amanda Joyner, Ph.D., reported that immature viral particles exhibited markedly enhanced binding of several gp41-specific antibodies, including two that recognize the membrane proximal external region (MPER) epitopes and which neutralize diverse HIV-1 strains. These results suggest that masking of neutralization-sensitive epitopes during particle maturation may contribute to the ability of HIV-1 to evade the immune system.

Aiken’s group also has made significant contributions to understanding viral capsid disassembly, another key step in HIV replication. They pioneered approaches for studying capsid disassembly in vitro and, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, performed detailed structural studies of the capsid program. His team is actively studying the antiviral mechanism of inhibitors targeting the HIV-1 capsid, representing a new frontier in antiretroviral therapy.


Leadership of a Multi-investigator Team Award for Two or More Faculty Working Collaboratively or in a Multidisciplinary Manner to Address Important Biological Processes and/or Diseases — Alan D. Cherrington, Ph.D., Jacquelyn A. Turner and Dr. Dorothy J. Turner Professor of Diabetes Research, and professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and of Medicine; Owen P. McGuinness, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics; Masakazu Shiota, DVM, Ph.D., associate professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics; David H. Wasserman, Ph.D., Annie Mary Lyle Professor, Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics; and Phillip E. Williams, B.S., research associate professor of Surgery

Alan D. Cherrington, Ph.D.

These researchers are being honored for their elegant work on the development of experimental glucose clamp techniques in dogs, rats and mice. These innovations have helped transform diabetes research around the world, not only in the field of metabolism, but in studies of genetics and drug discovery as well.

The glucose clamp technique, developed in the mid-1970s, is a method of quantifying insulin secretion and sensitivity. By measuring how much glucose must be infused into the bloodstream to maintain a constant concentration of glucose, researchers can determine how well beta cells in the pancreas are responding by secreting insulin. Another clamp technique measures how much glucose must be infused to maintain a constant glucose concentration when insulin also is infused. In this way, researchers can determine how well the muscle tissues of the body are taking up glucose. Insulin “resistance” occurs when tissues do not respond normally to the hormone.

Owen P. McGuinness, Ph.D.

During the past 40 years, members of this talented team helped define the interplay of glucagon and insulin in controlling levels of blood glucose. In addition to moving glucose from the bloodstream into muscle, where it can be burned for fuel, it was shown in an animal model that insulin could also slow glucose production by the liver. Glucagon, another pancreatic hormone, opposes the action of insulin on the liver. It can speed up glucose production in situations where the body’s demand for glucose has outstripped its supply.

These discoveries were facilitated by a clamp technique in which a variable insulin infusion was titrated against a fixed glucagon infusion until glucose was stable. Williams, who developed the surgical and experimental procedures, has a remarkable ability to implant catheters in small deep vessels. This allowed the creation of unique models of hormone deficiency and other experimental designs that are now known worldwide.

Masakazu Shiota, DVM, Ph.D.

Wasserman extended these experiments, defining the endocrine regulation of the exercise and post-exercise state. In the early 1990s, he applied glucose clamp techniques to a rat model to define the regulation of muscle glucose uptake and insulin resistance using a novel triple isotope technique. McGuinness combined clamp and isotopic techniques with models of infection and nutrient delivery to study conditions present in patients under intensive care conditions.

As director of the Small Animal Core of the NIH-funded Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center(DRTC) in the mid-1990s, Shiota developed catheterization and clamp techniques for application to the conscious, unstressed mouse. This achievement coincided with the development of transgenic mouse models, which made it possible to study how specific genes regulate fundamental metabolic processes. During the past nine years, Wasserman, McGuinness and Shiota have taught the technique to nearly 150 scientists from 15 countries.

David H. Wasserman, Ph.D.

Cherrington earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Brunswick and his Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Toronto. He began at Vanderbilt as a post-doctoral fellow in 1973. He was appointed assistant professor of Physiology two years later and full professor in 1982. He chaired the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics from 1998 to 2007. He has received numerous awards for his research accomplishments, including the Lilly and Banting Awards from the American Diabetes Association, which he served as president in 2004-2005.

McGuinness earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his Ph.D. in Physiology at Louisiana State University. His career at Vanderbilt began in 1984 as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, led to an assistant professorship in the department in 1989 and full professorship in 2006. McGuinness directs the Metabolic Pathophysiology Core in the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center(MMPC) and the Hormone Assay and Analytical Services Core in the DRTC.

Phillip E. Williams, B.S.

Shiota earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido, Japan, his doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and his Ph.D. in Veterinary Physiology from the University of Osaka Prefecture. He was a member of the faculty there before coming to Vanderbilt in 1994 for a postdoctoral fellowship in Metabolism. That led to a faculty position and by 2011, he was associate professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics.

Wasserman, who directs the MMPC, earned his Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA and his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Toronto. Upon graduation in 1985, he came to Vanderbilt as a research associate in the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and was appointed full professor in 1997. He has received several national research awards.

Williams received his Bachelor of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Upon graduation, he was hired by Vanderbilt as a diabetes research assistant. He currently directs the S.R. Light Laboratory and the Division of Surgical Research in the Section of Surgical Sciences, and the MMPC Animal Resources Core.


Research Enhancement Award for Development, Implementation, and/or Creation of Technology that Elevates the Research and Science of Multiple InvestigatorsK. Sam Wells, Ph.D., research professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

K. Sam Wells, Ph.D.

Wells received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Utah, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of New Mexico. As a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, he participated in the initial feasibility experiments leading to the invention of two-photon-excited fluorescence imaging. In the early 1990s, Wells developed fluorescent reagents, imaging calibration, flow cytometry standards and other applications and techniques that resulted in several commercial products and patents. Later, as a staff scientist for Bio-Rad Laboratories, he taught researchers around the country how to use non-linear-excited fluorescence imaging equipment.

In 2000, Wells was recruited by Vanderbilt as research associate professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and as managing director of the Vanderbilt Cell Imaging Shared Resource (CISR). In 2009, he took over direct management of Electron Microscopy. During the past decade, Wells has managed a tenfold expansion of capital assets distributed in eight imaging labs, a better than sevenfold increase in service hours and a greater than threefold increase in the user base. Today the CISR is used by about 650 individuals from 250 different funded principal investigator labs, and provides service for NIH grants with a combined value in excess of $682 million.

In addition, Wells has provided guidance in basic and advanced imaging techniques, including rigorous analytical methodology, for hundreds of scientists at all career levels. He has conducted optical microscopy mini-courses for faculty and students. He supervises several research assistants, lab managers and research specialists and, for the past six years, has served as instructor of the microscopy module of the Vanderbilt Masters of Laboratory Investigation Degree Program. Finally, Wells is an effective research collaborator, suggesting project implementation, experimental parameters and imaging modes that have aided the success of numerous grant proposals.