February 6, 2014

Barnett to direct Medical Student Research

Joey Barnett, Ph.D., has been named assistant dean and director of the Office for Medical Student Research.

Joey Barnett, Ph.D., has been named assistant dean and director of the Office for Medical Student Research.

Joey Barnett, Ph.D.

Barnett, professor of Pharmacology and acting chair of the department, will oversee all of the activities of the office, which include a four-year research curriculum for medical students who are not enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program.

“I am delighted that Joey will be assuming this very important role,” said Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education.

“His commitment to excellence in teaching is well-recognized across the medical school, and his many years of experience as director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Pharmacology provide him with excellent preparation. Joey also hopes to identify new academic forums that will support interactions between medical students and graduate students, a goal that is important to our mission to nurture leaders and scholars throughout our educational programs.”

During the first and second years of medical school, students learn about the principles of research in preparation for a 3- to 6-month mentored research experience in their third or fourth years. This format succeeds the Emphasis Program, which ran from 2004-2012 and provided all non-M.D./Ph.D. students with research experiences during the summer.

Barnett’s office will oversee the pairing of students with their projects and mentors, and will also provide important training to faculty members who serve in research mentoring roles.

Students have the opportunity to undertake projects in a wide variety of research areas, including Epidemiology and Informatics; Ethics, Policy & Society; Global, Community & Health Services Research; and Molecular & Cellular Medical Research.

“We want students to be able to identify important problems, critically evaluate what is needed to address those problems or questions, formulate a hypothesis, and develop accurate and appropriate methodology to answer those questions,” Barnett said.

“These are such important skills because, in addition to participating in discovery and pushing new knowledge forward and solving problems around health care, this will also make students better physicians by being adept at critically evaluating data in literature and being able to draw appropriate conclusions about how to best treat their patients.”

Barnett will also oversee the Medical Scholars Program, which provides support for eight students annually to dedicate a full year to a mentored research project.

“One of my passions has always been education, and I’ve been very active in graduate education,” said Barnett, who directed the Pharmacology Ph.D., program for 10 years. “I was a graduate of this Ph.D., program at Vanderbilt, and the thing that I always carried with me was how committed the faculty was to assuring that we had the best mentoring and the best opportunity possible so that we could succeed and follow our own passions.

“Vanderbilt holds such an important tradition of doing that, and I think it will be very exciting to be engaged in this initiative where we can transform opportunities to help students discover their passions and give them the tools to follow those.”

Barnett assumes the directorship from Tina Hartert, M.D., MPH, who was recently named assistant vice chancellor for Translational Science.