January 15, 2015

VUMC investigators honored by ASPET

Vanderbilt’s Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., and L. Jackson Roberts II, M.D., have been lauded by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Hamm named to receive Career Achievement Award

Vanderbilt University’s Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., a world leader in G protein signaling, is the recipient of the 2015 Robert R. Ruffolo Career Achievement Awardin Pharmacology by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Heidi Hamm, Ph.D.

Hamm, the Aileen M. Lange and Annie Marie Lyle Professor of Cardiovascular Research and former chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt, will receive the award March 28 at the ASPET Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston.

She is the fourth recipient of the Ruffolo Award, which recognizes scientists at the height of their careers who have made significant contributions to the field of pharmacology.

It is named for Robert R. Ruffolo Jr., Ph.D., retired president of R&D at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, who played a leading role in the discovery and development of several widely prescribed drugs.

Hamm is internationally known for her contributions to understanding G proteins, intracellular molecular switches that translate and transmit signals from membrane-bound G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) deep inside the cell.

GPCRs are targeted by more than half of all drugs. Learning how G proteins interact with their receptors could lead to new drugs for disorders as diverse as thrombotic diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.

She has received numerous honors for her research, served as president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) from 2006 to 2008 and in 2011 was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Roberts named to receive Award for Experimental Therapeutics

L. Jackson Roberts II, M.D., an internationally known clinical pharmacologist at Vanderbilt University, is the recipient of the 2015 Pharmacia-ASPET Awardfor Experimental Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

L. Jackson Roberts II, M.D.

Roberts, the William Stokes Professor of Experimental Therapeutics and professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, has helped define the roles that lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress play in human pathogenesis.

The awards will be presented March 28 at the ASPET Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston.

Roberts was recognized in part for his discovery, with the late Jason Morrow, M.D., in 1990 of isoprostanes, which are formed when free radicals — highly reactive molecules derived from oxygen — attack lipids in cell membranes.

Measurement of isoprostanes has emerged as the most reliable approach to assess free radical reactions in vivo. Similar compounds called neuroprostanes are being investigated for their possible role in neurodegenerative diseases.

Roberts previously has received the Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research from Vanderbilt University and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

He is the third Vanderbilt scientist to win the Pharmacia-ASPET Award, which has been given annually since 1969.

The others are John Oates, M.D., the Thomas F. Frist Sr. Professor of Medicine and founder of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, and P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., the Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery.

ASPET is one of the world’s largest scientific societies with 4,900 members focused on drug discovery and clinical pharmacology.