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Damon to lead Chemical and Physical Biology grad program

Aug. 6, 2015, 9:12 AM

Bruce Damon, Ph.D., has been named director of Vanderbilt University’s Chemical and Physical Biology (CPB) graduate program, which prepares students for “cutting-edge” research careers at the interface of the chemical sciences, physical sciences and biology.

Bruce Damon, Ph.D.

Damon, associate professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering, succeeds Hassane Mchaourab, Ph.D., who founded the program with Albert Beth, Ph.D., in 2007.

“I feel strongly that many of the most important problems in the biomedical sciences require us to use an interdisciplinary approach,” said Damon, who previously served as the program’s director of graduate studies.

“By providing education and scholarly interactions at the intersection of traditionally distinct fields such as chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and computing, the CPB program prepares students well to tackle problems in its four tracks … chemical biology, imaging science, structural biology and molecular biophysics, and systems biology,” he said.

Of the 79 students admitted to the program in the past eight years, 12 have graduated with master’s degrees and 29 with Ph.D. degrees. Program alumni are working for Biogen and Google, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American Chemical Society and at Harvard, Stanford and Vanderbilt.

Graduates are “superbly well trained for whatever careers may be in their future,” said Roger Chalkley, D. Phil., senior associate dean for Biomedical Research Education and Training, who oversees the program.

Mchaourab, the Louise B. McGavock Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, “really put the CPB program on the map, and now Bruce will lead us on to the next level,” Chalkley said.

“Bruce is totally student-centered, and he will be making sure that all the students reach their goals. We are very excited that he has agreed to take this leadership position,” he said.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Damon earned his Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2002.

His research focuses on development and application of novel imaging and spectroscopic approaches to studying muscle function.

“I am grateful to Al Beth, Hassane Mchaourab, and others who have contributed such vision and leadership to this program,” Damon said.

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