May 5, 2016

Faculty awards honor clinical, teaching, research excellence

Less than a week has passed since the reorganization that separated Vanderbilt University from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) became effective April 29, but early signs are very positive, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of VUMC and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said Tuesday during his Spring Faculty Meeting and Awards Program.

Less than a week has passed since the reorganization that separated Vanderbilt University from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) became effective April 30, but early signs are very positive, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of VUMC and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said Tuesday during his Spring Faculty Meeting and Awards Program.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., speaks at Tuesday’s Spring Faculty Meeting in Light Hall. (photo by Steve Green)

VUMC, which ranks among the nation’s top academic medical centers, attracted a lot of attention nationally throughout the process. “It made me feel so good about our future,” he said.

The strength of the Medical Center’s clinical enterprise, its research prowess and educational reputation, including the achievements of its faculty, all play a role in that, he said.

Every year since 2000, the VUMC Academic Enterprise has honored faculty members for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research. This year’s presentations included two new awards for “Extraordinary Performance of Clinical Service” and one new teaching award.

Recipients were nominated by their faculty colleagues and chosen by the 2016 VUMC Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards Selection Committees.

The awards and the 2016 recipients are:






An East Tennessean by birth and a Middle Tennessean by choice, Dr. Collins joined the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine faculty in 1957. He attended The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Collins was inspired to become a pathologist and to pursue an academic career in teaching and research by Dr. Ernest W. Goodpasture, who chaired the Department of Pathology from 1925 until 1955. Dr. Collins was Dr. Goodpasture’s last chief resident. After an internship in Internal Medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Dr. Collins was a fellow in Microbiology at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Collins established the Division of Hematopathology at Vanderbilt and trained fellows who are leaders in this field today. His 20-year collaboration with Dr. Robert J. Lukes resulted in the Lukes-Collins Classification of Lymphomas published in Tumors of the Hematopoietic System in 1992. In 2001, Dr. Collins and Dr. Steven Swerdlow served as authors and editors of Pediatric Hematopathology, the first textbook in that field.

During his 56-year career at Vanderbilt Medical School (1957-2013), Dr. Collins taught generations of medical students. The high standards to which he held both himself and his students shaped many of their careers. When Dr. Collins taught Pathology, he was noted for using the lecture format as the ideal vehicle for presenting conceptual material to the entire class. He transformed the “organ recital” from a rather uninspiring exercise in reviewing archival specimens into a study of current cases. Thereby, small groups of students learned to process clinical information, to apply book knowledge in order to solve problems, and to examine tissue specimens correctly. Former students attest that professionalism was maintained in both the lecture hall and the laboratory. It was not all work; Dr. Collins also welcomed medical students, faculty and colleagues to his home, with its picnic tables under a massive oak tree.

Dr. Collins received many honors for his excellence as a teacher, research scientist and clinical pathologist. These included four Shovel Awards presented by the fourth-year medical students and, on seven occasions, the Jack Davies Award for Best Preclinical Teacher. He was named the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor in 1996. Other honors include the Grant Liddle Award for Excellence in Research, the John L. Shapiro Chair in Pathology, the Distinguished Pathologist Award for Career Achievement from the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, in 2006 the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association for his contributions to teaching and research, and this School of Medicine Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching established in his name.

In 1999, Dr. Collins began a second career with the tripartite goals of writing, basic research, and the organization of a universal scholarship program for Vanderbilt medical students. His books include Ernest William Goodpasture: Scientist, Scholar, Gentleman, published in 2002, and Ahmic Lake Connections: The Founding Leadership of Vanderbilt University, published in 2004.

The Robert D. Collins Award recognizes Dr. Collins’ tireless passion for medical education, teaching and mentoring countless students. He transformed the lecture format, and challenged and stimulated the next generation of great physicians.

Recipient of the ROBERT D. COLLINS AWARD

For Teaching Medical or Graduate Students or Practicing Physicians in the Lecture Setting

Meredith E. Pugh, M.D., M.S.C.I.

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Dr. Pugh received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 2000 from the University of Richmond and her M.D. in 2004 from Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as Chief Medical Resident in 2007. In 2008, she came to Vanderbilt as a postdoctoral fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, earning a Master of Science degree in Clinical Investigation (M.S.C.I.) in 2012.

Dr. Pugh is an extremely gifted and effective teacher who consistently receives accolades from her students, fellows, and colleagues alike. She was co-director of the Function component of the Structure, Function and Development course for first-year students from 2011 to 2013. The Pulmonary Unit of the Homeostasis Course, which she developed for Curriculum 2.0 and continues to direct, receives consistently high rankings. She is a small group facilitator for the Foundations of Medical Knowledge curriculum for first-year medical students, leading case-based learning for the Homeostasis, EDR and Brain Behavior & Movement courses. Dr. Pugh is co-director of the Critical Illness Integrated Science Course for third- and fourth-year medical students in the Immersion Phase, and is actively engaged in facilitating case-based learning and lecture teaching in this course. She directs the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) Simulation Program, and the Intern Code Training Simulation Course for Internal Medicine residents.

Dr. Pugh has a knack for adjusting her teaching style to “fit” first-year medical students, providing appropriate explanations for those who struggle while offering more challenging questions and concepts to others who are highly knowledgeable. Inspiring her students to want to learn from and emulate her, her interactive lectures are always well attended; students draw confidence from her, and feel they are better prepared to care for patients with pulmonary conditions. She has a reputation as an outstanding clinical teacher as well. She has received the Hugh Jackson Morgan Teaching Award in the Department of Medicine twice, in 2009 as a Fellow recipient and in 2013 as a Faculty recipient, and the Roger Des Prez Award for Best Fellow Teacher in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care, in 2010.

Dr. Pugh attends in the Medical Intensive Care Unit, the pulmonary consult service, and the outpatient pulmonary clinic. Her clinical and research focus is in pulmonary hypertension. She is the Associate Program Director for the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship Program. At the national level, she is a member of the American College of Chest Physicians, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.




Dr. Sanders-Bush arrived at Vanderbilt University as a graduate student in Pharmacology in 1962. Other than breaks for sabbatical research at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and at Stanford University, she has spent her entire career at Vanderbilt. While doing postdoctoral work at the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute, she received her first faculty appointment as Instructor in Pharmacology in 1968. She was promoted to the rank of Professor of Pharmacology in 1980.

Dr. Sanders-Bush’s research has made major contributions to the understanding of serotonin receptors, from pharmacology and signal transduction to in vivo brain function. Her work has brought her broad recognition both nationally and internationally. She has made these contributions over a period of tremendous change in her field and, yet, she has kept her work at the cutting edge. She has served on a broad range of committees for the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Society of Neuroscience, and the National Institute of Mental Health. She has served on the editorial boards of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Pharmacology in addition to the boards of other important journals in her field. Among her research awards is a Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Neuroscience Research and a MERIT Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Sanders-Bush directed the Neurobiology Training Program from 1980 to 1985 and the Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience Training Grant from 1991 to 2000. She directed the institution-wide Graduate Program in Neuroscience on its inception in 1997 and in 2002 was appointed the first director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. She has had a deep personal commitment to enhancing opportunities for minority trainees and has worked to improve minority training programs at Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College, and Vanderbilt.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Sanders-Bush has mentored hundreds of graduate and medical students, as well as scores of postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. She is known for her tireless commitment to fostering excellence in her students. She has been recognized for being a nurturing mentor, while insisting that her students function at their highest level. She has a strong track record of training students to think both creatively and critically. Her former trainees hold prominent positions at major U.S. academic centers and in the pharmaceutical industry. For her tireless devotion to mentoring students, this award was named in Dr. Sanders-Bush’s honor.


For Mentoring Graduate and/or Medical Students in the Research Setting

Alvin C. Powers, M.D.

Joe C. Davis Chair in Biomedical Science

Professor, Departments of Medicine and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Dr. Powers earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976 from the University of Virginia and his medical degree in 1979 from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in 1982, he went to Boston for clinical and research fellowships in endocrinology, at the Joslin Diabetes Center, the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988 as assistant professor of Medicine.

Dr. Powers directs the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center and is chief of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine. Known internationally for his research and leadership contributions to understanding and advancing the treatment and prevention of diabetes, and is principal investigator of grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Veterans Administration. He currently serves on the board of directors of the American Diabetes Association, the nation’s largest health association focused on preventing and curing diabetes, and will serve as the association’s President in 2017.

Described by his colleagues as an energetic, creative teacher, Dr. Powers has directed the Vanderbilt Student Research Training Program (SRTP) for the past 20 years. The program, established in 1975 by Drs. Oscar Crofford and Phil Felts, was expanded under his leadership in 1996. Since then, more than 500 medical students from more than 90 U.S. medical schools have conducted intensive, mentored research at Vanderbilt, usually in the summer between their first and second years of medical school where they learn how to develop a hypothesis and how to design and interpret experiments as they hone their presentation and critical thinking skills. Students also participate in a curriculum and small group sessions led by Dr. Powers emphasizing the connections between research and improved patient care and the importance of physicians being involved in research. Numerous alumni of this program have gone onto positions in academic medicine. Dr. Powers serves as the principal investigator of the NIH T35 training grant supporting this program.

Dr. Powers also developed and now directs a national medical student research program sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health. Since its founding in 2009, more than 550 students from more than 100 U.S. medical schools have conducted research at NIDDK-supported Diabetes Research Centers in this program. At the end of their summer research experience, students in the Vanderbilt SRTP and the NIDDK-sponsored program attend a research symposium at Vanderbilt organized by Dr. Powers and his colleagues to present their research and discuss career pathways.

Because of his outstanding contributions to the education of hundreds of medical students, at both the local and national level, Dr. Powers has been selected to receive the 2016 Elaine Sanders-Bush Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Research Setting.



Dr. Hawiger received his medical degree from the Copernicus School of Medicine in Cracow, Poland, and his Ph.D. from the National Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw, Poland. Coming to Vanderbilt’s Department of Medicine in 1967 as a postdoctoral fellow in Infectious Diseases, in1969 he was appointed assistant professor, promoted to associate professor in 1974, and professor in 1978. He became director of the Division of Experimental Medicine at New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston in 1983 and Professor of Medicine at Harvard University, which awarded him an honorary Master of Arts degree. In 1990, he returned to Vanderbilt as the Oswald T. Avery Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Under his leadership, the department was rebuilt and expanded. He mentored many junior faculty members in research fronts newly established at Vanderbilt, including molecular immunology, retrovirology, bacterial pathogenesis, and proteomics, and in 2011, rejoined the Department of Medicine as Distinguished Professor and McGavock Chair in Medicine to devote his efforts to his research program in immunotherapy.

His lab discovered important mechanisms of blood clotting and inflammation, unraveling the molecular basis of fibrinogen binding to blood platelets, the fundamental process of blood clot formation underlying heart attacks and strokes. Subsequently, Dr. Hawiger developed a transcriptional paradigm of inflammation, the main mechanism of diseases caused by microbial, autoimmune, metabolic, and physical insults. His team developed cell-penetrating peptides that calmed the “genetic storm” which underlies systemic microbial inflammation. They also reduced atherosclerosis and fatty liver in the experimental model of the metabolic syndrome. These studies led to 14 patents owned by Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Hawiger is an educational innovator who devoted considerable effort to new curricula and training programs. A strong supporter of commitment to excellence in teaching, he has set a high standard for his faculty. He restructured the courses in Microbiology and Immunology into a single course with new teaching platforms, including “Microbial Topics,” “Problem of the Week,” and “Global Perspectives.” His innovative design of the course curriculum is widely recognized and acclaimed by the students as one of the most highly rated of the preclinical courses in the Vanderbilt medical curriculum. He established the Microbes and Defense Society to recognize student scholarship and provide an informal, social setting for collegial interactions between medical and graduate students and faculty. In 2002, Dr. Hawiger became a founding director of the Immunobiology Training Program, now in its 14th year of continuing support from NHLBI totaling $7.5 million to maintain an outstanding training platform for predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees in eight participating departments.

A recipient of the Edward Kowalski Award for Outstanding Achievements in Thrombosis and Hemostasis, Dr. Hawiger has also received the Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation Award, the Special Recognition Award of the American Heart Association, and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. At Vanderbilt, he has received the Ernest W. Goodpasture Award (2005) and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching (2002). For his love for teaching, his integrity and his loyalty, this award is named in his honor.

Recipients of the JACEK HAWIGER AWARD

For Teaching Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows in the Classroom, Lecture or Small Group Setting

Douglas C. Heimburger, M.D., M.S.

Professor, Department of Medicine

D. Troy Moon, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Heimburger earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1973 from Harding College and his M.D. in 1978 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. After finishing his residency in Medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1981, he completed a one-year fellowship in the NIH Clinical Nutrition Research Unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He earned a master’s degree in Nutrition Sciences from UAB in 1987. Beginning as an instructor in the Division of Clinical Nutrition at UAB, he became a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Nutrition Sciences and associate director of the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health, before joining Vanderbilt in 2009 as professor in the Department of Medicine and associate director for Education and Training at the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health (VIGH). He is currently the principal or co-principal investigator of several NIH-funded grants including the UNZA-Vanderbilt Partnership for HIV-Nutrition Research Training, the Vanderbilt-Emory-Cornell- Duke Consortium for Global Health Fellows, and the Vanderbilt-Zambia Network for Innovation in Global Health Technologies.

Dr. Moon earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1992 from Florida State University, his Master’s degree in Public Health in 1996 from UAB, and his M.D. in 2001 from the University of Florida. After completing his residency in Pediatrics at Tulane University/Ochsner Clinic Foundation, he took further training as a fellow in Pediatric Infectious Diseases in a joint program operated by Louisiana State University and Tulane University. Working first as an HIV/AIDS case manager in Tallahassee and a research assistant at the UAB School of Public Health, he joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in 2007. From 2007 to 2012, he was clinical director of Friends in Global Health, a VIGH subsidiary working with local health authorities to extend HIV/AIDS treatment and services in Mozambique.

Dr. Heimburger is the founding director of the Global Health Track in the Vanderbilt MPH program, which enrolled its first class in the fall of 2012. For the past four years, he and Dr. Moon have co-directed the Foundations in Global Health course, a requirement for all global health track students. They have consistently received high marks from students for the effectiveness of course direction, classroom teaching and individual advising.

In recognition of their commitment to the next generation of global health clinicians and investigators as outstanding teachers, mentors and role models, Drs. Heimburger and Moon are the recipients of the 2016 Jacek Hawiger Award for Excellence in Teaching.



Dr. Rodriguez was born in Kingsville, Texas, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston in 1980 and came to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as an intern in the Department of Medicine. After a residency and postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt, he entered into private practice in pulmonary medicine with the Saint Thomas Medical Group in 1985. He served as Medical Director of Respiratory Care and Director of Medical Education in the Intensive Care Unit at Saint Thomas Hospital and was a regular collaborator on a variety of pulmonary-related research projects. He was appointed to the volunteer faculty in 1989 as Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, was promoted to Associate Clinical Professor in 1997, and joined the full-time faculty as an Associate Professor of Medicine in 2001.

Dr. Rodriguez served as Director of Minority Affairs from 1998 until 2002. From 2000 until his death in 2006, he served as Course Director of the second-year student Physical Diagnosis Course and was a member of the Admissions Committee and the Academic Programs Committee.

Dr. Rodriguez turned his focus to teaching medical students in 1997, while he served on the volunteer faculty. Within a few years, he became one of Vanderbilt’s most beloved clinical faculty members. He had a special combination of enthusiasm, knowledge, patience, and sensitivity that made him a role model for all, as well as one of the school’s most admired educators. A student likened him to “a stern father who took great pride in his children, helping them to grow by expecting the best from them.” He was among the first cohort of clinical faculty members to be named Master Clinical Teachers.

Dr. Rodriguez was the recipient of various teaching awards, including the Hugh Jackson Morgan Award for Inpatient Teaching, the Thomas Brittingham Teaching Award, the Shovel Award, the House Staff Teaching Award, and the House Staff Distinguished Teacher Award. He was also honored by the University with the Affirmative Action Award, by the House Staff with the Grant W. Liddle Award for Exemplary Leadership in the Promotion of Scientific Research, and by the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey with its Humanism Award.

The R. Michael Rodriguez Award is established in remembrance of Dr. Rodriguez, an extraordinary clinical educator and beloved mentor of countless medical students.


For Teaching Medical Students, Residents and/or Fellows in the Clinical Setting

Arna Banerjee, M.B.B.S.

Associate Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Medical Education

Director, Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA)

Assistant Dean for Simulation in Medical Education

Dr. Banerjee earned her medical degree in 1994 from the University of Calcutta in India. After completing a residency in Anesthesiology and a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, she joined the faculty at Vanderbilt as an assistant professor of Anesthesiology in 2003.

A leader in the use of simulation in medical education, Dr. Banerjee is director of the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) and Assistant Dean for Simulation in Medical Education in the School of Medicine. Along with Kyla Terhune, M.D., she launched the Intern Boot Camp in 2008, an orientation simulation experience to prepare incoming Vanderbilt interns. She served as course director from 2006-2011 for the Critical Care Skills Week, five days of simulation-oriented clinical experiences to introduce third-year students in their Surgery Core Clerkship to the fundamentals of clinical care medicine and anesthesiology. Since 2011, Dr. Banerjee has served as co-director of the Critical Care Medicine Immersion Course.

Dr. Banerjee provides perioperative care of critical care and high-risk adult patients in the Vanderbilt operating rooms and intensive care units. She directs the American Society of Anesthesiology MOCA (Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology) course for the Department of Anesthesiology, and at the national level, she is chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Medical Education, Society of Critical Care Medicine.

She is perhaps best known at Vanderbilt as a dedicated, effective and enthusiastic clinician whose innovative curricula and whose talent for educational innovation has earned her accolades from students and colleagues alike. Called a “master teacher and educator” by some, she has earned three Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching from Anesthesiology residents in 2006, 2007 and 2012, a highly unusual accomplishment.

It is for these reasons that Dr. Banerjee is being honored with the 2016 R. Michael Rodriguez Award for Excellence in Teaching.



Denis M. O’Day, M.D., was born in Melbourne, Australia . He received his medical degree from the University of Melbourne Medical School where, following a residency in Internal Medicine, he was elected to the Royal Australian College of Physicians. After completing his residency in Ophthalmology at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1970, Dr. O’Day served as Senior Registrar at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, and was the Wellcome Research Fellow in Corneal Disease at the Institute of Ophthalmology, also in London.

Dr. O’Day joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1972, rising to the rank of professor and serving as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences from 1992 to 2002 and was responsible for developing the Tennessee Lions Eye Center at Vanderbilt. Over the course of his career, Dr. O’Day developed a worldwide reputation as a researcher, corneal surgeon and expert at diagnosing difficult and unusual types of ocular infections and fungal disease, with over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters. After stepping down as chair, he remained active on the faculty until his death in 2012.

A consummate teacher and mentor, Dr. O’Day founded and directed the Emphasis Program of self-directed study at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, which gave medical students in their first two years the opportunity to acquire specialized knowledge and skills through a mentoring relationship with a faculty member in such areas as Biomedical Informatics, Ethics, or Global Health.

At the national level, he was a member of the executive committee of the American Board of Medical Specialties and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He served on the editorial boards of several journals, including Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Surgery Lasers and Imaging, and Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, and in 1987 he was elected Director of the American Board of Ophthalmology, becoming its Executive Director in 1996. At the American Academy of Ophthalmology, he served as chair of the OKAP (Ophthalmic Knowledge Assessment Program) Committee, as associate secretary for Education and as chair of the Quality of Care Committee. From 1990 to 1994, he chaired a committee of health care providers commissioned by the Agency for HealthCare Policy and Research to promulgate rules of care for cataract surgeons.

Dr. O’Day received numerous honors for outstanding achievement from major professional and academic institutions, including the Physicians Recognition Award in Continuing Education (1981); Alcon Research Institute Recognition Award for outstanding contributions in the field of vision research (1983); Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator Award (1987); Health Care Professional of the Year – Tennessee Chapter, Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (1990) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology Special Recognition Award (1997).

In 2009, he was awarded the prestigious Howe Medal for contributions to ophthalmology by the American Ophthalmological Society. The following year, Vanderbilt University named an endowed chair in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in his honor.


Recipient of the DENIS M. O’DAY AWARD for team-implemented curricular reform

The Foundations of Medical Knowledge Leadership Team:

James B. Atkinson III, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Neil Osheroff, Ph.D., John Coniglio Chair in Biochemistry, and Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine

Cathleen C. Pettepher, Ph.D., Professor, Departments of Cancer Biology and Medical Education and Administration, and Assistant Dean for Medical Student Affairs

Tyler E. Reimschisel, M.D., Assistant Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology

Dr. Atkinson earned his Ph.D. in Pathology and M.D. degree in 1981 from Vanderbilt University. After completing his residency training in Pathology at Vanderbilt, he joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1985. Dr. Atkinson currently is vice chair for Undergraduate Medical Education in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. He is a Master Science Teacher, a member of the Academy for Excellence in Teaching and has won numerous teaching awards including the 2012 Shovel Award, presented by the fourth-year medical school class.

Dr. Osheroff received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1979 from Northwestern University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in Biochemistry at Stanford University before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1983. An expert on enzymes that modulate the topological structure of DNA, he is also a Master Science Teacher and founding member of the medical school’s Academy for Excellence in Teaching, and has won several teaching awards.

Dr. Pettepher earned her Ph.D. in Structural and Cellular Biology in 1990 from the University of South Alabama. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1990, has directed the medical school’s Student Assistance Program since 2013, and was appointed Assistant Dean of Medical Student Assessment in 2014. She has directed or co-directed several medical school courses, is a Master Science Teacher, a member of the Academy for Excellence in Teaching and has won several teaching awards, including the 2016 Shovel Award, presented by the fourth-year medical school class.

Dr. Reimschisel earned his M.D. degree in 1997 from Rush Medical College in Chicago. He received postgraduate training at Johns Hopkins University, and was on the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine before coming to Vanderbilt in 2008. A member of the Academy for Excellence in Teaching, he is currently the director of the Division of Developmental Medicine, vice chair for Education, and associate director of the Pediatric Residency Program in the Department of Pediatrics. He serves as director of the Vanderbilt LEND Program.

Since 2010, Drs. Atkinson, Osheroff, Pettepher and Reimschisel have worked together in the design, planning, implementation and improvement of Foundations of Medical Knowledge, the year-long pre-clerkship phase of Curriculum 2.0. Their individual contributions and teamwork have achieved full integration of several interdisciplinary science blocks, led by a dedicated cohort of diverse faculty who serve as Block Directors and Small Group Facilitators. As a result, students are exploring foundational scientific concepts at a much deeper level than in the past, and have improved their scores on national performance markers as a result.

The Foundations of Medical Knowledge Leadership Team is therefore a fitting recipient for the inaugural Denis M. O’Day Award for Excellence in Team-implemented Curriculum Reform.






Dr. Spickard received both his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Vanderbilt, completing his M.D. in 1957. Following two years of residency at Vanderbilt and one at Johns Hopkins, he was appointed to the position of clinical associate at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes of Health, a position he held for two years. He then returned to Vanderbilt in 1962 as the first Hugh J. Morgan Chief Resident in Medicine.

Dr. Spickard joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1963 and the Internal Medicine practice in 1964. He left the practice in 1969 to help establish and direct the Vanderbilt Clinic and Vanderbilt Professional Practice Plan, which became the foundation of Ambulatory Services. In the ensuing years, he served as founding director for the Moore County Primary Care Center in Lynchburg, the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Service from 1975 to 1989; the Vanderbilt Division of General Internal Medicine from 1976 to 1993, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction (VITA). He also served as co-director of Vanderbilt Primary Care.

Deeply committed to the mental and physical health of his colleagues, Dr. Spickard founded the Center for Professional Health at Vanderbilt in 1999. He served as the Chairman of the Vanderbilt Physician Wellness Committee, a committee organized to address the issues of physician/faculty well-being, and as an emeritus professor he remains a member of this committee.

Dr. Spickard is a national and international leader in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and education. He was the national program director of the Robert Wood Johnson “Fighting Back: Community Initiatives to Reduce Demand for Illegal Drugs and Alcohol” and served in leadership roles for the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. He has authored multiple books on addiction and its treatment, including Dying for a Drink: What You and Your Family Should Know about Alcoholism and The Craving Brain: Science, Spirituality and the Road to Recovery.

Recognized by his colleagues for his many contributions to the field of substance abuse, Dr. Spickard has received the Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contributions from the Mid-Cumberland Council on Alcohol and Drugs (1989), the AMERSA John P. McGovern Award for Excellence in Research and Medical Education in Substance Abuse (1996), and Vanderbilt’s Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award (1989). In 2003, Dr. Spickard was awarded the Chancellor’s Chair in medicine for his contributions to research and addiction related to physician wellness. He was promoted to the rank of Professor of Medicine Emeritus in 2008 after 45 years of service to Vanderbilt.


For Clinical Excellence in a Cognitive Discipline

J. Stephen Dummer, M.D.

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Dummer earned his medical degree in 1977 from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed residency training in internal medicine at Stanford University, and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh. After six years as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, he joined the Vanderbilt Faculty as Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery in 1990, and was promoted to Professor of Medicine in 1997. Just recently, he was recommended for promotion to Emeritus Professor in the Department of Medicine after 25 years of service to Vanderbilt.

A nationally recognized expert in the care of patients with infectious diseases associated with transplantation, Dr. Dummer was recruited to Vanderbilt to start the transplant infectious disease program, and he served as its Director for 25 years. With more than 200 published papers, chapters, and abstracts, and numerous presentations at national meetings, Dr. Dummer is noted for his important contributions that helped shape the field of transplantation infectious diseases from its infancy. He was among the first to address the treatment of “classical” transplantation-related pathogens and the challenging infections encountered in lung transplant recipients.

Known for his diagnostic brilliance, charismatic leadership, and dedication to his often complex and critically ill patients, Dr. Dummer was often sought out by his colleagues for help with a challenging dilemma. Particularly prized by his students as a consummate clinician-educator, Dr. Dummer received the Infectious Disease Fellows teaching award in 1998, 2000, and 2002. Fellows particularly valued his animated and often entertaining discussions, leading them to coin the term “Dummerism” to describe his unique and humorous way of delivering his bits of insight and advice.

Dr. Dummer is recognized by his colleagues as a dedicated archetype of the clinician-educator, excelling in all facets of Vanderbilt’s tripartite mission of delivering outstanding care, advancing new knowledge, and educating the next generation of providers.

It is for these reasons that Dr. Dummer is being honored with the 2016 W. Anderson Spickard, Jr. Award for Clinical Excellence in a Cognitive Discipline.



A native of Nashville, Mildred T. Stahlman earned her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1943 and her medical degree from Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine in 1946. After obtaining addition­al training at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland, Children’s Hospital in Boston, Vanderbilt Hospital, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and La Rabida Sanitarium in Chicago, she returned to Vanderbilt, joining the faculty as an instructor of pediatrics in 1951. She rose to the rank of full professor by 1970 and currently holds the titles of Pro­fessor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology.

In the early 1960’s, Dr. Stahlman was the lead researcher on a National Institutes of Health-funded project to explore the physiological changes that occur as a baby transitions from intrauterine life to the world outside the womb. When she was confronted with a baby suffering from severe hyaline membrane disease, Dr. Stahlman took a bold approach – she used a respirator scaled to size for a premature infant.

The ability to monitor the respirator’s effect on blood oxygen with umbilical catheters made respirator therapy possible. This successful strategy led Dr. Stahlman to found the first modern neonatal intensive care unit, where she pioneered the use of respirator therapy to help infants with damaged lungs, and as a result, high-risk infants around the world have benefited greatly from her research.

Dr. Stahlman also played an important role in expanding care for high-risk infants throughout the region. Her contributions helped bring to fruition the newborn ambulance service known throughout middle Tennessee as Angel Transport. She initiated and participates in Vanderbilt’s Neonatology Fellowship Training Program, which has trained more than 80 postdoctoral fellows from 20 countries in high-risk infant care.

A generous supporter of education in her home state, Dr. Stahlman established the Mildred T. Stahlman Edu­cation Foundation, which awards partial four-year college scholarships to high school students from Humphreys County, the location of her 700-acre farm. Based on academics as well as need, the scholarships have been awarded to two students per year since 1989.

Dr. Stahlman is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Pediatric Society, and the Southern Society for Pediatric Research. She was elected President of the American Pediatric Society in 1984. In addition to her teaching and caring for patients, she has contributed to more than 100 research publications.

Dr. Stahlman’s peers have honored her with the Virginia Apgar Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics (1987) and the John Howland Medal, the highest award of the American Pediatric Society (1996). She received Vanderbilt’s Thomas Jefferson Award in 1980 “for distinguished service to Vanderbilt through extraordinary contri­butions as a member of the faculty in the councils and government of the university,” and was the seventh recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award (2004), which recognizes alumnae who have furthered Vanderbilt’s mission globally through outstanding achievement and service.


For Innovation in Clinical Care

Peter H. Grubb, M.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Medical Director, Stahlman Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Dr. Grubb earned his medical degree in 1992 from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, and completed residency training in Pediatrics at Keesler USAF Medical Center, Biloxi, Mississippi, and a fellowship in neonatology at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas. He joined the Vanderbilt Faculty as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in 2005, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011.

Passionate about optimizing systems of care for preterm and high-risk neonates, Dr. Grubb joins a long history of improving neonatal-perinatal care at Vanderbilt’s neonatal intensive care units. While serving as the Medical Director of the Mildred Stahlman NICU in Vanderbilt University Hospital, he facilitated the work of multi-disciplinary teams to standardize the management of congenital diaphragmatic hernias, improve the resuscitation and stabilization of critically ill neonates, reduce hospital-acquired infections, and optimize early computerized order entry and electronic medical records applications. These efforts, which markedly improved outcomes at Vanderbilt’s NICU, led to his accepting the role of Director of Quality Improvement of the Mildred Stahlman Division of Neonatology in October of 2015.

Not satisfied to limit his efforts to Vanderbilt, Dr. Grubb worked with perinatal thought leaders at Vanderbilt and throughout Tennessee to establish the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) where he currently serves as Primary Investigator, Medical Director, and Chair of the Oversight Committee. TIPQC is Tennessee’s Statewide Perinatal Quality Collaborative where over 1500 individual providers at 70 medical facilities have joined together in a grass-roots effort to improve perinatal outcomes using large-scale quality improvement approaches. Since 2009, TIPQC has successfully completed statewide initiatives to reduce hypothermia and improve neonatal resuscitation, reduce central line associated infections, reduce early elective deliveries before term gestation, improve the management of neonatal abstinence syndrome, and reduce barriers to successful initiation of breastfeeding in Tennessee hospitals, and has thereby contributed to the reduction of neonatal morbidity and mortality in Tennessee.

TIPQC’s success has led to its national recognition and participation in the Vermont-Oxford Network’s International NICU Antibiotic Stewardship Initiative, the American Hospital Associations multi-state NCABSI project, and in a multi-state Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome management initiative that unites State Perinatal Collaboratives in Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Dr. Grubb has become a highly valued speaker at national forums on health care quality improvement, and he has assisted the initiation of State Perinatal Quality Collaboratives in Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, Kansas and Nebraska. In 2012, he received the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner’s Health Leadership Award, and in 2014, he received the Tennessee Hospital Association’s Meritorious Service Award for his work with TIPQC.

It is for these reasons that Dr. Grubb is being honored with the 2016 Mildred T. Stahlman Award for Innovation in Clinical Care.






Dr. Cohen was educated in the public school system in New York City before attending Brooklyn College, where he majored in biology and chemistry in 1943. At the earliest stages of his career, his scientific interest was directed especially toward the mysteries of embryonic development. He obtained a master’s degree in Zoology in 1945 at Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1948 from the University of Michigan. Dr. Cohen’s first position was in the Department of Pediatrics and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, where he involved himself in metabolic studies of premature infants. In 1953, he joined the Department of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis.

It was at this time that he became associated with the Department of Zoology and began collaborations with Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini. This led to the isolation of a nerve growth factor that Dr. Levi-Montalcini had discovered to be present in certain mouse tumors. These studies marked the beginning of a pioneering effort by Drs. Cohen and Levi-Montalcini that ultimately led to their shared receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1986.

In 1959, Dr. Cohen came to Vanderbilt University as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, where he began exploring the chemistry and biology of another growth factor, namely epidermal growth factor (EGF), which first revealed itself as an agent that led to the premature opening of mouse eyes. In 1977, Dr. Cohen received the Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research. In 1980, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

For his continuing work on epidermal growth factor and his pioneering studies demonstrating the signal transduction mechanism of the epidermal growth factor receptor, Dr. Cohen was awarded the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award in 1986, the same year he shared the Nobel Prize with Dr. Levi-Montalcini. He received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the University of Chicago, City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and Oberlin College.

Throughout his career, Dr. Cohen strived to elucidate the biological significance of the presence of the hormone-like polypeptide, epidermal growth factor, and receptors for this peptide in higher organisms. Dr. Cohen’s experimental strategies were characterized by the interplay of various scientific disciplines, particularly the complementarity of chemical and biological strategies. It is for this reason that Vanderbilt University Medical Center instituted the Stanley Cohen Award for research bridging diverse disciplines, such as chemistry or physics, to solve biology’s most important fundamental questions.


Recipient of the STANLEY COHEN AWARD

For Research Bridging Diverse Disciplines, such as Chemistry or Physics, to Solve Biology’s Most Important Fundamental Questions

Charles R. Sanders II, Ph.D.

Aileen M. Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Chair in Cardiovascular Research

Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Medicine

Dr. Sanders earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 from Milligan College in East Tennessee. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Ohio State University in 1988 under the direction of Ming-Daw Tsai, Ph.D., and completed postdoctoral research with James Prestegard, Ph.D., at Yale University. He was on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine for 11 years before coming to Vanderbilt in 2002.

A world-renowned leader in the area of membrane protein structural biology, Dr. Sanders pioneered the application of biophysical methods, most notably nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), to the study of integral membrane proteins. He played a central role in the development of bicelles, nanostructures that stabilize integral membrane proteins in solution, now widely used in both NMR and crystallographic studies. He has used diverse disciplines spanning chemistry, physics and computational approaches to illuminate the shape and function of membrane proteins.

Recent hallmark achievements include determination of the first reported structure of the major signaling enzyme diacylglycerol kinase, which has nine transmembrane helices. In 2012, Dr. Sanders and his colleagues reported in Science the amyloid precursor protein (APP) binds cholesterol in a way that may help control production of the amyloid-beta polypeptide, which is closely associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery has implications for designing potential therapies.

Other projects include the study of how mutations alter the structure and function of an ion channel protein associated with long QT syndrome, a potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmia, and how the mutation-prompted misfolding of peripheral, myelin protein 22 results in the neuromuscular disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. Collaborating with Dr. Roy Zent, the Sanders group also studies the integrin family of receptors linking the cell to the extracellular matrix, with particular interest in integrins associated with the development of kidney fibrosis in diseases such as type II diabetes.

Dr. Sanders is director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Biochemistry, and was recently named interim editor of Biochemistry. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009, won the Anatrace Membrane Protein Award from the Biophysical Society in 2012, and in 2013 shared the Protein Society’s Hans Neurath Award with Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley. Other honors from Vanderbilt include the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Research, and the 2011 Sidney P. Colowick Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research.

For his pioneering applications of diverse and innovative methods to address fundamental questions in biology and human disease, Dr. Sanders has been selected to receive the 2016 Stanley Cohen Award.



 JOHN H. EXTON, M.B.Ch.B., M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Exton earned an M.B.Ch.B. degree from the University of New Zealand and Ph.D. and medical degrees from the University of Otago. A native of New Zealand, he took a year off from his medical studies to conduct research on pyrimidine catabolism. This early exposure to research inspired Dr. Exton’s pursuit of a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, during which he studied lipid metabolism in isolated liver cells under Norman Edson, a student of Hans Krebs. In 1963, he joined Dr. Charles R. Park and Dr. Earl Sutherland for postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt University, initiating classic studies on the regulation of gluconeogenesis and glycogen metabolism in the isolated perfused rat liver and its regulation by insulin and cyclic AMP.

In his own laboratory, Dr. Exton later focused on the effects of epinephrine on carbohydrate metabolism in rat livers and made the surprising observation that epinephrine’s effect in livers of this species could not be explained by an increase in cyclic AMP, but instead involved an increase in cytosolic Ca2+ mediated via alpha- rather than betaadrenergic receptors. Another surprise was the finding that the initial rise in Ca2+ was due to the mobilization of Ca2+ from internal stores and not from Ca2+ influx. For this work on hormone action and mechanisms, Dr. Exton was awarded an Investigatorship of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1976.

Dr. Exton’s laboratory identified Gq as the heterotrimeric G protein linking alpha-adrenergic receptor activation to Ca2+ release via activation of phospholipase C (PLC). His quantitation of precursor-product relationships revealed that PIP2 breakdown by PLC could not explain the increase in diacylgycerol seen in stimulated cells, leading to the discovery that agonists cause the breakdown of phosphatidylcholine via phospholipase D, an enzyme previously thought not to be expressed in mammalian cells. The work of Dr. Exton’s lab also involved the elucidation of the structure and catalytic mechanism of a phospholipase D isozyme and molecular bases for its regulation by the small GTP-binding proteins, Rho and ARF.

Because of his pervasive influence in his field, Dr. Exton has received many awards, including the Lilly Award of the American Diabetes Association and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1994, Dr. Exton was awarded the Earl Sutherland Prize for Achievement in Research. In 2001, he was elected to the membership of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is for his dogma-breaking insights into the role of lipid signaling in signal transduction, as well as in vesicular trafficking and cell motility, that Vanderbilt University Medical Center instituted the John H. Exton Award for research leading to innovative biological concepts.


Recipient of the JOHN H. EXTON AWARD

For Research Leading to Innovative Biological Concepts

James E. Crowe, Jr., M.D.

Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Center

Ann Scott Carell Chair

Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Crowe received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 from Davidson College, and his M.D. in 1987 from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. After completing a residency in Pediatrics at UNC, he spent five years in the Respiratory Viruses Section of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a medical staff fellow and senior research investigator, before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1995. He completed infectious disease fellowship training at Vanderbilt in 1996.

Dr. Crowe is one of the world’s leading experts on the molecular basis for human immune responses to virus infections and vaccines. In the past several years, he has focused on the underlying mechanisms of immunity to emerging infections and has studied antibody-mediated immunity to the chikungunya virus, dengue viruses, filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg), influenza, HIV, RSV, metapneumovirus, Rift Valley fever virus, and the Zika virus, among others.

In the past two years, his lab has developed hundreds of human monoclonal antibodies against filoviruses, many with potent antiviral activity. His studies have led to the development of novel therapeutic antibodies as biological drugs with the potential to treat or prevent Ebola and Marburg infections, for example, in health care workers exposed to the viruses.

A central theme of his work has been the finding that neutralizing antibodies usually recognize very complex and sometimes dynamic quaternary structures on the surface of viral particles that are challenging to recreate in a vaccine. He has fostered new areas of vaccine research and development, including the genetic basis for adverse events or variation in immunogenicity, new directions in structure-based vaccine design, and the emerging impact of nanotechnology.

Dr. Crowe directs the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and he is scientific director of the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting and Immunology Care Laboratories.

He has published 180 scientific papers. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. His awards include the Judson Infectious Daland Prize from the American Philosophical Society, the Oswald Avery Award from the Infectious Disease Society of America, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Pediatrics, the 2007 Outstanding Investigator Award of the American Federation for Medical Research, and the 2010 Norman J. Siegel Award of the American Pediatric Society.

In recognition of his innovative methodological advances, and his extraordinarily prolific and impactful body of research that in a short span of time has opened new areas of vaccine and biological drug development, Dr. Crowe has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the John H. Exton Award.




A native of American Folk, Utah, Dr. Liddle graduated first in his class from the University of Utah in 1943. After obtaining a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1948, he served as a postdoctoral fellow at the newly formed Metabolic Research Unit for the study of arthritis and related diseases at the National Institutes of Health, where he continued his work in the field of pituitary adrenal physiology and pharmacology. In 1953, he moved to NIH’s newly opened Clinical Center in the section of clinical endocrinology. In 1956, Dr. Liddle was recruited by Dr. Hugh J. Morgan to become director of Endocrinology at Vanderbilt University. He was named chairman of the Department of Medicine in 1968, a position he held until 1983.

Dr. Liddle’s accomplishments include defining the roles of pituitary glands in Cushing’s disease; developing the dexamethasone suppression test and metyrapone test for assessing pituitary adrenal gland function; defining the ectopic ACTH syndrome; describing a new, curable form of hypertension, pseudohyper-aldosteronism, appropriately called Liddle’s Syndrome; elucidating normal or abnormal regulation of ACTH and MSH secretion in human beings; developing spironolactones as clinically useful aldosterone antagonists; and systematically developing improved methods for treating Cushing’s disease.

Dr. Liddle served as President of the Endocrinological Society, the International Society of Endocrinology, and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. In 1979, Dr. Liddle was awarded the Earl Sutherland Prize for achievement in research and was named the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor for distinguished accomplishments in furthering the aims of Vanderbilt University. In 1982, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the Royal College of Physicians of England.

Focusing logical, rational, and rigorous analysis on important clinical questions, Dr. Liddle strived to create a local, national, and international climate conducive to increasing knowledge about human health and disease. In recognition of his career long contributions, Vanderbilt University Medical Center instituted the Grant W. Liddle Award for outstanding contributions in clinical research.


Recipient of the GRANT W. LIDDLE AWARD

For Outstanding Contributions in Clinical Research

Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D.

Orrin H. Ingram II Chair in Cancer Research

Professor, Departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacology

Dr. Fesik received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in Medicine Chemistry from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy. After completing postdoctoral work at Yale University, he was hired by Abbot Laboratories, where he spent the next 26 years of his career, rising from NMR spectroscopist to Divisional Vice President of Cancer Research, before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2009.

Dr. Fesik is internationally known for the “fragment-based” drug design approach he pioneered in the mid-1990s. Using a method called “SAR by NMR” (structure-activity relationships by nuclear magnetic resonance), Fesik and his colleagues screen libraries of small chemical fragments for their ability to bind to “pockets” on the protein surface. They then use NMR or X-ray crystallography to determine how the binding occurs. Using structural information to guide the process, they then “stitch” together fragments that, when oriented properly, can form incredibly specific and potent compounds capable of altering the function of target proteins in cells, including oncogenic proteins that previously were considered to be “undruggable.”

An example of the effectiveness of this approach and how it is literally changing the practice of medicine is his discovery of inhibitors against the anti-apoptotic Bc1-2 family of therapies. Using the SAR by NMR approach, Fesik discovered a compound that in a preclinical mouse model caused tumor regression and produced cures. Based on the success of phase I clinical trials, the compound, now known as Navitoclax, is in phase II trials for small cell lung cancer as a single agent and other cancers in combination with chemotherapy.

Currently, he is pursuing the discovery of potential drugs against K-Ras, a protein that is mutated in 30 percent of all cancers, and Myc, a family of transcription factors that is overexpressed in the majority of malignancies and contributes to an estimated 100,000 cancer-related deaths each year. In the latter case, the target is a transcriptional co-activator of Myc called WDR5.

The author of more than 260 scientific papers and the holder of more than 10 patents, Dr. Fesik is the first Vanderbilt faculty member to receive a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, in 2010. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science the same year and in 2012 received the American Association for Cancer Research Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry and Cancer Research.

In recognition of his creativity and innovation, his intellectual rigor, experimental prowess and willingness to tackle difficult problems of fundamental importance to human health, Dr. Fesik is the 2016 recipient of the Grant W. Liddle Award.



 Dr. Park has a broad background of training in clinical medicine at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University, Biochemistry at Washington University, and Physiology at Vanderbilt University.

His research, in association with students and other collaborators, focused on aspects of metabolic regulation, particularly the effects and mechanism of the action of insulin, glucagon, glucocorticoids, and cyclic AMP. He studied glucose uptake in muscle and was the first to show stimulation of glucose transport by insulin and inhibition of transport by growth hormone and glucocorticoids. He characterized the kinetics of glucose transport in muscle and made the first demonstration of counter transport, which was important in showing carrier mobility. Dr. Park made the first characterization of the stimulatory effect of glucagon on hepatic gluconeogenesis and showed that it was mediated by cyclic AMP. He also showed the inhibitory effect of insulin on and was the first to demonstrate that insulin lowered cyclic AMP in liver and adipose tissue. He explained the minute-to-minute regulation of glucose output by the balance between glucagon and insulin effects on hepatic cyclic AMP levels. In experimental diabetes, he showed that the level of cyclic AMP remained abnormally high. Dr. Park was also the first to describe the glucose alanine cycle. In the above studies, he developed widely used techniques for perfusion of isolated liver and heart preparations. Dr. Park’s subsequent studies have been in lipid metabolism, where he obtained the first unequivocal evidence that long chain fatty acids enter cells by a stereo-specific transport system.

During his 32 years as chair of the Department of Physiology at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Park developed a department widely known for research in metabolic regulation with particular emphasis on cyclic AMP, insulin, and glucagon actions. Among the scientists who joined his department, to date five have become members of the National Academy of Sciences, and one, Earl Sutherland, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

In 1968, Dr. Park was named the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professor for distinguished accomplishments furthering the aims of Vanderbilt University. In 1979, he received the Banting Medal for Research in Diabetes, the highest honor awarded by the American Diabetes Association. In 1980, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and, in 1984, was awarded the Earl Sutherland Prize for achievement in research.

In recognition of his career long discoveries and research contributions, the Charles R. Park Award for basic research revealing insights into physiology and pathophysiology was established by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


Recipient of the CHARLES R. PARK AWARD

For Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology or Pathophysiology

Jennifer A. Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President for Research, VUMC

Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology

Professor, Departments of Biochemistry, Cancer Biology and Otolaryngology

Director, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

Dr. Pietenpol received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology in 1986 from Carleton College, and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology in 1990 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. After completing a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, she accepted a faculty position at Vanderbilt in 1994. She was named director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) in 2008.

The focus of Dr. Pietenpol’s research is the dissection of biochemical pathways that control processes of tumor suppression, development, metabolism and aging. In particular, she has made significant contributions to understanding the role of the p53 tumor suppressor gene family in both physiology and pathophysiology. She was a pioneer in the analysis of p53-chromatin binding and identification of p53 target genes. Most recently, her lab discovered one of the family members, p73, is required for multiciliated cells differentiation, and directly regulates transcriptional modulators of multiciliogenesis. Loss of ciliary biogenesis provides a unifying mechanism for many phenotypes observed in p73-knockout mice including hydrocephalus, hippocampal dysgenesis, sterility and chronic inflammation/infection of the respiratory epithelium.

Dr. Pietenpol is widely regarded as a prominent investigator in the pathophysiology and molecular biology of breast cancer. She has published more than 120 scientific papers and one of her seminal papers, which described the use of genomic expression signatures to define different pathophysiological subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer, has been cited more than 1,000 times since 2011. This particular study not only added important insights to the molecular and pathophysiologic basis for this difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer, but also revealed novel targets for developing potential new treatments. These results now are being translated into clinical trials and alignment of patients to molecularly targeted therapy.

As VICC director, Dr. Pietenpol spearheaded the integration of cancer genetics into the VICC clinics. She has influenced cancer policy at the national level through her service on the Institute of Medicine National Cancer Policy Forum and in 2008, was appointed by President Bush to the National Cancer Advisory Board. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Cancer Research, and serves on numerous other cancer-related scientific advisory boards, including the Blue Ribbon Panel to advise the Vice President’s National Cancer Moonshot. In 2012, she was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has received numerous honors for her research, most recently the Medical Research Advancement Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation.

In recognition of her innovative use of molecular and genetic approaches to define the pathophysiological basis of difficult-to-treat cancers, and of her leadership, at both the local and national levels, to advance cancer treatment, Dr. Pietenpol is the 2016 recipient of the Charles R. Park Award.