May 9, 2016

Search launched for director of Vanderbilt Brain Institute; Emeson to serve as interim

A national search will be launched this fall for the Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente announced today. Current VBI Associate Director Ron Emeson will begin a term as interim director effective July 1.

A national search will be launched this fall for the Barlow Family Director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente announced today. A generous commitment made by David S. Barlow, a leader in the global pharmaceutical industry who serves on Vanderbilt’s Technology Transfer Advisory Committee, will establish the newly endowed position.

Provost Susan R. Wente (Vanderbilt University)

“We are deeply grateful for David Barlow’s investment in VBI, which will elevate and ensure the sustainability of our efforts to recruit and retain the top brain researchers and graduate students,” Wente said. “The success of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute has established Vanderbilt as the national model for interdisciplinary neuroscience research and teaching. It has had tremendous success facilitating exactly the sort of collaboration and discovery that lies at the very heart of our Academic Strategic Plan and has proven time and again the value of a trans-institutional approach.”

Wente has charged Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology, and  Danny Winder, director for the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics, professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program, with co-chairing the search committee, which is being convened now.

“I am grateful to Professor Blake and Professor Winder for leading this important search,” Wente said. “They both have extensive knowledge of the role of VBI and the needs of our brain research enterprise. I look forward to working with them and the committee that they assemble.”

Ron Emeson (Vanderbilt University)

Ronald B. Emeson, current associate director of VBI, will begin a term as interim director effective July 1. Emeson is Joel G. Hardman Professor of Pharmacology, professor of molecular physiology and biophysics and professor of psychiatry. He will oversee and manage current VBI operations, including research and graduate education activities, with the other associate directors.

“I am delighted that Ron has agreed to serve in this important role. He is a highly respected member of the neuroscience community and is deeply immersed in the affairs of the VBI, including responsibility for overseeing all VBI core facilities,” Lawrence J. Marnett, dean of basic sciences in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said. “As interim director, he will ensure both continuity and continued forward progress for the institute.”

“As the VBI’s trans-institutional footprint continues to grow, the investments of our donors and support from the chancellor and the deans of our schools and colleges is critical,” Wente said. “Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research, will be working closely with the search committee and the deans of the School of Medicine, the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering and Peabody College to support this recruitment.”

Emeson has served as chair of the Vanderbilt Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and as director of the Office of Animal Welfare Assurance. He also has been very active with the Faculty Senate, serving as vice chair, as well as on the Academic Programs and Services Committee, the Faculty Life Committee, the Interdisciplinary Task Force, the Faculty Advisory Council, the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Executive Committee and the Consultative Committee. In August 2015, he won the Thomas Jefferson Award for distinguished service to Vanderbilt through extraordinary contributions as a member of the faculty in the councils and governance of the university.

The Vanderbilt Brain Institute comprises nearly 500 faculty, students and staff representing five Vanderbilt colleges and schools, 22 departments, and 27 centers and institutes. One of the institute’s current responsibilities is administering the Neuroscience Graduate Program, one of the university’s largest Ph.D. programs and one of the nation’s leading programs in the graduate education of students interested in neuroscience. There are currently 81 graduate students and 64 training faculty in the program, which was named “Program of the Year” in 2012 by the Society for Neuroscience. The VBI director also oversees neuroscience research activities and community outreach and development activities.

Current VBI Director Mark Wallace was named dean of the Graduate School Jan. 7. He will continue to oversee VBI until Emeson assumes his role as interim director. Wallace has led VBI since 2008 and was instrumental in its success in building trans-institutional collaborations and its growth to national prominence for neuroscience graduate education.