May 4, 2017

Faculty meeting highlights VUMC’s achievements, goals

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is known for world-renowned research, national leadership in training health care professionals and for the most cutting-edge medical care for complex conditions.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., speaks during last week’s Spring Faculty Meeting in Light Hall. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is known for world-renowned research, national leadership in training health care professionals and for the most cutting-edge medical care for complex conditions.

It also must be the place people prefer for their routine health needs, said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, at last week’s Spring Faculty Meeting and Awards Program.

Toward that end, VUMC is engaged in a major effort to “design for patients and families” — one of the Medical Center’s four Strategic Directions “compass points.”

The goal is to design the health care system to be patient-friendly and accessible. Two approaches: grow the number of walk-in and after-hours clinics providing routine health care throughout the region and expand the highly successful Vanderbilt Health OnCall program.

In addition, when the EPIC Leap technology initiative launches in November, patients will be able to schedule their return appointments online as easily as they make a dinner reservation.

“We want everybody to feel that this is their health care system,” Balser said.

During his presentation Balser also emphasized some recent successes:

• VUMC is No. 2 in the country in heart transplants and No. 4 in liver transplants;

• The School of Medicine is No. 8 in the country in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in fiscal year 2016;

• The school is among the top 5 medical schools in the country when it comes to attracting the most highly qualified students, and placing approximately 70 percent of its graduates in the top 25 residency programs.

Balser updated attendees on recent department chair and center director searches, and congratulated the faculty for a year of outstanding performance in academic pursuits, major grant awards and admission to noteworthy societies, including the 2017 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the 2017 appointments to the Academy for Excellence in Education.

The awards portion of the meeting was hosted by Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs John Penn, Ph.D., and Executive Vice President for Research Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Since 2000, the VUMC Academic Enterprise has honored faculty members for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research.

This year’s presentations included one new teaching award named for the late Thomas Hazinski, M.D., two new research awards named for Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., and John Oates, M.D., and two new clinical service awards named for the late Gottlieb C. (Bud) Friesinger, II, M.D., and the late Noel Tulipan, M.D.

Recipients were nominated by their faculty colleagues and chosen by the 2017 VUMC Academic Enterprise Faculty Awards Selection Committees.


Recipient of the FRANK H. BOEHM AWARD

Contributions to Continuing Medical Education

Donald E. Moore, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor, Division of Medical Education and Administration

Dr. Moore earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut and his Master of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his Ph.D. in Education in 1982. He was an instructor of Postgraduate Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, assistant professor of Internal Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and clinical associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine before joining the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) in 2000 as an associate professor of Medical Education and Administration. In 2004 he was promoted to full professor.

Dr. Moore has been involved in continuing medical education (CME) for nearly 40 years. He directed the Division of Continuing Medical Education at Vanderbilt from 2000 to 2013, served as director of Education and Evaluation for the Office of Graduate Medical Education from 2008 to 2011, and was director of Program Evaluation in the Office of Teaching and Learning in Medicine from 2011 to 2013. During the next three years he directed the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Portfolio Program and the Office for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the School of Medicine. He serves as director of Evaluation for the medical school’s Office of Undergraduate Medical Education and as director of the Office for Continuing Professional Development for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The latter office includes the Division of Continuing Medical Education and the MOC Portfolio Program.

Dr. Moore currently serves on 12 academic committees in the medical school, including the Curriculum 2.0 Steering Committee. He has taught several academic courses, including Learning Theory and Research for Teaching in the Masters in Health Professions Education Program, the theory, practice and research in medical education to first- and second-year medical students as part of the Emphasis Program, and a variety of faculty development workshops. He has published more than 50 articles and book chapters and has presented more than 200 lectures and workshops at national and international conferences. Dr. Moore is lead author of an article that describes the CME/CPD Outcomes Framework, which has been widely referenced in the CME literature and is used as an approach to developing CME learning activities. Current projects include refining the CME/CPD Outcomes Framework, learning in the healthcare practice setting and a conceptual model of the Master Adaptive Workplace Learner.

Dr. Moore has received several honors, including the Raszkowski Award for Distinguished Service from the Accreditation Council for CME, the Distinguished Research Award from the Alliance for CME, and the Research in Continuing Medical Education Award from the Society for Academic CME, which will designate him as a Fellow this spring. Dr. Moore was inducted into the VUSM Academy for Excellence in Teaching in 2013. On the national level, he is senior associate editor of the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. For his prolific and highly significant contributions to continuing medical education, Dr. Moore is this year’s recipient of the Frank H. Boehm Award for Excellence in Teaching.


 Recipient of the GERALD S. GOTTERER AWARD

Innovation in Educational Programming That Has Proven To Be Effective

Kimberly D. Lomis, M.D.

Professor of Surgery and of Medical Education and Administration

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education

 Dr. Lomis earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas in Austin and her M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1992. She trained in general surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1998 as assistant clinical professor of Surgery. In 2010 she was named associate professor of Surgery and of Medical Education and Administration, and associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. Dr. Lomis provided clinical teaching in the Department of Surgery from 1997 to 2011, served as the Surgery Clerkship Director from 2002-2010, and practiced surgery until 2012. She was promoted to professor in 2016.

Dr. Lomis’ academic interests include complex systems, change management and competency-based medical education. She holds a Business of Medicine Graduate Certificate from the Johns Hopkins School of Continuing Studies. She is a Harvard Macy Institute Scholar and was named a Master Clinical Teacher at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) in 2004. Dr. Lomis is a founding member of the VUSM Academy for Teaching Excellence and has served on numerous committees, including the Department of Surgery Medical Student Education Committee and the VUSM Undergraduate Medical Education Committee, both of which she chaired. She has participated in the VUMC Academic Leadership Program and the Vanderbilt University Leadership Academy.

Dr. Lomis has made significant contributions to advancing surgical and undergraduate medical education at VUSM through investments in program evaluation and by promoting judicial use of educational resources. She has been involved with multiple curriculum innovations. Beginning in 2012, Dr. Lomis was charged with guiding the implementation of VUSM’s innovative model, Curriculum 2.0, which requires flexibility and teamwork on the part of the faculty to enable students to individualize their training. A defining element of this revision was creation of a competency-based assessment system. Dr. Lomis led a faculty team in drafting performance expectations for students across the multiple domains of competency required of physicians. She secured the collaboration of course directors throughout the curriculum to monitor student growth and provide appropriate feedback, and she redesigned the promotions process to enable targeted coaching for students requiring assistance in any given domain. This system helps to balance students’ individualized learning pathways with the need to meet standardized objectives, and has gained national and international attention.

At the national level, Dr. Lomis serves the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) as associate project director for the national pilot of the Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency. She is past chair of the AAMC Section on Undergraduate Medical Education and a prior steering committee member for the AAMC Group on Educational Affairs. Dr. Lomis is also a principal investigator and co-director of the competency-based assessment interest group for the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. Her honors include a VUSM Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the 2008 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Association of Surgical Education. For her numerous contributions to transformative educational programming, Dr. Lomis is this year’s recipient of the Gerald S. Gotterer Teaching Award.



Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows or Residents in the Research Setting

Danny G. Winder, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Pharmacology

Director, Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research

 Dr. Winder received his Bachelor of Science degree from North Georgia College in Dahlonega, Georgia, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Emory University in Atlanta in 1995. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Eric Kandel, M.D., at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, he joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1999 as assistant professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics. He was promoted to full professor in 2010.

A neuroscientist whose research focuses on addiction biology, Dr. Winder has been particularly interested in determining molecular mechanisms that modulate synaptic plasticity, and how and when these mechanisms are disrupted in alcoholism and addiction. To accomplish these goals, he and his colleagues have pioneered the use of whole cell patch clamp and extracellular recordings in ex vivo brain slice preparations containing key stress circuits. Through the use of mouse models, they study the effect of genetic perturbations on specific neuronal circuits and neuronal populations involved in stress and reward-related behavior. In 2013, Dr. Winder received a NARSAD (National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression) Distinguished Investigator Award and in 2016 a MERIT Award from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction.

Dr. Winder is a former scientific director of the Murine Neurobehavioral Laboratory and former director of the Vanderbilt Silvio O. Conte Center Biobehavioral Core. Currently he is co-director of the Neuroscience Program in Substance Abuse, a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator. He is founding director of the multi-disciplinary Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, which was established last year to define molecular events that drive addictive behavior and ultimately to develop new treatments that can help sustain long-term recovery. At the national level, he is associate editor of The Journal of Neuroscience, section editor of Neuropharmacology and a member of the editorial board of Molecular Pharmacology

Dr. Winder has also had a long-standing interest in training pre- and postdoctoral fellows in the use of electrophysiological approaches to study neuronal function. Thirteen of his graduate students have earned their doctoral degrees including three who earned both the M.D. and Ph.D. Since 2008 five of his postdocs have earned K08 or K99 career development awards from the NIH and all have accepted tenure-track faculty at institutions across the country. Dr. Winder is former director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics. Currently he is associate director of the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) and founding director of the Foundations in Biomedical Research course for MSTP students. He also is co-director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Neuroscience Program in Substance Abuse, part of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. It is for Dr. Winder’s strong commitment to mentoring neuroscientists-in-training that he is this year’s recipient of the F. Peter Guengerich Award for Excellence in Teaching.



Effectiveness in Monitoring Professional Development of Faculty

Jill Hickman Simmons, M.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

 Dr. Simmons received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1995, and her M.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis in 2000. After completing her residency in General Pediatrics and fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Colorado Children’s Hospital and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Denver, she joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) as assistant professor of Pediatrics in 2006, rising to associate professor in 2013.

A major focus of Dr. Simmons’ career has been the long-term endocrine effects of pediatric cancer and its treatment on bone health. Her clinical and research interests include pediatric metabolic bone diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta, hypophosphatasia, osteoporosis and rickets. She is an active investigator in an international longitudinal observational registry of patients with hypophosphatasia, and she is principal investigator for multiple clinical trials for pediatric patients with rare metabolic bone diseases. She is the founder and director of the Program for Pediatric Metabolic Bone Disease, and a member of the scientific advisory boards of the Soft Bones, Inc. Hypophosphatasia Foundation and the Rare Bone Disease Alliance.

Dr. Simmons is medical co-director of the REACH (Research, Education, Advocacy, Clinical Care and Health) for Survivorship Program, a collaboration of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and the Department of Pediatrics designed to meet the unique needs of pediatric and adult cancer survivors. At the international level, she has helped lead efforts to harmonize guidelines for screening and monitoring late effects in childhood cancer survivors. In recognition of her commitment to improving the care of children with cancer, Dr. Simmons was named a Katherine Dodd Faculty Scholar by the Department of Pediatrics in 2009.

Dr. Simmons also has sought to improve the lives of children with type 1 diabetes and help them avoid, through better management of their disease, deleterious effects on bone health. She is a local principal investigator in the Type 1 Diabetes Exchange, a multi-institutional collaboration that has accumulated a registry of 25,000 patients with type 1 diabetes, and which has conducted several clinical trials to improve health outcomes.

Dr. Simmons is equally committed to medical education and professional development, both locally and at the national level. Since 2014 she has been a member of the VUSM Academy for Excellence in Education, and she has served on the Education Council of the Pediatric Endocrine Society. Also at VUSM, Dr. Simmons is a member and former associate director of the Pediatric Endocrinology Fellowship Training Program. She is the co-chair for the Junior Faculty Physician Council for Clinical Service Excellence, where she mentors junior faculty members from departments across the medical center. Within the Department of Pediatrics Office of Faculty Development she serves as director of Mentoring Programs and she is founder and chair of the Hazinski Society for Junior Faculty Development. Because of her unflagging dedication to professional development and patient care, Dr. Simmons is the first recipient of the inaugural Thomas A. Hazinski Award for Excellence in Teaching.


Recipient of the JOHN S. SERGENT AWARD

Teaching Medical or Graduate Students in the Small Group Setting

Natasha B. Halasa, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics

 Dr. Halasa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio, in 1994, and her M.D. from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo in 1998. She received residency training in Pediatrics at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Columbus Children’s Hospital, now known as Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In 2001 Dr. Halasa came to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where she completed a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Health within three years. In 2004 she joined the Vanderbilt medical school faculty as an assistant professor of Pediatrics. Five years later Dr. Halasa was appointed program co-director of the Vanderbilt Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellowship. She was promoted to associate professor of Pediatrics in 2012.

Since 2002, Dr. Halasa has actively worked on clinical trials of potential vaccines for influenza, pertussis, pneumococcal pneumonia and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children of all ages, especially young infants and special populations that include immunocompromised patients. She has had extensive and diverse epidemiological experience with invasive pneumococcal disease, acute respiratory illnesses and acute gastroenteritis in pediatric patients, adults and vulnerable populations including transplant recipients and those with sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis. She has served as principal investigator (PI) of a respiratory virus surveillance study in the Kingdom of Jordan, and she currently is PI of the Vanderbilt site of the New Vaccine Surveillance Network initially established in 1999 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to predict the impact of potential new vaccines.

Dr. Halasa has authored or co-authored more than 70 research articles, case reports, reviews, book chapters and commentaries. She has lectured and given oral and poster presentations to dozens of scientific meetings around the world. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society for Microbiology and the Infectious Disease Society of America. She received the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society’s Young Investigator Award in 2010 and was named a fellow of the society in 2015.

Dr. Halasa also has made significant contributions to medical and graduate education. She is a member of the VUSM Academy for Excellence in Education. Since 2002, she has mentored 30 medical students, residents and fellows. She has created and led intersession courses on HIV/transplantation and global health for first-year medical students. These week-long interludes are a hallmark of the medical school’s highly individualized Curriculum 2.0 and allow students to explore cross-disciplinary topics of their choosing in a small-group setting. Dr. Halasa also created and co-directs the Infectious Disease Integrated Science Course for third- and fourth-year medical students. It is for these innovative efforts that Dr. Halasa is being honored with this year’s John S. Sergent Award for Excellence in Teaching.




For an Outstanding Early Career Clinician

Mayur B. Patel, M.D., M.P.H.

Assistant Professor, Section of Surgical Sciences, Departments of Surgery, Neurosurgery, and Hearing and Speech Sciences

Dr. Patel earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in three years and his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2002. After finishing a General Surgery Residency at Duke University Medical Center in 2009, Dr. Patel returned to Vanderbilt for his Fellowship in Trauma, Emergency General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care. In 2012, he was appointed as Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt, and as Staff Surgeon and Co-Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the Nashville Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His interest in neurotrauma also translated into a leadership role in the Vanderbilt Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic and a third board certificate in Neurocritical Care in 2013.

Dr. Patel has had a long-standing interest in improving outcomes related to brain dysfunction after trauma and critical illness. He advanced his clinical research training on cohort studies, statistics and population-based research through the Vanderbilt Master of Public Health Program and through clinical trials courses funded by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). He led an interventional randomized clinical trial in neurotrauma that was supported by the competitive Vanderbilt Faculty Research Scholars Program from 2013 to 2016. Under Drs. Pratik Pandharipande and E. Wesley Ely, he was mentored within the ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group and helped publish key studies on post-traumatic stress disorder and cognitive impairment in medical and surgical ICU survivors. Dr. Patel now functions as one of the site leaders of this multidisciplinary research group.

Dr. Patel is leading the five-year, $3-million INSIGHT-ICU Study – Illuminating Neuropsychological Dysfunction and Systemic Inflammatory Mechanisms Gleaned after Hospitalization in Trauma-ICU – the first single Principal Investigator NIH-funded R01 in the three-decade history of the Division of Trauma. He also has site-investigator roles for interventional NIH multicenter trials run by the ICU Delirium Group, and for a Department of Defense trauma cohort. He serves on multiple Study Sections for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH. These scientific endeavors facilitated Dr. Patel’s induction into the Society of University of Surgeons.

Dr. Patel’s commitment to Vanderbilt’s educational mission is demonstrated by his supervision of nearly 30 undergraduate, graduate, medical, and postdoctoral research trainees; his service as founding co-director of the medical school’s Integrated Science Course on Injury, Repair and Rehabilitation; his local educator roles for many ACS courses like Advanced Trauma Life Support; and his national education service for the ACS Committee of Trauma and Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma. He is the only VUMC trauma surgeon to be elected to the Vanderbilt Academy of Excellence in Education, the ACS Future Trauma Leaders Program and the ACS Traveling Fellowship to Australia & New Zealand. For outstanding contributions to clinical care, research and education early in his career, Dr. Mayur B. Patel is being honored as the first recipient of the Gottlieb C. (Bud) Friesinger, II Award.


Recipient of the NOEL B. TULIPAN AWARD

For Clinical Excellence in a Surgical or Procedural Discipline

Otis B. Rickman, D.O.

Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine and Thoracic Surgery

Director, Bronchoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology

 Dr. Rickman earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences and his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University. He received residency training in Internal Medicine and fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2004, Dr. Rickman was appointed assistant professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. After completing training in Interventional Pulmonology, he joined the Interventional Pulmonary Group and served as program director of the Critical Care Fellowship. In 2009 Dr. Rickman joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, and as assistant professor of Thoracic Surgery. One of only approximately 300 diplomates certified by the American Association of Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology, Dr. Rickman was Vanderbilt’s first interventional pulmonologist. He was promoted to associate professor in 2015 and serves as director of Bronchoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology.

Dr. Rickman’s clinical expertise lies primarily in interventional pulmonology and thoracic oncology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer and the American Thoracic Society. Since 2013 he has directed the Lung Nodule Clinic and co-directed the Lung Cancer Screening Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). Dr. Rickman is trained and performs the full spectrum of diagnostic, therapeutic and palliative airway procedures for patients with lung cancer or suspected lung cancer. This extends from smoking cessation counseling, early detection with endoscopic treatment to palliative airway procedures in patients with advanced lung cancer. He also treats complex airway management problems including asthma, tracheal and subglottic stenosis and benign and malignant central airway obstruction. Under Dr. Rickman’s leadership, the volume of procedures provided through the Interventional Pulmonology program has tripled since 2009. In 2012 he received the Judge Sidney H. Reiss Award for Excellence in Pulmonary Medicine from the Department of Medicine.

Since he arrived at Vanderbilt, Dr. Rickman has participated in clinical and translational research studies. His research interests focus on the early detection, chemoprevention, endoscopic staging and treatment of lung cancer, lung nodule diagnosis, as well as the development of new devices and techniques used in interventional pulmonology including thoracic ultrasound. Dr. Rickman also has contributed to curriculum development in the School of Medicine and to post-graduate training. He oversees a new Interventional Pulmonology Fellowship established last summer. The first fellow will graduate in June and will join the team as the third physician member of Vanderbilt’s interventional pulmonary group.

Because of his clinical excellence, his use of innovative technologies for noninvasive diagnosis as well as minimally invasive thoracic surgeries, his commitment to research and training, and his dedication to providing personalized patient care, Dr. Rickman is being honored as the first recipient of the Noel B. Tulipan Award.




For Development, Implementation, and/or Creation of Technology that Elevates the Research and Science of Multiple Investigators


Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D.

Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Genetics

Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Genetic Medicine

Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute

 Dr. Cox earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Notre Dame in 1978 and her Ph.D. in Human Genetics from Yale University in 1982. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Genetic Epidemiology at Washington University and was a research associate in Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1987 she came to the University of Chicago. She was appointed full professor in the Departments of Medicine and Human Genetics in 2004 and chief of the Section of Genetic Medicine the following year. In 2012 she was named a University of Chicago Pritzker Scholar. In 2015, Dr. Cox came to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as the Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Genetics, founding director of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute and director of the Division of Genetic Medicine in the Department of Medicine. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Throughout her career as a quantitative geneticist, Dr. Cox has sought to identify and characterize the genetic component to common human diseases and clinical phenotypes like pharmacogenomics traits (how genes affect drug response). Her work has advanced methods for analyzing genetic and genomic data from a wide range of complex traits and diseases, including breast cancer, diabetes, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stuttering and speech and language impairment. Through the national Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) project, Dr. Cox also contributed to the development of genome predictors of the expression of genes, and she also has investigated the genetics of cardiometabolic phenotypes such as lipids, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

With colleagues at the University of Michigan, Dr. Cox is generating content for the Accelerating Medicine Partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, biopharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations. The goal of the partnership is to identify and validate promising biological targets, increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients, and reduce and cost and time it takes to develop them. Dr. Cox is co-principal investigator of an analytic center within the Centers for Common Disease Genomics, another NIH initiative that is using genome sequencing to explore the genomic contributions to common diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and autism. A major resource for the Cox lab is Vanderbilt’s massive biobank, BioVU, which contains DNA samples from more than 230,000 individuals that are linked to de-identified electronic health records.

Dr. Cox is the author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles. She is former editor-in-chief of the journal Genetic Epidemiology, and is the current president of the American Society of Human Genetics. For developing new methods that have aided researchers worldwide in identifying and characterizing of the genetic and genomic underpinnings of diseases and complex traits, Dr. Cox is the first recipient of the inaugural Richard M. Caprioli Research Award.



For Research that Serves as a Platform for Discovery in Diverse Areas

Mia Levy, M.D., Ph.D.

Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research
Associate Professor, Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine

Director, Cancer Health Informatics and Strategy, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

 Dr. Levy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and her medical degree from Rush University School of Medicine. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Oncology at Stanford University while undertaking research leading to her Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics in 2011. While at Stanford, Dr. Levy also was a National Library of Medicine Fellow in Biomedical Informatics and completed a fellowship in Medical Informatics at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

In 2009, Dr. Levy joined the faculty at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and was appointed Cancer Clinical Informatics Officer for the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). In 2011 she co-founded “My Cancer Genome,” the nation’s first personalized cancer decision support tool, with William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., former director of Personalized Cancer Medicine. The online precision cancer medicine tool, which now has a free mobile application, provides information to patients about genetic alterations in 825 genes for 23 cancer types and therapies available to treat those alterations. The website has strong national and international use, logging more than 10,000 visits each week. Its content has been integrated into the electronic health record at Vanderbilt to aid in the selection of genome-directed cancer therapies and clinical trials, and as a clinical decisions support tool for analysis, interpretation and reporting of molecular diagnostic tests. Dr. Levy and her colleagues also have developed imaging informatics tools for quantitative assessment of cancer treatment response and clinical informatics tools to support the continuum and coordination of cancer care across multiple disciplines. Other projects include development of informatics tools to support clinical and translational cancer research and new ways to efficiently extract information from electronic health records.

In 2012 Dr. Levy was named Ingram Assistant Professor of Cancer Research and in 2015 she was appointed director of Cancer Health Informatics and Strategy in the VICC. In that role, she recently spearheaded the cancer center’s participation in GENIE (Genomics Evidence Neoplasia Information Exchange), an international consortium supported by the American Association for Cancer Research that shares genomic data in an effort to accelerate the pace of cancer research and improve precision medicine. Since 2013 she has been co-director of the VICC Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) Tissue and Pathology Informatics Spore. Last year Dr. Levy was appointed associate professor of Biomedical Informatics and of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. She was inducted into the American College of Medical Informatics and named a Komen Scholar by the Susan G. Komen organization, one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations dedicated to breast cancer research, patient support and advocacy. For the development and application of informatics platforms that have helped advance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and cancer research throughout the world, Dr. Levy is the recipient of this year’s Sidney P. Colowick Research Award.


Recipients of the WILLIAM J. DARBY AWARD

For Translational Research that has Changed the Practice of Medicine Worldwide

Elizabeth J. Phillips, M.D.

John A. Oates Chair in Clinical Research

Professor, Departments of Medicine, Pharmacology and Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

Director, Personalized Immunology, John A. Oates Institute for Experimental Therapeutics

 Simon A. Mallal, M.B.,B.S.

Major E.B. Stahlman Chair in Infectious Diseases and Inflammation

Professor of Medicine and of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

Founding director, Center for Translational Immunology and Infectious Diseases

 Dr. Phillips did her undergraduate training and earned her M.D. from the University of Alberta, Canada. She completed residency training in Internal Medicine, fellowships in Infectious Diseases, Medical Microbiology, and Clinical Pharmacology and a post-doctoral research fellowship in Drug Safety at the University of Toronto before joining the faculty there in 1999. While there, and subsequently at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Phillips developed national programs in HIV drug safety and HIV pharmacology. Since 2006 she has been Professor of Pharmacology and Director, Centre for Clinical Pharmacology & Infectious Diseases, Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia.

Dr. Mallal graduated in Medicine from the University of Western Australia in Perth. He trained in Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Pathology at Royal Perth Hospital and completed postdoctoral research training in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Since 2000 he has been Professor and Director of the Centre for Clinical Immunology and Biomedical Statistics at Royal Perth Hospital and Murdoch University, and since 2006 he has been Professor and Director of the Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Murdoch University.

Drs. Mallal and Phillips pioneered development of the first evidence-based genetic screening test to prevent drug toxicity. In 2002 Dr. Mallal’s group in Perth discovered an association between the gene HLA-B*57:01 and hypersensitivity to the HIV drug abacavir. However, the capacity to use HLA-B*57:01 as a screening test was challenged by apparent false negatives and lack of sensitivity in non-whites. Meanwhile Dr. Phillips in Toronto developed abacavir patch testing, which identified true immunologically-mediated abacavir hypersensitivity syndrome. Joining forces, Drs. Phillips and Mallal led the design of large clinical trials utilizing abacavir patch testing. The trials proved the utility of HLA-B*57:01 as a screening test with 100-percent negative predictive value for abacavir hypersensitivity that was broadly generalizable across diverse ethnicities. Over a sixyear period Drs. Mallal and Phillips developed a translational roadmap that included development of globally accessible, cost-effective, rapid and quality-assured laboratory testing. Their efforts led to the translation of HLA-B*57:01 as a genetic screening test in routine HIV clinical practice, and the subsequent elimination of abacavir hypersensitivity.

In 2013 Drs. Mallal and Phillips moved to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where they have been involved in the discovery of new models to explain the immunopathogenesis of abacavir and other drug hypersensitivity syndromes. Dr. Mallal is founding director of the Center for Translational Immunology and Infectious Diseases, program director of the Tennessee Center for AIDS Research and director of Vanderbilt Technologies for Advanced Genomics. Dr. Phillips is an internationally known expert on severe and often fatal immunologically mediated adverse drug reactions such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. In 2014 she established the Vanderbilt Drug Allergy Clinic within the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program. The clinic provides treatment and counseling on severe drug hypersensitivity syndromes to patients and families from across the United States.

For groundbreaking contributions to personalized medicine, advancing HIV treatment and creating new paradigms for predicting and preventing serious adverse drug reactions, Drs. Mallal and Phillips are this year’s recipients of the William J. Darby Research Award.



For Groundbreaking Research that Addresses the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease or Important Biological Problems in Immunity

Richard M. Peek, Jr., M.D.

Mina Cobb Wallace Professor of Medicine, Cancer Biology and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Director, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Medicine

Dr. Peek earned his Bachelor of Science degree cum laude from Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, and his medical degree from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. He subsequently completed Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. In 1992, Dr. Peek was accepted to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as a clinical and research fellow in Gastroenterology. He was appointed Instructor in Medicine in 1995, Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1996, Director of Research in the Division of Gastroenterology in 1999, and then promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology with tenure in 2002. Since 2004, Dr. Peek has been Director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, and in 2005 he was appointed as the Mina Cobb Wallace Professor of Medicine, Cancer Biology and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

Dr. Peek and his colleagues have made fundamental discoveries regarding the pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a stomach-colonizing bacterium that infects about half of the world’s population. H. pylori is the strongest identified risk factor for peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. However, only a fraction of persons colonized by the bacterium will develop disease. Using microbial molecular techniques and rodent models, Dr. Peek’s group discovered a remarkable level of genetic diversity among H. pylori populations and identified proteins that are selectively expressed by oncogenic strains. In particular, strains that translocate the protein CagA into gastric cells are associated with increased inflammation and cancer risk. His group has also identified dietary risk factors, including iron deficiency, which augment the bacterium’s virulence potential and thus may represent biomarkers for identifying colonized persons at high risk for disease. Overall, Dr. Peek’s research has significantly influenced the understanding and management of H. pylori-induced disease and provided insights into other inflammation-mediated disorders.

Dr. Peek is also a highly effective administrator and mentor of graduate students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. He directs the National Institutes of Health-funded Vanderbilt T32 Training in Gastroenterology Program, and in 2011 he was named the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Association’s Mentor of the Year. Since 2010, he has directed the Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Research Center, which in January 2017 celebrated its third consecutive five-year renewal from the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Branch of the NIH. The center includes 84 faculty investigators from 14 different departments. Dr. Peek is a member of the Association of American Physicians, a fellow of the American Gastroenterology Association, former chair of the AGA Council, and current Editor-in-Chief of the journal Gastroenterology, the flagship journal in its discipline.

For seminal discoveries that have advanced the understanding and treatment of H. pylori-induced disease, including the elucidation of inflammatory and dietary risk factors that contribute to gastric injury, Dr. Peek is this year’s recipient of the Ernest W. Goodpasture Research Award.


Recipients of the JOHN A. OATES AWARD

For two or more faculty working collaboratively or in a multidisciplinary manner to address important biological processes

Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D.

Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology

Director, Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery
Craig W. Lindsley, Ph.D.

William K. Warren, Jr. Professor of Medicine and Professor, Departments of Pharmacology and Chemistry
Co-director and director of Medicinal Chemistry, Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Dr. Conn received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Biology from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, and his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Vanderbilt University. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Pharmacology at Yale University, he joined the faculty in Pharmacology at Emory University in 1988. In 2000 Dr. Conn was appointed senior director and head of the Department of Neuroscience at Merck & Co. in West Point, Pa. Three years later, he came back to Vanderbilt to establish and direct the medical school’s Program in Drug Discovery, now known as the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. In 2008 Dr. Conn was appointed the Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology.

Dr. Lindsley earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Chico, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University. In 2001, after brief stints at Parke-Davis and Eli Lilly, Dr. Lindsley joined the Medicinal Chemistry Department at Merck & Co. In 2006 Dr. Lindsley was appointed director of Medicinal Chemistry in the Vanderbilt Program in Drug Discovery. He also directs the Vanderbilt Specialized Chemistry Center for Accelerated Probe Development, part of the NIH-supported Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network, and is co-director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Chemical Biology Synthesis Facility. In 2012 Dr. Lindsley was appointed the William K. Warren, Jr. Professor of Medicine.

Dr. Conn’s research has focused on the role of metabotropic glutamate and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in regulating brain function and on the discovery of novel small molecules for probing brain circuits impacted by neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Lindsley is a leader in the development of selective allosteric modulators of G protein-coupled receptors, which can adjust the activity of receptors like the dimmer switch in an electrical circuit. Their highly collaborative research has led to the development of multiple novel drug candidates for disorders ranging from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Fragile X syndrome to schizophrenia and depression, some of which are advancing to clinical development in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry.

Their efforts are widely recognized. Both are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Both have won the Pharmacia-ASPET Award in Experimental Therapeutics from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Both have made the list compiled by global information giant Thomson Reuters of scientists whose papers are “most highly cited” by other researchers. And both have been recognized previously by their peers at Vanderbilt, Conn with the Charles R. Park Research Award and Lindsley with the Sidney P. Colowick Award. Conn is former editor-in-chief of the journal Molecular Pharmacology, and Lindsley is founding (and current) editor-in-chief of ACS Chemical Neuroscience. For pioneering a new model for drug discovery that addresses important challenges in neuroscience, Conn and Lindsley are the first recipients of the inaugural John A. Oates Research Award.