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Reception celebrates VUMC’s community ties

May. 11, 2017, 8:59 AM

Singer Amy Grant speaks at the recent reception celebrating VUMC’s shared commitment to healthy communities. (photo by Joe Howell)

Nearly 400 members of the Canby Robinson Society and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) community joined together at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens recently for a reception celebrating the Medical Center’s shared commitment to healthy communities and to pioneer the future of health care.

The group included: members of all VUMC advisory boards and councils, including the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Board of Overseers; the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Board; the Vanderbilt Eye Institute Advisory Board; the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Leadership Council; the Canby Robinson Society; the VICC Ambassadors; the Friends of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt; the Junior League of Nashville; and members of the VUMC’s Board of Directors.

“I think the best way to capture the essence of our work together is through stories,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Stories can communicate the impact of our medical care, our research advances and our training programs. And most importantly, stories also let us convey the human side of our work, which at Vanderbilt isn’t a side thing — it is THE thing,’” Balser said.

Grammy-award winning artist Amy Grant also spoke about her daughter, Millie, who recently spent some time at VUMC when she donated a kidney to a longtime friend.

With a photograph projected on the screen of Grant with her daughters Millie and Sarah Chapman at the groundbreaking for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in 2000, Grant said she is thankful for the care her daughter received at VUMC.

“Kindness was the leading emotion that we always felt from everyone,” she said. “I’m so grateful that my daughter is part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s stories. I’m thankful for the great care and deep love and the great institution that is Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

Grant passed along some guidance from Millie – Don’t overthink generosity.

“The gut response from kindergarteners is ‘just share,’” Grant said. “When we get older, we get afraid and we get cautious. But I’m reminded by my 27-year-old, ‘Just act from the heart and we’ll figure it out.’”

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Research at VUMC, director of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology, also spoke to those attending last week’s event, saying that the future at VUMC is “exciting.”

She mentioned VUMC’s selection as the Data and Research Support Center for the National Institute’s Precision Medicine Initiative, and talked about the recent announcement that the Human Vaccines Project, VUMC and Illumina will join together in a very elite effort to decipher the human immunome.

The latter endeavor is led by VUMC’s James Crowe, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and Ann Scott Carell Professor and professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology.

“With Dr. Crowe’s leadership we’re going to decode the immune system, determine the working pieces, determine how each of us in this room is unique, how each of us have developed unique immune systems based on our exposures from birth to now,” Pietenpol said. “Dr. Balser said it best, ‘Sequencing the human immunome is the next frontier of genetic medicine.”

Pietenpol said that these advances and others have been made possible by the generosity of the Medical Center’s donors and friends.

“Your support, your partnership, your generosity pave the way for what’s next in health and health care,” Pietenpol told the audience.

“The ambition to pioneer the future begins with people first having a vision and a dream to make a difference and improve the quality of life for all patients and their families.”

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