August 9, 2018

Kropski, Shoemaker honored by Doris Duke Foundation

Two early-career physician-scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are among 18 recipients of 2018 Clinical Scientist Development Awards announced July 31 by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Two early-career physician-scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are among 18 recipients of 2018 Clinical Scientist Development Awards announced July 31 by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Jonathan Kropski, MD


Jonathan Kropski, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, and Ashley Shoemaker, MD, MSCI, assistant professor of Pediatrics, each will receive $495,000 over the next three years to continue their research.

Kropski is using single-cell genomic technologies to study the mechanisms that can initiate or accelerate idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic lung disease characterized by progressive scarring of lung tissue.

“Through the past several years, we have learned that there are a number of different genetic risk factors for pulmonary fibrosis,” he said. “In this study, we will use cutting-edge technologies that allow us to measure the genes expressed in individual cells from the lungs of IPF patients with different genetic risk factors to understand the mechanisms that lead to their disease.”

Ashley Shoemaker, MD

“These are very competitive awards,” said Nancy Brown, MD, Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt. “Dr. Kropski is doing important work and is well-deserving of this support.”

Shoemaker is conducting a clinical study of a drug to treat pseudohypoparathyroidism (PHP), a genetic disorder characterized by early-onset obesity, short stature, cognitive impairment and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

“For the past two years, my research group has been collaborating with an international group of investigators to improve our management and treatment of PHP. We are excited to offer patients throughout the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to travel to Vanderbilt to participate in the only active clinical trial for treatment of PHP.”

“Dr. Shoemaker is very deserving of this prestigious award,” said Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, James C. Overall Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. “I have no doubt that she will be a future leader in pediatric endocrinology and clinical and translational research.”

Kropski earned his medical degree in 2008 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, completed residency training in Internal Medicine and a Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship at Vanderbilt through the Physician Scientist Training Program and joined the faculty in 2015.

The co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, he has received grant awards from the American Thoracic Society Foundation, Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and  Francis Family Foundation to study disease mechanisms and potential treatments for IPF.

He is the principal investigator of a five-year, $786,000 mentored clinical scientist research career development  award he received in 2016 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to study the role that abnormal DNA damage repair may play in the development of pulmonary fibrosis.

Shoemaker earned her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006. After residency training in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University and fellowship training in Pediatric Endocrinology at Vanderbilt, she joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2010. She is also a graduate of Vanderbilt’s Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) program.

In 2014 Shoemaker received a five-year, $778,000 mentored, patient-oriented research career development award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study early-onset obesity and cognitive impairment in PHP.

Currently she is leading a phase 2 clinical study of theophylline as a possible treatment for (PHP). The drug blocks an enzyme involved in the impaired hormonal signaling that underlies the disease. The hope is that this treatment will help patients lose weight and improve their glucose tolerance.

Kropski and Shoemaker are among six current members of the Vanderbilt faculty who have received Clinical Scientist Development Awards from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

The others are Michael Cooper, MD, associate professor of Neurology (2006); Kevin Ess, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Pediatric Neurology (2009); Cyndya Shibao, MD, MSCI, associate professor of Medicine (2014); and Sara Van Driest, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine and Pediatrics (2017).

The award program recognizes “outstanding individuals with potential for clinical research careers, whose projects will address highly significant research questions and lead to career advancement.”