July 18, 2019

Rasmussen named Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar

Megan Rasmussen, a PhD student in Cell and Developmental Biology, has been selected as the 2019 Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar.


by Bill Snyder

Megan Rasmussen, a PhD student in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been selected as the 2019 Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar.

Megan Rasmussen

She will receive a $1,000 cash prize and will be mentored by the winner of the 2019 Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Research, Harvard Medical School geneticist Christine Seidman, MD.

Rasmussen is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Vivian Gama, PhD, assistant professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. She will be recognized during Seidman’s Flexner Discovery Lecture on Sept. 12.

Established in 2006, the Vanderbilt Prize honors women scientists with a “stellar record” of research accomplishments who have made significant contributions to mentoring other women in science. Recipients mentor female graduate students — Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholars — who are pursuing their doctorates in the biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine.

Rasmussen received her Bachelor of Science degree in genetics from Iowa State University in 2014. She enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at Vanderbilt the following year.

Her project focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which the BCL-2 family of proteins regulate mitochondrial dynamics and function in human embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes.

Rasmussen is first author on two scientific papers and this year received an F31 Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. She was also the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Exceptional Achievement in Graduate Studies.

Rasmussen was described by Gama in her nomination letter as “a remarkable student who has shown significant dedication to her research, professional development and mentoring.”

“Receiving the Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar award will be a well-deserved honor for an outstanding scientist,” Gama wrote.

To be eligible for the Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar award, candidates must be enrolled in the medical school’s PhD track (includes PhD and MD/PhD trainees), have completed the qualifying exam and have at least one year left to complete the PhD degree.

Nominations are accepted from department chairs or program directors in the biomedical sciences, as well as from directors of graduate studies and faculty mentors.

Competitive nominees demonstrate excellent leadership qualities through their research and service to the scientific community as well as characteristics that exhibit outstanding potential to impact medicine through research during their careers.

For more information on the Vanderbilt Prize Student Scholar, visit https://www.vumc.org/oor/vanderbilt-prize-student-scholar.