Guengerich, Sanders-Bush named ASPET fellowsSep. 20, 2019, 11:02 AM
by Bill Snyder
Vanderbilt University’s F. Peter (Fred) Guengerich, PhD, and Elaine Sanders-Bush, PhD, are among 22 prominent scientists named this week to the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).
In its announcement, the 5,000-member scientific society stated that distinguished members of the society were selected as fellows “for their meritorious efforts to advance pharmacology through their scientific achievements, mentorship and service to the society.”
Guengerich, the Tadashi Inagami, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry in the School of Medicine, is one of the world’s most highly cited and productive researchers in biochemistry and pharmacology, with more than 900 publications to his credit.
He has received several national awards for his research, which deals with the chemical and biological mechanisms by which molecules are processed and their relevance to drug development, toxicity and disease.
Guengerich has trained 21 graduate students and 137 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists and received three Vanderbilt mentoring awards for his work with postdoctoral fellows. He also is deputy editor of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Guengerich said he was grateful to be recognized as an ASPET Fellow “not just for myself, but also for the many individuals who trained in our lab, and for the contributions they made to the long-term success of our research program.”
Sanders-Bush, professor of Pharmacology, emerita, is internationally recognized for her contributions to understanding the brain chemical serotonin and its receptors. Her research has contributed to current understanding of mental illness and is aiding the search for more effective anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs.
Sanders-Bush led the establishment of an interdisciplinary doctorate program in neuroscience at Vanderbilt and served as its first director. She also is former director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, and she served as president of ASPET in 2006.
Over the course of her career, Sanders-Bush mentored dozens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Driven by a deep personal commitment to enhance opportunities for minority trainees, she worked tirelessly to enhance minority training locally and around the country.
“I certainly appreciate this honor,” Sanders-Bush said. “It reminds me of the exceptional research and training opportunities that Vanderbilt pharmacology offered throughout my career.”
Two other ASPET Fellows have strong Vanderbilt connections.
James Halpert, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology and former dean of the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, pursued postdoctoral studies at Vanderbilt, as did Lynn Wecker, PhD, who retired last year as Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of South Florida.
The inaugural class of fellows also include Brian Kobilka, MD, and Robert Lefkowitz, MD, who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their studies of G-protein-coupled receptors, which modulate the body’s response to most hormones and neurotransmitters and are the largest class of pharmaceutical targets.
“The inclusion of professors Guengerich and Sanders-Bush not only recognizes their incredible contributions to pharmacology and experimental therapeutics but also highlights the strength of research and training in pharmacology at Vanderbilt,” noted Lawrence Marnett, PhD, Dean of Basic Sciences, School of Medicine.
“Not only are two of our great faculty named as Fellows but so are two of our trainees,” said Marnett, who holds the endowed Mary Geddes Stahlman Chair in Cancer Research. “What a tribute to our faculty, students and programs!”
John York, PhD, Natalie Overall Warren Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the department, said, “Dr. Guengerich’s discovery-based, curiosity-driven laboratory is a shining example of Vanderbilt Biochemistry and we are extremely proud his accomplishments and contributions.
“Fred is a consummate scholar whose wicked-sharp intellect and research instincts have enabled him to invent and lead the field of cytochrome p450 enzymology, (which influences) the metabolism of the vast majority of human therapeutic drugs,” York said.
Ege Kavalali, PhD, William Stokes Professor of Experimental Therapeutics and acting chair of Pharmacology, cited Sanders-Bush as a “trailblazing leader” and highly accomplished neuropharmacologist who has made long-standing contributions to the department and Vanderbilt Brain Institute.
“We are extremely proud of her accomplishments and her recognition by the premier society of pharmacologists in the country,” he said.
The 2019 Fellows will be honored in April during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2020 in San Diego.