October 3, 2019

VICC’s Rathmell honored with Louisa Nelson Award

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, received an award that honors women who embody the achievement, vision and inspiration of the founder of a local distillery.

by Tom Wilemon

The recipients of the 2019 Louisa Nelson Awards include a poet, a community activist and Vanderbilt cancer researcher Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

Each year, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery honors three women who embody the achievement, vision and inspiration of Louisa Nelson, who founded the original family distillery with her husband and then ran the business from 1891 after her husband died until 1909, when Tennessee enacted statewide prohibition.

After two of her descendants revived the family business in 2014 and opened a distillery in Nashville, they established the annual awards in her honor.

Rathmell, director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, received the award Sept. 23 along with fellow honorees, the poet Ciona Rouse, and Rasheedat Fetuga, founder of Gideon’s Army.

Christine Lovly, MD, PhD, nominated Rathmell. She noted that since Rathmell came to Vanderbilt in 2015 to lead the Division of Hematology and Oncology she has recruited more than 30 new faculty and expanded its footprint. The portfolio of funded research has grown dramatically.

“I am deeply honored to have been nominated for this award,” Rathmell said. “Knowing that what you are doing can make a difference to someone is one of the most profound emotions you can tap into. I am truly touched to have been nominated by one of my faculty, who is herself a remarkable woman leader and who displays the same qualities of accomplishment, inspiration and vision that the Louisa Nelson Award celebrates. Being named as an awardee is especially meaningful because, to me, this represents our value to the city of Nashville.

“Growing our world-class cancer and hematology services, recruiting exceptional people to Nashville to fill those roles, expanding our research to have a national impact, providing exceptional training to nurses, students and doctors and providing a valuable service to Nashville and the surrounding communities are incredibly important to me,” Rathmell said.