December 5, 2019

Rathmell named interim chair of Medicine

W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, has been named as interim chair of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, has been named as interim chair of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Her appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

Rathmell succeeds Nancy Brown, MD, Hugh J. Morgan Professor and chair of the department, who is departing Vanderbilt to join Yale University as dean of the Yale School of Medicine.

Rathmell’s career has spanned molecular biology research in the pathogenesis of kidney cancer; nationally funded large-scale genomic studies of cancer; clinical investigations bringing new biomarkers, imaging modalities and therapies to patient care; graduate and medical education; and as a national advocate for physician-scientist trainees, ethical treatment of drug shortages, equitable conflict of interest policies in publishing, and rare or heritable forms of kidney cancer.

As a clinician she has ushered in new lifesaving treatments and is a leader who has advocated for funding for kidney cancer research, including as a champion for rare subtypes of kidney cancer.

She currently serves as the president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, chairs the Kidney Cancer Research Program for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, and serves on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors.

“Dr. Rathmell is internationally recognized for her contributions as a physician-scientist. She has also demonstrated acumen in a number of important leadership roles within the Medical Center and on the national stage,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “I look forward to working closely with her as we continue to advance the department’s mission.”

Rathmell also leads the Vanderbilt Integrated Molecular Oncology Research Training Program for clinical fellows that is supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding, and co-leads the Vanderbilt Clinical Oncology Career Development Program.

She is the author of hundreds of peer-reviewed original articles, review articles, books and chapters and a frequently invited guest speaker on topics ranging from kidney cancer biology and cancer metabolism to academic leadership skills development.

In November, the Kidney Cancer Association recognized Rathmell’s research accomplishments and leadership achievements with its top honor, the Eugene P. Schonfeld Award, which recognizes highly respected health care professionals who have made significant contributions in the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. She is the first woman to receive this honor.

Rathmell has received the Louisa Nelson Award for Nashville women of achievement, vision, and inspiration, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Landon INNOVATOR Award for Personalized Medicine, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Leadership Development Award. She is currently serving as the chair-elect of the ASCO Nominating Committee, an elected post.

She earned an MD and PhD in biophysics at Stanford University and completed medicine and oncology training at the University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt, she served for 12 years on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Balser has appointed a 20-member committee, led by Dane Chetkovich, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology and the Margaret and John Warner Professor of Neurological Education, to conduct a national search to identify the department’s permanent leader.