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Two VUMC researchers named 2020 Chancellor Faculty Fellows

Jun. 23, 2020, 4:08 PM

by Bill Snyder

Two Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers — Jennifer “Piper” Below, PhD, associate professor of Medicine, and Ivelin Georgiev, PhD, associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology — have been selected for the 2020 cohort of Chancellor Faculty Fellows at Vanderbilt University.

Ivelin Georgiev, PhD

They are among 10 fellows across the university who recently received promotions to tenured, associate professor positions and who “devote the majority of their effort to excellence in fundamental research, scholarship and/or creative work.”

Established in 2014, the Fellowship program awards $40,000 a year for two fiscal years to selected faculty members to support their professional development.

“Investing in this remarkable group of faculty demonstrates our long-term commitment as a university to their advancement, leadership and pursuit of discovery,” Interim Vanderbilt University Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente, PhD, said in her announcement of the 2020 Fellows.

Jennifer “Piper” Below, PhD

Below, who joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2017, develops and applies computational methods to identify genetic risk factors for human diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, with a focus on underrepresented and minority populations.

A former faculty member at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Below earned her PhD in Human Genetics from the University of Chicago in 2011, and in 2013 completed a fellowship in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“Dr. Below is a true force in the genetics community,” said W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Interim Chair of the Department of Medicine and Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry. “Her work is delivering advances to our understanding of human physiology ranging from cardiometabolic disease to neurological disorders.”

Georgiev, also associate professor of Computer Science, associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation and a faculty member of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, applies structure-based protein design approaches to the development of new vaccine and potential antibody products against viruses.

After earning his doctorate in Computer Science from Duke University in 2009, he joined the newly formed Structural Bioinformatics Core Section of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, where he served as staff scientist and section co-director until joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2015.

“Dr. Georgiev is a superb scientist … (whose work) is especially relevant today as we search for strategies to contain COVID-19,” said Alice Clark Coogan, MD, Interim Chair and Professor of the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. “In addition to his many impressive research accomplishments, he is an outstanding mentor and a great colleague.”

The other 2020 Chancellor Faculty Fellows and their departments/programs are:

  • Erin Barton, PhD, Med, Special Education, Peabody College of Education and Human Development;
  • Kelly Goldsmith, PhD, Marketing, Owen Graduate School of Management;
  • Carrie Jones, PhD, Pharmacology, School of Medicine;
  • Ken Lau, PhD, Cell and Developmental Biology, School of Medicine;
  • Morgan Ricks, JD, Enterprise Scholar, Vanderbilt Law School;
  • Lisa Thompson, MDiv, PhD, Black Homiletics and Liturgics, Graduate Department of Religion;
  • Ben Tran, PhD, Asian Studies and English, College of Arts and Science; and
  • Jennifer Trueblood, PhD, Psychology, College of Arts and Science.

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