August 17, 2020

Rathmell named chair of Department of Medicine

After serving as interim chair since Jan. 1, Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine, has been named chair of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief for the Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and Clinics.

After serving as interim chair since Jan. 1, Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine, has been named chair of the Department of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief for the Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital and Clinics.

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

Through her appointment, effective today, Rathmell becomes the Department of Medicine’s ninth chair since its founding in 1925.

Rathmell succeeds Nancy Brown, MD, who departed Vanderbilt to join Yale University as dean of the Yale School of Medicine.

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, selected Rathmell after a national search.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Rathmell as our new Medicine chair. The department’s numerous contributions are instrumental to our ongoing success as a national leader in academic health care. Kim is already doing an outstanding job leading the department. Her vision for our future is very exciting and will assure the department and the Medical Center continue to grow as a local, national and global leader,” 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 want to thank Dr. Chetkovich and the other members of the search committee for their important work to identify such a strong and capable person for this key position on our senior leadership team.”

Rathmell is an internationally recognized physician-scientist whose 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.

“The Department of Medicine’s many divisions comprise a core group of clinical offerings that help distinguish Vanderbilt’s hospitals and clinics as destination therapy for many diseases and conditions. I look forward to working with Dr. Rathmell as we grow and enhance these services to best support the needs of our patients,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Heath System Officer for VUMC.

As leader of the Department of Medicine, Rathmell is responsible for 866 faculty and 641 staff members in 13 academic divisions and several interdisciplinary centers, who are joined by more than 150 residents and 285 fellows.

The department’s overall research funding is currently ranked second among the nation’s departments of medicine in terms of funding from the National Institutes of Health, while the impact of the department’s research has also grown as measured by citations and faculty members receiving increased recognition by external organizations.

According to the 2020-2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings for Schools of Medicine, the department’s Internal Medicine training program ranks 12th in the nation.

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 more than 200 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.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Department of Medicine for these past few months of unprecedented transition. I have learned that the people who make up this department are outstanding for their brilliance, their compassion and their drive. There is literally no limit to the impact we can have as a department, and in collaboration across the institution, to lead advances in medicine. We are entering a tremendously exciting time in medical science, and we are positioned extremely well to effect changes that improve our understanding of human health and to develop personalized strategies to care for patients. I am looking forward to an exciting period ahead,” said Rathmell.

In November 2019 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 the award.

Rathmell has received the Louisa Nelson Award for Nashville women of achievement, vision, and inspiration, and is a recent recipient of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Landon INNOVATOR Award for Personalized Medicine. She serves on the National Cancer Institution Board of Scientific Advisors and chairs the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Kidney Cancer Research Program committee and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Nominating Committee. An advocate for medical science, she is the immediate past president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) and a member of the Association of American Physicians (AAP).

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.