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Bick receives Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists

Sep. 3, 2020, 8:59 AM


by Bill Snyder

Alexander Bick, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Genetic Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is a recipient of the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) Career Award for Medical Scientists.

Alexander Bick, MD, PhD

The award provides $700,000 over five years to young physician-scientists committed to academic careers as they transition from fellowship and postdoctoral positions to faculty service. Recipients benefit from participating in biennial meetings and mentoring networks.

Bick earned his MD and PhD in genetics from Harvard and joined the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine faculty this summer after completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital with a clinical focus on personalized medicine.

As an investigator in the Division of Genetic Medicine and the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, Bick is researching the causes and consequences of clonal hematopoiesis, age-related acquisition of somatic mutations in blood stem cells that are a root cause of multiple diseases of aging, including blood cancer and heart disease.

“I am truly thrilled for the support of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which will provide me with the freedom and flexibility to pursue new and exciting avenues of inquiry and translate those findings to improve the care of patients with clonal hematopoiesis,” Bick said.

“I am particularly excited to start my faculty career at VUMC, which has a rich history of supporting physician-scientists,” he said.

“Alex Bick is a rising star in the field of medical genomics and is focusing on a new disease space that has potential to transform the concept of personalized medicine,” said Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine.

“His interests and expertise were a perfect match to our focus on precision medicine and genomic data science here at VUMC, and he has already hit the ground running,” Rathmell said. “This award speaks to how well his creativity and accomplishment in this space resonates with the entire community of medical research.”

“We were particularly pleased to be able to recruit Alex — he’s not only doing cutting- edge research but he’ll also be a terrific colleague,” said Nancy Cox, PhD, Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Genetics and director of the Division of Genetic Medicine and Vanderbilt Genetics Institute.

“It was a team effort recruitment as there were several divisions within the Department of Medicine interested in having him join us,” Cox said. “We are all glad to have him here and pleased to see him have such a great start.”

As a physician, Bick will see patients in the Genomics and Therapeutics Clinic, using insights from the genome to guide clinical care. Ultimately his aim is to develop potential new treatments that target clonal hematopoiesis.

Bick is the third physician-scientist from VUMC to receive the BWF Career Award for Medical Scientists since the award was created in 2006.

The other recipients are Gautam (Jay) Bhave, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine and Cell & Developmental Biology (2013), and James Cassat, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of Pediatrics, Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology and Biomedical Engineering (2014).


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