October 20, 2020

Three from Vanderbilt elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Three members of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine faculty have been elected this year to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the organization announced Monday, Oct. 19.


by Bill Snyder

Three Vanderbilt University faculty members have been elected this year to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the organization announced Monday, Oct. 19. They are:

  • Nancy Carrasco, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and the Joe C. Davis Chair of Biomedical Science;
  • Velma McBride Murry, PhD, University Professor of Health Policy and Human & Organizational Development in Peabody College and the School of Medicine, and the Lois Autrey Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Peabody College; and
  • Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine and Vice President for Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

    Nancy Carrasco, MD

Operating under the 1863 Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology and health.

The NAM (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 as the health arm of the National Academies. With just more than 2,000 members, NAM provides independent, authoritative, and trusted advice nationally and globally.

With these new members, Vanderbilt has 24 current and emeritus faculty members who have been elected to the National Academies by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement, with 22 of those holding appointments in the School of Medicine.

Velma McBride Murry, PhD

“We are proud to have Drs. Carrasco, McBride Murry and Wilkins elected into this prestigious body. Each continues to make important contributions of national impact in their areas of expertise. I want to extend my congratulations to all for achieving this honor,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Both Carrasco and McBride Murry have primary appointments within departments that report to the University provost.

“The appointments of these three remarkable faculty to the National Academy in the same year is evidence of our momentum in the biomedical sciences and reflects the strength of the University’s transinstitutional approach to discovery and innovation,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente, PhD.

A leading figure in the molecular characterization of iodide transport and its critical role in the pathophysiology of the thyroid and the breast, Carrasco received her MD and a master’s degree in Biochemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in her native Mexico City and completed postdoctoral training at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Formerly a member of the faculties at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Yale School of Medicine, Carrasco came to Vanderbilt in 2019. Her work on the iodide transporter has been critical for understanding not only an important step in thyroid hormone biosynthesis, but also the mechanism of action of certain environmental pollutants.

Carrasco has received numerous national and international awards for her research. She has served as president of the Society of Latin American Biophysicists and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine,” Carrasco said. “I have always felt very strongly that the links between understanding physiology and pathophysiology at the molecular level and both medical practice and public health should be viewed as a cornerstone of our collective efforts to improve the health of our communities, and that has been a guiding principle in my work.

“I am extremely grateful to the members of the Academy for electing me and, in so doing, affirming the value of basic science as a key contributor to progress in medicine.”

A pioneer in the development of family-based preventive intervention programs, McBride Murry earned her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2008 from the Department of Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia.

Through her research on African-American parents and youth, McBride Murry identified proximal, malleable protective factors that deter emotional problems and risk engagement in youth and demonstrated their effectiveness in facilitating behavioral change through efficacy testing of two randomized controlled trial family-based interventions, the Strong African American Families (SAAF) Program and the Pathways for African American Success (PAAS).

McBride Murry is president of the Society of Research on Adolescence. In collaboration with numerous international societies, she recently launched a global study to document the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent development and adjustment.

She was awarded a 2014 Presidential Citation for her contributions to research, teaching and advocacy on behalf of children, youth and HIV-affected groups. She currently is a member of Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core dissemination team, which is identifying ways to improve the return of study findings back to the community.

“Being elected to the National Academy of Medicine is a humbling experience,” McBride Murry said. “I am indeed honored to join this group of esteemed distinguished scholars, whose mission is to engage in research that informs and shapes policies, preventive intervention, and practice to promote, enhance and improve health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.”

A nationally recognized leader in health equity, Wilkins earned her MD from Howard University and earned a Master of Science degree in clinical investigation from Washington University School of Medicine.

She served on the faculty there before joining the faculties of Vanderbilt and Meharry Medical College in 2012. Last year, Wilkins was named to newly created positions of Vice President for Health Equity at VUMC and associate dean for Health Equity in the School of Medicine.

Wilkins has pioneered methods of stakeholder engagement that involve community members and patients in all stages of biomedical and health research. She is currently a principal investigator of two NIH-funded centers: 1) the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health, which focuses on decreasing disparities among African Americans and Latinos using precision medicine, and 2) the Vanderbilt Recruitment Innovation Center, a national center dedicated to enhancing recruitment and retention in clinical trials.

Since 2012 Wilkins has served as executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, and with the expansion of her leadership activities at VUMC and nationally, she has recently recruited Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, a national expert in community engagement from Wake Forest University, to succeed her as director of the Alliance.