May 6, 2021

Faculty Awards honor teaching, research, clinical excellence

The 2021 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Outstanding Contributions to Research and Extraordinary Performance of Clinical Service were presented April 30 during the annual spring faculty meeting, held virtually this year via Zoom.

The 2021 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Outstanding Contributions to Research and Extraordinary Performance of Clinical Service were presented April 30 during the annual spring faculty meeting, held virtually this year via Zoom. The recipients are listed below:




Recipient of the FRANK H. BOEHM AWARD

For Contributions to Continuing Medical Education

Arie Nettles, PhD, professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics

Nettles is the founder and director of the Office of Inclusion and Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Since 2018 she has conceptualized and delivered more than 100 workshops, lectures and presentations on bias and inclusion, including more than 80 virtual presentations throughout VUMC during the past year. She is being honored for her dedication and prolific contributions to the continuing education of health care professionals in the areas of childhood development, psychological and educational assessment, cultural awareness, bias and inclusion.



For Innovation in Educational Programming that has Proven to be Effective

Zachary Warren, PhD, professor of Pediatrics, Special Education and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Warren is a recognized national and international leader in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) screening and diagnosis, clinical services and treatment, and training for families and professionals. He is executive director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), and director of autism research for the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Department of Pediatrics at VUMC. He is being honored for his innovative approaches to educational programming for health care professionals and families that benefit children with ASD.



For Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows or Residents in the Research Setting

Dan Roden, MDCM, the Sam L. Clark, M.D., Ph.D. Endowed Chair and professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, and Biomedical Informatics

Roden is a clinician-scientist who studies mechanisms underlying variable drug responses and susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmias. As Senior Vice President for Personalized Medicine, he coordinates and advances a nationally recognized agenda at VUMC that involves exploiting electronic health records for discovery and clinical implementation in genomic medicine. He is being honored for his mentorship of dozens of medical and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Many of them have gone on to distinguished careers in academic institutions throughout the world.



For Effectiveness in Mentoring and Professional Development of Faculty

Katherine Hartmann, MD, PhD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Medicine; Lucius E. Burch Professor of Reproductive Physiology and Family Planning

Hartmann directs the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center and serves as associate dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development and as VUMC Vice President for Research Integration. She has mentored more than 100 undergraduate and graduate trainees in MD, PhD and MPH programs, many of whom have gone on to attain research positions at prominent institutions. She is being honored for her dedication to faculty mentoring and all levels of career development with special emphasis on women and members of historically underrepresented groups.


Recipient of the JOHN S. SERGENT AWARD

For Teaching Medical or Graduate Students in the Small Group Setting

John McPherson, MD, the Drs. Sol and Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Medicine

McPherson is vice chair for Education and director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program in the Department of Medicine. He serves as course director of the Vanderbilt Advanced Cardiac Life Support program, and has directed several undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing medical education courses in the School of Medicine including, most recently, the Telehealth Advanced Clinical Elective for medical students and the postgraduate core curriculum in Cardiovascular Intensive Care. He is being honored for his distinguished commitment to undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.





For an Outstanding Early Career Clinician

Erin Boyd, MD, MSPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics

Since joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2018, Boyd has worked to address health disparities in adolescents and young adults, in part by developing innovative approaches to residency training in adolescent health. As a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee of the Department of Pediatrics, she helps lead departmental initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion. She is being honored for outstanding contributions to clinical care, research and training early in her career, particularly as they address adolescent health and workforce disparities.


Recipient of the NOEL B. TULIPAN AWARD

For Clinical Excellence in a Surgical or Procedural Discipline

Frank Fish, MD, professor of Pediatrics and Medicine

Fish has particular expertise in interventional therapy of complex arrhythmias in adults with congenital heart disease (CHD). He has helped introduce a number of other clinical innovations in children and adults at VUMC, including implantation of pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators in the electrophysiology laboratory, ablation of atrial fibrillation, laser lead extraction and epicardial ablation. This award recognizes his expertise in interventional therapy of complex arrhythmias, and other clinical innovations that have helped make VUMC a national leader in the treatment of CHD.


Recipient of the THOMAS P. GRAHAM, JR AWARD

For Dedicated Service to Patient-Centered Care

Mohana Karlekar, MD, assistant professor of Medicine

Karlekar is section chief of the VUMC Palliative Care Program, associate program director of the Palliative Care Fellowship and medical director of the Palliative Care Unit. She chairs the state Advisory Council charged with educating health professionals and the public about palliative care and developing best practices for reducing disparities in accessing palliative care. Karlekar is being honored for her efforts to bring palliative care into the mainstream of medical practice, and for her generosity toward patients, families, students and colleagues.





For Development, Implementation, and/or Creation of Technology that Elevates the Research and Science of Multiple Investigators

Manuel Ascano, Jr., PhD, assistant professor of Biochemistry and of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Ascano studies events by which RNA and DNA are recognized as self or foreign — and the subsequent innate immune gene regulatory mechanisms that ensue. He has co-developed techniques to investigate post-transcriptional gene regulation. His work has helped reveal that the innate immune pathway can be potentially manipulated pharmacologically for the treatment of autoimmune disorders and as a potential strategy for next-generation chemo-immunotherapeutics. This award recognizes his innovative investigations of the mechanisms of gene expression that have led to potential treatments for human disease.



For Research that Serves as a Platform for Discovery in Diverse Areas

William Blot, PhD, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and research professor of Medicine

Blot has been instrumental in developing what has become one of the most outstanding epidemiology programs in the United States. He is founding principal investigator and designer of the ongoing Southern Community Cohort Study, a landmark investigation of cancer, other chronic diseases and racial determinants of health disparities in 86,000 adults in the southeastern United States, two-thirds of whom are African American. Blot is being honored for his contributions to population-based studies that have yielded tangible benefits for preventing disease and improving health.


Recipient of the WILLIAM J. DARBY AWARD

For Translational Research that has Changed the Practice of Medicine Worldwide

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, Ingram Professor of Integrative and Population Health, professor of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Health Policy 

Rothman, who is VUMC’s Senior Vice President for Population and Public Health and director of the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, has led quality measurement and improvement studies across the Mid-South. He currently is principal investigator of a clinical research network funded by the non-profit Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) that supports comparative effectiveness studies and pragmatic clinical trials. This award recognizes Rothman’s application of large-scale quality improvement and implementation science to transform health outcomes at the regional and national levels.



For Groundbreaking Research that Addresses the Pathogenesis of Disease at the Cellular and/or Molecular Level

Raymond Harris, Jr., MD, the Ann and Roscoe R. Robinson Professor of Nephrology, professor of Medicine and of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Through his research Harris has helped elucidate the mechanisms of kidney growth and repair in response to acute and chronic injury — down to the molecular level. He is current co-chair of the Kidney Health Initiative, a public-private partnership between the American Society of Nephology and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to speed development of new therapies for kidney diseases. The Goodpasture Award honors the impact of Harris’ research as well as his ability to forge alliances that can accelerate the pace of progress.


Recipients of the JOHN A. OATES AWARD

For Two or More Faculty Working Collaboratively or in a Multidisciplinary Manner to Address Important Biological Processes and/or Diseases

Sari Acra, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics

Hernan Correa, MD, associate professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

James Goldenring, PhD, MD, the Paul W. Sanger Professor of Experimental Surgery, professor of Surgery and of Cell and Developmental Biology

Acra is chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Correa is program director of the Pediatric Pathology Fellowship, and Goldenring is a leader in the study of epithelial biology and pre-neoplastic changes related to gastric cancer. They are collaborating with other Vanderbilt colleagues in a consortium to decipher the pathophysiology of congenital diarrheas and to develop new ways to treat these diseases beyond supportive care and intestinal transplantation. The Oates Award recognizes their collaboration to solve this difficult biological challenge.