Skip to main content

Translational Research Forum highlights range of studies

Oct. 27, 2022, 9:36 AM

E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, speaks at last week’s Vanderbilt Translational Research Forum.
E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, speaks at last week’s Vanderbilt Translational Research Forum. (photo by Susan Urmy)

by Bill Snyder

Investigations of a recently discovered biomarker in the blood could lead to a precision medicine approach to identifying and treating early cardiovascular disease.

A family- and community-based behavioral intervention that encourages healthy lifestyles potentially may help stem the alarming rise of obesity in young children.

Laboratory research is revealing potential ways to diagnose and treat salt-sensitive hypertension that is driven by activation of part of the immune system.

These findings, presented Oct. 21 during the 2022 Vanderbilt Translational Research Forum, exemplify the range of studies conducted at Vanderbilt University Medical Center that are translating scientific discovery into clinical practice.

The annual forum, held at the Vanderbilt Student Life Center, featured poster sessions and research talks, and awards for distinguished service and excellence in mentoring translational scientists.

In a keynote address, Enrique Schisterman, PhD, Perelman Professor and chair of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania, described a multicenter randomized clinical trial of a folic acid/zinc supplement commonly taken by men to increase the chances that their partners will get pregnant and have a child.

The study found no significant difference in live births between treatment and placebo groups, while the men who took the supplement had increased rates of abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. This study illustrates, Schisterman said, the importance of communicating negative or “null” findings.

Fourteen faculty members presented their research during plenary sessions. They included:

  • Alexander Bick, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Genetic Medicine, who described clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), caused by a mutation in hematopoietic stem cells that ordinarily give rise to multiple blood cell types, as an inflammatory biomarker for cardiovascular disease.
  • Bill Heerman, MD, MPH, associate professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General Pediatrics, who discussed a Competency-based Approach to Community Health (COACH) to help families in the Latino community manage and potentially reduce rates of childhood obesity.
  • Annet Kirabo, DVM, MSc, PhD, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, whose team has identified immune mechanisms of salt-sensitive hypertension that could lead to the development of immunotherapeutic approaches to treatment.

Gordon Bernard, MD, the Melinda Owen Bass Professor of Medicine and VUMC Executive Vice President for Research, presented the Award for Excellence in Mentoring Translational Scientists to E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, the Grant W. Liddle Professor of Medicine, and co-director of the Critical Illness, Brain dysfunction, and Survivorship (CIBS) Center.

In accepting the award, Ely described his team’s efforts to help ICU survivors find rehabilitation services they need to rebuild their lives. “This work we do is all about the patient,” he said. “Ultimately, it is about reducing human suffering.”

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Vanderbilt Medicine
VUMC Voice