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VUMC’s Kimryn Rathmell wins Doris Duke Foundation Paragon Award

Oct. 31, 2023, 10:42 AM

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

by Bill Snyder

Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, chair of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has received the Paragon Award for Research Excellence from the Doris Duke Foundation (DDF).

The award was presented to Rathmell and 24 others who are alumni of the Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Awards program during a ceremony Oct. 26 in New York City celebrating 25 years of support by the foundation for physician-scientists and clinical research.

The Paragon Award for Research Excellence is a one-time recognition of physician-scientists who have, according to the DDF, “significantly advanced knowledge toward the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease or who have, through their professional contributions, improved health outcomes of patients today.”

Rathmell, the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine, is internationally recognized for her molecular biology research in the pathogenesis of kidney cancer, nationally funded large-scale genomic studies of cancer, and clinical investigations that have brought new biomarkers, imaging modalities and life-saving therapies to patient care.

“This award means a lot to me,” Rathmell said. The Clinical Scientist Development Award she received “allowed our research to really move into the translational space — supporting our first foray into functional imaging with FDG-PET scans as a part of predicting patient response to therapy.”

“To look back now on 20-plus years of work, and the advances we’ve been a part of, is so exciting,” she said. “We’re still working on PET imaging with a deeper level of insight into the tumor physiology.

“The Doris Duke Foundation took a chance on me, as they do now with so many of the young faculty here at VUMC, knowing that young investigators with deep curiosity and the desire to advance human health are a great investment,” Rathmell said.

According to its official statement, the DDF “supports the well-being of people and the planet for a more creative, equitable and sustainable future.” The foundation operates five national programs — in the performing arts, the environment, medical research, child and family well-being, and mutual understanding between communities.

Through the Medical Research Program, the DDF strives to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease by strengthening and supporting clinical research.

The Paragon Award, it states, “is anchored in the conviction that to impact clinical outcomes, we need innovation on many fronts, the dedication of many to mentoring and the cultivation of promising ideas.”

For more information about the DDF, visit

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