April 4, 2003

2003 teaching, research award recipients announced

Featured Image

Dr. Irwin M. Braverman discusses a painting at the Felts Lecture Tuesday in Light Hall. (photo by Anne Rayner Pollo)

The 2003 Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research were presented at the Spring Faculty Meeting.

The awards, presented by the faculty, recognize excellence in teaching and research.

The individual awards for Outstanding Contributions to Research are named in honor of current and past Vanderbilt faculty who were recognized during their careers by election to the National Academy of Sciences.

Excellence in teaching is recognized in both the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing. Outstanding Research is recognized throughout the Medical Center.

School of Medicine 2003 Excellence in Teaching award recipients are:

• Dr. G. Roger Chalkley, professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, professor of Biochemistry, senior associate dean for Biomedical Research, Education, and Training — Innovation in Educational Programming That Has Proven to be Effective

Chalkley is cited for his key role in the development of Vanderbilt’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP). At a time when most graduate programs were organized and administered by individual departments, Chalkley envisioned that all of the Vanderbilt graduate programs would be strengthened by developing an interdisciplinary approach to program design and recruitment of students. In 2003, nearly 600 students are in the nine programs that make up the IGP.

• Paul A. Chang, research assistant professor of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery — Mentoring Graduate and/or Medical Students in the Research Setting

As Director of Research for the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, he has mentored a long list of medical students and surgical residents, many of whom currently hold positions in academic medical centers. Those he has mentored have been productive and have co-authored abstracts and publications.

• Dr. Marie R. Griffin, professor of Preventive Medicine, professor of Medicine — Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows in the Research Setting

Griffin came to Vanderbilt in 1986 as assistant professor of Preventive Medicine and assistant professor of Medicine. She was promoted to associate professor in 1990 and to professor in 1995. Within a few years of arriving at Vanderbilt and establishing her own research program, Griffin began to mentor a series of young physicians. In 1996, she collaborated with Dr. Wayne Ray in establishing the Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) program at Vanderbilt. Her involvement with that program furthered her involvement in mentoring junior investigators.

• Dr. Donald H. Rubin, professor of Medicine, professor of Microbiology and Immunology — Teaching Medical or Graduate Students or Practicing Physicians in the Small Group Setting

Rubin was nominated for this award because of his exemplary contributions as a small-group leader in the “Microbial Topics” segment of the first-year medical student course in microbiology and immunology. The task of the faculty preceptor in these small groups is to encourage students toward self-directed studies, lead students in the analysis of cases under discussion so as to link disease presentation and molecular mechanisms, and guide them in the use of the scientific literature in reaching understanding of the cases under discussion.

• Dr. Arthur P. Wheeler, associate professor of Medicine — Teaching Medical Students, Residents, and/or Fellows in the Clinical Setting

Wheeler fills a number of important roles at Vanderbilt. He is director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Training Program and director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit. He also co-chairs the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee of Vanderbilt University Hospital and serves on the Medical Staff Quality Review Committee. Wheeler has received formal recognition as a teacher and a physician.

• Dr. Keith D. Wrenn, professor of Emergency Medicine, associate professor of Medicine — Teaching Medical or Graduate Students or Practicing Physicians in the Lecture Setting

Wrenn became vice chair of the Vanderbilt Department of Emergency Medicine, associate professor of Emergency Medicine, and associate professor of Medicine in 1992. He was promoted to professor of Emergency Medicine in 1995. Wrenn’s excellence in teaching has been repeatedly affirmed by numerous teaching awards. He won the Vanderbilt Shovel Award in 1994 and again in 2001.

School of Nursing 2003 Excellence in Teaching award recipients are:

• Larry E. Lancaster, M.S.N., Ed.D., R.N., professor of Nursing — Teaching in the Lecture or Small Group Setting

Lancaster has served the School of Nursing in a variety of leadership positions, including director of the Graduate Adult Health Specialty and chair of the Department of Adult Health. In 1995, Lancaster was promoted to professor of Nursing. He teaches at both the master’s and doctoral levels in the School of Nursing. Testimony to Lancaster’s excellent teaching style are the numerous student-nominated awards he has received.

• Vaughn G. Sinclair, Ph.D., R.N., — Innovation in Educational Programming That Has Made a Significant Contribution to Teaching and Learning

Sinclair joined the faculty in the Mental Health specialty at the School of Nursing. In 2000, she was promoted to associate professor. In 1983, Sinclair developed and offered one of the first Nursing Informatics courses in the United States. Other innovative courses she has developed and refined over her 20 years of teaching have included courses titled “Health Care Financial Management” and “Interdisciplinary Issues.”

• Lani A. Kajihara-Liehr, M.S.N., R.N. — Teaching in the Clinical Setting

Kajihara-Liehr holds a dual appointment with the School of Nursing and the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where she runs an after-hours clinic for children in state custody. The strength of Kajihara-Liehr’s clinical teaching approach is her ability to bring many of her clinical experiences into the classroom, enlivening discussions and explanations. She utilized innovative Web-based learning strategies in clinical conferencing long before they were a core component of clinical teaching techniques.

2003 Outstanding Contributions to Research Awards include:

• Stanley Cohen Award— Heidi E. Hamm, Ph.D., Earl W. Sutherland Jr. Professor of Pharmacology and Chair of the Department, professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, For Research Bringing Diverse Disciplines, such as Chemistry or Physics, to Solving Biology’s Most Important Fundamental Problems

Hamm is a world leader in the area of G proteins, which are crucial in the signaling mechanisms underlying the actions of many hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as of sensory systems, such as vision, taste, and olfaction. Her research career began with studies of melatonin in the pineal gland and then moved to studies of rhodopsin, the major visual pigment of the eye.

• Sidney P. Colowick Award— Christopher V. E. Wright, D.Phil., professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, For Research That Serves as a Platform for Discovery in Diverse Areas

Wright’s early work involved the initial cloning and functional characterization of several TGF/BMP- and nodalrelated genes, defining them as mesodermal transducers. His studies also helped link the nodal-related genes to the genetic pathway that controls the left-right anatomical asymmetry of the vertebrate body, i.e., the placement of organs on specific sides of the body. This research has great relevance to human congenital syndromes, particularly those involving the heart and great vessel malformations. Wright’s current research focuses on the mechanisms of gene activation and cell interactions that lead to the formation, differentiation, and physiological maintenance of a fully functional pancreas from its normal precursors.

• William J. Darby Award — Dr. Kathryn M. Edwards, professor of Pediatrics, For Translational Research That Has Changed the Practice of Medicine Worldwide

Within the past year, Edwards has received NIH support to conduct clinical trials and test new vaccines in previously unimmunized adults and children—a landmark study receiving considerable national media attention. The studies have already contributed to our nation’s biodefense efforts, demonstrating that previously manufactured vaccines can be diluted and still induce immunity. As a result of her experience and achievements, Edwards is a consultant to advisory panels for the CDC, FDA and NIH, as well as international scientific advisory panels in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

• John H. Exton Award — Dr. Harold L. Moses, Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Clinical Oncology, professor of Cancer Biology, Pathology, and Medicine, For Research Leading to Innovative Biological Concepts

Moses began his research career in pathology studying the fine structure of the trigeminal ganglion and developing a methodology for histochemical localization of ATPase activity. His later studies on the effects of certain carcinogenic hydrocarbons on embryonic cells led to the recognition that chemically transformed cells had transforming growth factor activity, now known as transforming growth factor b (TGF b). He later showed that normal cells could also synthesize TGF b and developed a binding assay for TGF b receptors, thereby demonstrating that many cells have high affinity surface receptors for TGF b.

• Ernest W. Goodpasture Award — William D. Dupont, Ph.D., professor of Preventive Medicine (Biostatistics), and Dr. David L. Page, professor of Pathology, professor of Preventive Medicine, For Collaborative Studies That Address Important Biological Problems and Their Role in Disease Pathogenesis

Dupont and Page have collaborated over the past 25 years in internationally recognized studies on pre-malignant disease of the female breast. Their “patho-epidemiologic” studies have resulted in a new understanding of the pathogenesis of breast cancer, as well as a reclassification of the pathological criteria of pre-malignant breast disease, including definition of previously unrecognized breast lesions. In 1977,women who underwent breast surgery revealing non-cancerous tissue received a diagnosis of fibrocystic disease and were thought to be at increased risk of breast cancer. Today, the term fibrocystic disease has faded from clinical practice. Page and Dupont recognized that most women with fibrocystic changes do not have an elevated risk of breast cancer and that only a minority who have proliferative disease have a twofold elevation in risk.

• Grant W. Liddle Award — Dr. Dan M. Roden, William Stokes Professor of Experimental Therapeutics, professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, For Outstanding Contributions in Clinical Research

Roden began his career examining the effects of novel anti-arrhythmic agents on arrhythmia suppression as probes of inter-patient differences in drug metabolism. These studies yielded important clues about the concept that “idiosyncratic” drug reactions were related to knowable causes and, in many cases, related to variations in the enzymatic machinery for drug metabolism.

• Charles R. Park Award — Randy D. Blakely, Ph.D., Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology, For Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology

Blakely’s focus on neurotransmitter transporters has led to several internationally recognized discoveries. He was among the first to clone the DNA that encodes neurotransmitter transporters and later characterized the regions of these molecules that interact with neurotransmitters and with drugs of abuse, like cocaine and amphetamine.