February 22, 2008

Conn to hold newly endowed chair honoring Limbird

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Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D.

Conn to hold newly endowed chair honoring Limbird

Lee Limbird, Ph.D.

Lee Limbird, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., has been named the first Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The chair was established recently to honor Limbird, former chair of Pharmacology and former associate vice chancellor for Research at Vanderbilt.

“I am delighted to be honored with an endowed chair that bears her name,” said Conn, professor of Pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Program in Drug Discovery. “Lee has had a tremendous impact on my career and was a real role model for me when I was a graduate student at Vanderbilt.”

A star-studded symposium on March 3 will celebrate the new chair. It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. in 208 Light Hall.

In addition to Conn and Limbird, invited speakers include:

Mark Bear, Ph.D., director of the Picower Center for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Lefkowitz, M.D., the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and of Biochemistry at Duke University; and Edward Scolnick, M.D., former president of Merck Research Laboratories, and current director of the Psychiatric Disease Program at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass.

Conn, who led the neuroscience program at Merck for several years, said Bear was a longtime colleague whose work “has influenced our emerging efforts to discover novel therapeutic approaches for childhood developmental disorders.”

Lefkowitz pioneered the field of G protein-coupled receptors, and mentored Limbird when she was a post-doctoral fellow at Duke in the 1970s. Similarly, Conn said that Scolnick, whose diverse scientific contributions date back to the late 1960s, mentored him at Merck, “and played a major role in shaping my approach to translational research and drug discovery.”

Limbird, currently professor of Cardiovascular Biology at Meharry Medical College and adjunct professor of Pharmacology at Vanderbilt, said the speakers demonstrate how “outstanding science” can move between academia and industry. “This is why having Jeff Conn being the first occupant of a chair in my name is such an honor, and such a delight,” she said.

“The endowment of the Lee Limbird Chair is the culmination of an outpouring of generous support from many 'friends of Lee,'” said Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology. “The symposium will highlight the connection between the research areas of Drs. Limbird and Conn, and promises to be an exciting day of science.”

For more information about the symposium, contact Elaine Brown in the Department of Pharmacology at 343-3533 or elaine.brown@vanderbilt.edu.