June 29, 2007

Emeson named to neuroscience leadership post

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Ronald Emeson, Ph.D.

Emeson named to neuroscience leadership post

Ronald Emeson, Ph.D., has been named deputy director of the Center for Molecular Neuroscience (CMN). In the newly created position, Emeson will assume responsibility for maintaining and expanding the center's research resources, and will launch a new Program in Nervous System Engineering.

“I am very happy to have Ron joining the leadership team of the CMN,” said Randy Blakely, Ph.D., director of the CMN. “He brings a wealth of experience in molecular neurobiology and a terrific attitude toward sustaining infrastructure and programs that advance our research and training programs.

“I know that Ron will bring fresh ideas and insights that help orient the CMN and its activities for years to come.”

Emeson noted the dramatic growth in neuroscience research and training at Vanderbilt since the area was targeted for investment by the Medical Center 10 years ago. This year's neuroscience program retreat boasted more than 70 students, compared to two at the first annual event, he said. And the neuroscience program ranked second in the country for scholarly output in 2005, according to the latest Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, released in January by Academic Analytics.

“With this tremendous growth in neuroscience at Vanderbilt and how well we're doing, we need to continually update and grow the resources we have for the neuroscience research community,” Emeson said.

The CMN directly supports three research resources with expertise in neurogenomics, neurochemistry and imaging. Emeson will oversee the development of those cores, identify new sources of revenue, and improve and extend the services and customer base.

Emeson is also excited by the opportunity to give shape to the new Program in Nervous System Engineering. As part of this program, Emeson plans to expand the capabilities of the Transgenic Mouse/ES Cell Shared Resource, which he has directed since 2005, to offer enhanced services related to the generation of genetically modified mice.

“I think we can lower the entry barriers and have many more investigators using mice to develop genetically modified models of human disease,” Emeson said.

Other aspects of the Program in Nervous System Engineering will include developing resources for viral vector-based tissue-selective gene expression in mouse models, promoting research focused on directed stem cell “maturation” into neuronal cell types, and exploring the potential for bioengineering-based therapies for nervous system disorders.

Emeson's research focuses on the cellular and molecular processes underlying neuronal communication in normal and pathophysiologic disease states.

He is an expert on RNA editing, a process that changes the coding potential of RNAs and the functional properties of the encoded proteins.

Emeson earned his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego, before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 1991.

He has been twice honored with the Department of Pharmacology Teaching Award and served as the department's director of Graduate Studies from 1996 to 2001.

He currently serves as vice chair of the University Faculty Senate.

Emeson is the Joel G. Hardman Professor of Pharmacology. Blakely is the Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology.