August 7, 2009

Friends, colleagues honor Morrow’s contributions

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Dan Roden, M.D., speaks at last week’s symposium honoring the life and work of Jason Morrow, M.D. (photo by Joe Howell)

Friends, colleagues honor Morrow’s contributions

Vanderbilt faculty, family, collaborators and friends gathered in a packed Langford Auditorium last Friday to honor the late Jason Morrow, M.D., at a scientific symposium celebrating his life and work.

Morrow was the former chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt Medical Center. His colleagues and collaborators gave presentations and remembered his extraordinary impact that continues to grow one year after his death.

“He laid down the foundation for the next generation of clinical pharmacology,” said Heidi Hamm, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology. “He engineered so many collaborations across different research areas with only a few words or a casual meeting. He encouraged so many scientists by just perceiving what was going on and knowing the right thing to say.”

Morrow joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1994 and was later named the F. Tremaine Billings Professor of Medicine and professor of Pharmacology.

His contributions to the field include co-authoring more than 200 scientific papers, partnering in the discovery of a series of compounds called isoprostanes, and touching the lives of countless scientists and clinicians through his roles as a researcher, administrator and mentor.

These contributions are exemplified by the fact that his scholarly impact continues to grow through previous collaborations.

“He (posthumously) published 19 papers this year,” marveled Eric Neilson, M.D., chair of the Department of Medicine. “He had a connection with many people throughout the United States and in many parts of the world.”

“Jason Morrow was iconic. He remains an icon in my life,” said Thomas Montine, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Neuropathology at the University of Washington in Seattle and a former Vanderbilt faculty member. Montine's presentation, “Therapeutic Targets for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia,” included his research on neuroprostanes, an analogue of isoprostanes, demonstrating the wide-ranging influence of Morrow's discovery.

The presentations were given by a group of physicians and scientists from such institutions as the University of Pennsylvania, Weill Cornell Cancer Center, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Vanderbilt presenters included Jackson Roberts, M.D., Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., John Oates, M.D., and Dan Roden, M.D., each highlighting work in which Marrow was deeply interested and involved.

To Hamm, Morrow was the ideal clinician-researcher whose career can serve as a guidebook to those in the field.

“Jason was widely resourceful. His energy and optimism were contagious. His impact on people's lives though his various leadership roles at Vanderbilt, as well as though his research roles, lives on.”