April 16, 2004

Gabbe notes accomplishments, sets goals for faculty in annual address

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Steven G. Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, presided over the Spring Faculty Meeting on Wednesday. Photo by Dana Johnson

Gabbe notes accomplishments, sets goals for faculty in annual address

“He had some important guiding principles — that we maintain high standards, that we maintain enthusiasm for learning, that we continue caring for patients…that we support productive scholarship, that we work together and that we remember that medicine is ever changing,” Gabbe said.

“These are guiding principles he set back in the 1920s, but I would say that 80 years later they are still important principles that should guide us, and they are important principles for us to consider in our three tier mission — teaching, healing and discovery.”

With these in mind, Gabbe summarized the School of Medicine’s overall academic strategic plan, which includes recruiting, developing and maintaining the best students and faculty, growing the research program, rewarding excellence in teaching, expanding the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and increasing financial resources. Being in U.S. News and World Report’s top 10 medical schools by 2010 also remains a key goal for the School of Medicine.

“It’s not simply being ranked in the top 10, I think what’s most important is what’s being accomplished along that journey, and there’s no question in my mind that this past year much has been accomplished,” Gabbe said, noting new leadership, new departments, new professors and ongoing chair searches.

Gabbe outlined the school’s curriculum and highlighted areas that would continue to be emphasized: professionalism, communication skills, interdisciplinary teams, informatics, lifelong learning, Center for Evidence Based Medicine and cultural competence.

“I think [our curriculum] is best described as a student-centered curriculum, giving students the opportunity to explore different areas of interest,” he said.

Applying the overall academic strategic plan, Gabbe set the immediate goals for the School of Medicine: prepare for the Liaison Committee on Medical Education visit, plan for the Office of Medical Education and Learning Center, implement the curriculum revision process, initiate the Bridge Grant Program, begin construction on MRB IV, recruit new chairs and review the admissions procedures.

“Our mission in the school of medicine is a rather long paragraph, but I think it is best summed up in this: What we’re trying to do is have the best students, educated by the best faculty, in the best environment, so that they can become the best physicians and the best scientists,” Gabbe said.

The meeting concluded with the presentation of this year’s faculty awards. Frank H. Boehm, M.D., was the first recipient of an award for Excellence in Teaching — Contributions to Continuing Medical Education, which is named in his honor.

Faculty honored for teaching and research

The 2004 Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Contributions to Research were presented at the Spring Faculty Meeting Wednesday. The awards recognize excellence in teaching and research.

School of Medicine 2004 Excellence in Teaching award recipients are:

•Frank H. Boehm, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology — Contributions to Continuing Medical Education

Boehm has long been recognized for his contributions to the educational mission of the School of Medicine. December 2004 marks the 30th anniversary of the continuous annual offering of the “High Risk Obstetrics” seminar under the administration and guidance of Boehm. Each year, this highly successful program has attracted hundreds of obstetricians and, more recently, nurse practitioners. It is recognized as the premier program in the field.

•D. Catherine Fuchs, M.D., associate professor of Psychiatry — Teaching Medical or Graduate Students in the Small Group Setting

Fuchs was nominated for this award because of her excellence in teaching “Morning Report” during the psychiatry clerkship and as a small group leader in the “Ecology of Medicine” course. She conducts “Morning Report” for a period of 45 minutes, six days each week. Students have consistently considered these sessions to be “an essential and enriching part of the rotation” and have complimented her on “helping them learn diagnoses through these daily exercises.”

•Tadashi Inagami, Ph.D., Stanford Moore Professor of Biochemistry, professor of Medicine — Mentoring Post-Doctoral Fellows and/or Residents in the Research Setting

Inagami has had a distinguished career as an investigator concerned with the structure and function of hormones and receptors and the biochemistry and molecular biology of hypertension. Along with his remarkable research accomplishments, Inagami has an exceptional record for mentoring postdoctoral fellows in research. He has mentored 102 such fellows, including four that are currently in his laboratory. Many of Inagami’s trainees have become scientific leaders.

•Howard S. Kirshner, M.D., professor of Neurology, professor of Psychiatry, professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences — Teaching Medical Students, Residents and/or Fellows in the Clinical Setting

Kirshner has made outstanding contributions to teaching at Vanderbilt for more than 25 years. He has been director of the third-year neurology clerkship since 1981 and was director of the neurology residency program from 1983 to 1999. He runs the weekly course director’s conference for third-year students in the clerkship. Kirshner has also mentored neurology fellows, first in aphasia, and more recently in stroke.

•Jennifer A. Pietenpol, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research — Mentoring Graduate and/or Medical Students in the Research Setting

Pietenpol has established an international reputation for her work on the regulation of the cell cycle and the molecular biology of cancer, yet she considers mentoring students one of her most rewarding tasks.

•Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D., professor of Preventive Medicine — Innovation in Educational Programming That Has Proven Effective

Ray’s nomination for this award is based on his leadership role in the creation of the Master of Public Health program to train young investigators in clinical and epidemiological research. The M.P.H. program was the first non-M.D. program approved by Vanderbilt University to be awarded through the School of Medicine; it introduced the medical center research community to training in the population-based disciplines. Since its inception in 1996 through commencement of 2004, a total of 41 trainees will have earned an M.P.H. degree in the program.

•Luc Van Kaer, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology and Immunology — Teaching Medical or Graduate Students in the Lecture Setting

Van Kaer was nominated for this award primarily for the excellence of his contributions to the first-year medical school course in microbiology and immunology. Since Van Kaer assumed responsibility for a major portion of the lectures, the course has reached an extraordinary level of student appreciation. In recent years, 86 percent of the students have given the course an overall rating of A with 99 percent of students rating the course either an A or B+.

The 2004 Outstanding Contributions to Research Awards are:

•Stanley Cohen Award, David W. Piston, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Biology and Biophysics, professor of Physics — For Research Bringing Diverse Disciplines, such as Chemistry or Physics, to Solving Biology’s Most Important Fundamental Questions

Piston is an international leader in the development of advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques and their application to research. With the use of molecular variants of the green fluorescent protein from jellyfish, the methods that Piston and his colleagues developed have become nearly a standard means for studying sub-cellular dynamics. Piston has applied these imaging advances to studies of metabolism, calcium signaling, and macromolecular interactions within pancreatic beta cells, leading to a more detailed understanding of where specific molecules are located in cells and of how they move in response to various stimuli.

•Sidney P. Colowick Award, F. Peter Guengerich, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry — For Research that Serves as a Platform for Discovery in Diverse Areas

Guengerich’s detailed biochemical studies have had a major impact on the understanding of drug metabolism and pharmacology. His research has resulted in a number of significant and original findings with lasting and far-reaching impact. Guengerich’s work is ranked in the “highly cited” category in toxicology, biochemistry/biology and pharmacology. It currently is listed third in the world. The award is in recognition of his multiple discoveries in the biochemistry of cytochrome P450 and the importance of these enzymes in multiple arenas of investigation.

•William J. Darby Award, Randolph A. Miller, M.D., chair of the department of Biomedical Informatics, professor of Biomedical Informatics, professor of Medicine — For Translational Research that has Changed the Practice of Medicine Worldwide

Miller is recognized internationally as a pioneer in biomedical informatics, beginning his career before its recognition as a science. Miller’s arrival at Vanderbilt coincided with efforts to implement physician order entry, a system that physicians found time-consuming and difficult to navigate. Miller spent two weeks in the trenches as a medical receptionist and, with this practical experience, his knowledge of personal computers and artificial intelligence, and help from Antoine Geissbuhler, M.D., WizOrder was born. The program is now the primary vehicle for Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s effort to reduce variability in practice.

•John H. Exton Award, Lee E. Limbird, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology — For Research Leading to Innovative Biological Concepts

When Limbird arrived at Vanderbilt, she turned her attention to adrenergic receptors, work that she has continued to the present and which has resulted in many seminal contributions to the field. Most recently, Limbird’s laboratory has demonstrated that different receptors are targeted to different membranes of kidney cells. The award recognizes her distinguished career and pivotal studies elucidating the functions of adrenergic receptors.

•Ernest W. Goodpasture Award, Alastair J.J. Wood, M.D., professor of Medicine, professor of Pharmacology, and C. Michael Stein, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, associate professor of Pharmacology — For Collaborative Studies that Address Important Biological Problems and their Role in Disease Pathogenesis

Wood and Stein have used their diverse but overlapping backgrounds to establish a collaboration in human clinical pharmacology. This award is in recognition of their internationally accepted collaborations unmasking underlying modulation of sympathetic activity that have improved therapy for common diseases such as hypertension and for their work defining ethnic differences in certain polymorphisms that may contribute to variations in drug response.

•Grant W. Liddle Award, Grant R. Wilkinson, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology — For Outstanding Contributions in Clinical Research

In the 1980s, Wilkinson identified the roles of lipophilicity and protein binding to the brain uptake of the anti-anxiety drug diazepam and related benzodiazepines. This work has recently been extended to identify the critical role of drug transport molecules in the blood-brain barrier. Wilkinson’s work with drug transporters not only defined a further molecular basis for variability in drug actions, but also explains clinically important and heretofore poorly understood drug interactions. The award recognizes his career-long commitment to understanding variable drug disposition at the molecular and genetic level and its profound impact on how clinicians use drugs to treat human disease as well as for how the pharmaceutical industry develops and evaluates new drug candidates.

•Charles R. Park Award, Luc Van Kaer, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology and Immunology — For Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology

In 1993, Van Kaer was recruited to Vanderbilt and currently is professor of Microbiology and Immunology. At Vanderbilt, Van Kaer’s work continues to focus on molecular programming of the immune system and its defects in models of autoimmune diseases. As reported in Science, Van Kaer is renowned for collegial sharing of all his genetically engineered mouse strains. In recognition of discoveries that have led to significant advances in our understanding of the development of type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus dermatitis, and organ transplantation,

School of Nursing 2004 Excellence in Teaching award recipients are:

•Alison Cohen, R.N., instructor in Nursing — Teaching in the Clinical Setting

Cohen received her M.S.N. degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing before joining the faculty in 2001. Fellow nurse practitioners have said Cohen has a passion for serving the underserved and she is recognized for her ability to convey the importance of this mission to her students, and has the ability to explain the plight of her patients in a way that helps students understand the impact of socio-economics on patient conditions.

•Karen D’Apolito, Ph.D., R.N., Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program director, assistant professor of Nursing — Innovation in Educational Programming that has made a Significant Contribution to Teaching & Learning

D’Apolito joined the VUSN faculty in 1998 as director of the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program. In August 2000, under D’Apolito’s direction, the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program was changed from a traditional method of classroom teaching to a modified distance program. The move has allowed students to use the Internet to view live, video-streamed lectures being conducted at the school from home. D’Apolito has also used technology in innovative ways to connect with her students.

•Charlotte Covington, R.N., associate professor of Nursing — Teaching in the Lecture or Small Group Setting

Covington has been a member of the Nursing School faculty since 1993. She has been a family nurse practitioner for 15 years. She practices at the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter in Nashville, where she recruits a small group of students who are interested in working with this patient population to educate them about the issues surrounding the women and children at the shelter. Students working with Covington have the opportunity to observe and assist her as she manages physical problems of the adult female and pediatric patients.