March 10, 2011

Kennedy Center Science Day highlights crucial role of research

Kennedy Center Science Day highlights crucial role of research

Research is the ultimate health care reform, Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Maternal and Child Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said during the recent fourth annual Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Science Day.

“Discovery is the only reform of value,” said Gitlin, using the analogy of the iron lung made obsolete by the discovery of the polio vaccine. Discovery is all that will eventually make a difference in the lives of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.”

Gitlin, also James C. Overall Professor and chair of Pediatrics, said he was confident research support would continue despite the poor economy and the prospect of major cuts in federal spending.

“Good science has always been funded,” he said. “Good science will change lives forever.” Gitlin urged young researchers to believe in themselves and “have the courage to move forward.”

Dennis Hall, Ph.D., vice provost for Research and dean of the Graduate School, noted that Vanderbilt ranked 20th in 2007 in federal science and engineering support, according to the National Science Foundation, and placed 17th in the 2011 National University Rankings published by U.S. News and World Report.

“This shows what we can accomplish when we work together,” Hall said.

This year's Science Day broke attendance and participation records, attracting 105 poster presentations and a crowd of about 200 Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff.

For more on Science Day, including a list of award winners, go to and scroll down to “Recent Features.”