January 19, 2012

New leadership for HHMI certification program

New leadership for HHMI certification program

A program designed to inspire emerging basic scientists to pursue translational research is under new leadership.

Mark de Caestecker, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., associate professor of Nephrology, has been selected to direct the Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Certificate Program in Molecular Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Mark de Caestecker, M.B., B.S., Ph.D.

Mark de Caestecker, M.B., B.S., Ph.D.

Former director Louis Muglia, M.D., Ph.D., recently left Vanderbilt to accept a position at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. de Caestecker is a physician scientist who describes himself as a “blue sky” basic scientist at heart.

He says it is critical to have people who are driven by the need to understand basic science, and programs like this one ensure that science continues to advance the practice of medicine.

“Science is more competitive than ever, so that funding resources require a clear path to understanding and treating human disease. Young scientists benefit greatly from an understanding of the different routes their area of interest can take, so they can better select a path that can also lead to success in their career,” de Caestecker said.

Bryan Fioret is pursuing his Ph.D. in Pharmacology, but as part of the HHMI Certification Program he receives mentorship from both Antonis Hatzopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology, and Douglas Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Fioret’s research interests focus on how the adult heart repairs itself after a heart attack.

“The Certificate Program provides a clinical perspective to my research. It has been inspiring, since studying cardiovascular disease from different points of view can provide the unique insight necessary for the creation of novel solutions," Fioret said.

The program is administered through the Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training, led by Roger Chalkley, D.Phil., along with program coordinators Nadia Ehtesham and Abigail Brown.

Eight students per year are accepted into the three-year curriculum. The program is funded through the HHMI and provides partial support for participating students. Applications for next year’s class will be accepted in the summer.

For more information on the program, go to https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/cpmm.