March 14, 2003

Santoro to lead Pathology

Featured Image

Santoro to lead Pathology

Dr. Samuel A. Santoro, director of the Division of Laboratory Medicine and Conan Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Pathology & Immunology and Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named chair of the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Santoro, also named Dorothy B. and Theodore R. Austin Professor of Pathology, is a 1979 graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he received his M.D./Ph.D. degrees. Dr. David R. Head, professor of Pathology and medical director of the diagnostic laboratories at VUMC, has served as interim chair of the department since Dr. Doyle G. Graham vacated the position in 2001. Santoro will assume the position May 1.

“The department of Pathology is one of the most distinguished and most central departments to every aspect of our teaching, patient care and research programs at Vanderbilt,” said Dr. Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine. “We are so pleased that Dr. Santoro will assume the leadership of the department. He is an individual who is part of Vanderbilt’s past and will make a significant difference in its future.”

Santoro, 52, is originally from West Palm Beach, Fla. He received an undergraduate degree from Emory University and upon graduation from VUSM, served a residency in laboratory medicine at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where he became chief resident. He joined the Washington University faculty in 1981 as an assistant professor of Pathology and Medicine and quickly advanced to the rank of associate professor in 1985 and full professor in 1992.

He has directed various laboratories including the Clinical Hemostasis/Thrombosis and Clinical Hematology/Hemostasis labs since 1981 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and has also directed the residency training program in Laboratory Medicine at Barnes-Jewish and Washington University since 1999. He received his endowed chair, Conan Professor of Laboratory Medicine, in 2002.

“I’m excited about the tremendous growth taking place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in the department of Pathology,” Santoro said. “As an alumnus, I look forward to returning. I told Dean Gabbe that I am both honored and humbled at the same time to be offered this position of leadership at Vanderbilt. It’s a tremendous time to come.

“Vanderbilt is committed to growing their medical center to a truly elite status, and to building a truly elite department on top of an already existing base of excellence. I would not have accepted this job if that were not the case.”

Santoro will bring with him a research program which explores the fundamental mechanisms by which cells interact with their environment, specifically his more recent work focusing on the interaction of cells with collagens and the molecular mechanisms of cell-cell and cell-substrate adhesion.

His studies combine the application of modern protein and peptide biochemistry, immunochemical and molecular genetic approaches (including knockout mice) to address the fundamental role and mechanisms of cellular adhesion in complex cell biological processes.

“Dr. Santoro was one of the top candidates, if not the top candidate, early on in the search process,” said Dr. Harold L. Moses, Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center director, and chair of the search committee for a new chair in Pathology. “He is an outstanding scientist with a competitive research program, which is very important for the chair of a department. He has also demonstrated leadership skills, such as heading the clinical laboratory program at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish. He has a track record of mentoring junior faculty and that’s a wonderful trait to have in a new chair.”

Santoro leaves behind many “stunned” colleagues who thought he would never leave Washington University, he said. “I’ve accepted an incredible opportunity and I’m absolutely thrilled by it.”