December 1, 2006

Stahlman symposium highlights research advances

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Mildred Stahlman, M.D., at the second annual Stahlman Symposium.
Photo by Mary Donaldson

Stahlman symposium highlights research advances

Mildred Stahlman, M.D., was overwhelmed.

“The breadth of the scientific potential of this group of people is really amazing,” she said last week, following the second annual symposium celebrating the endowed Stahlman chairs at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Speakers included:

• Mark J. Bliton, Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, who discussed the ethical dimensions of hope among participants in the ongoing study of in utero surgical repair for fetal spina bifida;

• Gregory Mundy, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Center in Bone Biology and holder of the John A. Oates Chair in Translational Medicine, who described his center's efforts to develop new methods for treating osteoporosis and cancer metastasis;

• Carol Rouzer, M.D., Ph.D., research professor of Biochemistry, who discussed the unique role of the COX-2 enzyme in forming glycerylprostaglandins, which may have important physiological functions; and

• Alfredo Vergara, Ph.D., assistant professor of Preventive Medicine and former CDC Global AIDS Program director in Mozambique, who described a Vanderbilt-led effort to extend AIDS treatment in that southeast African nation.

The speakers were introduced by some of the current Stahlman chair holders. The 10 chairs are supported by an endowment made by James G. Stahlman, the longtime publisher of the Nashville Banner and member of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust who died in 1976.

His daughter, Mildred, an internationally known neonatologist who helped pioneer the intensive care of premature infants, concluded the symposium with a quotation of Nobel laureate Jacques Monod: “In science, self-satisfaction is death. It is restlessness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and agony of the mind that nourish science.”

“None of us can be satisfied with what we know and what we're doing,” Stahlman said. “We must always consider these attributes — what will nourish us — to be a better scientist.”