September 24, 2004

Three new awards honor research staff

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Vanderbilt researchers Richard Robinson, Brenda Crews, center, and Annette Oeser were honored at the inaugural Research Staff Awards luncheon last week.

Three new awards honor research staff

Medical Center faculty recognized three members of the research staff for their contributions and service at the inaugural Research Staff Awards luncheon held at the University Club on Sept. 12.

Each recipient was presented with an engraved crystal award and a check for $1,000.

“The research enterprise is built on the foundation of a bright, competent, highly motivated, hard-working, and devoted research staff,” said Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research, addressing the faculty and staff at the ceremony. “Without you, we would not be the nation’s fastest growing research enterprise. This is an opportunity for us to do something we don’t do often enough, and that is to thank you for helping to make this possible.”

Steven Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine, presented the Laboratory Science Award for Excellence in Basic Research to Brenda Crews, a senior research specialist in the department of Biochemistry.

In her 25 years at Vanderbilt, Crews has published nearly 40 journal articles in prestigious academic journals and worked with Nobel laureate Stanley Cohen, Ph.D.

After Cohen retired, “the faculty held a ‘Brenda sweepstakes’ to see who would be fortunate enough to have her come work with them in their laboratory, and Dr. Marnett was so happy that he won,” Gabbe said.

“The breadth of the experimental techniques in our laboratory are a largely a credit to her creativity and energy,” said Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D., Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research and professor of Biochemistry. “On a different level, she has really become the ‘den mother’ for the group. She is — on a personal and professional level — a perfect nominee for this award and sets an extremely high bar for the next awardee.”

Richard Robinson, a research assistant III in the department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, received the Award for Excellence in Research Contributing to Multi-Investigator Teams.

Robinson, who has been employed as a teaching and research assistant at Vanderbilt for over 40 years, also participates in the Tennessee Lions preschool vision-screening program with Sean Donahue, M.D., Ph.D.

“The fact that Richard takes his profession and makes a difference not only at Vanderbilt but in the community shows that he is very deserving of this award,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, who presented the award.

“In addition to his technical skills, Richard has extraordinary integrity,” said Denis O’Day, M.D., professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. “As a scientist, you have to rely on your staff. He helped in the creative side of our research as well as in the ‘doing.’”

George Hill, Ph.D., associate dean for diversity at the School of Medicine, presented Annette Oeser, research assistant III in Clinical Pharmacology, with the Vivien Thomas Award for Excellence in Clinical Research.

“Annette has all the attributes one expects in an outstanding researcher,” Hill read from the letter nominating Oeser. “She is absolutely reliable, kind to patients, dedicated, does whatever needs to be done without being asked, is able to multitask, resourceful and is a pleasure to work with. Annette has virtually by herself managed the day-to-day running of a large research project of patients with lupus.”

“Her research skills actually come from her hobbies,” said C. Michael Stein, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and Pharmacology. Stein wrote the nominating letter.

“She’s an avid caver, and research is a bit like going into a cave. We are going into the unknown. And I’m so pleased to have someone like (Annette) to take us into that unknown.”