June 15, 2001

University of Iowa honors Vanderbilt faculty members

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Dr. Daryl K. Granner

Virginia L. Shepherd, Ph.D.

Virginia L. Shepherd, Ph.D.

Two Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty members were honored last week with alumni awards from their alma mater, the University of Iowa. Dr. Daryl K. Granner, Joe C. Davis Professor of Biomedical Science and director of the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center, received a Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement from the university, and Virginia L. Shepherd, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, received a Distinguished Alumni Award for Service from the College of Medicine.

“It’s obviously a terrific honor to be selected as one of the distinguished alumni,” Granner said. “The University of Iowa has been a major part of my life.” Granner earned his B.A., M.S., and M.D. degrees from the University of Iowa and later served on the faculty for 14 years.

The Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement is presented annually for “significant accomplishments in business or professional life or for distinguished human service.” Five awards for achievement were presented this year. The University of Iowa has 201,000 living alumni.

Granner was cited as an internationally recognized researcher who has carried out pioneering studies on how insulin regulates gene expression, leading to new insights on the pathophysiology of diabetes.

While a faculty member at Iowa, Granner was the youngest person ever appointed division director of Internal Medicine, heading the Endocrinology and Metabolism division. He also founded the University of Iowa Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center.

At Vanderbilt, Granner’s leadership of the department of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics propelled it to No. 1 ranking in NIH funding among physiology departments nationwide. He also served as director of the Medical-Scientist Training Program, which is regarded as one of the best such programs in the country.

Shepherd was one of three alumni honored by the College of Medicine for her community outreach activities. Like Granner, Shepherd earned all of her degrees – B.S., M.S., Ph.D. – from the University of Iowa. “I have always felt a special bond with Iowa,” she said, “so receiving this award is truly a great honor for me.”

Shepherd has worked to create numerous programs that bring science and technology to K-12 teachers and students. These include workshops for science teachers, CD-ROMs with immunology, neuroscience, and genetics lessons for middle and high school classrooms, a program called Kids and Computers, a science summer camp for girls, and a program that puts graduate students into science classrooms.

“I enjoy working with K-12 teachers and students, to see firsthand the amazing impact that even small scale programs can have on education,” she said. “I have worked with some truly outstanding educators, and the positive and enthusiastic outlook has been infectious.”

Last year, Shepherd received a national award honoring her outreach efforts – the Bruce Alberts Award for Distinguished Contributions to Science Education.