Vanderbilt University recently honored several faculty members for their years of service and bestowed on them the title of emeritus or emerita faculty. Among them were 15 from the School of Medicine.
Joey V. Barnett, PhD, professor of Pharmacology, emeritus. Barnett’s research identified specific roles of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) receptor (TGFβR3) in regulating cell behavior and differentiation in the cardiovascular system and revealed novel TGFβ signaling mechanisms. These insights directly impact efforts to develop and use therapeutics that target TGFβ signaling pathways in homeostasis and disease. His exploration of the molecular and genetic pathways that regulate formation of the cardiovascular system was recognized by his election as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A longtime proponent of diversity and equity, he was awarded the American Heart Association’s Louis B. Russell Jr. Memorial Award for developing mentoring partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities to increase the number of scientists and physicians from underrepresented groups.
Roger Chalkley, D.Phil, professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, emeritus. Chalkley was a pioneer in the study of histones and histone modification, and his work has been heavily cited. His paper on histone electrophoresis has been referenced more than 10,000 times. He was the first to show that there are just five types of histone, and he also was involved in the sequencing of histone H3. He was the first to demonstrate that in the female reproductive system, estrogen is actively transported across the cell wall and then rapidly migrated into the cell nucleus where it binds with very high specificity to chromatin in the nucleus. In creating the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, or IGP, he has transformed recruiting and training at Vanderbilt. The IGP was the second umbrella graduate program in the U.S. and became a national model.
Peter Jeffrey Conn, PhD, professor of Pharmacology, emeritus. Conn is the founding director and director emeritus of the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt (WCNDD). The primary focus of research in the Conn laboratory is to develop a detailed understanding of the cellular mechanisms involved in regulating signaling through brain circuits that are impacted in neurological and psychiatric disorders, providing insights for development of novel therapeutic strategies. The primary mission of his lab and of the WCNDD is to build on fundamental breakthroughs in neuroscience to develop novel treatment strategies for brain disorders. His lab focuses specific efforts on metabotropic glutamate receptors and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and the roles of individual receptor subtypes in regulating brain function. Conn has built on these advances to develop novel treatments for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and other central nervous system disorders.
Ariel Y. Deutch, PhD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, emeritus. Dr. Deutch focused his efforts on probing the role of dopamine in neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly schizophrenia and Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Upon arriving at Vanderbilt, he established a thriving research program in PD and established the internationally recognized Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease at Vanderbilt. Concurrently, he continued his work on elucidating the mechanisms of action of antipsychotic drugs in schizophrenia. These latter studies contributed much of the preclinical basis for the revised dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia, still a cornerstone for the field’s understanding of schizophrenia. Deutch has been extensively involved in service, both intramural and extramural. The latter activities included being a standing member of four National Institutes of Health study sections, including four years as chair of the Neuropharmacology and Neurochemistry Research Review Committee.
Roland Eavey, MD, SM, professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, emeritus. Eavey served as director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Guy M. Maness Professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, executive medical director of the Vanderbilt Employee Health Plans, and executive medical director of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of Population Health. He has contributed more than 200 publications to journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Genetics, and has been a contributor to mass market periodicals such as People, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and O, The Oprah Magazine. Dr. Eavey has served as the American ear representative to the World Health Organization and co-founded the Interamerican Association of Pediatric Otolaryngology.
Jo-David Fine MD, MPH, professor of Dermatology, emeritus. The scientific focus of Fine’s academic work for decades has been the pathogenesis, diagnosis and care of patients with epidermolysis bullosa, a heterogeneous collection of inherited diseases in which the skin and other epithelia are mechanically fragile. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leaders in scholarly activity related to the understanding, taxonomy, pathophysiology and care of this disease. This expertise is visible in his multiple peer-reviewed publications, monographs, positions on national and international grant review committees, and extramural funding. He is most passionate, however, about the education and mentorship of learners in dermatology, having trained more than 130 dermatology residents, as well as having influenced many medical students and junior faculty in dermatology.
Allen B. Kaiser, MD, professor of Medicine, emeritus. In 1974 Kaiser joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an assistant professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at the newly established clinical training program at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville. From 2004 to 2014 Dr. Kaiser served as chief of staff of Vanderbilt University Hospital, and from 2014 until his retirement in 2022 he served as associate chief of clinical staff and physician adviser to the chief of clinical staff. Dr. Kaiser served as an invited consultant to U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention working groups related to prevention of surgical wound infections (1981) and prevention of HIV infection in health care workers (1987). Kaiser is identified as a pioneer in the epidemiology of hospital infections, with special expertise in the pathophysiology and prevention of surgical wound infection. Within the Vanderbilt community he also is regarded as a thoughtful mentor to numerous physician-leaders. He was president of the Society for Health Care Epidemiology of America (1986). He has authored 17 book chapters and more than 70 peer-reviewed publications.
Howard Kirshner, MD, professor of Neurology, emeritus. Kirshner came to Vanderbilt in 1978. Early on, in addition to publications on post-stroke aphasia, he investigated neurodegenerative language disorders. He then shifted emphasis toward clinical trials in stroke, involving acute stroke treatment, prevention and rehabilitation. In 1998, Harry Jacobson, MD, vice chancellor for health affairs at VUMC, selected Dr. Kirshner to direct the newly designated Vanderbilt Stroke Center. The center achieved Primary Stroke Center accreditation in 2005 and Comprehensive Stroke Center status since 2013. His interest in neurorehabilitation led to faculty roles with the Vanderbilt Rehabilitation Service and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital, and appointment as medical director of the Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute at Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center. He is the book review editor for Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, a board member of the National Aphasia Association, and manages stroke adjudications for the C3FIT study, the results of which will provide high-quality scientific evidence to determine the best stroke care design that ensures positive health for patients and caregivers
Nancy M. Lorenzi, PhD, MLS, MA, professor of Biomedical Informatics, emerita. Lorenzi served as professor of Biomedical Informatics, clinical professor of Nursing, and vice president for strategic change management. In the early 2000s, the Department of Biomedical Informatics was awarded a new training program grant, and she taught in the training program from its inception to the spring 2021. She has mentored students through their master’s and PhD degrees. Her research, focused on managing technological change related to information technology, was conveyed in more than 200 articles and eight books. Operationally, Lorenzi’s service to VUMC has focused on planning, designing and implementing clinical information systems. Her initial project was designing a people-process strategy that led to the very successful StarPanel system. She is the only U.S. citizen elected president of the International Medical Informatics Association (2004–07) and chair of the board of directors for the American Medical Informatics Association (2010–11).
Robert Matusik, PhD, professor of Urology, emeritus. Matusik became director of the Vanderbilt Prostate Cancer Center in 1996. He has been studying prostate disease for 43 years, publishing 156 manuscripts which have been cited more than 13,000 times. Dr. Matusik’s research enabled scientists to target gene expression specifically to the mouse prostate, allowing for the development of transgenic mouse models for prostate cancer. Dr. Matusik’s research contributions resulted in the Society for Basic Urologic Research presenting him with the Meritorious Achievement Award in 2007. He received the William L. Bray Chair in Urology at Vanderbilt in 2011, and in 2015 he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “developing tools to create genetically engineered models of prostate cancer, studying androgen receptor action, and defining pathways in the development of prostate cancer.”
Wallace Neblett, MD, professor of Pediatric Surgery, emeritus. Neblett joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1980 as a clinical instructor in surgery, and just four years later accepted the appointment as chairman of the Department of Pediatric Surgery. In 2011, after 27 years, he stepped down from his duties as chair of the department and program director of fellowship training. Dr. Neblett has served as chair of the Children’s Operating Room Steering Committee, vice chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences, member of the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Board, and member of the university Faculty Senate. He has also served as president of the Nashville Surgical Society, secretary and president of the H. William Scott, Jr. Society, and member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Southern Surgical Association.
John H. Newman, MD, professor of Medicine, emeritus. Newman was recruited to Vanderbilt in 1979, was awarded the Elsa S. Hanigan Chair in Pulmonary Medicine in 1985, and became the chief of pulmonary medicine at the Vanderbilt training affiliate, St. Thomas Hospital, from 1984 to 1995. He was then recruited to be chief of the medical service at the Nashville VA Hospital, from 1995 to 2003. He then became director of the medical school first-year physiology course and the director of the Pulmonary-Critical Care Fellowship Program. He had continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health for 45 years, with three NIH grants in 2021, one as co-principal investigator in the Vanderbilt site of the Undiagnosed Disease Network. He has more than 120 publications, seven in The New England Journal of Medicine. He was instrumental in finding the gene for heritable human pulmonary hypertension, the gene for brisket disease in cattle, and a gene involved in IgG4-related disease. He has mentored multiple successful young investigators and teachers in the field of pulmonary disease and pulmonary hypertension, many of whom are now national leaders
William Petrie, MD, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, emeritus. Petrie initially joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt Department of Psychiatry in 1977. He was a research psychiatrist, initially at the National Institute of Mental Health and then at Vanderbilt. He began his geriatric psychiatry career at the Tennessee Neuropsychiatric Institute (TNI) and opened a 30-bed geriatric psychiatry unit at the TNI in 1978. He worked with Dr. Charles Wells to set up and later direct a geriatric psychiatry unit with 60 beds at HCA Parthenon Pavilion. He started an outpatient geriatric psychiatry practice, where he conducted clinical trials for behavioral and cognitive studies in psychopharmacology. He returned to Vanderbilt in 2011 as a professor of clinical psychiatry and reinvigorated the clinical services for older adults, including an inpatient geriatric psychiatry service at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital. He helped to design the Vanderbilt electroconvulsive therapy program, where he still attends each week with his geriatric patients. Petrie is the most recognized geriatric psychiatrist in Tennessee, widely respected for his care of patients with Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, collaborating frequently with colleagues in Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Albert B. Reynolds, PhD, professor of Pharmacology, emeritus. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Virginia, Reynolds was instrumental in identifying several of the first bona fide steroid receptor coactivator (SRC) substrates, including focal adhesion kinase (FAK), cortactin, actin filament associated protein (AFAP) and p120-catenin (p120). Today these substrates permeate almost every aspect of modern cell biology, as evidenced by more than 9,000 citations to date on these four substrates alone. Reynolds joined the Department of Cell Biology at Vanderbilt in 1995 and devoted the better part of his career to elucidating p120’s important roles in cell-cell adhesion and cancer. Often cited as the “father of p120,” he led the field for more than two decades as it morphed into an important and still expanding branch of the classical cadherin domain. Over the course of his career, he published more than 130 papers and mentored more than 24 graduate and postdoctoral fellows.
Donna L. Seger, MD, professor of Medicine, emerita. Seger was the first toxicology fellow in the U.S. In 1988, she joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt Department of Emergency Medicine. She established a toxicology fellowship in 1989 and subsequently mentored six fellows. The same year she established a toxicology consult service at VUMC. Seger then established toxicology rotations for the residents/fellows at Vanderbilt. In 1990, she became the medical/executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center, a program at Vanderbilt. Seger was the first female president of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, and the first person to receive both the Career Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Award from that organization. She also received the Roche Award for education from the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists. She is credited with changing clinical practice in the reevaluation of the administration of charcoal and the discovery that high-dose naloxone reverses the effects of clonidine.