As 2009 comes to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to
wish you well and to announce these important changes for senior
leadership within the departments of Cell and Developmental Biology and
Cancer Biology. These changes are effective January 1.
First, I would like to address leadership changes within the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.
In order to better address increasing responsibilities in her role
as the associate vice chancellor for Research and senior associate dean
for Biomedical Sciences, Susan Wente has decided to step down as chair
of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology after serving in
this role since 2002.
Under Susan’s leadership Cell and Developmental Biology has
recruited and retained a number of highly sought faculty, nurtured
cross-campus collaborations, and helped launch many new research
initiatives. The department’s extramural research grant portfolio
increased nearly 73 percent during this time. Of great importance, she
also devoted critical effort to mentoring faculty, students and fellows
and developing new programs to support these endeavors. With Susan’s
stewarding, the department’s contributions to our graduate and medical
education efforts have grown. In fact, the number of department
graduate students has expanded from 45 to 85 over the past 7 years.
Susan will continue to serve actively as professor within the
department and oversee her NIH-funded research program. I am grateful
for her service to the department and her willingness to continue
leading initiatives on an institutional level.
We are quite fortunate that Bill Tansey, Ingram Professor of Cancer
Research and professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, has agreed to
take over as the department’s interim chair.
Bill was recently recruited to VUMC and is fully prepared to handle
this transition given his prior leadership roles directing the Watson
School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and his
current efforts as co-leader of the VICC Genome Maintenance Program and
scientific director of the Vanderbilt Microarray Shared Resource.
Bill’s internationally recognized research program uses model systems
to study mechanisms of transcriptional regulation. I am most pleased to
welcome Bill to this key position within our leadership.
Secondly, please join me in welcoming home Lynn Matrisian as she
returns from a scholarly leave to resume her service as chair of Cancer
As many of you know, Lynn and Vanderbilt were honored by the
National Cancer Institute’s invitation to Lynn to serve on the NCI’s
Translational Research Working Group. This important endeavor has
resulted in the creation of Translational Research Advisory Committees
(internal and external to NIH), a new system for coding translational
grants, and the inception of an annual meeting of more than 800
translational cancer researchers.
The Working Group also initiated a new process to identify
translational research opportunities which merit acceleration and
developed a new funding mechanism for these opportunities (“STRAPs” --
Special Translational Research Acceleration Projects). The first cycle
of applications and awards is now unfolding, and Lynn will continue to
assist the Working Group in guiding this process over the next year. I
am thrilled that Lynn has represented Vanderbilt in helping to shape
the national vision for translational cancer research.
I want to offer special thanks also to Hal Moses for so ably serving
as interim chair during Lynn’s service at NCI. The department and
Medical Center have been fortunate indeed in benefitting from this
latest example of Hal’s leadership and service to Vanderbilt.
Please join me in offering Susan, Bill, Lynn, and Hal
congratulations and appreciation for their past and future
contributions to Vanderbilt.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. I expect that 2010 will
provide us with many opportunities to extend VUMC’s ever-growing record
Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine
Vanderbilt University Medical Center