May 12, 2011

Blakely to Step Down as Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience

Randy Blakely, Ph.D., the Allan D. Bass Professor of Pharmacology and professor of Psychiatry, will step down as director of the Vanderbilt Center for Molecular Neuroscience (CMN) effective July 1.

Blakely, who has led the CMN since it was established in 1996, will continue to direct the Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience Research at Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt Postdoctoral Training Program in Neurogenomics, while focusing on his own research.

The Vanderbilt Conte Center, established in 2007 with a $10 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, supports research on genes and proteins that control serotonin signaling during development and in the adult.

Blakely's research focuses on the biosynthesis and inactivation of neurotransmitters in the brain, brain disorders that arise through genetic and pharmacological alterations in these mechanisms, and the elucidation of novel central nervous system targets for medication development.

“Vanderbilt placed remarkable trust in my potential as a scientist and leader at a relatively early phase of my career and I have always felt a strong commitment to repay that investment,” Blakely said. “I am proud of what the CMN has provided over the years for our faculty and students and look forward to the continued excellence of our programs.”

“Vanderbilt has benefited tremendously from Dr. Blakely’s leadership of the Center for Molecular Neuroscience. His passion for building key research and training resources was critical to seeding discovery research in this discipline at Vanderbilt,” said Susan Wente, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research and senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences.

“Dr. Blakely has been a visionary leader for the neurosciences over the past 15 years, spearheading the growth of cellular and molecular neuroscience at Vanderbilt to a position of great national and international prominence,” said Mark Wallace, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

The CMN includes 64 investigators in 15 departments across the university.

“The Center’s initiatives have also broadly impacted the training of students and fellows, and the recruitment of faculty,” Wente added.

A faculty committee from the neuroscience community will be charged to provide recommendations on the transition plan for CMN moving forward.