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Institute of Chemical Biology expands leadership

BY: BILL SNYDER

6/02/2011 - 

Gary Sulikowski, Ph.D.

Gary Sulikowski, Ph.D.

Brian Bachmann, Ph.D.

Brian Bachmann, Ph.D.

Alex Brown, Ph.D.

Alex Brown, Ph.D.

Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH

Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH

Michelle Sulikowski, Ph.D.

Michelle Sulikowski, Ph.D.

As it approaches its 10-year anniversary, the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology (VICB) has recruited some of Vanderbilt's top scientific talent to expand its leadership cadre.

Gary Sulikowski, Ph.D., is the institute's new deputy director, succeeding Ned Porter, Ph.D., who stepped down last fall to focus on his research. Sulikowski also is associate director for Chemical Synthesis.

Other recently-named associate directors and their areas are Brian Bachmann, Ph.D., Molecular Discovery; Alex Brown, Ph.D., Systems Analysis; Eric Skaar, Ph.D., MPH, Translation/Therapeutics; and Michelle Sulikowski, Ph.D., Education.

The VICB was established in 2002 as a joint venture between the School of Medicine and the College of Arts and Science with support from the University's Academic Venture Capital Fund. Since then, it has established a high-throughput screening facility, a chemical synthesis facility, an antibody and protein resource and a small molecule NMR facility.

The institute also recruited several faculty members from leading universities and the pharmaceutical industry, and helped initiate neuroscience and cancer drug discovery programs.

Porter, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry and professor of Biochemistry, “played a critical role in building the VICB,” said Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., the institute's founding director and University Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry. Currently there are more than 70 VICB investigators representing 18 academic departments.

The associate directors are applying their diverse skill sets to creating new opportunities for discovery, Marnett said. One of the institute's goals is to enhance its screening collection of biologically active compounds by adding proteins and natural products to its collection of small molecules.

Due in part to the economy, “this is going to be a challenging period,” Marnett said. “Because of what we've built and the way science is evolving … (with) multiple collaborations (among) multiple disciplines, we should be well-positioned to compete effectively for funding,” he said. “But we'll have to work harder.”

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