November 8, 2013

Search to begin for new Pharmacology chair

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will begin a national search to identify a new chair for the Department of Pharmacology.

Since January, Joey V. Barnett, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, has served as acting chair while the department’s chair, Heidi E. Hamm, Ph.D., pursued a scholarly leave of absence.

Hamm, the Aileen M. Lange and Annie Mary Lyle Chair in Cardiovascular Research, professor of Pharmacology, professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, served as the department’s chair from 2000 until January 2013 when she pursued scholarly leave.

During Hamm’s tenure, the department has sustained and expanded its role of distinguished national and international leadership, having placed amongst the top two NIH ranking positions for 16 of the past 20 years. The department’s accomplishments in basic and translational research are widely acclaimed, and its leadership in academic drug discovery is widely cited. Its graduate education programs are also highly distinguished and top-ranked nationally.

Hamm will return to focus on her laboratory in January. For more than 20 years, her research has focused on understanding G proteins, a class of proteins involved in many physiological processes. Hamm is a world leader in G protein structure, function and pharmacology. Her laboratory studies the mechanisms by which G protein-coupled receptors activate G proteins in cellular systems spanning neuroscience, cardiovascular biology and drug discovery.

Ian Macara, Ph.D., the Louise B. McGavock chair of the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, will serve as chair for the search committee tasked with identifying Hamm’s successor. Members of the search committee will be named in the coming weeks.

Vanderbilt’s Department of Pharmacology was founded in 1923. As a leading recipient of National Institutes of Health funding for pharmacologic research, the department is one of the nation’s eminent academic departments of its kind and is an engine of research and discovery for how drugs work across a continuum spanning from molecules to mankind.