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CAS - Basic Sciences - Internal E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

January 2020


ASPET recognizes Conn

Jeff Conn (Pharmacology) has been chosen as the Julius Axelrod Award in Pharmacology recipient by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) in recognition of his commitment to academic mentoring of trainees and his cutting-edge research in developing therapies for psychiatric diseases. Conn will receive the award during the ASPET Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology in April 2020 and will deliver the Julius Axelrod Lecture at the 2021 meeting.



Calipari awarded Provost Research Studio

Tracey George, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, has named 13 faculty as 2019-2020 Provost Research Studio (PRS) recipients, including Erin Calipari (Pharmacology). The PRS supports the professional development of full-time tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure track faculty by providing them the ability to visit or to bring to Vanderbilt scholars from other universities to consult and learn from them.


Lopez lands NSF Career Award

Carlos Lopez (Biochemistry) has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, the most prestigious NSF award that supports early-career faculty. Lopez’s research attempts to parse out the role of noise and randomness in determining cell fate.


Whitney Foundation Fellowship for Wexler

Postdoc Aaron Wexler (Skaar lab, PMI) has been awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship. This award is meant for “imaginative, well-trained and dedicated medical scientists” who are early in their career, and was awarded to only 23 scientists out of a pool of over 380 applicants.


Trainee awards

As always, our trainees are demonstrating to be stellar researchers by landing fellowships. This month’s fellowship earners are Adalberto Díaz Casas (Chazin lab, Biochemistry), from NIGMS; Matt Cottam (Hasty lab, MPB), from NIDDK; Magdalene Ameka (Hasty lab), Heather Caslin (Hasty lab), and Abin Abraham (Capra lab, Biological Sciences), from the American Heart Association; and Shannon Smith (Meiler lab, Chemistry), Matthew Madden (J. Rathmell lab, PMI), and Samantha Beik (Lopez lab, Biochemistry) from the National Cancer Institute. Congratulations!



New Discoveries

Sorting out anxiety and stress

Members of the Sachin Patel (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) lab figured out that signaling by an endogenous molecule, 2-AG, controls anxiety-like behaviors by targeting the same receptor as THC. This research was featured in the mainstream media (Newsweek, Inverse). A second paper indicates that targeting COX-2 reverses anxiety-like behaviors in a mouse model of chronic stress, strengthening COX-2’s status as a potential drug target in stress-related psychiatric disorders.


Improving our defenses against influenza and dengue

The lab of James Crowe has published research exploring neuraminidase-targeting antibodies as preventative and curative approaches against H7N9. Another paper describes how they took the gene of a neutralizing monoclonal antibody against dengue and inserted it into mosquito embryos, thereby preventing them from getting infected or transmitting the virus.


CATIFA: A new genetic disease

Work from Ela Knapik’s (Medicine) lab recently defined a new genetic disease, named for its core symptoms (cleft palate, cataracts, tooth abnormality, intellectual disability, facial dysmorphism and ADHD), that arises from a loss of collagen function.


Modeling precancerous gut cells

A collaboration between the labs of James Goldenring (Surgery), Eunyoung Choi (Surgery), and VUMC and external investigators has generated a new laboratory model of precancerous cells in the lining of the gut. The model can be used to understand the cellular and tissue changes that lead to gastric cancer.



Know Your Core

Did you know that Basic Sciences boasts over 19 cores that can help you with an assortment of needs and techniques? We’ll be featuring them each month so that you can get to know them. Maybe they can help you with that project you’ve been putting off… Just don’t forget to acknowledge them in your publications!

The Small Molecule NMR Facility performs state-of-the-art 1D and 2D experiments, focusing on synthetic samples, polymers, metabolites and other small molecules. The facility currently houses 4 NMR spectrometers that range from 400–600 MHz and are equipped with sample changers. The 600 MHz spectrometer also has a 5-mm TCI cryo-probe that enables users who are sample limited (<100 mg) to acquire complete data sets for structural characterization and identification in a matter of days. Additionally, they perform advanced LC-NMR and LC-SPE-NMR experiments. For more information, visit their website or contact the director, Donald Stec.



Looking for a new postdoc or a new research assistant? Let us know and we’ll promote your job openings.


Internal Funding Opportunities

Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grants
The Office of the Provost invites faculty to submit proposals for the Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grants to help with the opportunity to pursue international research, scholarship, and creative expression projects, or to pursue strategic, time-sensitive opportunities for global research and engagement. Applications for this grant are received on a rolling basis through June 2020, and winners are announced monthly.

Research Scholar Grants
Proposals for Research Scholar Grant funding are being accepted until February 3, 2020. All full-time VU faculty are eligible.

Discovery Grants
Proposals for Discovery Grant funding are being accepted until February 10, 2020. All full-time VU faculty are eligible.


Limited Submission Opportunities

Additional LSO information
Information regarding limited submission opportunities may be found on the University and Medical Center websites. You can also sign up to receive regular updates by email. These opportunities are not limited only to faculty. Make sure you check these opportunities out, as some are open to postdocs and graduate and medical students.


Looking for a campus collaborator?
If you’re looking to create a collaboration with partners across campus, then don’t miss the Explorations in Research event that’s taking place on January 29 from 4:00-6:00 PM at the Student Life Center Ballroom. This event is designed to convene researchers from all disciplines for an evening of networking and discovery. Registration is not required, but if you want to present a poster or demo your research, it is encouraged. Students can register on Anchor Link and faculty can register here. Light refreshments will be served.


REDCap Day
The 2020 REDCap Day will be held on February 25, 2020. The sessions – which will cover exciting upcoming features in REDCap, unique ways researchers are using REDCap to do great work, REDCap training, and more – will begin at 8:00 AM. Registration will open in January, so stay tuned for a link (or check REDCap Messenger). If you have an interesting use case of REDCap that you’d like to share, submit your information here. You will be entered into a swag drawing and may be invited to present during the plenary lecture.


NIH & You to occur in Nashville
One of the NIH’s Regional Seminars on Program Funding and Grants Administration for 2020 will take place right here in Nashville on October 28-30. Registration opens in late January. Attend this event, sponsored by the Office of Extramural Research, to learn about the application and review process, federal regulations and policies, current areas of special interest or concern, and more.

Register to vote by February 3
In order to vote in the upcoming 2020 presidential primary occurring on March 3, Tennessee residents must register to vote by February 3 (you can register to vote online here). Don’t miss this and other important deadlines by referring to this resource.

Women’s Center Annual Awards
Vanderbilt’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center has three awards open for nominations: the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Leadership Award, the Mentoring Award, and the Mary Jane Werthan Award. Consider nominating someone by checking out each award’s info page. Nominations are due February 21.

REAL ID requirement for flying
If you will be traveling domestically on or after October 1, 2020, you’ll need to make sure that the ID you present to the TSA is REAL ID compliant. Ensure that your driver’s license is compliant before then – and be aware that long lines at DMVs are likely. For information regarding Tennessee’s REAL ID-compliant licenses, click here.

S10 Grant Reporting
All faculty are reminded of the importance of properly citing NIH shared instrumentation grant (S10) support in any publications of research that employed instrumentation acquired with S10 support. This includes research involving VU and/or VUMC core facilities that have received such support — the Core directors are more than happy to provide you with the grant number to cite. Appropriate citations should be made in the actual research paper, when the paper is reported to NIH at “My NCBI,” and upon submission of the paper to PubMed Central.

Acknowledge the cores!
Faculty, postdocs, and students are reminded that when they write a paper, it is important to cite not only the related research grants, training grants, and fellowships that support the project team, but also any grant-supported VU and VUMC core facilities that were employed in the course of the work. It is required by the NIH and will help the core facilities secure future funding. If you have any questions about how to cite core support, just contact the director of that core for wording and the relevant grant numbers.

New award recognizes faculty who nominate
The Office of the Dean of Basic Sciences will run a new program this fiscal year to provide faculty with modest unrestricted funds to recognize their effort when leading the nomination of a Basic Sciences faculty colleague for a major national or international award. Click here to download and view a one-page description of the program. Make sure to save the attachment on your computer, as the 2nd page is the template you will need to fill out and submit to the dean’s office each time you nominate a colleague for an award.

Faculty development workshops announced
Two faculty development workshops have been announced for the spring season. The first workshop, “Second Book Strategies: How to Push Your Next Project Forward,” will take place on February 11 at noon in 210 Kissam. The second session, “Leaders: Cultivators of Culture,” will take place on March 25 at noon in 210 Kissam. Note that the sessions are not open to all faculty. Check the website for more details.

Get the latest news on the federal government’s impact
The University’s Office of Federal Relations publishes an outstanding newsletter, DCbrief, that provides updates on developments in the federal government that impact education and research. To receive this newsletter via email, subscribe here.

Get a Google Scholar account!
Faculty are encouraged to set up a Google Scholar account, which does a remarkably good job of tabulating and continually updating faculty publication lists and metrics, such as the H-factor.

Check us out on social media
Looking for the latest news from Basic Sciences? Follow us on Twitter for the latest news on publications, awards, and presentations, and on Instagram to see the research our trainees are conducting.

About the Newsletter

This monthly newsletter recognizes the achievements and latest discoveries of any trainees, faculty, and staff who aid in the basic research enterprise of the biomedical sciences at Vanderbilt University. Archive.

About this Issue’s Banner

2D NMR plot of wild-type calmodulin (black) and a mutant (E104K, red). Calmodulin is a calcium-binding messenger protein that is critical for Ca2+ signaling, and the E104K mutation causes a dysfunction in calcium binding. Although most mutations are embryonic lethal, this particular mutant was identified in a little girl who had recurrent cardiac arrests caused by arrhythmia. This NMR plot was generated by Noel Maxwell, a former research assistant in the lab of Walter Chazin (Biochemistry).

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