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Leadership Moves Enhance VUMC’s Research Enterprise

January 8, 2010


William Tansey, Ph.D., has been named interim chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

William Tansey, Ph.D.

Tansey succeeds Susan Wente, Ph.D., who has taken on greater administrative responsibilities as associate vice chancellor for Research and senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences.

In her new roles, Wente is working with the faculty to enhance communication and nurture the progress of Vanderbilt’s research enterprise, while continuing her research and teaching duties as professor in the department.

In other news, Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., has returned from a stint on the National Cancer Institute’s Translational Research Working Group to resume her service as chair of Cancer Biology.

“I am thrilled that Lynn has represented Vanderbilt in helping to shape the national vision for translational cancer research,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D.

Tansey, professor of Cell and Developmental Biology and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, was recruited to Vanderbilt a year ago from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, where he directed the Watson School of Biological Sciences.

In addition to his research and teaching duties, he co-directs the Genome Maintenance Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) with David Cortez, Ph.D., and is scientific director of the Vanderbilt Microarray Shared Resource.

“I am most pleased to welcome Bill to this key position within our leadership,” Balser said. He “is fully prepared to handle this transition given his prior leadership roles.”

Susan Wente, Ph.D.

Susan Wente, Ph.D.

At the same time, “I am grateful for (Wente’s) service to the department and her willingness to continue leading initiatives on an institutional level,” he said.

Balser noted that since Wente was recruited as professor and chair of Cell and Developmental Biology from Washington University in 2002, the department’s extramural research grant portfolio has increased by nearly 73 percent, and its number of graduate students has nearly doubled, from 45 to 85.

“Leading the Cell and Developmental Biology Department has been one of the best professional adventures of my career,” Wente said. “I have great confidence in Bill and in the department faculty, graduate students and staff.”

Balser also thanked VICC director emeritus Harold L. (Hal) Moses, M.D., for serving as interim chair of Cancer Biology during the past two years while Matrisian split her time between Vanderbilt and NCI in the Washington, D.C., area.

Matrisian served in a leadership role in the Working Group, which developed a new process for identifying translational research opportunities and a new mechanism, called Special Translational Research Acceleration Projects or STRAPs, for funding them.

Matrisian, who will assist the NCI over the next year during the first cycle of STRAP applications and awards, said she hopes to apply the insights she gained from her experience “both at Vanderbilt and nationally to help reap the benefits of the tremendous advances that have occurred in basic biomedical science.”