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Rathmell to direct Division of Hematology and Oncology

August 13, 2015 | Dagny Stuart

W. Kimryn Rathmell, M.D., Ph.D., Alexander Professor for Translational Science and associate director for Training and Education at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has been named director of Vanderbilt’s Division of Hematology and Oncology.

Dr. W. Kimryn (Kim) Rathmell is the new Director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at VICC. - Photos by Joe Howell

Dr. W. Kimryn (Kim) Rathmell is the new Director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at VICC. – Photos by Joe Howell

Rathmell is a physician-scientist whose research focuses on the genetic and molecular signals that drive renal cell carcinomas (kidney cancers), and who specializes in the treatment of patients with rare and complex kidney cancers as well as prostate, bladder and testicular cancer.

Her research program includes development of animal models, innovative imaging strategies and novel therapeutics. At UNC, she also served as a director for the Medical Scientist Training Program and led the mentoring activities of the Hematology and Oncology Division and the Lineberger Cancer Center. She will assume the role of division director at Vanderbilt on Sept. 1.

“Dr. Rathmell will bring with her a vibrant research program studying the molecular pathogenesis of renal cell carcinoma, as well as a passion for mentoring and developing the careers of faculty,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and chair of the Department of Medicine.

Brown has served as interim director of the division following the departure of William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., who now serves as Global Head of the Oncology Disease and Translational Area for Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, based in Basel, Switzerland.

In her current research, Rathmell and colleagues have identified factors that are critical to transitions in the progression of kidney cancer. She has also led or participated in a number of the Cancer Genome Atlas projects.

At Vanderbilt, Rathmell will continue to care for patients with genitourinary malignancies in addition to continuing research in her laboratory at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC).
She said she has always been impressed with Vanderbilt’s commitment to high impact scientific research.

“Vanderbilt is an institution that values and excels in translational research. They are very strong clinically and they build on diverse strengths in the basic sciences, particularly in bringing innovative new therapies to the clinical arena,” Rathmell said.

She also praised Vanderbilt’s collaborative culture and the strength of the Urologic Oncology program.

“That’s a big draw. They’re very busy, very engaged and very academically productive,” Rathmell said.

Rathmell said one of her goals is to grow the faculty and strengthen scientific relationships with other departments.

“We are excited about the recruitment of Kim Rathmell, who has already demonstrated an impressive commitment to research excellence and training. Her leadership of the Division of Hematology and Oncology will contribute significantly to VICC on many levels,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of VICC.

Rathmell earned undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, then went to Stanford University, where she earned her M.D. and Ph.D. in biophysics.

Following an internship at the University of Chicago, she completed residency and fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She moved to Chapel Hill in 2003.

Rathmell has received the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Leadership Development Award, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Landon INNOVATOR Award for Personalized Medicine, the Ruth and Philip Hettleman Award for Scholarly Achievement, the Doris Duke Clinical Translational Scientist Award, and the V Scholar Award from the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

She has been inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society and the American Society of Clinical Investigators, where she currently serves on the council as secretary/treasurer. She has also authored more than 80 articles, has served on the editorial boards for several scientific journals and is an associate editor for the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

She is married to Jeffrey Rathmell, Ph.D., associate professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and of Immunology at Duke. He is joining Vanderbilt as professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. He will lead a new Center for Immunobiology, a structure supported by the Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology Department, the Department of Medicine and VICC. He will also serve as co-leader of the Host Tumor Interactions Research Program at VICC.

The Rathmells have two children, Dori, 15, and Peter, 20.