$1 millon grant establishes drug discovery center at Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) to apply the powerful science of proteomics to drug discovery.

The grant, announced today , will establish the NFCR Center for Proteomics and Drug Action, to be directed by Lawrence Marnett, Ph.D., Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research and professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry.

Other principal investigators are Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., Stanley Cohen Professor of Biochemistry and professor of Pharmacology and Chemistry; and Daniel Liebler, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

Proteomics is the study of proteins and how they work.

The Vanderbilt center joins nine other NFCR-funded “research discovery centers” that are pursuing advances in understanding, diagnosing and treating cancer.

Marnett, whose research has been supported by the Bethesda, Md.-based foundation for several years, directs the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology and the A.B. Hancock Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research. He studies how – from a chemical point of view — drugs exert their effects.

Liebler, who directs the Proteomics Laboratory and the Jim Ayers Institute for Pre-Cancer Detection and Diagnosis, studies how small molecules or drugs interact with their target proteins, and looks for proteins that could be used as “biomarkers” for monitoring disease or drug effects.

Caprioli, who directs Mass Spectrometry Research Center, is pioneering techniques such as imaging mass spectrometry to study the location and movement of proteins that are potential drug targets or biomarkers for disease.

Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Cancer Research was inspired by the work of Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi, one of the first scientists to explore the connections between free radicals and cancer. For more information, go to www.nfcr.org.

About Vanderbilt University Medical Center: A major referral center for the Southeast and the nation, VUMC is made up of Vanderbilt University Hospital, The Vanderbilt Clinic, Vanderbilt Children‘s Hospital, Vanderbilt School of Medicine and Vanderbilt School of Nursing. VUMC is the region‘s largest private employer, with more than 8,000 employees and an annual economic impact that exceeds $1 billion. Services include the Burn Center, a Level I Trauma Center, the LifeFlight helicopter ambulance service, a Level 4 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Middle Tennessee Poison Center. VUMC also offers 92 specialty clinics, including the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Tennessee. For more information, go to www.mc.vanderbilt.edu.