Research News

Velma McBride Murry’s pathbreaking family intervention work recognized with National Academy of Medicine election

On Oct. 19, Velma McBride Murry, university professor of health policy and human and organizational development in Peabody College and the School of Medicine, and the Lois Autrey Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Peabody College, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.  

The election process recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health. According to a release, current members elected Murry “for developing, evaluating, and implementing novel, strength-based, family preventive intervention programs, including the first technology family-based prevention designed to foster positive development and adjustment among youth. Her work addresses critical issues that confront underserved rural populations and emphasizes ways to harness the strengths and cultural assets that marginalized families and communities use to navigate challenging situations. Murry’s work reflects critical and innovative thinking to guide research, health policy, and practice.”   

Murry’s work focuses on the effects of racism on family and daily life, and the types of actions and interventions that facilitate emotional and physical health among African American youth.  

Two other Vanderbilt researchers NAM elections were announced: Nancy Carrasco, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and the Joe C. Davis Chair of Biomedical Science, and Consuelo Wilkins, professor of medicine in the School of Medicine and Vice President for Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  

“The trans-institutional approach that Dr. Murry has used throughout her career has moved her entire field forward while also improving the wellbeing of communities usually marginalized or left out of the conversation. Her election to the National Academy of Medicine is evidence of her innovative work, which has inspired Vanderbilt students and faculty across disciplines, among so many others,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente.  

“Being elected to the National Academy of Medicine is a humbling experience,” Murry said. “I am indeed honored to join this group of esteemed distinguished scholars, whose mission is to engage in research that informs and shapes policies, preventive intervention, and practice to promote, enhance and improve health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.”  

Murry designed and implemented multiple randomized control-trial, family-based preventive intervention programs, including the Strong African American Families Program and the Pathways for African American Success. These programs have demonstrated effectiveness in improving parenting and family environmental processes that dissuade health-compromising behaviors among young people. Murry’s research also lookat the connection between preventive intervention exposure on cognitive-control neural circuits enhancement in youths’ self-regulation associated with decisions associated with risk engagement. Most recently, she has launched a global study to document how the COVID-19 pandemic is shaping adolescent development across the globe  

Murry is president of the Society of Research on Adolescence, an organization serving approximately 1,500 members across 30 countries, and she was awarded the American Psychological Association Presidential Citation in 2014 for her contributions to research, teaching and advocacy on behalf of children, youth and HIV-affected groups. She also is a member of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core dissemination team, which is working to better convey study findings to the community.   

“Professor Murry’s innovative scholarship has placed her at the top of her field, and this recognition is beyond well deserved,” said Camilla Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Peabody College. “We were thrilled to learn of her election to the National Academy of Medicine, a milestone that underscores Professor Murry’s groundbreaking contributions to the well-being of African American families and youth.”  

Murry serves on several advisory boards and governing councils, including for the National Academy of Medicine and the Society for Research on Child Development. She is on numerous editorial boards, including for the Journal of Child Development, Journal of Developmental Psychology, Journal of Applied Developmental Science, Journal of Family Psychology and Journal of Prevention ScienceShe has been co-chair of the chancellor-appointed Mental Health and Well-Being Strategic Planning Committee and also is associate director of the Clinical Translational Science Award Community Engagement Core. Murry received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and her master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2008.  

National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau said of this year’s NAM cohort: “This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly exceptional group of scholars and leaders whose expertise in science, medicine, health, and policy will be integral to helping the NAM address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care for the benefit of everyone around the globeIt is my privilege to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.”