Molecular physiologist Nancy Carrasco named SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner

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Nancy Carrasco, Joe C. Davis Professor and chair of the department of molecular physiology and biophysics in the School of Medicine Basic Sciences, has been named the 2023 SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner from Vanderbilt University. Carrasco has made significant contributions to the field of membrane biology, particularly in the study of transporters that move small molecules across cell membranes.

Nancy Carrasco (Vanderbilt University)

The SEC Faculty Achievement Award, now in its 12th year, recognizes faculty members from each of the 14 SEC universities for excellence in research and teaching, particularly at the undergraduate level. The awards are one of the conference’s numerous academic initiatives.

Carrasco’s research has focused on understanding the molecular mechanism of the sodium-iodide symporter (NIS), which plays a critical role in the uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland. Her work in cloning NIS was a breakthrough in thyroid pathophysiology with ramifications for many other fields, including understanding the structure and function of transport proteins, molecular endocrinology, gene transfer studies, cancer and public health. She has served on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

“Dr. Carrasco is renowned for her work in molecular physiology, particularly in understanding iodide ion transport and the structure of the sodium/iodide symporter. Her pioneering contributions to thyroid pathophysiology have impacted research in public health by leading to a clearer understanding of the danger of certain water pollutants, such as the toxic perchlorate ion. I am pleased to congratulate her on being recognized for this award,” said John Kuriyan, dean of the School of Medicine Basic Sciences.

Dr. Carrasco joined Vanderbilt as the department chair in 2019. Throughout her career she has received numerous scientific awards including the Pew Biomedical Scholar Award; the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Award; the Maria Sibylla Merian Award (Germany); the Merck Prize, from the European Thyroid Association (Poland); the Rose Pitt-Rivers Lectureship at the British Endocrine Society Meeting (Scotland); the Noun Shavit Award (Israel); the Marshall S. Horwitz Faculty Prize for Research Excellence; the Light of Life Award; and the American Thyroid Association Valerie Anne Galton Distinguished Lectureship Award. She has served as president of the Society of Latin American Biophysicists.

Dr. Carrasco was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2015, to the National Academy of Medicine in 2020 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022. In 2023, she was named a Biophysical Society Fellow.

At Vanderbilt, Carrasco is affiliated with the Vanderbilt–Ingram Cancer Center, the Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology, the Diabetes Research Center and the Epithelial Biology Center.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Nancy Carrasco was on the faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at the Yale School of Medicine. She received her M.D. and master’s in biochemistry from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in her native Mexico City. Dr. Carrasco did her postdoctoral work at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in New Jersey, for which she received a Fogarty International Fellowship.