The Faculty Liaison Program

The Faculty Liaison Program (FLP) has been developed to enhance junior faculty career development in the DOM. In this program, near peer mentoring is provided by faculty liaisons, mid-level faculty members in each division, chosen by their respective division chiefs. The program is organized through the Neilson Society and coordinated by Mark de Caestecker, Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Director of the Neilson Society, and Meena Madhur, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Associate Director of the Neilson Society.

  • Faculty liaisons are responsible for academic (not clinical) on-boarding all new faculty members in that division shortly after their appointment, and to provide a “buddy” system for new faculty for the first three years of their appointment to help answer those tricky questions and issues that all new faculty will encounter at some time in their early careers. The FLP has developed guidelines and ideas for discussion for academic on boarding. Clinical on boarding will be performed by the Schaffner Society representatives.

  • An important part of the on-boarding will be to advise the new faculty member about forming a mentoring committee which is expected to meet within 3 months of their first appointment. The FLP has developed guidelines for faculty mentoring committees in the DOM, including the use of reporting templates to be used both by the faculty member and the committee chair to report out from each meeting.

  • Depending on the size of the division, the band width of the FLP representative, and preferences of their division chiefs, this mentoring program maybe extended to a) all tenure track faculty members in the division who have not yet been promotes; b) instructors, post-doctoral fellows and research track assistant professors who are interested in changing to the tenure track pathway.

Current Faculty Liaisons in the Department of Medicine include the following faculty members:



Melinda Aldrich PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Thoracic Surgery

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Genetic Medicine

Holly Algood PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Brief Description


Evan Brittain MD, MSCI

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine

Kerri Cavanaugh MD, MHS

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension

Director, Vanderbilt Center for Effective Health Communication

Lori Coburn MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Wonder Drake MD

Director, Sarcoidosis Center of Excellence, Department of Medicine, Division of infectious Diseases

Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Todd Edwards PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Epidemiology

Associate Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute

Fiona Harrison PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Diabetes Endocrinology

Patrick Hu MD, PhD

Director, Harrison Society

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology

Brief Description

Dr. Hu is a clinically active oncologist with expertise in the management of pancreatic, colorectal, and anal cancers. His lab studies insulin and insulin-like growth factor signaling using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism. In C. elegans, the DAF-2 insulin receptor ortholog controls development, metabolism, and aging through a conserved PI 3-kinase/Akt cascade that regulates the FoxO transcription factor DAF-16. As FoxO transcription factors promote longevity in C. elegans and other species, including possibly humans, his research is focused on elucidating the mechanisms that govern both the regulation of FoxO activity as well as the FoxO outputs that are critical to its function in extending life span. The Hu group has pioneered the use of sensitized genetic screens to identify new modulators of C. elegans DAF-2 signaling. They have discovered several conserved genes that play previously unappreciated roles in DAF-16/FoxO regulation and function, and they are devising strategies to interrogate the function of orthologous genes in mammalian physiology and pathophysiology.

Amy Major PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology and Immunology

Associate Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

Brief Description

Dr. Major received her B.S. in Biology from Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, W.V.. She conducted her graduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Cuff in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V.. There she studied the mucosal immune response of the small intestine against enteric viruses. After earning her Ph.D. in 1998, Dr. Major came to Vanderbilt as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Drs. MacRae Linton and Sergio Fazio where she studied immune-mediated mechanisms of atherosclerosis. Dr. Major was a member of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine from 2004-2015. She joined the Division of Rheumatology & Immunology in July 2015.