Jess Lai promoted to lead program manager

We are delighted to announce the promotion of Jessica "Jess" Lai to lead program manager, in effect as of March 29. With extensive experience as a central scheduling supervisor (for Nationwide Children's Hospital) and patient access manager (for Ohio State University Medical Center), Lai was recruited to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2021 as a senior program manager for VICTR. She has been essential to the success of numerous projects that depend on large-scale data coordination, such as Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV), the Influenza and Other Viruses in the AcutelY Ill (IVY) Network, the Respiratory Virus Transmission Network (RVTN), and more. She is also a key player in process creation and improvement for the Vanderbilt Biostatistics Data Coordinating Center (VBDCC), our Biostatistics Clinics, and other research support entities. She is from Puerto Rico, and her favorite activities outside of work include cooking, biking, and listening to podcasts. 

Jess Lai, Lauren Ling, and Nicole Gunnison chat at Adele's

Jess Lai (left) chats with Lauren King and Nicole Gunnison during the department's winter celebration luncheon, January 2024 

Quanhu "Tiger" Sheng promoted to associate professor

We are pleased to announce the promotion of Dr. Quanhu "Tiger" Sheng to associate professor of biostatistics, educator track, effective as of April 1. A graduate of Nanjing University (BS, botany) and the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (MS, biochemistry and molecular biology; PhD, bioinformatics), Dr. Sheng is deputy technical director of VANGARD and leader of its team for migrating BioVU (the world's largest DNA biobank based at a single academic institution) to the cloud. An expert in bioinformatics methods for the analysis of high-throughput genomics data, including next-generation sequencing data (RNA-seq, DNA-seq, and miRNA-seq), proteomics, glycomics, and metabolomics, Dr. Sheng has been actively involved in developing new algorithms, curating analysis pipelines, and implementing software since his arrival at Vanderbilt University in 2012, initially as a postdoctoral research fellow and subsequently as an instructor in the Department of Cancer Biology. He has published more than one hundred peer-reviewed papers while working in Nashville, with more than twenty-five as first or corresponding author. His service at Vanderbilt University Medical Center includes participating on the Bioinformatics Staff Search Committee, the Bioinformatics Staff Promotions Committee, the IT Staff Promotions Committee, the Cloud Advisory Committee, the Graduate Student Admissions Committee, and the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Summer Research Program Review Committee. At the Jon Brown Lab, he has been a key contributor to many publications, including the landmark 2021 Nature paper on progeria, and he has played an essential role in training and mentoring graduate students and other junior researchers across the School of Medicine's research enterprise. He has been involved with the creation of numerous software tools, including AnnoGen, CPDSeqer, ExonDel, GLMVC, heatmap3, MultiRankSeq, NGSPERL, QC3, scRNABatchQC, scMRMA, and TIGER, plus the Immu-Mela portal. 

Five researchers pose for a group portrait in the Vickers Lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center  

Quanhu "Tiger" Sheng (front right) with director of atherosclerosis research MacRae Linton, senior staff scientist Danielle Michell, associate professor Kasey Vickers, and former research instructor Ryan Allen (now an UAMS assistant professor). This portrait was taken in 2019, when the team received a $1 million grant from the Keck Foundation to target vascular inflammation. Photo: Susan Urmy / Vanderbilt University Medical Center