Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Nashville, Tennessee
Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacology, Director, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology; Dean of Basic Sciences, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine


Advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis have provided many new targets for anti-cancer drug discovery. Coincidentally, advanced technologies have been developed for the discovery and optimization of drug candidates to attack these targets. Dr. Lawrence Marnett, a biochemist, directed the NFCR Center in Proteomics and Drug Action from 2001-2010. He led center scientists to develop techniques to detect new drugs in human tissue, monitor their interaction with their target proteins and identify molecular determinants of drug action in individual patients that can be used to select patients with the best chance of responding to the drug.

Specifically, Dr. Marnett and center scientists designed a new way to image the COX-2 enzyme which produces molecules that promote inflammation in growing tumors. This technique will help scientists better understand the role of the enzyme in inflammation and cancer, and give physicians a new way to identify and treat cells at risk for cancer in their patients. 

Dr. Marnett and his team believe the techniques developed in the laboratory will be broadly applied to cancer drug trials both in the preclinical and clinical settings.


Lawrence J. Marnett, currently Dean of Basic Sciences, came to Vanderbilt in 1989. He is the Director of the A. B. Hancock, Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences, Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Biochemistry, and Professor of Chemistry.  Marnett received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Duke University in 1973 and did postdoctoral work at the Karolinska Institute and Wayne State University.   He began his academic career at Wayne State University where he rose through the ranks to Professor of Chemistry.  In 1989, he moved to Vanderbilt. 

He was director of the NFCR Center in Proteomics and Drug Action from 2001 – 2010. He has received numerous awards such as the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the Sigma Xi Research Award, Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute to name a few. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He is the author of over 450 research publications and 10 patents. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the American Chemical Society journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology. Marnett served as Associate Director of Basic Research of the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center from 1993-2002, became Director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology in 2002, and was named Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2014.

Areas of Focus

Cancer Types

Years of NFCR Funding


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