Simin Meydani Named Vice Provost for Research

Simin Meydani Named Vice Provost for Research

By Julie Flaherty 

Simin Nikbin Meydani, the new vice provost for research at Tufts, is known for her groundbreaking work on nutrition and the immune system.

But her introduction to the field was something of a happy accident. Early in Meydani’s career, a cancer study she was slated to work on abruptly lost its funding. When she was deciding what to pursue next, she met with a professor who was beginning to research something relatively new.

“He started talking about these compounds called prostaglandins, which I had not heard of, so I ran from the meeting to the library to look them up. I found that they were actually very intriguing,” she says.

Although little was known about prostaglandins then, she signed on. These chemical messengers turned out to be essential for, among other things, modulating inflammation, a condition caused by an immune system in overdrive that is now known to bring on a range of health problems, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation and its connection to nutrition and aging would figure prominently in Meydani’s work as director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, and in her later work as director of the HNRCA itself, a role she assumed in 2009.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take some risk and get into new areas that might not be as established, but that might turn out to be very rewarding,” Meydani says.

She brings that trailblazing spirit to her new office, where she will be an advocate for researchers, scholars and students across the university; promote a culture of innovation and creativity; and identify research areas where Tufts can have the greatest impact, all while ensuring researchers work in a safe environment and observe all regulatory requirements. She started her new job part time this summer, and will move to full time on Oct. 1. She succeeds Diane Souvaine, a professor of computer science who was recently appointed senior advisor to Provost David Harris and elected vice chair of the National Science Board.

“Sometimes you’ve got to take some risk and get into new areas that might not be as established, but that might turn out to be very rewarding,” Meydani says.

Harris has named Sarah Booth, associate director of the HNRCA, director of its Vitamin K Laboratory and a professor at the Friedman School, interim HNRCA director until he conducts a search to identify a permanent leader of the center, one of the largest in the world devoted to research on the relationship between healthy aging and nutrition and physical activity.

“It is great news for Tufts University that Simin Meydani has agreed to be our new vice provost for research,” Harris says. “She has a broad range of academic interests, deep experience at Tufts, and a drive that led the HNRCA to even greater heights under her leadership.

Read the Full Story at Tufts Now

There is no content to display.

Whoops. Something is wrong here. You shouldn't being seeing this. Please try to load the page again.