Dr. Richard Nass received a BS in microbiology and a BA in chemistry in 1985 at North Carolina State University. After several years of working in academia and industry, he entered graduate school at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where his studies led to the identification and characterization of the first intracellular Na+/H+ exchanger found in a eukaryote. The identification of this novel gene has allowed for the production of transgenic plants that can survive in high salt environments. Following receipt of his PhD in Cellular and Molecular Physiology in 1998, Dr. Nass joined the Pharmacology Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as a post-doctoral fellow, where he generated a novel model for Parkinson's disease using the nematode C. elegans. His research interests include utilizing this model to identify and characterize the molecular components involved in dopamine neuron degeneration and to screen for pharmaceuticals and genetic pathways that protect against (and enhance) cellular death. He has received awards from the National Institute of Mental Health, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation, and the National Institute of Environmental Health, and is presently an assistant professor in the Pharmacology Department at Vanderbilt.