Dr. David Stepp, federally funded vascular biologist and a 21-year faculty member in the Medical College of Georgia’s Vascular Biology Center, is the new director of the University System of Georgia’s MD/PhD program. Dr. Larry Layman, chief of the MCG Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Genetics, will continue to serve as co-director.
The dual-degree program allows students to earn both a medical degree at MCG and a PhD either at MCG or one of the University System of Georgia’s other research universities — Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Georgia or Georgia State University.
Stepp, Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Physiology, also directs the Vascular Biology Center’s graduate program and is co-director of the Department of Medicine’s Research Residency Track. He is a co-principal investigator with VBC Director, Dr. David Fulton, on a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to determine how disruption in circadian rhythm impairs cardiovascular function in obesity.
He is the contact principal investigator with Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, physiologist and dean of The Graduate School at Augusta University, on a $1.5 million T32 NIH training grant that supports the graduate education of future scientists whose focus is cardiometabolic diseases — like hypertension and diabetes. Stepp also leads the MCG training program for the new American Heart Association Cardio-Oncology Strategically Focused Research Network.
Stepp has mentored more than a dozen aspiring scientists — PhD students and postdoctoral fellows — who currently hold faculty positions in Calgary, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and at MCG. An honored educator, he has received multiple MCG Exemplary Teaching Awards and in 2020 he was named MCG’s outstanding faculty member.
His research has been continuously extramurally funded for 20 years, including six awards from the NIH and four awards, including a Scientist Development Grant, from the AHA. His work has resulted in over 80 publications including signature work in high-impact cardiovascular journals such as Circulation, Circulation Research and Hypertension.
Stepp has also provided extensive review service to several NIH study sections, including serving as chair of the Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology Grant Review Committee from 2015-17. He also has served as a reviewer for the American Heart Association since 1998, including several tenures as chair of individual study sections.
He serves on the Recruitment and Admissions Committee for the university’s biomedical graduate program and the medical school’s Research Strategic Advisory Committee. Past leadership roles have included chairing the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, the MCG Promotion and Tenure Committee and co-directing the AU Diabetes and Obesity Discovery Institute.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988 from the University of South Carolina and his doctoral degree in physiology from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1993. From 1993-96 he was a senior research fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. He came to MCG in 2001 from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was a research assistant professor.