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Nathan L. Vanderford, PhD, MBA


780 Rose Street


  • Associate Professor, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology
  • Director, Appalachian Career Training in Oncology Program
  • Director of Administration, Center for Cancer and Metabolism
  • Assistant Director of Pathway Programs and Student Success, Markey Cancer Center

College Unit(s)

Biography and Education


Dr. Vanderford is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine within the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology. His research focuses on cancer disparities, health promotion, and cancer education and training. He holds several administrative positions including being the Assistant Director of Pathway Programs and Student Success for the Markey Cancer Center, Director of Administration for the Center for Cancer and Metabolism, and Director of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology Program. In these administrative positions, he works to facilitate cancer research and education initiatives across the university.

Dr. Vanderford is a scientist-administrator who holds a PhD in biochemistry and an MBA with an operations management and leadership focus. He uniquely bridges science and administrative functions with his unique science and business background. He has over fourteen years of oncology-related research administration experience with a focus on operations and program management including oversight of fiscal resources, conducting planning and evaluation activities, coordination of administrative functions, managing of career development and education activities, and participation in faculty and staff recruitment activities.

Dr. Vanderford is active in the Society for Research Administrators International (SRAI) and has been recognized by the society for his research administration accomplishments. He was the 2018 recipient of SRAI's mid-career Excellence Award, he earned Distinguished Faculty Designation by SRAI in 2019 and in 2022, in 2020 he won the SRAI Hartford-Nicholson Award, and in 2022 he was the recipient of SRAI's advanced career Excellence Award. Dr. Vanderford is past editor of the Journal of Research Administration, which is published by SRAI.  

Dr. Vanderford has an award-winning history of teaching and mentoring trainees and in creating innovative career development experiences and opportunities for trainees, including designing a novel career development course and facilitating experiential learning activities. He is co-author of the book ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists (Academic Press) that focuses on guiding trainees’ career development. Dr. Vanderford has published several articles on the topic of improving graduate education in high impact journals including Science, Nature, and Nature Biotechnology. He is involved in career development activities at the national level where he serves on several national committees and advisory groups including those associated with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Vanderford was awarded the 2020 Kentucky Academy of Science’s Excellence in Science Education and Outreach Award. In 2022, Dr. Vanderford was selected as a 2022 Fellow of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for his accomplishments related to education. He has won numerous teaching and mentorship awards at the University of Kentucky including the University of Kentucky Alumni Association Great Teacher Award in 2017 and the University of Kentucky Excellent Undergraduate Research Mentor Award in 2021. 

Dr. Vanderford is also senior editor of the book series titled The Cancer Crisis in Appalachia: Kentucky Students Take ACTION of which there are two editions with the first being published in 2020 and the other in 2022.  In 2023, Dr. Vanderford released the first edition of a new book series titled Cancer in Appalachia: A Collection of Youth-Told Stories


MBA, Midway University

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Vanderbilt University

PhD, Biochemistry, University of Kentucky

BS, Agricultural Biotechnology, University of Kentucky



• Cancer disparities

• Health promotion

• Cancer education and training


Selected Publications

I. Books

Vanderford NL and Burke H (Editors). Cancer in Appalachia: A Collection of Youth-Told Stories. Louisville, KY: Butler Books, 2023 (December 3). Print ISBN:  9781953058911.

Vanderford NL and Prichard C (Editors). The Cancer Crisis in Appalachia: Kentucky Students Take ACTION (2nd edition). Louisville, KY: Butler Books, 2022 (February 15). Print ISBN: 9781953058461. 

Vanderford NL, Hudson L and Prichard C (Editors). The Cancer Crisis in Appalachia: Kentucky Students Take ACTION. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2020 (April 7). Print ISBN: 9781950690039.

Evans TM, Lundsteen N, and Vanderford NL. ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press (Elsevier), 2017 (June 1). Print ISBN: 9780128042977

II. Publications

Hudson L, Burus T, Park L, Huang B, Hull PC and Vanderford NL. Cancer Disparities in Appalachian Kentucky. Journal of Rural Health. 40(1): 87-95, 2024. 

Robertson NM, Burus T, Hudson L, Hull PC, Park L and Vanderford NL. Lung and Colorectal Cancer Disparities in Appalachian Kentucky: Spatial Analysis on the Influence of Education and Literacy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 20 (14): 6363, 2023. 

Allran O and Vanderford NL. A Qualitative Study of Participant Perspectives of a Cancer Research Education Program. Journal of Cancer Education. 38(6):  1853-1860, 2023.

Hudson-Rose L, Weiss LT and Vanderford NL. Impact of a Cancer Education Curriculum on Appalachian Kentucky Middle and High School Students. Journal of Cancer Education. 38(6):  1887-1893, 2023.

Jenkins CR, Rutledge M, Hudson L, Vanderford NL and Schoenberg NE. Examining Psychosocial and Knowledge Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening in Rural Appalachian Kentucky. Journal of Cancer Education. 38(1): 325-332, 2023.

Miller CC, Xiao M, Lay DJ, Miley SN, Vanderford NL and Ickes MJ. The Impact of a Virtual Tobacco Prevention and Advocacy Training Among Youth in Appalachian Kentucky Communities. Tobacco Use Insights. 16: 1-9, 2023.

Hanley CD, Hudson L, Prichard C and Vanderford NL. Impact of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program on Undergraduate Participants. Journal of Cancer Education. 38(2): 476-484, 2023.

Collett LK, Hudson L, Prichard C and Vanderford NL. Using Culturally Focused Storytelling to Empower Appalachian Kentucky Youth to Understand and Address Cancer Disparities in Their Communities. Journal of Cancer Education. 38(2): 513-521, 2023.

Martin C, Hudson L and Vanderford NL. Piloting an Oral History Approach to Investigate Cancer Perspectives Among Residents of Appalachian Kentucky. Journal of Appalachian Health. 5(1): 95-113, 2023.

Zink HR, Hughes D and Vanderford NL. Reconfiguring the Research Administration Workforce: A Qualitative Study Explaining the Increasingly Diverse Professional Roles in Research Administration. Journal of Research Administration. 53(2): 119-140, 2022.

Mekinda MA, Chaudary S, Vanderford NL, Burns White K, Kennedy LS and Marriott LK. Approaches for Measuring Inclusive Demographics Across Youth Enjoy Science Cancer Research Training Programs. Journal of STEM Outreach. 5(2): 1-14, 2022.

Rookwood AC, Hudson L, Junk DJ, Berger NA and Vanderford NL. Early Cancer Research Education Experiences for Underserved Middle School Students: A Case Study of Experiences from Youth Enjoy Science Programs. Journal of STEM Outreach. 5(2): 1-12, 2022.

Hanley CD, Ho J Prichard C and Vanderford NL. The Use of Virtual Research Experiences for Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program High School Participants During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of STEM Outreach. 5(2): 1-12, 2022.

Hanley CD, Prichard C and Vanderford NL. The Impact of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program on High School Participants. Journal of STEM Outreach. 5(2): 1-11, 2022.

Gaines K, Martin C, Prichard C and Vanderford NL. Through the Lens: Youth Experiences with Cancer in Rural Appalachian Kentucky Using Photovoice. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 19: 205, 2022. 

Pravosud V, Vanderford NL, Huang B, Tucker TC and Arnold SM. Exceptional Survival among Kentucky Stage IV Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Patients: Appalachian versus Non-Appalachian Populations. Journal of Rural Health. 38(1): 14-27, 2022. 

Ho J, Smith S, Oakley E and Vanderford NL. The Use of a Book Club to Promote Biomedical Trainee Professional Development. Heliyon. 8(8): e08675, 2022. 

Chang CN, Patterson CA, Vanderford NL and Evans TM. Modeling Individual Development Plans, Mentoring Support, and Career Preparedness Relationships Among Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Trainees in the Life Sciences. F1000Research. 10: 626, 2021. 

Hudson L, Samons KM, Dicken HE, Prichard C, Weiss LT, Edward J, Vanderpool RC and Vanderford NL. A Brief Educational Intervention Enhances Cancer Literacy Among Kentucky Middle and High School Students. Journal of Cancer Education. 36(4): 735-740, 2021. 

Ickes MJ, Zidzik O, and Vanderford NL. Engaging Rural High School Youth in E-cigarette Prevention and Advocacy. Online Journal of Interprofessional Health Promotion. 3(2): 1-16, 2021.

McConnell Parsons JR, Hanley C, Prichard C and Vanderford NL. The Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program: Preparing Appalachian Kentucky High School and Undergraduate Students for Cancer Careers. Journal of STEM Outreach. 4(1): 1-14, 2021. 

Hudson L, Prichard C, Weiss LT, Ickes MJ and Vanderford NL. Training Appalachian Kentucky Youth Cancer Advocates. Southern Medical Journal. 114(6): 356-360, 2021. 

Robertson NM, Hudson L, Porterfield JZ, Attia S and Vanderford NL. Assessing the Effectiveness of Cancer Screening Interventions Targeting Appalachian Populations: A Systemic Review. Journal of Rural Health. 37(3): 602-623, 2021. 

Liu S, Liu J, Xie Y, Zhai T, Hinderer EW, Stromberg AJ, Vanderford NL, Kolesar JM, Moseley HNB, Chen L, Liu C and Wang C. MEScan: A Powerful Statistical Framework for Genome-Scale Mutual Exclusivity Analysis of Cancer Mutations. Bioinformatics. 37(9): 1189-1197, 2021.

Rao M, Venkatraman P, Mukhopadhyay D, Roychoudhury S, Vanderford NL and Rangnekar VM. Value added by an Inter-continental Cancer Consortium. Genes & Cancer. 12: 65-68, 2021. 

Hudson L, Sharp K, Alameh S, Prichard C, Ickes MJ and Vanderford NL. Cancer Curriculum for Appalachian Kentucky Middle and High Schools. Journal of Appalachian Health. 3(1): 43-55, 2021. 

Norman-Burgdolf HL, DeWitt E, Vanderford NL and Plasencia J. Communication of Professional Readiness in Dietetics and Human Nutrition Undergraduates: A Pilot Study. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture. 64: 58-65, 2020. 

Layton RL, Solberg VSH, Jahangir AE, Hall JD, Ponder CA, Micoli KA and Vanderford NL. Career Planning Courses Increase Career Readiness of Graduate and Postdoctoral Trainees. F1000Research. 9: 1230, 2020. 

Hudson L, Prichard C, Weiss LT, and Vanderford NL. Evidence for Cancer Literacy Knowledge Retention Among Kentucky Middle and High School Students After a Brief Educational Intervention. Southern Medical Journal. 113(11): 541-548, 2020.

Dries DR and Vanderford NL. Well-being in the Workplace. ASBMB Today. 19(1): 25-27, 2020. 

Vanderford NL. The Transformative Power of Teaching and Learning. Academic Medicine. 95(1): 144, 2020.

Evans TM and Vanderford NL. Leadership with a Focus on Wellness. ASBMB Today. 18(1): 31-33, 2019.

Vanderford NL, Taylor J and Zink HR. Celebrating 50 Years of Research Administration Scholarship. Journal of Research Administration. 50(1): 7-10, 2019.

Evans TM, Bira L, and Vanderford NL. Reply to "A Lack of Evidence for Six Times More Anxiety and Depression in US Graduate Students than in the General Population." Nature Biotechnology. 37(7): 712-713, 2019. 

Evans TM, Bira L, and Vanderford NL. Mental Health in the Academy: An Invisible Crisis. Physiology News. 115: 32-35, 2019

Lopez AM, Hudson L, Vanderford NL, Vanderpool R, Griggs J, and Schonberg M. Epidemiology and Implementation of Cancer Prevention in Disparate Populations and Settings. ASCO Educational Book. 39: 50-60, 2019.

Noel L, Phillips F, Tossas-Milligan K, Spear K, Vanderford NL, Winn RA, Vanderpool RC, and Eckhardt SG. Community-Academic Partnerships: Approaches to Engagement. ASCO Educational Book. 39: 88-95, 2019.

Christian WJ, Vanderford NL, McDowell J, Huang B, Durbin EB, Absher KJ, Walker CJ and Arnold SM. Spatiotemporal Analysis of Lung Cancer Histological Types in Kentucky, 1995-2014. Cancer Control. 26(1): 1-8, 2019.

Liu J, Murali T, Yu T, Liu C, Sivakumaran TA, Moseley HNB, Zhulin IB, Weiss HL, Durbin EB, Ellingson SR, Liu J, Huang B, Hallahan BJ, Horbinski CM, Hodges K, Napier DL, Bocklage T, Mueller J, Vanderford NL, Fardo DW, Wang C and Arnold SM. Characterization of Squamous Cell Lung Cancers from Appalachian Kentucky. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 28(2): 348-356, 2019.

Vanderford NL, Evans TM, Weiss LT, Bira L and Gastelum GB. Use and Effectiveness of the Individual Development Plan Among Postdoctoral Researchers: Findings from a Cross-sectional Study. F1000Research. 7: 1132, 2018.

Vanderford NL, Evans TM, Weiss LT, Bira L and Gastelum GB. A Cross-sectional Study of the Use and Effectiveness of the Individual Development Plan Among Doctoral Students. F1000Research. 7: 722, 2018.

Fagan J, Eddens KS, Dolly J, Vanderford NL, Weiss H and Levens JS. Assessing Research Collaborations Through Co-Authorship Network Analysis. Journal of Research Administration 49(1): 76-99, 2018.

Vanderford NL. Research Administrators Should Contribute to Improving Faculty Hiring Practices. Journal of Research Administration 49(1): 100-101, 2018.

Tsai JW, Vanderford NL and Muindi F. Optimizing the Utility of the Individual Development Plan for Trainees in the Biosciences. Nature Biotechnology. 36(6): 552-553, 2018. 

Rodriguez S, Vanderford NL, Huang B, and Vanderpool R. A Social Ecological Review of Cancer Disparities in Kentucky. Southern Medical Journal. 111(4): 213-210, 2018.

Weis JW, Bashyam A, Ekchian GJ, Paisner K, and Vanderford NL. From Bench to Business: Disparities in the U.S. Technology Transfer Ecosystem. F1000Research 7:329, 2018. 

Evans TM, Bira L, Gastelum GB, Weiss LT, and Vanderford NL. Evidence for a Mental Health Crisis in Graduate Education. Nature Biotechnology 36(3): 282-284, 2018.

Pravosud V, Huang B, Tucker T, and Vanderford NL. Development of Multiple Primary Cancers in Lung Cancer Patients: Appalachian Versus Non-Appalachian Populations of Kentucky. Southern Medical Journal 110(12): 775-781, 2017.

Wright CB and Vanderford NL. What Faculty Hiring Committees Want. Nature Biotechnology 35(9): 885-887, 2017.

Wright CB and Vanderford NL. Closing Kynect and Restructuring Medicaid Threaten Kentucky’s Health and Economy. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 42(4): 719-737, 2017.

Vanderford NL. Plot your Course. Nature 546(7658): 443, 2017.

Russell-Simmons HN, Anthony C, Ballard M, Coffman J, Gilbreath D, Keys TL, Story D, Rogers J, Gosky D, and Vanderford NL. Enhancing Faculty Productivity through a Centralized Communications and Project Management Infrastructure: As Case Study at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. Journal of Research Administration. 47(2): 68-79, 2016. 

Linker T and Vanderford NL. Publishing in the Journal of Research Administration: A Call to Action for all Research Administrators. Journal of Research Administration 47(1): 11-13, 2016. 

Vanderford NL. Alternatives within Academia. Science 353(6297): 418, 2016.

Thompson BL and Vanderford NL. Startup Companies versus the Trademark Practices of Industrial Heavyweights. Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship 3(1): 11-13, 2016.

Norman-Burgdolf HL and Vanderford NL. Preparing Future Professionals by Enhancing Workforce Readiness. Nature Biotechnology 34(1): 111-113, 2016.

Vanderford NL and Marcinkowski E. A Case Study of the Impediments to the Commercialization of Research at the University of Kentucky. F1000Research 4: 133, 2015.

Callier V and Vanderford NL. Wanted: Information. Nature 519(7541): 121-122, 2015.

Austin SK, Fiore C, Goh SK, Schillebeeckx M, Vanderford NL, and Maricque B. Enhancing Technology Transfer on University Campuses Through Trainee-led Grassroots Efforts: A Case Study of The BALSA Group and Fourth River Solutions. Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship 2(1): 31-36, 2015.

Callier V, Greenbaum S, and Vanderford NL. The Traditional Training of PhDs Threatens the Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship Pipeline While Innovative Programs Provide Unique Recovery Opportunities. Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship 2(1): 51-58, 2015.

Callier V, Signiser RH, and Vanderford NL. The Parlous State of Academia: When Politics, Prestige and Proxies Overtake Higher Education’s Teaching Mission. Australian Universities’ Review 57(1): 13-16, 2015.

Callier V, Signiser RH, and Vanderford NL. Connecting Undergraduate Science Education with the Needs of Today’s Graduates. F1000Research 3: 279, 2014.

Callier V and Vanderford NL. PhD Trainees Should be Empowered to Leverage Dueling Priorities. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 42(6): 455-456, 2014.

Callier V and Vanderford NL. Ailing Academia Needs Culture Change. Science 345(6199): 885, 2014.

Callier V and Vanderford NL. Mission Possible: Putting Trainees at the Center of Academia’s Mission. Nature Biotechnology 32(6): 593-594, 2014.

Vanderford NL, Weiss LT, and Weiss HL. A Survey of the Barriers Associated with Academic-based Cancer Research Commercialization. PLOS ONE 8(8): e72268, 2013.

Vanderford NL. Fixing the Broken Graduate Education Experience. Nature Biotechnology 31(12): 1149, 2013.

Vanderford NL. Mentors, Be Nice. Nature Biotechnology 31(7): 659, 2013.

Vanderford NL. Broadening PhD Curricula. Nature Biotechnology 30(1): 113-114, 2012.

Vanderford NL. Broaden Undergraduate Education. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 39(4): 251-252, 2011.

Vanderford NL. Endorsing Alternative Careers for PhDs. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education 39(3): 246, 2011.

Vanderford NL. Ease Entry into an Alternative Career Field by Obtaining a Specialized Professional Degree. Nature Biotechnology 29(4): 368-369, 2011.

Vanderford NL. Regulation of β-Cell-Specific and Glucose-Dependent MafA Expression. Islets 3(1): 35-37, 2011.

Vanderford NL. The Role of MafA in Regulating Cytokine Expression in Pancreatic Beta-cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286(3): le1, 2011.

Vanderford NL. Defining the Regulation of IL-1β- and CHOP-Mediated β-cell Apoptosis. Islets 2(5): 334-336, 2010.

Vanderford NL. Comment on: Matsuoka et al. (2010) Regulation of MafA Expression in Pancreatic β-cells in db/db Mice with Diabetes. Diabetes 59(7); 1709-1720. Diabetes 59(9): e23, 2010.

Guo S, Vanderford NL, and Stein R. Phosphorylation within the MafA N-Terminus Regulates C-Terminal Dimerization and DNA Binding. Journal of Biological Chemistry 285(17): 12655-12661, 2010.

Ogihara T, Vanderford NL, Maier B, Stein R, and Mirmira RG. Expression and Function of Set7/9 in Pancreatic Islets. Islets 1(3): 269-272, 2009.

Guo S, Burnette R, Zhao L, Vanderford NL, Poitout V, Henderson E, Özcan S, Wadzinski BE, and Stein R. The Stability and Transactivation Potential of the Mammalian MafA Transcription Factor is Regulated by Serine 65 Phosphorylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry 284(2): 759-765, 2009.

Vanderford NL, Cantrell JEL, Popa GJ, and Özcan S. Multiple Kinases Regulate mafA Expression in the Pancreatic Beta Cell Line MIN6. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 480(2): 138-142, 2008.

Xing H, Vanderford NL, and Sarge KD. TBP/PP2A Mitotic Complex Bookmarks Genes by Preventing Condensin Action. Nature Cell Biology 10(11): 1318-1323, 2008.

Andrali SS, Sampley ML, Vanderford NL*, and Özcan S. Glucose Regulation of Insulin Gene Expression. Biochemical Journal 415(1): 1-10, 2008. *equal contribution

Vanderford NL, Andrali SS, and Özcan S. Glucose Induces MafA Expression in Pancreatic Beta Cell Lines via the Hexosamine Biosynthetic Pathway. Journal of Biological Chemistry 282(3): 1577-1584, 2007.

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