Vanessa A. Fitsanakis, Ph.D., ATS Fellow Toxicology Expert

Vanessa A. Fitsanakis, Toxicology Expert

Dr. Fitsanakis is a nationally recognized scientist with research, teaching and administrative experience. She has training, expertise and experience in the disciplines of toxicology, pharmacology, neuroscience, neuroanatomy and pathology, and environmental toxicology with specialized expertise in neurotoxicology and neurodegeneration.

Dr. Fitsanakis earned her B.S. in chemistry at Milligan College in TN, M.Sc. degree in science and technology from the University of Edinburgh in the U.K., her Ph.D. in cellular and molecular neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in TN, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in toxicology at Wake Forest University Medical School in NC. She has held academic and research positions at several prestigious medical schools and universities (Vanderbilt University, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Medical University of South Carolina). She is also a current faculty member of the Indiana University Borkenstein Course for Alcohol and Highway Safety. 

Dr. Fitsanakis has served on various NIH and Department of Defense grant review panels and has received numerous awards. She is an active member in the Society of Toxicology (SOT), a former officer in the Neurotoxicology Specialty of SOT, and is an editorial board member and reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals. She is widely published and has received research grants from the NIH to study the relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease.

Dr. Fitsanakis has spent over 15 years studying the adverse effects of chemical, biological and physical agents on living organisms. She applies her broad-based expertise in toxicology to issues involving exposures to various classes of toxic chemicals. These include pesticides, gases (e.g., chlorine and carbon monoxide), alcohol, prescription drugs and drugs of abuse, and chemicals linked to damages associated with vaping.

Professional Experience

Robson Forensic, Inc.

Associate

2019 to present

Provide scientific and technical investigations, analysis, reports, and testimony toward the resolution of cases involving exposures to drugs, chemicals, toxicants, and environmental agents as well as their effects on human health and performance.

The Robert F. Borkenstein Course of Alcohol & Highway Safety at Indiana University

2022 to present
Faculty Member

Medical University of South Carolina, College of Pharmacy

2020 to present
Affiliate Professor

Northeast Ohio Medical University, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

2017 to present
Adjunct Associate Professor 2019-present
Associate Professor (Tenured) and Vice-Chair 2017-2019

Kent State University

2018 to 2019
Graduate Faculty Status

King University, Department of Biology

2005 to 2017
Endowed Chair 2014-2017
Associate Professor 2012-2017

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Pediatric

2004 to 2006
Research Instructor

Wake Forest University Medical School, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

2003 to 2004
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Laboratory of Michael Aschner, Ph.D.)

Winston-Salem State University, Department of Life Sciences

2003
Instructor

Vanderbilt University

1997 to 1998
Graduate Rotation (Laboratory of Ariel Deutch, Ph.D.) 1998
Graduate Rotation (Laboratory of Giesla Mosig, Ph.D.) 1997
Graduate Rotation (Laboratory of Doyle G. Graham, MD, Ph.D.) 1997

East TN State University, Department of Biochemistry

 1995 to 1996
Undergraduate Research (Laboratory of David Johnson, Ph.D.)

Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University, Department Biochemistry

1994
Undergraduate Research Internship (Laboratory of Verne Schirch)

  

Professional Credentials

Fellow, Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS), 2019-present

Education

Ph.D., Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN Laboratories of Doyle G. Graham, MD, Ph.D., and Thomas J. Montine, M.D., 2003

M.Sc., Sociology of Science and Technology, the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Professor David Bloor, Thesis Advisor, 1997

B.S., (Cum Laude) Chemistry, Milligan College, Johnson City, TN David Johnson, Senior Thesis Advisor, 1996

Honors and Awards

  • Outstanding reviewer 2017
    Neurotoxicology
    Elsevier Publishing Group
  • Outstanding reviewer 2017
    Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
    Elsevier Publishing Group
  • Nominee, by peers in the Society of Toxicology for the “Undergraduate Educator Award” 2016-2017
  • Nominee, by peers in the Society of Toxicology for the “Undergraduate Educator Award” 2015-2016
  • Nominee, King University candidate for “USA Teacher of the Year” 2015-2016
  • Faculty Lecturer, selected by the King University Student Body 2013-2014
    King University, Bristol, TN
  • Nominee, King University candidate for “TN Science Teacher of the Year” 2011
    King University, Bristol, TN
  • Outstanding Professor Award 2010-2011
    King University Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Bristol, TN
  • Top Reviewer 2010
    Neurotoxicology and Teratology
    Elsevier Publishing Group
  • Faculty Lecturer, selected by the King University Student Body 2008-2009
    King University, Bristol, TN
  • Institutional Training Grant Funding 2001-2002
    National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
    Center for Molecular Toxicology
    Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Graduate Student Fellowship National Finalist 2000
    Society of Toxicology, Philadelphia, PA
  • Institutional Training Grant Funding 1998-2000
    National Institutes of Health
    Center for Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
    Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship 1996-1997
    District 7570, Bristol, Virginia-TN Club
    Rotary International
  • Outstanding Chemistry Student, awarded by the American Chemical Society 1996
    Milligan College, Johnson City, TN
  • Outstanding Presentation Award (First Place), Undergraduate Research Forum 1996
    East TN State University, Johnson City, TN

Professional Memberships

Society of Toxicology

 

For the full CV, click here for the PDF version.

v. 11/1/23

Related Resources

See All of Vanessa's Published Content

Postmortem Toxicology: Can the Dead Tell Their Stories?

By Vanessa A. Fitsanakis
Expert Article

Forensic toxicologists are often called upon to determine whether drug or alcohol intoxication was a contributing factor to a vehicle crash, workplace injury, or other fatal incident. In this article,…

Toxicology Fundamentals

Thursday, May 21, 2020
2:00 - 2:45 pm
Featuring Vanessa A. Fitsanakis & Michael J. Whitekus
Webinar

This webinar will provide attorneys and claims adjusters an introduction to key foundational principles in the field of toxicology. Applied through the lens of forensic casework, attendees will…

Postmortem Toxicology

Thursday, October 29, 2020
2:00 - 3:00 pm
Featuring Vanessa A. Fitsanakis
Video Webinar

Forensic toxicologists are often called upon to determine whether drug or alcohol intoxication was a contributing factor to a vehicle crash, workplace injury, or other fatal incident. In this webinar…