The Cajal Club is sad to report that a Past-President (97-98) and Current Board Member passed away

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In Memoriam:



Vivien Alice Casagrande passed away on January 21, 2017 at the age of 74. She died peacefully at her home in Nashville, TN. Vivien was born on June 7, 1942, in Belmont MA, to Arthur and Erna Casagrande. She graduated with her BA from the University of Colorado in 1964, and her PhD from Duke University in 1973.

She was a pioneer in visual neuroscience, publishing more than 150 scientific papers and chapters, and more than 230 scientific abstracts; she made over 140 national and international presentations in her 41-year career at Vanderbilt University. She received many awards, including The Charles Judson Herrick Award for Meritorious Contributions to Comparative Neurology, presented by the American Association of Anatomists in 1981. She was also honored by being elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006 (the first woman at Vanderbilt to be so honored) and a Fellow of the American Association of Anatomists in 2011. She received the Charles R. Park Award for Basic Research Revealing Insights into Physiology and Pathophysiology in 2012, and the Chancellor’s Award for Research in 2013.

She was a beloved teacher, mentoring countless undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, who subsequently attained successful careers in science. She was the Outstanding Teacher of the Year 2015-2016 at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

Vivien was a devoted mother and enjoyed gardening, pets and wild animals, world travel, and bicycling - not only did she regularly commute from home to Vanderbilt on her Peugeot PX10, but also she led the family on spectacular cycling tours from Vienna to Budapest in ‘04 and ‘06,  and in China from Chongqing to Yichang along the Yangtze River as the 3 Gorges Dam was under construction in ’07.  She was a joy to those who knew her, and she will be deeply missed.

She is survived by her husband James Andrew (Mac) McKanna, two sons Paul (Austy) and James (Zephy) McKanna, sister Sandra Casagrande, sisters-in-law Elizabeth and Candace McKanna, and niece Jade McKanna.  On March 4 at 11:00 family and friends will celebrate Vivien’s life at Christ Lutheran Church, 299 Haywood Lane, Nashville, with lunch and fellowship to follow.  


In lieu of flowers, contributions in her honor may be made to the Vivien Casagrande Lecture & Scholarship in Systems Neurosciences, Vanderbilt University Development and Alumni Relations, PMB 407727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37240.