March 16, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

It’s Match Day!
Please let me start by congratulating and thanking our Class of 2018 for choosing MCG as your medical school. In the great tradition of your medical school, you are living proof of the great students who come here and the great doctors who leave here. You are compassionate and competitive wherever you go. This year, 210 of you participated in the national Match Program, 176 from home base in Augusta and 34 from our medical partnership campus in Athens. The Match, as most of you know, pairs senior medical students across the country with the training programs where they want to complete the next phase of their medical education.

Our students matched in 32 states, 22 specialties
The individuals and the numbers look great. The largest number of you, our students, chose internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN and family medicine, with emergency medicine and orthopaedic surgery close behind. Our seniors matched in 22 specialties in 32 states, 25 percent will remain in Georgia for at least their first year and 20 percent will stay in Georgia beyond that. Florida, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama also attracted a lot of our students. Also per usual, at this still early time, our student’s 98 percent match rate was above the national average. We are proud of you. Please safely celebrate this tremendous achievement.

All our residency programs that participated in Match filled
I am also proud to share that our 21 residency programs that participated in the Match filled and that all positions except one filled with the initial Match. That means, says Dr. Walt Moore, senior associate dean for GME, a great job was done picking the students who most wanted to be here. Late yesterday, Dr. Moore and Candace Henderson, manager of our GME operations, were very happy with the results and with the tremendous support of our residency program coordinators, directors and department chairs who made it happen. “The recruitment process is labor-intensive and time-consuming and requires a significant commitment of energy and effort from all three groups,” says Dr. Moore. Please let me add my thanks for a job well done.

Miller Singleton helps develop 3D model of uterine fibroids
The MCG classes that follow in the footsteps of our seniors are similarly filled with great promise. Students like second-year class president Miller Singleton. Dr. Bob Stager, chief of our Section of General Obstetrics and Gynecology, told Miller about this issue when they were discussing possible projects to tackle as part of MCG’s Medical Scholars Program: There was no good, affordable model to teach residents and fellows how to remove uterine fibroids laparoscopically. That’s definitely a missing link because this has become the standard of care for this common problem, particularly for young women who want to retain their fertility. So Miller and Dr. Stager worked with Amanda Behr, interim chair of medical illustration at our university, to develop a lifelike 3D silicone model of these noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.

Lifelike model helps residents learn to remove real fibroids
We’ve already used the model here and hope to move forward with testing it at other academic medical centers this summer. Dr. Kelli Braun, a 2004 MCG graduate, associate dean for admissions and director of Simulation and Virtual Education in OB/GYN, also worked closely with Miller on this great project, and she says that Miller will be a leader and game-changer in the field. She is off to a great start. Miller received a best poster/oral presentation award for her efforts from the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics at that group’s recent annual meeting in National Harbor, Maryland on the banks of the Potomac River. Please know that the annual Medical Scholars Program enables MCG students to pursue research activities, mostly like Miller, between their first and second year of medical school. In fact, about 70 percent of Miller’s class participated.

2018 amended state budget includes $10 million more for MCG GME
More great news on the resident education front here is the addition of $10 million to this year’s amended state budget to help us offset the cost of graduate medical education. Funding for GME is complicated and currently does not come close to covering the cost, particularly in longtime medical education institutions like MCG. Did you know we had our first resident in 1888 when the first honor student of a class was named house physician at the old City Hospital when they graduated? These days Medicare pays teaching hospitals like ours for some of the significant related costs of specialty training as well as for the increased complexity of care that generally occurs at teaching hospitals. That is great and much appreciated however the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 restricted those payments to the number of residents that teaching hospitals had at the close of 1996, which as you can imagine is a bit  limiting for long-timers like MCG.

President Keel, Gov. Deal, state legislature enable additional support
For us that means that it now costs about $20 million more annually to provide this essential aspect of medical education than we receive in reimbursements. It definitely makes adding new programs tough as well. I want to thank President Keel for his advocacy in pursuing these funds, director of state government relations Margie Miller for her frontline support and Gov. Deal and the Georgia Legislature for making these funds available this year. I also appreciate ongoing efforts to make this recurring funding.  See this recent news piece, here. We currently have 510 residents and fellows training in 48 different specialties.

Dr. Gang Zhou explores the impact of antibiotics on cancer therapy
Here’s another way to take on a real-life issue. In the case of immunologist Dr. Gang Zhou, he and his colleagues were looking at several overlapping realities. This includes realities like many of today’s complex cancer therapies, often referred to as chemoimmunotherapy, need the help of the patient’s immune system to work optimally. Realities like there is increasing evidence that how well the gut microbiota is functioning may impact our antitumor response. Another key piece is the reality that antibiotics also are commonly needed by patients since infections are a major side effect of chemotherapy. Anyone who has ever taken an antibiotic likely knows it can upset your gut bacteria and definitely your stomach. Zhou worked with partners like hematologist/oncologist Dr. Locke Bryan in models of different cancers and treatments and found antibiotics can impact the efficacy of some treatments and not others, including some of the newest like CAR T-cell therapy. Much like an antibiotic’s effectiveness depends on the source of an infection – bacterial not viral – antibiotics’ impact on chemoimmunotherapy depends on whether the microbiota play a big role in the anticancer response. Great stuff that generated international interest, see here.

Please allow me to close today by thanking you all for your usual amazing response this week when one of our own was harmed.  The MCG family is strong and true.


Upcoming Events

March 28 – The spring concert of the Noon Arts Live concert series at the Lee Auditorium. The final performance this academic year includes MCG’s amazing SeroTONEins and Four Chambers Quartet. Lunch will be provided for the first 100 guests, by the Office of the Provost. Attendees can enter drawings for tickets to the Concerto Competition Winners and Restrelli Cello Quartet concerts, provided by the Maxwell Theatre.

March 29 – MCG Alumni Association Athens Regional Reception, 6 p.m., home of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Ellison.

April 13 – The Raft Debate, Harrison Commons, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association.

April 19 – Faculty Awards Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

April 27-29 – Alumni Weekend.  MCG activities begin with the Drs. Robert and Lois Ellison Lectureship in the Lee Auditorium from 2-3 p.m. Friday, April 27. Dr. Jay Yadav, interventional cardiologist from the Cleveland Clinic and Piedmont Health, will discuss “Information: The Cure for Our Ailing Healthcare System.” The dean’s reception is 6-7 p.m. Friday at the Harrison Commons followed by the Alumni Association banquet, where distinguished alums will be honored and the new Alumni Association president will be installed. Festivities resume Saturday morning with a campus tour starting at 9:45 a.m. The president’s cookout also is that day, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Harrison Commons Quad. The weekend concludes Sunday with a 10:30 a.m. service at the Alumni Center for graduates who have died over the past year.

May 10 –MCG Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium. Reception immediately following at the Old Medical College building on Telfair Street. Featured speaker is Dr. Walter J. Curran Jr., MCG Class of 1982, who is executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory School of Medicine. His topic is “The Long Road Home.”

May 11 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

May 25 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

June 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.