“Children are our most valuable resource.”

-Herbert Hoover

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

 

Looking out for Children…

For 30 years now, the Augusta Partnership for Children, Inc. has been looking out for our children. In their formative days, the group pulled together resources to help children who were victims of abuse. Over time, their mission has expanded to coordinate the time and talent of many fine organizations and individuals to improve the lives of children and families in our community. Their goal, like so many of yours, is encouraging and supporting the next generation. In this agency’s case, it wants children to have what they need to become healthy, educated and responsible adults. Now that’s a seriously tough goal to top. We are so pleased to share that next Tuesday this terrific group honors one of our terrific group who has also devoted his life to healthier children.

 

Is a Mighty Mission… Taken up By Terrific Individuals and Teams

Dr. William B. Strong, Emeritus Leon Henri Charbonnier Professor of Pediatrics, came to us in 1969. He was a wonderful clinician who helped children and their families manage complex congenital heart defects. He was an often-honored educator, both here and nationally, with an exceptional ability to share what he knows and leave you wanting him to share even more. He was a pioneering researcher, co-founder of our Georgia Prevention Institute, which has at its heart the cardiovascular health of children,  and like the Augusta Partnership, how to help our youngest citizens grow up to be healthy adults. While he retired from MCG in 2002, as recently as a decade ago, Dr. Strong co-chaired an expert panel requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look objectively at the impact of physical activity and make recommendations based on evidence, not anecdote, for how much children need. Dr. Strong’s community contributions include work with the Augusta Partnership that goes back to the 1990s and has improved access to healthy physical activity for children in our community. Executive Director Dr. Robetta D. McKenzie tells us he will be honored at the group’s Visionary Awards Dinner on Tuesday for his impactful efforts and for being just a great guy. Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Strong.

 

And We are Pleased To Share That Strong Beat…

One of the many terrific things about this wonderful medical school is just this endless opportunity to reflect, not only its strong legacy, but its brilliant future. The absolute impact of folks such as our Dr. Strong so beautifully reflect that legacy. Today, so many of you are following in these kind of great footsteps, seeing problems, seeking solutions, looking out for the best interests of children, and we adults as well. Take Dr. Brian Stansfield. He is a 2004 graduate of our medical school, completed his pediatric residency here and then went on to Indiana University for a neonatology fellowship and two more years in a National Institutes of Health-supported postdoc fellowship.

 

Just Keeps Going…

Dr. Stansfield came back to us in 2013. In his professional years, he found a love for taking care of our smallest patients and a passion for better understanding a group of genetic conditions called RASopathies, which have wide-ranging impacts from developmental delays to cardiac defects. So today, he works both sides of the street, both at our Children’s Hospital of Georgia and in our Vascular Biology Center, where he’s trying to understand the unhealthy blood vessels changes that can occur in patients with one of these disorders, called neurofibromatosis, and help these children at early cardiovascular risk, seehttp://bit.ly/1PwZq8N and http://bit.ly/1QfzsW2. We are super pleased to share that Dr. Stansfield recently received an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant and a New Investigator Award from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs of the U.S. Department of Defense to enable these important pursuits. Absolutely great job.

 

As Does Your Passionate Pursuit… Of What Makes all of us Sick and Can Help Keep us Well

While we are not making this another total science Friday – at least not this Friday! – we absolutely had to share this super cool and relevant work as well. It’s also great food for thought – pun hoped for – as we continue to enjoy so much fine holiday fare. Our Dr. Alexis Stranahan has shown that when a high-fat diet makes us obese, or at least makes mice obese, the normally active microglia in our brains, which help keep our synapses – connections between our neurons – shipshape, and eat up stuff like garbage and bacteria in our brain, instead basically pull up a chair and start eating our synapses. How is that for a science visual? Seriously, how much more clear can it be that a high-fat diet is not a good idea… Anyway, the great news is that after just a few weeks back on a low-fat diet, as the obesity went away so did the shrinking cognitive ability. Let’s all grab an apple then check out more here http://bit.ly/1PSfLoo and  here http://bit.ly/1lYk7xY. Actually, you can check it out a ton of places across the world because, as you can imagine, lots of interest in this one! Great work Dr. Stranahan! Keep it coming.

 

You Support Each Other… In the Process of Doing it All…

You know what they say about a first impression. Well, we are pleased to share that our Dr. Ralph Gillies has agreed to become our new associate dean for faculty development, who will help ensure that not only do new faculty get the support they need but that all our faculty continue to get the support they need to be professionally happy and productive. Great deal and so important in this world where we are all moving at the speed of light. Dr. Gillies appears a natural for this job, which he has already been managing on an interim basis.  He is an absolute advocate – in his own calm way – of helping us all learn how to be great educatorsand has helped that happen in our Essentials of Clinical Medicine course, he is on the leadership team of the Educational Innovation Institute, directs its Teaching Scholars Fellowship and so much more. Did we mention he is also a great observer and listener and then recommender of what needs doing? We thank Dr. Gillies for his already significant contributions and his absolute willingness to help us watch out for our fabulous faculty.

 

Which is What Great Teams…

Speaking of education and educators, we talked back in June about how the first applications for the Class of 2020 were rolling right on in! Well, now we understand that our Admissions Office and Admissions Committee are up to their amazing elbows in interviews. We have received more than 3,000 applications for our class of 230 students and about 400 individuals have been invited to Augusta for an interview. We are always so happy to hear about the interest in and enthusiasm for being a member of our next generation. But frankly, we would want to come here, too! Clearly you will get a great medical education but did you know that our students even offer their homes to applicants who come into town the night before their interview. Second-year student Travis Welsh organizes this exceptional effort and, really, what else do we need to say? Except, of course, that one of the nation’s first medical schools – have we mentioned we’ll be 187 this very Dec. 20 – continues to grow and thrive because of you? No doubt, the best are already here and we warmly welcome more!

 

And Amazing Individuals Do…

We wanted to share some great news about another medical student who also is clearly an amazing individual and, while he is not one of ours, we are definitely proud to count him among our colleagues. Right before Thanksgiving, many of you may have heard that Peter Gold, a senior at Tulane University School of Medicine, was shot while trying to help a woman who was being dragged down a New Orleans’ street. From what we understand, Peter was driving by, saw what was happening, and turned around to come to the woman’s aid. He was shot and seriously injured in the process. We are so happy to report that Peter was discharged from Tulane University Medical Center this week. Our best thanks and wishes go to Peter. We are so glad this story ended with him safe. Too many stories don’t. Our thoughts continue to be with those dealing with the senseless loss of life across our world. In the aftermath of the horror in France, came more, apparently terrorist-driven loss of life in the west-African country of Mali. Closer to home, came the shootings in Colorado Springs and, this week, in San Bernardino, California and own Savannah. Even for those of us who are privileged to study the human mind, this all is just hard to understand.

 

Epilogue 

Finally today, we say goodbye to one of our greats, our Dr. Fred Leibach, Chair Emeritus of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Leibach came to us in 1967 as an assistant professor fresh out of his National Academy of Sciences National Research Council postdoctoral research fellowship at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. He would become a leader in the field of cellular nutrient transporters, sharing the prestigious Rank Prize in 2004, and receiving the Abbott Distinguished Award in gastrointestinal and liver research that same year. He work was funded by the NIH from 1979 through his retirement. Questions about him today bring a pause and a warm laugh to Ida Walker, administrative assistant in the department. Dr. Leibach hired Ida 34 years ago, when he was vice chair. “He was just a good man, a fair and funny man,” she said of her former boss, who had a trademark smile and a deep distinctive laugh. “He always had time to talk if somebody needed to talk with him,” Ida says. They had kept up with each other all these years later; he would even still drop by the department every few months just in case there was any mail. “I will certainly miss him, I will tell you that,” Ida said. So shall we all.

 

Upcoming Events

 

Dec. 6-8 – Liaison Committee on Medical Education Mock Site Visit

Dec. 7 – President Brooks A. Keel’s first town hall meeting, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.To access the Webstream during the Town Hall, visit www.gru.edu/stream and click the blue “View Live Stream” button. After clicking the “View Live Stream” button, viewers will be taken to a page with an embedded stream player and chat box. There, users are encouraged to submit their questions via the chat box. Questions will be moderated by Russell Keen, executive vice president for external relations and chief of staff to the president.

Dec. 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Dec. 10 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium

Jan. 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus. 

Jan. 12 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

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

Jan. 24-27 – LCME Site visit

Feb. 1 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Feb. 11 – MCG Alumni Association CME and Regional Reception, Maggiano’s at the Perimeter, Atlanta, 6 p.m.

Feb. 18 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 25 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, Macon, Idle Hour Country Club, 3:30 p.m., Regional reception, 6 p.m.

March 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

March 18 – Match Day, location TBD!

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

April 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

April 15 – MCG Alumni Association sponsors the Raft Debate, Harrison Education Commons.

April 29 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 29-May 1 – Alumni Weekend. On April 29, Department of Neurosurgery 60thanniversary lunch and CME, noon-4 p.m., BI3079; MCG Dean’s Reception, 5:30 p.m., Harrison Education Commons followed by MCG Alumni Association Banquet, 6:30 p.m., also at the Harrison Education Commons. April 30, MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, 9:30 a.m., Harrison Education Commons; President’s Cookout, noon-2 p.m., at president’s home, Twin Gables, 920 Milledge Road; MCG Class Reunions, starting at 6:30 at the Augusta Marriott for Classes of 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006. May 1, MCG Emeritus Club Breakfast, Augusta University Alumni Center on 15th St., 9:30 a.m.; Memorial Service, 10:30 a.m., Alumni Center.

May 6 – Dean’s State of the College Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

May 12 – Hooding 2016, Keynote speaker, Dr. Claire Pomeroy, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, 2 p.m.

May 13 – Graduation, 2 p.m., Civic Center

Have a safe and happy weekend.

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