“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

– Muhammad Ali

 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

 

You light the torch…

It’s an image many of us cannot forget, when 20 years ago Muhammad Ali held the Olympic torch. Our state was hosting the Olympic Games, and the famous arm of this Olympian and Golden Gloves champion was shaking. We could talk of course about his boxing career and the evidence that this sport can do much damage to the body and the brain. Whether or not boxing caused his Parkinson’s, certainly it was Mr. Ali’s athleticism and commitment that brought him to that remarkable day when he helped open the Summer Olympics. A week ago, Mr. Ali’s final torch was passed and today a public ceremony in Louisville marks his life, which was also so full of his strong faith and his philanthropic efforts, including support for the fight against the disease that he seemed to battle so bravely.

 

And carry it proudly…

We start with Mr. Ali this week, because just as the discussion swirls about this beloved man, our scientists and physician-scientists have published evidence that the metabolite of a drug that is already used to treat multiple sclerosis may also help people with Parkinson’s. These two difficult diseases have in common oxidative stress and inflammation and the metabolite of the drug dimethylfumarate seems to directly target Nrf2, a protein that naturally helps protect the body from both, says our Dr. Bobby Thomas, a neuroscientist. Of course, this could one day mean less side effects and better treatment for patients. Our thoughtful and funny Dr. John Morgan, who treats patients with Parkinson’s and is also a PhD collaborating with Dr. Thomas on these important studies, leaves us with little doubt that our patients already are getting the best of care.

 

You see the problems…

But like you, this dynamic duo wants to do more. They are pursuing funding for a clinical trial and we send them our very best in taking this promising laboratory evidence to patients. You just have to spend a brief time in our movement disorder clinic to know why they work so hard. Our patients, like Mr. Ali, are brave, inspiring individuals. They are people like Paul Kennemore of Waterloo, S.C., who has a smile on his face, hope in his heart and plenty of stories still left to tell. Please see here and here. We talked last week about the 60th anniversary of our hospital opening to patients, and today seems like another great day to thank each of you again who care for patients and strive to find better treatment. We thank again as well our medical and biomedical science students, residents and fellows, who have chosen to be the future for both.

 

And seek solutions…

We believe the future will be even brighter for these great investigators and others at our medical school and university. Our president, Dr. Keel, highlighted this week at a research town hall your many areas of strength – the neurosciences area being one great example – which are addressing the top health problems of our state and beyond, and he outlined the research vision for our institution. We so appreciate our great scientists and the important discoveries and progress they are making.

 

Somehow you even find time…

Speaking of support, our medical school also is fortunate to have the support of our 125-year-old Alumni Association. This week the association hosted a super-cool event in remarkable Rome where they absolutely love our students. The association literally took a bunch of fine graduates and future graduates who are living and learning at the Northwest Campus out to the ballgame. Check out some great photos. Serious fun and fellowship with some good food to boot. Student John Licata shared that he really enjoyed the opportunity to just relax with family, friends and mentors as the Rome Braves did their thing. Dr. Joe Burch, Class of 1985, was the official host of the night. Dr. David Hale, a graduate of our medical school who also did his neurology residency with us and now is a super educator of our students up that way, was among the amazing attendees. “It was really fun!” said student Michelle Cohen. We completely agree. We can never, ever thank our Alumni Association enough for the support they provide. By the by, for those who keep score, the Rome Braves did not technically come out on top in this game by the numbers but we all came out of top by the fabulous fun.

 

For fun and fellowship…

As we start to call it a day, we want to remind you all of a true signature event for our medical school that is next week. It’s the fifth annual Investiture Ceremony, Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at the Lee Auditorium. Like pretty much everything you are associated with, this event is a grand example of the scope and impact of the work you have done and a glimpse of the fascinating future that you and our medical school have ahead. This grand tradition honors new department chairs, endowed chairs, regents’ professors and professors emeritus in the last 12 months. Let us just say here, this gathering does not disappoint and we particularly thank Terry McBride and Jeanette Balotin in the dean’s office for making it magic.

 

And to celebrate what was and what will be…

The serious lineup this year includes the likes of Dr. Daniel Albo, a surgical oncologist and molecular pathobiologist, who helped develop a surgical oncology and multidisciplinary program here quite a few years back, more recently returned to us from Baylor College of Medicine and now he is our Floyd C. Jarrell Jr. M.D. Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology. Dr. Albo has a ton of other important roles as well including director of the Cancer Service Line for our cancer center. This chair honors the longtime Columbus ophthalmologist and 1946 graduate who served for a decade on our MCG Foundation board of directors including three terms as president and was a lifetime member of our Alumni Association where he was also president. Amazing certainly describes both the chair holder and honoree. We hope you can take a few moments to enjoy this celebration.

 

Upcoming Events

 

June 16 – Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., reception immediately following, Lee Auditorium.

Aug. 12 – New date for the State of the College address, noon, Lee Auditorium!

Nov. 4 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 5 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 3 p.m.; reception to follow at the Old Medical College building.

Sept. 1 – MCG Alumni Association Athens Regional Reception, home of Dr. and Mrs. Mark Ellison, 6 p.m.

Sept. 17 – Alumni Association 125th Anniversary Celebration, Marriott Augusta, 6 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner.

Sept. 24 – Augusta University Day of Service

Oct. 6 – Alumni Association, Albany Regional Reception, Doublegate Country Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. 13 – Alumni Association Savannah Regional Reception, Savannah Golf Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. O25                – Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception. Coosa Country Club, 6 p.m.

Have a great weekend.

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