November 2, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Larry Layman receives $2.6 million NIH grant to study developmental disorder
Even though I have spent pretty much my entire professional career here, I never cease to be impressed and inspired by the fine individuals we bring here and the amazing ones we are fortunate to keep here. Individuals like Dr. Larry Layman, chief of the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Genetics. I wanted to share the great news today that Dr. Layman recently received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore the genetic causes of Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser, or MRKH, syndrome. The consequences of MRKH can include absence of the development of the vagina and uterus and infertility. There can be other problems as well, like heart and hearing problems and being born with just one kidney.  Mutations in two genes are thought to be causative, and Dr. Layman has a third suspect gene for this condition.  But he suspects there are many, many more genes. So he is working with the national support organization, Beautiful You MRKH Foundation, see here, to look at the blood of hundreds of patients and some family members, to further study his gene but also to look more broadly for other suspect genes. His goals include better understanding normal reproduction as well as the genetic causes of this condition. Longer term, like all our investigators, he would like to find better treatment and prevention strategies.

Dr. Layman trained at MCG and has been on faculty since 1999
As a reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Layman regularly helps women and families with these complex – and often uncommon – problems. Delayed puberty is another focus of his significant clinical and research efforts. Some of his postgraduate work after medical school at the University of Cincinnati first brought Dr. Layman to us. He did a research fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and genetics and was on the MCG faculty for a time before going to the University of Chicago. We were fortunate to attract him back to us as section chief in 1999. This great living example of a physician-scientist along with Dr. Richard Cameron from our Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, are co-directors of our MD/PhD Program. We definitely appreciate the energetic yet calm countenance of Dr. Layman – you can regularly see him on campus pulling a stack of work behind him as he reads something on his cell phone in front of him. We likewise appreciate his commitment to MCG, science, students and better health for women.

Investiture Ceremony honors faculty and donors
We had the annual Investiture Ceremony Tuesday night and wow was that another opportunity to feel proud. Provost Gretchen Caughman said it best when she thanked those being honored for choosing MCG and for choosing to stay at MCG. She noted that the intellectual capital gathered at that moment was staggering and so was the humanism and compassion. That is very true of our honorees and certainly as well of our donors. Our donors attending included 1955 MCG graduate Dr. William S. Hagler, who now has a granddaughter, Emily Lluch, in our freshman class. Dr. Hagler, like so many of our alumni and faculty, is a renowned specialist. A retinal ophthalmologist, he was the first to bring a retina service to the huge swath of people between Baltimore and Miami. He would also be the first faculty member in the Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. No doubt Dr. Hagler had a huge impact on his specialty and, as it turns out, on our ophthalmology department chair, Dr. Julian Nussbaum. Tuesday, Dr. Nussbaum was among 11 distinguished MCG faculty to be celebrated for receiving an endowed chair in the past dozen months. Dr. Nussbaum, who holds the William S. Hagler MD Chair in Ophthalmology, shared that it was Dr. Hagler, one of his teachers during his residency at MCG, who helped confirm his decision to become a vitreoretinal ophthalmologist. Dr. Hagler also led him to do a research fellowship at the Eye Research Institute of the Retina Foundation of Boston where he had studied. This is obviously another one of those full, impactful circles. Here’s another piece: Dr. Nussbaum came back to MCG in 2001.

Drs. Alyce Oliver and Joseph Bailey among the faculty and donors
There are a lot of great stories to share from Investiture. Like from Alyce M. Oliver, an MD/PhD who directs our rheumatology fellowship and holds the Joseph P. Bailey, MD Chair in Rheumatology. She lauded this giant in her field and in medicine, as a tremendous influence on her. Dr. Bailey is actually Dr. Hagler’s classmate and our longtime chief of rheumatology, whose list of honors included the American Medical Association’s 2015 Distinguished Service Award. In fact, the Medical Association of Georgia renamed its Distinguished Service Award to honor him. The Georgia Society of Rheumatology even has the Joseph P. Bailey, Jr., MD Award for Outstanding Fellow Oral Vignette. Great stuff. Thank you Drs. Oliver and Bailey and all who were honored and there with us Tuesday evening. What awesome individuals and traditions. Thank you all.

Students start Public Health intersession today
Here’s more history in the making. Today our freshman medical students begin their public health and epidemiology intersession. Intersessions are several days in between core basic science classes in the first two years of medical school when our students focus more directly on the practice of medicine. Dr. Kathryn Martin, associate dean for regional campus coordination and director for this public health intersession, explains that this intersession helps our students better prepare to not only take care of an individual patient, but populations of individuals that may have common health concerns. We are not just talking about biology, but social, economic, environmental and cultural factors, which all clearly influence health and are factors in determining the best treatment or prevention strategies.

Lessons include a simulated Ebola outbreak
Today started with an opportunity for students to explore this broad perspective from the eyes of patients and physicians as well as global health organizations through a simulation exercise led by Dr. Dan Kaminstein, director of global health and ultrasound development for the Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Kaminstein, with the help of the university’s Department of Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovation, has put together an interactive simulation that has our students working in teams to respond to an Ebola outbreak in a fictional country. Students will break into groups that each function like a real global health organization. Each will learn more about the real organization, be given a set of resources to use and have to figure out how best to use them. They also strategize on how best to partner with other organizations to maximize the impact of all as they all strive to provide good care to patients during this fictional outbreak. They’ll even choose chief negotiators to communicate their organization’s priorities and share the priorities of others. They are definitely covering the salient pieces of success.

Georgia Commissioner of Public Health will talk with students Tuesday
Public health leaders are clear leaders in both these acute and chronic population health concerns. Tuesday, Dr. Pat O’Neal, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, will be on hand to talk with students about how his department is taking aim at Georgia’s persistent health challenges, including newer ones like the opioid epidemic, implementing programs to support early brain development and creating strategies to improve cardiac care and treatment. As you know, heart disease remains the number one killer in Georgia and in our country. On Wednesday, the last day of the intersession, students will run through a poverty simulation originally created by the Missouri Community Action Network and locally directed by statewide Area Health Education Center executive director Denise Kornegay. The goal of this simulation that will mirror our surrounding community is to help students understand the day-to-day realities of life faced by people with low incomes and better understand social determinants of health. We also hope it motivates them to become even more involved in helping eradicate poverty. More information here.  Great learning opportunities here.

Students will collect food for the hungry in the process
Here’s one way to combat poverty. Matt Homen, clerkship program coordinator, has organized a simultaneous food drive so that when students come to the poverty simulation, they will bring a nonperishable food item with them for the Golden Harvest Food Bank. Thanks all.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 9 – The annual Memorial Service for Body Donors will be held at 1 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium. Donors’ families and friends are the honored guests. The service is conducted jointly by the students, faculty and chaplains from the Medical College of Georgia and its Athens campus, the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, the Dental College of Georgia, the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences and Nursing and The Graduate School.

Nov. 10 – Inaugural Unite in the Fight Against Cancer, hosted by and supporting the Georgia Cancer Center, is a 1.5 mile walk honoring those impacted by the disease. Starts at 8 a.m. at the Lucy C. Laney High School Football Stadium, 1339 Laney-Walker Boulevard, see here.

Nov. 30 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Dec. 7 – AU Alumni Holiday Drop-in, 6-8 p.m., Maxwell Alumni House, Summerville Campus.

2019 Events

Jan. 24 – AU All Alumni Savannah Reception, 6 p.m., Chatham Club.

Jan. 25 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 19 – MCG Alumni Association Board meeting, 3:30 p.m., and Macon Regional Reception, 6 p.m., both at the Idle Hour Country Club.

Feb. 22 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

March 7 – MCG Alumni Association Gainesville Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast Georgia History Center.

March 15 – Match Day, noon, Christenberry Fieldhouse (new location).

March 29 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

April 26-28 – Alumni Weekend, Dean’s Reception, 6 p.m., April 26, Harrison Commons.

May 9 – Hooding ceremony.

May 24 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

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