Darkness cannot drive out darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

We Have a Great Home Base…

Guess what Augusta is in addition to being home of the Medical College of Georgia? It’s the fastest growing metropolitan statistical area in Georgia. Our city experienced employment growth from November to November of 4.2 percent, including 9,200 new jobs created last year, primarily in the private sector. Our leisure and hospitality sector grew 21 percent versus 3 percent nationally. That’s the kind of mostly great news Dr. Simon Medcalfe, Associate Professor of Finance in the Hull College of Business, shared at the 7th Annual Economic Forecast Breakfast. “Last year was a good year,” Dr. Medcalfe said. “Our employment was best in the state, average earnings were up as well, we created a decent amount of jobs, and an 8 percent growth in average earnings out of that as well.” Talk about a great way to start the day.

With A Strong Medical Community…

Here’s more great news. Our partners at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center have funded a second neuroradiology fellowship position starting this July. This is now the fifth residency slot the VA funds in our Department of Radiology and Imaging alone. The one-year fellowship follows a four-year radiology residency and helps in the treatment of patients with complex problems, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s. We talk a lot about the need to grow graduate medical education as part of the plan to educate more physicians for our state. We so appreciate the VA for stepping up to help again. We also want to send a welcome to the new director of the Augusta facilities, Maria R. Andrews, who will be on board next week. She comes to Augusta from Alabama’s Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center with close to 40 years experience working for hospitalized veterans.  We look forward to having her as part of the amazing health care community in our city.

We Have Amazing Students Doing Great Things… All Over Our State

Six students living and learning at our Southeast Campus in beautiful Savannah and Brunswick are being recognized by our health care partners at St. Joseph’s/Candler and the Sisters of Mercy Volunteer Corps for their exceptional care of patients. Caroline Lewis, Jaimie Huntly, Ziyad Nasrawi, Andrew Bowman, Robert Shelley, and Brent Sager, are set to receive the St. Rocco Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate remarkable compassion and go above and beyond in their care of patients during their clinical rotations. Students are recommended for the award by any of the physicians who teach them. Congratulations. You all continue to make us very proud!

Remarkably Dedicated Individuals and Teams…

Speaking of continuing to make us proud, Drs. Ruth and Willie Caldwell, a powerful team both on and off our campus, have collectively devoted nearly 60 years to our institution. About a year ago to the day, we were sharing how Dr. Willie was stepping down as Chair but stepping right back up as a part-time faculty member. Dr. Ruth made the transition from retiree to rehire a while back, which was also simply terrific, because we all continue to benefit from their knowledge and work in important areas, such as the vascular and visual consequences of major maladies such as diabetes. In keeping with this terrific tradition, they recently have given a generous financial donation to their Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and to strengthen the fight against diabetic retinopathy. Truly amazing and inspiring individuals.

Who Always Give Their All…

How is this for another powerful pair. Our longtime educator, Dr. Adarsh Gulati – he’s another retired/rehired, amazing faculty member – and his wife Dr. Nidhi K. Gulati, Medical Director of our Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, which provides amazing care to veterans, annually open the doors of their home for an American Heart Association fundraiser. They are expecting about 100 guests this weekend to have food and fun as they raise money to fight cardiovascular disease, our state and nation’s number one killer. Of course, this leads up to the great annual CSRA Heart Walk, coming up this year on March 7 at the beautiful North Augusta Greeneway. We just have to mention that last year, the Georgia WARriors Team proved that these caregivers for veterans are a tough bunch themselves by being honored as the top team at the Heart Walk. The team looks to be headed to great again as they are 25 strong, inspired by their patients as well as the impact cardiovascular problems really have on all families. We’ll definitely be cheering you all on. Check out the institution-wide effort here http://bit.ly/1zDJGXe.

To Shape a Healthier Future…

Have we mentioned lately that we are number one in Georgia in research funding from the American Heart Association and number eight in the nation? That’s because of the amazing work of a lot of individuals such as Dr. Jennifer Sullivan who just got another AHA grant, this one helping dissect some of the gender differences in hypertension that will help answer some pretty fascinating questions, such as why males tend to become hypertensive earlier and more severely than females. Another interesting note is that while about half of patients have trouble maintaining a healthy blood pressure, women tend to have more trouble. Obviously lots of room for important knowledge growth here and, as with all our great scientists, Dr. Sullivan’s bottom line is helping patients live better and longer. Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Sullivan.

And a State Doing Great Things… For Us All

Finally today, an update from two of our partners, the Georgia Research Alliance and the University of Georgia. With the support of the GRA, our UGA colleagues have recruited two new eminent scholars for this year, in the much-work-needs-doing fields of Alzheimer’s and infectious diseases. Tedd Ross, comes to Athens from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida, and Robert Haltiwanger, from New York’s Stony Brook University. The work of Mike Cassidy, GRA President and CEO, with the universities in our state to help recruit and retain such top scientists and grow scientific and technological discoveries into better food, better therapies, just better lives, as well as new businesses, is invaluable to the physical and financial health of our state, nation and really beyond. Gov. Deal recently congratulated GRA leadership on an impressive 25-year history and shared that to ensure a terrific future, the GRA budget will again by administered by the University System of Georgia. Check out more about the GRA here http://gra.org/.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 17 – MCG Alumni Association Reception and free CME event on “Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine: From Concept to Reality,” with Dr. Adam Berman, starting at 6 p.m., Maggiano’s Little Italy at the Perimeter, 4400 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta.

Feb. 24 – MCG Alumni Association Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, Board Meeting and Regional Event, starting at 2:30 p.m., Idle Hour Country Club, Macon.

Feb. 28 – Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference, all-day event for local high school students on campus, sponsored by the Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs

March 5 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast History Museum, Gainesville.

March 12 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

March 20 – Match Day, noon, location to be determined.

April 17 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium

April 17 – Raft Debate, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

April 23-26 – Alumni Weekend.

April 28 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

May 1 – State of the Medical College of Georgia address, noon, Lee Auditorium, lunch provided.

May 4 – MCG Graduation Dinner, 6:30 p.m., location to be determined.

May 7 – Hooding Ceremony, 2-4 p.m., Bell Auditorium, Dr. James L. Olds, Assistant Director for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO), the National Science Foundation.

May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

May 14 – MCG Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., location to be determined.

June 25 – MCG Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., location to be determined.

July 14 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

Oct. 27 – Town Hall meeting with students, noon-1 p.m., Harrison Commons, GB 1220A.

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

Have a great weekend.