In matters of style, swim with the current

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It Was a Capitol Day…

What an absolutely spectacular trip to our State Capitol for MCG Advocacy Day this week. This annual sojourn was a wonderful opportunity for 29 of our students to thank our legislators for their interest in and support of our medical school and state, and to learn more about our lawmakers, how the legislative process works, and why it’s so important for all our futures. Dr. William Silver, Immediate Past President of the Medical Association of Georgia and a 1963 MCG graduate, gave us a terrifically warm welcome. We got an insightful update on the issues facing the Health and Human Services Committee from Committee Chair Rep. Sharon Cooper, who is an alumna of our College of Nursing; an update on the much-discussed medical cannabis legislation from Rep. Margaret Keiser, a member of the Health and Human Services Committee; and a timely update on the GME Study Committee from Rep. Butch Parrish.

With Our Lawmakers…

Sen. Ben Watson, M.D., another fine MCG graduate, helped his future fellow alums learn how they can positively impact the legislative process. Rep. Chuck Williams, of Athens, and Augusta area Reps. Barbara Sims and Gloria Frazier stopped by to say hello then Rep. Frazier provided several of our students the amazing added opportunity to attend a Women’s Legislative Caucus meeting, where they met and heard from inspiring women leaders from across our state. That afternoon, our students met with lawmakers from some of their home districts. As a super souvenir, they had their picture taken with Gov. Deal on the Capitol steps.

For Our Students…

It was simply a great day by many accounts. Second-year student Satyam Veean, from Albany, said it was an honor to provide legislators with the medical-student perspective; his classmate Ravi Patel wholeheartedly agreed and said it was awesome to learn how advocacy and legislation will affect his future. Third-year student David Smolar summed it up well by saying “Medicine is a field where we do a good job talking to our patients, but not necessarily advocating for our professions. The legislators are genuinely interested in solving the problems that face our profession. They offered a receptive ear and wanted to hear our perspective.” We absolutely agree. Read more here:

With the Help… Of a Great Team

Before moving on, we have to thank our government relations colleagues in Atlanta, Margie Miller and Detra Brown, who worked tirelessly with our Chief of Staff Jeanette Balotin and Laurie LaChance, Administrative Assistant in the Dean’s office, to plan our activities in Atlanta and made sure it had optimal impact and came off without a hitch. Truly terrific work all! Many, many thanks to you and to our legislators for helping make our day, our week, and our medical school. Did we mention that our Dr. Thad Wilkins was also Doc for the Day at the Capitol this Tuesday!

Rome was Rocking as Well…

We also had a trip to remarkable Rome this week, where our latest campus is absolutely going strong under the leadership of Dr. Leonard Reeves and with the essential help of so many fine Rome physicians and facilities and really the entire community. Hopefully most of you know that the Northwest Campus is home to a growing cohort of our third- and fourth-year students who are living and learning well in this beautiful part of our state. The area is already making some great graduate medical education moves as well, working on starting an internal medicine residency with our partners, Redmond Regional Medical Center, as well as WellStar Health System which is opening six residencies around these parts, and has recently been in the news for its discussions with Emory University about a unified health care system. It is no doubt inspiring to see the support Georgia’s medical school has across our state and we are so very appreciative.  Check out more here

Thanks to more Great Leaders… And Enthusiastic Support

No doubt Rome has a heart for medical education and nobody does it better that Dr. Paul Ferguson,   who so appropriately on St. Valentine’s Day, was among those honored with a Heart of the Community Award, a terrific project of Redmond Regional Medical Center and the Heart of the Community Foundation, Inc., to honor area citizens for their service to this wonderful community. Dr. Ferguson was absolutely at the heart of starting and sustaining our Northwest Georgia campus. This retired neurosurgeon has a long history of service, including serving as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam, serving on the boards of Northwest Georgia Technical College and the Technical College System, helping the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce attract new business, Past President of the Rome Rotary Club, you get the idea. We congratulate again our fine friend and terrific citizen.

Our Atlanta Alumni Gathering… Was Also Amazing

Our terrific Alumni Association also had a great gathering in Atlanta this week hosted by 1982 graduate Dr. Tommy Dopson with the gracious support of our Alumni Association President Dr. Betty Wray. There was also a super CME course from our energetic, talented Dr. Adam Berman, who talked about advances in cardiovascular regenerative medicine. We decided to redub his talk, Star Wars Cardiology, because that is absolutely what this electrophysiologist practices. Have you seen our EP lab where docs such as he and Dr. Robert Sorrentino work their magic? A seriously high-tech setting for some life-changing treatments that can stop bad heart rhythms in their tracks. Did we mention that our cardiac electrophysiology program has been seriously rocking for a decade? Awesome. Like so many of you, these great docs and staff are moving knowledge ever forward to ensure the next decade will be even better.

We Are Making Great Progress… On So Many Important Fronts

We talked last week about the advances in stroke care being led by Drs. Susan Fagan and Adviye Ergul and their terrific partnership with each other and between our medical school and the University of Georgia. In absolute keeping with that, our Drs. David Hess and David Hill, along with Dr. Raymond Chong from the College of Allied Health Sciences, are all working with another terrific UGA Team, led by Dr. Steven Stice, Director of UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center, to make a real dent in improved stroke care with major steps like a better pig model for studies. Did you know there is still just one FDA-approved stroke medication, the clot-buster TPA, and that a lot of eligible patients still don’t get that? We have a lot of work to do on this major killer and disabler in our state and nation and are super-proud to have such great teams leading the way.

With Great Colleagues and Mentors… Helping Pave the Way

In keeping with the notion of excellence on all fronts, Allied Health Sciences Dean Andrew Balas’ recent Research Seminar Series brought to us a renowned expert on doing all our essential missions well: taking care of patients, making significant discoveries that improve wellbeing, and training the next generation of health care leaders. Dr. William Stead, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Chief Strategy Officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is a leader in optimal concept development, methodology, and decision-making that enables us all to reach our strategic goals and transform our world. His contributions include working with an engineer to build one of the first useful electronic medical record systems and helping Duke build one of the first patient-centered hospital information systems. In fact, the American Medical Informatics Association’s Award for Thought Leadership in Informatics, bears his name. We very much appreciate Dr. Balas for bringing him to us and thank Dr. Stead for his absolute commitment to and leadership in finding a better way.

And a Proud Past… To Stand Upon

Finally today, we wanted to let you know that the super lecture from Dr. Joseph P. Bailey Jr. on Dr. Virgil P. Syndenstricker that we told you about recently had to rescheduled from this week to  March 19, see Please re-mark those calendars!


Upcoming Events

Throughout February – Black History Month Trivia, from the GRU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, New questions posted each week and two prize winners selected each Friday, see

Feb. 22 – Black History Month celebration, the GRU Black Student Union presents: Show Me What You Got Hair Show, 4:30-8 p.m., Summerville Campus, Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre.

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. 25 – Research Town Hall Forum, covering direct charge policy update, new research study website, investigator support for registration on, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 25 – Black History Month celebration, Brown Vs. Board of Education Panel Discussion, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Summerville Campus, JSAC Coffeehouse.

Feb. 27 – Black History Month celebration, learn more about African-American cuisine, noon-1 p.m., Magnolia/Dogwood Room, Terrace Café. Register here

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 16-20 – Educational Innovation Institute 2015 Health Sciences Education Week,

March 16 – EII presents a Teaching Roundtable: International Medicine in Education, with Dr. Chad Ray and a panel of MCG students and Residents, 4-5:30 p.m., EC 1211.

March 17 – EII presents a Teaching Roundtable: Struggling Learners, with Alexis Rossi, Shannon Nix, and Dr. Ralph Gillies, 4:15-5:45 p.m., GB 1238.

March 18 – EII presents a panel discussion on Best Practices in Education at GRU Health Sciences Colleges, Session 1, Teaching Student Learners: From the Classroom to the Community, with Janet Tankersley, Carol Hunter, Carol Hanes, Eric Ollila, and Charmaine Robinson and moderated by Dr. Kate Ciarrocca.

March 19 – EII Electronic Poster Session, moderated by Dr. Kelli Braun. 3-4 p.m., GB1120.

March 19 – EII Awards Ceremony, moderated by Dr.  Ralph Gillies, 4-5 p.m., GB 1120.

March 19 – EII Best Practices in Education at GRU Health Sciences Colleges, Session II, Technology, with Lori Bolgla, Amber McCall, Kevin Plummer and Matt Lyon, moderated by Dr. Kelli Braun, 5-6 p.m., GB 1120.

March 20 – EII Education Grand Rounds, co-sponsored by the Department of Pediatrics, No More Burnout: Physician Wellness through Acceptance and Commitment Training, led by Dr. Amy House, 8-9 a.m., BT 1810.

March 20 – Match Day, noon, J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons, Room GB 1220 (New location!). This year’s theme is “Welcome to the Jungle.”

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., The Augusta Convention Center, 901 Reynolds St., (New location!), 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.