We keep moving forward

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

-Walt Disney

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Marvelous Matches… Will be Made
As the first new green of spring emerges and the temperature begins to rise, our thoughts turn to Match Day! That is a transformative day when senior medical students across our nation – and our campuses – find out where they will be doing their residency in their chosen specialty. We feel confident saying that no students show their enthusiasm for this day and for their profession better than ours. This year 220 of our seniors will participate in the program coordinated by the National Resident Matching Program at the strike of noon Eastern Time Friday, March 20 (the first day of Spring!) everywhere. At home, this rite of passage will happen in one of our fabulous new large classrooms – GB 1220 – in the J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons where the theme will be “Welcome to the Jungle.” Students at the Athens campus will gather in the George Hall of the UGA Health Sciences Campus for the countdown and fellowship. We can’t wait to see how it goes.

Amazing Progress… Too
We hope you never tire of hearing how amazing our students are. We shared in early December that our MD/PhD Student Brett Heimlich, who is working in the southeast African country of Malawi as a Fulbright Fogarty Award recipient, had helped open the country’s only lab that performs a definitive diagnostic test for sickle cell disease in an area of the world with some of the highest sickle cell rates. Since then, they have set up a results and counseling clinic for patients and are super busy enrolling participants in a study that will not only get them tested, but will answer whether clinical diagnosis alone is adequate in such a resource-limited setting. Early reports indicate the approach works about 85 percent of the time, which of course means some people may not be getting the treatment they need while others may be getting treatment they don’t. Such important work. Be well and safe, Brett.

As You Leave… Your Mark
Our best wishes as well to third-year radiology resident Dr. Supriya Gupta, who is traveling to Rwanda as we speak, where she will be working with medical professionals to develop new ways to use ultrasound in emergencies. Portable ultrasound machines are becoming even more widely used in our country. In fact, learning how to optimally use them is now part of our curriculum. In less developed countries like Rwanda, ultrasound may be the only imaging tool available since technology like CT and MRI’s are scarce and expensive. With funding from the Radiological Society of North America, Dr. Gupta is spending a week observing how medical professionals are trained in radiology, how they use the equipment now, and helping with new and better methods. It’s all part of her remarkable plan for a global health platform in imaging, which she has tirelessly pursued since she was a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. Just terrific.

Show Your Commitment…
Our Alumni Association hosted a terrific Regional Reception in Gainesville at the Northeast Georgia History Museum late last week and we absolutely want to thank Dr. Sam Richwine, Association Past President, for being a terrific host. We also thank Dr. Charlie Bradley, a retired ophthalmologist from up that way, for his tremendous support in getting a great crowd out for the event in this truly beautiful city which, like so many others in our state, is absolutely embracing medical education. It was great to see other longtime MCG friends including Drs. Jack Chapman, Wiley Black, and John Darden. We also want to thank Dr. Shelley Nuss for an informative update on the growing strength of graduate medical education in our state thanks to the support of so many fine physicians and hospitals.

And Your Heart…
Great hearts definitely abound around these parts as well and last Saturday’s heart walk told that tale. It was a beautiful day to stroll North Augusta’s Greeneway. People brought their families, their commitment, even their pets, to show their support for a healthier world. Tony Wagner shares that together our institution raised more than $100,000 to help the American Heart Association – and our very own scientists and health care teams – battle heart disease and stroke.

As You Take the Lead…
Speaking of great representation, our Dr. Janis Coffin, Medical Director of our Family Medicine Center, will represent the Richmond County Medical Society in the eighth class of the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation’s Georgia Physicians Leadership Academy. This academy helps natural leaders such as Dr. Coffin further strengthen their skills in areas such as communication, advocacy, and conflict resolution so they can help lead our state in a healthier direction. She starts next month and the six-session academy runs through next April. Our Drs. Walter Moore and Matthew Lyon are finishing up the Academy now.

…In Blazing New Trails
Finally today, our scientists continue to make amazing contributions to knowledge about how our bodies do and don’t work. Our Dr. Erhard Bieberich and Postdoc Dr. Michael Dinkins have an insightful study that just came out in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that appears to support the theory that this devastating illness is an autoimmune disease. In a nutshell, they found their Alzheimer’s model has high levels of an antibody to the lipid ceramide, which is also found in high levels in the brain in Alzheimer’s. They were actually thinking that maybe antibodies to this lipid, which helps increase production of the iconic amyloid plaque, would stop or slow disease progression but found instead that the antibodies support it. Per always, lots of unanswered questions, but we are so pleased that our scientists continue to hammer away at the maladies of mankind. See http://bit.ly/1BzPQZf.

Upcoming Events

March 13 and 14 – The American Medical Women’s Association presents the play, The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler and covering the spectrum of women’s sexuality issues, at University Hospital’s Auditorium and benefiting local rape crisis and sexual assault services. The play starts at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets sold at the door, $5 for GRU students, $10 for non-students, and donations are absolutely accepted!

March 16-20 – Educational Innovation Institute 2015 Health Sciences Education Week, http://www.gru.edu/mcg/academic-affairs/edi/educationday.php.

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.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day this very Tuesday!


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