“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

-William Butler Yeats

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A Delightful Decade…

You know, time really does fly, particularly when you are doing something you feel so very passionately about, as you all do. The 10th anniversary of our very first regional campus, the Southwest Campus based in Albany, is a clear indicator of our slight tweaking of that old adage. As the temperature quite literally heats up down that way and up this way, the plans for celebrating the amazing people and places that comprise this campus where our third- and fourth-year students can live and learn, definitely are heating up as well. The kickoff is set for Thursday, July 2 at noon in the phenomenal Phoebe HealthWorks Gym, part of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s state of the art – as always with these great partners – wellness program. We’ll definitely keep you updated as the details continue to unfold.

Deserves to be Celebrated…

When we talk about our first regional campus, we often laud our colleagues at Phoebe Putney, and who wouldn’t. They have been key to a delightful decade of medical education in that part of our state. We absolutely want to thank here as well our many key hospital partners who have made and continue to make our first regional campus work. That essential lineup includes St. Francis Hospital, Columbus Regional Hospital, and Martin Army Community Hospital in Columbus; Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie; Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele; Greenleaf Center and South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta; John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital and Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville; Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton; and West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange. As we talked about last week and so many times before, we are just so privileged to have such amazing partners. Thank you all for your commitment to educating the next generation of physicians.

And So Do the Individuals… Who Made It Great

Did you know that we have about 200 community clinical faculty down that way who graciously share their time and talent with the next generation. Amazing physicians such as Tifton’s Dr. Darrell Jordan, who this year, our students at the Southwest Campus picked to receive the Outstanding Clinical Faculty Award. Dr. Jordan is an obstetrician and gynecologist at South Georgia Physicians for Women who gives our students the opportunity to learn everywhere he goes, not just in the clinic, but in the operating room and delivery room, as well, which our students so appreciate. He also shares his perspective, telling our students – his students – to think of their patients as family, a principal that serves both our students, their patients, health care, and society so very well. Absolutely a great job going on by so many in Southwest Georgia. Like with Dr. Jordan’s patients, you all are our family and that certainly is terrific for the wellbeing of our state and its public medical school.

While We Have Lots of Work Ahead… We Have a Lot of Amazing People to Do It

Speaking of all hands on our mighty big deck, next week, Vice Dean Paul Wallach, with the great help of Associate Dean for Regional Campus Coordination Kathryn Martin, will be hosting a Gearing Up for Liaison Committee on Medical Education Statewide Faculty Development meeting at beautiful Jekyll Island. What a great idea to provide another opportunity to absolutely focus on accreditation. No doubt all of us will be hearing more and more about this important opportunity to thoroughly review our medical school as we move closer to the LCME team visit which starts Jan. 24. No doubt as well, that much hard work already has happened. You can check out the full timeline here. As we said earlier this month, it really does take a village and we have many, many terrific hands on deck for our LCME-related activities. We did want to recognize the members of our Steering Committee who are managing this important process from start to finish. They include Dr. Andy Albritton, Jeanette Balotin, Dr. Kelli Braun, Dr. Vaughn McCall, Dr. Renee Page, Dr. Bill Pearson, Dr. Leslie Petch-Lee, Dr. Amyn Rojiani, Dr. Andria Thomas, and, of course, Dr. Wallach.  Thank each of you again for your service to our – to your – medical school.

We Have Scientists Uncovering Fascinating… Signaling Secrets

Apparently this has been known for like a century: when you lose one of your two kidneys, the remaining kidney can quickly increase in size by 50-60 percent. Amazing. While it’s reasoned that this is probably because the lone kidney is trying to prepare to do more work, our Dr. Jian-Kang Chen is asking reasonable questions like how does it even know that the other kidney is gone. He’s hopeful his findings about the signaling that make growth happen will eventually enable physicians to at least limit the growth, which he suspects may not always be good for the kidney. You can check out more here. This is just the kind of pursuit and findings that prompted Dr. Chen, who was already a pathologist in China, to decide to become a scientist as well. He came to this country in February 1996 to do a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Raymond C. Harris, Chief of Vanderbilt University’s Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, who is actually co-corresponding author on his new study. Dr. Chen joined the faculty at Vanderbilt and came to us from there in 2012. His hope was that by also being a scientist, he could find information that will one day help many, many patients. Looks like he is well on his way.

Established Commitment to Patients…

For the past two decades we have had the privilege to provide care to people living with HIV/AIDS through a grant from the U.S Health Resources and Service Administration. We’re happy to report that care will continue with the two-year, $2.2 million renewal of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Those funds help ensure access to care for those who might not get it otherwise. We treat around 1,500 people living with HIV/AIDS at Georgia Regents Medical Center, and 40 percent of those benefit from the money this grant provides, according to our own Dr. J. Peter Rissing, who actually founded our HIV Clinic three decades ago. The grant also enables an outreach team to provide free testing and, we hope, help prevent spread of the infection and disease. What a terrific legacy.

And a Mind for Service… That Never Rests

Finally today, as we speak, one of our rising third-year students, Lauren Titus, is in Portland receiving well- deserved recognition for her part in establishing the student-run Equality Clinic. Lauren was part of the founding group of students whose vision now provides a valuable resource to LGBT populations here in Augusta and beyond. Her award, from Women in Medicine, comes with a $5,000 scholarship as well! Our congratulations and thanks to Lauren and to so many of you who regularly give of yourselves so that others live better.


Upcoming Events

 June 25 – MCG Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons.

July 2 – Southwest Campus 10th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration, noon, Phoebe HealthWorks Gym, 311 W. 3rd Ave., Albany. For more information, contact Peggy Cohen, pcohen@gru.edu or 229-312-1451.

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.

Nov. 13 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

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

May 12 – Hooding 2016, location and time TBD.

Have a great weekend!

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