“Love what you do and do what you love.”

-Ray Bradbury

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Doing Your Best… To Make Positive Change…

One of the many great things about working here is just getting out of the office (even when the weather is just a bit toasty) and seeing so many amazing individuals across this great campus, individuals who are often not just professional marvels, but personal ones as well. We are happy to say that our Brett Heimlich, an M.D./Ph.D. student, is once again one of those individuals you might just run across. You may remember that Brett received a Fulbright-Fogarty Award that enabled him to spend a year in Malawi. We’ve kept you periodically updated on Brett’s amazing contributions in Malawi where he helped establish a structure for definitive testing and treatment of sickle cell disease in a country with one of the highest rates of the condition. As we have talked about so many times, our medical school has a long, proud history of contributing to better understanding and treating this condition and Brett’s name is now permanently etched onto this distinguished list.

Across the World…

Brett shares that he learned lessons as well. He tell us that one of the most meaningful lessons was one of patience. He also learned that, to accomplish what was needed, took forging relationships, flexibility, and absolute attention to the sometimes annoying details. He also returns with his desire to pursue his dreams realistically intact. “I still think it’s OK to dream big in terms of how this part of the world continues to develop, but with my experience, I know that these dreams will require significant effort and are best driven by the citizens and leaders of those countries,” Brett said. We think it’s more than OK, Brett. We think you and your commitment are absolutely amazing. Thank you.

And Back…

A bit closer to home, we all recognize that our super state is smackdab in the middle of the stroke belt. And, just as Brett was helping battle Malawi’s big medical problems, many of you absolutely have taken on stroke. Those significant, relentless efforts to find and deliver optimal stroke care have enabled our hospital to again achieve Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation from the Joint Commission. We give a shout out and send a thank you and congratulations to our colleagues in neurology and neurosurgery and to the entire stroke care team. Each of you are absolutely committed 24/7, to enabling the best care and recovery possible for patients who experience a stroke. And you deliver this care, in a truly patient- and family-centered way that is a hallmark of our hospitals. It’s a tough battle against the fifth leading cause of death in our nation, where the tools are still limited and time is critical.  But our team, led by folks such as Drs. David Hess and Jeffrey Switzer, are turning the dream for better stroke care and recovery into a reality for our patients and their families. Absolute way to go.

Seeping Knowledge… and Commitment

No doubt, you all are an amazing and inspiring lot, which is among the reasons so many of you are great educators and mentors. Take our Dr. John Lue, chief of General Gynecology and Obstetrics, who just happens to be a graduate of our now 45-year-old Augusta SEEP program. We shared earlier this summer that this amazing annual opportunity called SEEP, the Student Educational Enrichment Program, as well as its younger sibling, the 35-year-old Pre-Matriculation Program, were underway per awesome usual to help us grow a truly diverse, successful physician workforce. Well time flies, and at the annual awards luncheon for these programs held last Friday, Dr. Lue, the keynote for that great gathering, took us back to Brett’s talk of dreams.  He told participants how SEEP had given them, what it gave him years before: a real opportunity to see what it would be like to live their dream of being a doctor. We thank the 39 young people who shared a part of their summers – and their dreams – with us, and absolutely hope they will be back to see us.  We thank as well Dr. Lue, our Dr. Kim Vess Loomer and Linda James, and so many of you, whose tireless efforts make these extraordinary programs possible each year. Watch more here: http://bit.ly/1LrlNKt.

Taking on New Challenges…

As we never tire of saying, each of you always step up to do whatever needs to be done. We wanted to make sure you were aware of a couple of moves made in recent days that exemplify that. Our Dr. Alvin Terry, who became chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology early last year, has now also been named our university’s first associate vice president for basic science research. We say “also” because he will keep his job as chair. No doubt that Dr. Terry is clearly skilled in the fundamental pursuit of how our brains and bodies work and is a terrific choice for this new post, where he will work super close with many of you, and with Dr. Mike Diamond, who also is pulling some serious double duty as our Ob-Gyn Chair and the university’s senior vp for research. Should be a great team. Also, our Dr. Phillip Coule is now the associate chief medical officer and chief patient safety officer for our Health System. This 1996 graduate of our medical school will not continue his role as vice chair of Emergency Medicine but, the good news is, we know where to find him! His skill as a physician and his innate business sense make him a great fit for this as well and we’re sure that he and Dr. Kevin Dellsperger, our CMO, also will be a dynamic duo. We thank all these fine individuals for their service, past and future, and know that they will continue to make us proud.


Making New Colleagues…

We also want to congratulate and welcome a new face to our campus. Russell Keen will be joining the university officially Monday as executive vice president for external relations and chief of staff to our president. President Keel and Mr. Keen have a long, strong working relationship. Like Dr. Keel, Mr. Keen comes to us from Georgia Southern University where he has served as vice president for external affairs. We understand him to be an individual focused on positive outcomes and with a terrific relationship with our state leaders. Certainly this is more great news for our university as we position ourselves to move ever forward. Welcome Russell.

Making a Difference… Everywhere You Go 

Speaking of keeping things moving, our mathematical modeler, Dr. Arni Rao, recently put his acumen at figuring stuff out to work as a member on the Scientific Board and Organizing Committee for the prestigious annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology held in the capital city of our fair state! Folks with our College of Science and Mathematics were also amazing colleagues in pulling together this impactful event, along with folks at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Emory University, University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. Once again, it’s hard to go wrong with this kind of lineup making things happen. There were hundreds of folks such as mathematical and theoretical biologists gathered for the conference with the theme, Disease, Medicine, Public Health and Systems Biology. We thank Dr. Rao for his significant contributions to the worldwide gathering and to the essential world of how things add up.

And Leaving … A Marvelous Mark 

Finally today, we acknowledge the passing of a giant in medicine, in diversity and for the underserved. Dr. Silas Norman Jr., associate dean of Admissions, Diversity and Inclusion, at Wayne State University School of Medicine, had a local history as well. He went to Augusta’s public schools and was a graduate and eventual leader at Paine College.  His sister is the also famed Jessye Norman. As a Paine student, Dr. Norman made the courageous decision to join his colleagues in protesting a city policy that required blacks to enter a bus from the back and to give up their seat to white passengers. He became a lifelong advocate for others, a consultant to the Detroit Heath Care for the Homeless project, a 2012 Detroit Everyday Hero, an often-honored alum of Wane State University School of Medicine and much, much more.  Learn more about this great man here http://bit.ly/1gOTSaH.  Our very best to Dr. Norman’s family and to his second family at Wayne State.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 3 – Freshman Brunch, hosted by the MCG Alumni Association, 10:30 a.m., Augusta Marriott.

Aug. 5 – First day of class for the Class of 2019.

Aug. 21 – Professionalism Forum, 9 a.m.-noon, Christenberry Fieldhouse on the Summerville Campus is an opportunity for all first-year students in the university’s professional programs to get together and learn more about professionalism in the health sciences. Sponsored by the GRU Division of Enrollment and Student Services.

Sept. 12 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Augusta, 6 p.m., Augusta Marriott.

Sept. 13 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, Harrison Commons, 9:30 a.m.

Oct. 8 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Albany, Doublegate Country Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. 10 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 3 p.m.

Oct. 13 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Rome, Coosa Country Club, 6 p.m.

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

Oct. 29 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Valdosta, Valdosta Country Club, 6 p.m.

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.

Feb. 25 – MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, Macon, Idle Hour Country Club, 3:30 p.m.

April 15 – MCG Alumni Association sponsors the Raft Debate. More to come.

April 29-May 1 – Alumni Weekend

May 12 – Hooding 2016, location and time TBD.

Have a great weekend!

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