“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It’s a Super Science Friday… At Your MCG…

Our colleagues at National Public Radio have Science Friday every week and this Friday is looking like one at the Medical College of Georgia! Just so much super cool, moving-knowledge-ever-forward, we- never-settle-for-just-what-we-already-know kinda attitude going on right here. And, like our very reason for being, it starts with our students! This week we celebrated Medical Scholars Research Day and we say ‘celebrate’ because it is so terrific that at least half our students make time to do research while they are in medical school. We think that reflects their huge sense of purpose as well as the high inspirational factor of our faculty and staff. In other words, you are just an all-around amazing group (and hopefully, you already know you are!) Nearly 130 of our second-year students this week showed off their extra efforts and poster presentations at the Harrison Commons, which became even more spectacular with their brilliance.

Our Students Rocked Per Usual… Transforming Summer Months into Their Own Super Science

Students in our Class of 2018 – both at our main and Athens campuses – did most of this work between their first and second years. Have we mentioned that’s the only summer they have off during medical school (and likely much longer.) We are so proud and appreciative of the extra effort made by students like Caroline Lu, who worked with our Drs. Justin Kennon, Meghan McGee-Lawrence and Lynn Crosby to find out why some older patients who have reverse total shoulder arthroplasty to fix rotator cuff injuries can experience the rare side effect of scapular spine fractures. And, Brooke Schermerhorn, who worked with Dr. Yong Park, studying how seizures affect the quality of life – things like social stigmas, depression and overall health – of children enrolled in our Georgia Cannabidiol Study. Truly terrific and pioneering work! Our thanks to Dr. Richard Cameron for his leadership of this program in Augusta for so many years. And, to Dr. Stan Nahman, who helped coordinate this year’s program and keynote address from Dr. Jim Oates, of the Medical University of South Carolina, who spoke to our students about the career path of an academic investigator.  In keeping with this cool tradition, Monday at 5 p.m. in Russell Hall on the UGA Health Sciences Campus, our second-year students will display their research wares at the Medical Partnership Student Research Symposium.  Super exciting stuff and students.

Our Faculty Also Rock(ed)… With Innovative Studies for Seizures

Back to our cannabidiol study and our Dr. Park, for just a moment. He had a terrific guest editorial in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, see http://bit.ly/1UZhVpB, late last week about this study that will provide some of the first objective evidence about whether cannabidiol, one of more than 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant, can help children with intractable seizures. There is laboratory evidence to suggest it will work but primarily anecdotal evidence in actual patients. With the tremendous efforts of Dr. Mike Diamond – our OB-GYN Chair and the university’s senior VP for research – to bring this research to our institution, there are now nearly 40 participants enrolled in the study in Georgia, at our medical school and university as well as Pediatric and Adolescent NeuroDevelopment Associates in Atlanta and Savannah’s Memorial University Medical Center. We wanted to say again, how proud we are that our governor selected us to take a leadership role in this important effort to provide intervention where there are currently no real options. This kind of extraordinary effort by many is what great research and great professionals like Drs. Park and Diamond, are all about.

Progress in the Fight to Foil Glaucoma…

Meet Dr. Yutao Liu, who came to us last summer from Duke University where he did his postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics and worked on the faculty for about four and a half years before coming to us. His focus is our eyes and potentially blinding glaucoma is of special interest to him. This passionate investigator participated in the 22nd Annual Glaucoma Foundation Optic Nerve Rescue and Restoration Think Tank this past weekend in New York. Now that, once again, is some serious science. The noble idea is to bring together great minds, like Dr. Liu’s, with different perspectives and insight, from biomedical engineers to molecular biologists, to take on glaucoma. A particular interest of Dr. Liu’s and this Think Tank is exfoliation glaucoma, in which excessive protein produced in the eye starts clogging up the intricate outflow system of the eye which, as you can imagine, drives pressure in the eye way up.  Dr. Liu was integral to the team that identified the first genetic variant associated with exfoliation glaucoma and subsequently identified another. Recently he and his colleagues from Duke, Michigan State University, and around the world, provided great published insight, http://1.usa.gov/1NUsKFg, into how this first variant can result in too much protein. At the moment, our Dr. Liu is working on a way to reduce excess protein in these patients. What else is there to say except thank you, Dr. Liu.

Finding the Best Way… To Help Some Couples Have a Baby…

See why we are renaming this MCG Science Friday! And here’s another big deal that takes us back to Dr. Diamond who also happens to be a reproductive endocrinologist and corresponding author on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine this week. It took an objective look at the effectiveness of a breast cancer drug that also appeared to be good at helping couples with unexplained infertility have a baby without having multiple babies, an established risk of fertility treatment. The study showed that in reality the frontline medicine clomiphene should probably hold onto its place. Really interesting stuff here, comparing use of the cancer drug, letrozole, to gonadotropin and clomiphene in about 900 women across our nation. This amazing effort was made possible by folks like our Dr. Diamond, lots of amazing patients, of course, but also the Cooperative Reproductive Medicine Network of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Again, thanks to Dr. Diamond, our medical school is now part of this innovative network seeking to enable these sort of large clinical trials that can improve the diagnosis and treatment of reproductive health issues. Just awesome all the way around. Lots of interest in this as you can imagine, seehttp://1.usa.gov/1Mqp2Ql and http://bit.ly/1V9QSrL.

Honoring a Legacy… As They Learn More about Super Serotonin…

As we start wrapping things up this week, we just have to note the 2015 Lois Taylor Ellison, M.D. Lectureship in Physiology is next week! By next week we mean Thursday, Oct. 1, 4-5 p.m. in BC1400. We just love the title of the talk “What a Wonderful Mess: Serotonin, Science and Soul,” that Dr. Stephanie Watts, professor in the Michigan State University Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, will give. It’s clear that this expert on vascular smooth muscle pharmacology, physiology and function, like so many of you, knows how to bring science to life! And who better to honor than Dr. Ellison. In the most unlikely event that you don’t already know, Dr. Ellison is our Medical Historian in Residence, Provost Emeritus, and Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Surgery and Graduate Studies. For a big by the by, she is a 1950 graduate of our medical school who completed postdoc training in cardiopulmonary physiology with the also famous Dr. William F. Hamilton before joining our faculty. A pioneer by every definition, Dr. Ellison’s heart and soul have absolutely never left MCG and we could not be more thrilled and honored.

As We All Celebrate the Joy…

Believe it or not October is here next week and that means we celebrate Patient and Family Centered Care Month. What a celebration this is at one of the nation’s leaders in the concept and practice of having patients and families as an integral part of our health care and medical education teams. We start the month truly off right with the Pat Sodomka Leadership/Family Choice Award Reception, which honors both the late, hospital CEO, who was an absolute advocate of PFCC, as well as members of our health care team today who live by this code that rightly puts patients and families first. The only hard part of this is picking who to honor because, as we love to say, you are all amazing. Please check out the full schedule here http://bit.ly/1KBYEjD. Did you know that our clinical system was highlighted in the National Academy of Medicine’s (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recent resource compendium from its Patient & Family Health Care Leadership Network, http://bit.ly/1MqolGU. Super wonderful. Thank you all yet again.

Of Taking Great Care of Patients…

And finally today, hot off the press is the news that we have purchased 30 percent ownership of the Surgery Center of Columbia County on North Belair Road. Great news of course for our physicians and patients that we are now part of this facility that has been jointly owned by University Health Resources, Inc., the for-profit corporation of University Health Care System, and more than a dozen community physicians and podiatrists. No doubt most of us rather have outpatient surgery if we can and this absolutely gives us improved options, which, of course, fits right back into putting our patients and families first! We are grateful to our community partners for welcoming us onboard and particularly appreciate the leadership of University Hospital CEO Jim Davis, and our Dr. Charlie Howell and Shawn Vincent.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 26 – 1 in 8 Breast Cancer Benefit, 6-9 p.m., Doug Bernard Amphitheater, Summerville Campus, to benefit the GRU Breast Cancer Program and Breast Cancer Support Group. Music by The John Dunn Band, Nerfititi, Custer’s Last Band, for more info visit,http://www.gru.edu/cancer/community/specialevents/.

Oct. 3 – Pink Pumpkin Party for Breast Cancer, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre grounds, Summerville. Music by Klean Kut. For more info, visithttps://giving.gru.edu/pinkpumpkin.

Oct. 5 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

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

Oct. 8 – The Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics from the Hull College of Business. Major General John Davis, senior military advisor for cyber to the undersecretary of defense for policy, will discuss, “Ethics in a Cyber World,” at 6 p.m., Jaguar Student Activities Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

Oct. 8 – The Robert B. Greenblatt Lectureship, part of the Department of Physiology Research Seminar Series. Dr. Alan Kim Johnson, F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor, Departments of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Pharmacology and Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, discusses “The Role of Sensitization and Neuroplasticity in the Long-term Regulation of Blood Pressure and Hypertension,” 4 pm. Harrison Commons, Room GB1110C.

Oct. 8, 9 – Patient- and Family-Centered Care Annual Conference with keynote Allison Massari, an in-demand speaker, entrepreneur, executive coach, and interdisciplinary artist. The conference will be held from 1-5 p.m. Oct. 8 and 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 9 in the Lee Auditorium. For more information call 706-721-7322, email pfcc@gru.edu and to register go to http://www.grhealth.org/patient-family-centered-care/9th-annual-pfcc-conference-2015.  For live streaming, please visit: http://www.gru.edu/stream/.

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. 15 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium

Oct. 15 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Savannah, Home of Dr. and Mrs. Melvin and Roberta Kamine-Haysman, 6 p.m.

Oct. 24 – President Keel’s Gala, a black tie event to support GRU and the Augusta Community, at The Quadrangle, on the Summerville Campus. Cocktails 6-7 p.m., Dinner and Dancing, 7-11 p.m. Visit http://www.grupresidentsgala.com/#the-gala for more information and tickets.

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.

Oct. 30 – Alpha Omega Alpha Induction Ceremony, Lee Auditorium, 4 p.m.

Nov. 2 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

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

Nov. 13 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Health Sciences Building, EC 1210.

Nov. 18 – Faculty & Staff Service Recognition Dinner honoring employees with 20, 25, 30, or 35 years of service, Legends Club, 6:30p.m.

Nov. 19 – Great American Smokeout Commit to Quit, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., JSAC Breezeway, Summerville Campus; Harrison Commons lobby; Children’s Hospital of Georgia lobby. For more information visit http://www.gru.edu/tobaccofree/.

Dec. 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Dec. 10 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium

Jan. 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus. 

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

Jan. 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 1 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

Feb. 18 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

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

March 7 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., JSAC Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

March 18 – Match Day, location TBD!

March 25 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 11 – University Senate Meeting, 5:30-7:30 p.m., EC-1222, Health Sciences Campus.

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

April 29 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 29-May 1 – Alumni Weekend

May 12 – Hooding 2016, location and time TBD.


Enjoy the first weekend of the fall of 2015!

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