“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.”

-Theodore Roosevelt


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

These Feet Were Made… For Walking…

As August was blazing in Augusta, we were talking about how some amazing individuals were choosing to quite literally go soak their heads.  They were answering the Ice Bucket Challenge to battle and beat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which destroys our motor neurons, robbing our brain’s control of our muscles, ultimately, even our ability to breathe. This malady is diagnosed in more than 5,600 people in the U.S. each year, according to the ALS Foundation. Well this past weekend, our annual Beat Feet for ALS walk once again illustrated the powerful connection you have with each other, with our community and with doing everything in your power to beat down disease and take care of others.


These Individuals… To Care for Others

The vast majority of proceeds from this annual walk – which reached about $52,000 this year! – stay right here to support our ALS Clinic, which started in September just 11 years ago. The clinic provides a comfortable medical home for patients and their families to get the care they need. The clinic, managed by fabulous folks such as our Dr. Mike Rivner and lead research associate Brandy Quarles, also enables access to new treatments under evaluation, such as a drug that appears to improve muscle strength. The walk and the clinic, of course, also enable collaborative studies with our basic scientists such as Drs. Robert Yu and Lin Mei, brilliant neuroscientists who are unraveling these kind of difficult mysteries in our body. Our awesome clinic provides care to about 150 patients. Goodness, we never cease to be inspired by all of you, the amazing work you do and the individuals that you are. Thank you.


Scientists to Help Us Better Understand… Our Universe…

While we are on the subject of our brain-body connection, all of us living right here in the stroke belt know that a stroke, within minutes, can rob us of so much. And, we hope that most people here and well beyond know that stroke has some fabulous foes right here at Georgia’s medical school. Well, while NASA scientists were celebrating finding water on Mars, our Dr. Sergei Kirov was helping us understand how so much water gets into our neurons following something like a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Unlike water on Mars, which holds the promise of life as we know it being on that remote planet, too much water inside our neurons can be absolutely deadly. Please take a sip of water and check out Dr. Kirov’s super relevant work here http://bit.ly/1YUJ10n.


And Live a Better Life…

Here are some important brain-to-brain connections made late last week. It was the Southern Translational Education and Research Conference, sponsored by our university, the University of Georgia and our Partnership campus in Athens led by Dr. Matt Boegehold, basic science chair. It was a terrific meeting of the minds designed to do what you all do: improve health, with a particular focus on ensuring that significant findings like Dr. Kirov’s ultimately translate to helping patients. Hard to argue with that. Great speakers, great comradery and terrific science (and scientists!). Dr. Susan Fagan, assistant dean in the UGA College of Pharmacy and founding director of our Center for Pharmacy and Experimental Therapeutics, has really nurtured this cool conference each year.  This was the first year this event has been held in Athens and the topic, Inflammation in Health and Disease, was absolutely on target as well. As you all know, inflammation, which can help us heal, also contributes to a host of bad stuff like stroke, heart disease, cancer, you just about name it. Congratulations also to another UGA pharmacy colleague Dr. Brad Philips who now heads up the soon-to-be-open Clinical and Translational Research Unit (CTRU) on the UGA Health Sciences Campus, a terrific new joint UGA/GRU venture. The state-of-the-art facility offers new opportunities for clinical research synergies between the two universities. Our thanks also to UGA VP for Research Dr. David Lee and our own Senior VP for Research Dr. Mike Diamond for their leadership in fostering these kinds of super relevant research initiatives that help bring scientific findings to the bedside.


Rehabilitation Experts… To Help Us Regain Strength

We wanted to slide in here, a couple of hot-off-the-press items! Our Health System this week announced terrific, major plans to give historic Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation & Specialty Hospitals a beautiful and functional facelift. Most of you likely know that we jointly manage this comprehensive rehabilitation and acute-care service facility with Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. This $25.8 million project includes an expanded high-observation area for patients still on a ventilator, a new, easily accessible entrance and new imaging suite. All will absolutely be done with the historic significance and bright future of the facility firmly in mind. We so thank CEO David Mork for his leadership always and certainly on this important project. We also welcome Dr. Ara Chitchyan, physiatrist, as the facility’s new chief medical officer, who will join our team shortly.


Educators to Help us Explore… The Frontier that is Our Brain

Speaking of a great job, you all know that our Dr. Rhee Fincher did a jam up job as the inaugural vice dean for academic affairs. While she technically retired from us in 2012, we were betting that she would never really retire from medical education, which she so dearly loves. Well, she is completing her second term on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Medical Schools, and per her usual, she is absolutely stepping up and in to serve as an advisor for the AAMC in medical education. Can you say perfect fit? Dr. Maryellen Gusic is leaving her job as the AAMC’s chief medical education officer Oct. 15, and Dr. John Prescott, the AAMC’s chief academic officer, is taking on those duties on an interim basis. We feel sure saying he is glad to have Dr. Fincher along for these ever-so-important extra responsibilities. Also, by the by, have we mentioned in the last few years/weeks that Dr. Fincher received the Nobel Prize of medical education, aka, the 2012 AAMC Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service. No doubt. Rock and roll on, Dr. Fincher.

And Stars Exist…

Speaking of stars that continue to shine, we are super happy to welcome back Dr. Daniel Albo as director of Surgical Oncology Services and Health Services Research, co-leader of the colorectal cancer team and Floyd C. Jarrell, Jr., M.D., Distinguished Chair in Surgical Oncology at our medical school and our Cancer Center. Some of you may not remember, but Dr. Albo came here the first time in 2002 from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He moved to Baylor in 2004 where he stayed, eventually becoming director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at the Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, and vice chair of Network Development and program director for the Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery. This M.D./Ph.D. is an expert in the operating room and laboratory alike in things like minimally invasive surgery and cancer metastasis. Please join us in welcoming him back to our medical school.

To Light the Way… And Makes Us Smile

Today we also absolutely want to recognize our students recently elected into Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honor medical society. They include (take a deep breath before you start reading this remarkable lineup), Patris Almasi, Tarun Aurora, Brent Bermingham, Bradley Cagle, Jaharris Collier, Graham Dekeyser, Arsalan Derakhshan, Eric Huh, Albert Huh, Marc Kushinka, William Lee, Caroline Lewis, Timothy Malone, Emily Mann, Evan Mulloy, Erin Scott, Kelly Shannon, Jennifer Simpliciano, James Smith, Thomas Thompson, Kristen Venuti and Sarah Wonn. Wow. Seriously, this does take your breath on many levels. The list is long and the honor awesome. Congratulations to you all and thanks again to our Dr. Clarence Joe, councillor for the Alpha of Georgia Chapter, for always being there for our students.



Finally today, our hearts are with the people of Roseburg, Oregon, with the lives and potential lost in this tragedy.


Upcoming Events


The Alan Roberts, M.D., Mini-Medical school started this week and runs through Nov. 3, 6-8 p.m., Health Sciences Building, EC 1204, see http://www.gru.edu/ce/medicalce/minimed/ or call continuing education at 706-721-3967.


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, visit https://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://bit.ly/1O94dee.  For live streaming, please visit: http://www.gru.edu/stream/.

Oct. 9 – The annual GRU Alumni Barbecue and Celebration, open to the public, is set for 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the D. Douglas Barnard, Jr., Amphitheatre, Summerville campus. The event culminates the IGRU campaign and features Sconyers Bar-B-Que, live music, a Kid’s Zone with games and inflatables, and spectacular fireworks at dusk. Food service ends at 8 p.m.  President Brooks Keel will be there. Buy tickets online by Oct. 7 at www.grualumni.com/bbq or by calling 706-737-1759. Also visit http://on.fb.me/1QPvjGa.

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 6 – Dean’s State of the College Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

May 12 – Hooding 2016, location and time TBD.


Enjoy the weekend!

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