“Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

-Mark Twain


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Strengthening the Frontline….

We talk so often about your work on the frontlines of medicine, battling big enemies such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, with new knowledge and the latest treatment. One major malady that might not come as readily to our minds is addiction. But it’s a fact that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs affects as many Americans as the three of those horrific foes combined. Dr. William Jacobs, chief of addiction medicine here and medical director of the addiction treatment center Bluff Plantation also right here in Augusta, was at the head table recently for the Medicine Responds to Addiction summit held by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He was invited to the table as a national expert on pain medicine addiction, treatment and recovery. A major goal of this gathering was to address the “mismatch” between the clearly huge addiction problem in our nation and the shortage of trained professionals and effective treatment. Indeed.


Against Addiction…

Addiction is clearly a pervasive problem among us that often starts early. The National Institute on Drug Abuse tell us that about 20 percent of 8th graders have used illicit drugs, things like crack cocaine and LSD, and nearly 50 percent of 12th graders.  Our Dr. Jacobs – did you know he is a 1981 graduate of our school! – came back to his alma mater last May, board certified in anesthesiology, pain medicine and addiction medicine, and ready to help us take on this super-tough problem. In addition to helping take great care of patients at Bluff Plantation, he is making promising investigational treatments available in our community. Most recently, the American Board of Addiction Medicine approved a training program at our medical school for the much-needed next generation of addiction specialists that should start early in the new year. Frankly we just never tire of sharing these kinds of stories of persistence, of promise and of you. Thank you Dr. Jacobs for being more living proof of the palpable benefit of Georgia’s medical school. Thank you as well to RiverMend Health, the parent company of Bluff and Georgia Detoxification and Recovery Center, for being such terrific partners in this essential fight.


Unlocking the Unhealthy Relationship… Between Fat and Cardiovascular Disease

Let’s move back to cardiovascular disease for a moment and, of course, its partner in bad health: obesity. Unlike our many great partners, here’s a great example of how two times bad makes worse. So leptin, the famous satiety hormone, is made by fat, which seems like a good thing, except that when we get fat, we also get insensitive to the signal it’s sending that we have eaten enough. Like that isn’t bad enough, our body still gets the message leptin sends to activate our cardiovascular system. That sounds like it could be good too but it definitely is not. Our Dr. Eric Belin de Chantemele in physiology has shown that high leptin levels also result in high aldosterone levels, which does a lot of bad cardiovascular stuff like making your blood vessels and heart stiff. We knew high aldosterone went along with obesity but we didn’t know just how that unfortunate scenario played out until Dr. Belin de Chantemele and his colleagues showed us. So, per your awesome usual, this points us toward ways to absolutely intervene to try and stop some of the worst consequences of obesity.  You know you want to check this out here http://bit.ly/1JXBpPB.


Determined Even Early On… To Contribute

Speaking of finding new cardiovascular treatments and educating the next generation, our recent Medical Partnership Student Research Symposium was a healthy combination of both and so much more. Just some fascinating science and collaboration displayed in Athens by our students, our UGA partners in departments such as genetics, psychology, kinesiology, food and nutrition, even the Athletic Association, and on and on. We had great community partners up that way as well – for this effort and so much more – including Mercy Health Center, Athens Regional Medical Center, and Southeastern Regional Medical Center, which is in Newnan, near Atlanta. As just a few examples, our student Angela Holder worked with adviser Dr. Lynn B. Bailey to explore how vitamin B12 status during pregnancy affects birth outcomes.  Jordan Maxwell worked with Mercy and adviser Dr. Laurel Murrow to find ways to improve their in-demand dermatological care. Louis Kerkhoff worked with Dr. Neal Dickert and other colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine Division of Cardiology on an assessment that should ultimately improve enrollment in cardiovascular clinical trials. The whole day and all the work leading to it are just terrific examples of what is possible when we all really work together. Simply inspiring. We again thank our interim campus dean, Dr. Leslie Petch Lee, for her leadership.


Striving Always… To Be Better, Stronger…

Speaking of working together, there has been so much work and collaboration going on, a fair amount of it a bit beneath the surface, for our upcoming Liaison Committee on Medical Education site visit. Not unlike your continuous effort to recruit and admit the best students, so many of you work every day to ensure that our medical school is also the best possible by anyone’s standards. And while this official, regular accreditation visit is frankly still a bit nerve-wracking, as we have discussed, it is also a wonderful opportunity for even more introspection and improvement. To hit a few LCME highlights, we received full accreditation from the LCME in 2008, began a concerted review of LCME standards and how we match up in November 2012, began an official self-study in the summer of 2014 and our students began their own analysis at the same time. Our mock site visit is set for Dec. 6-8 and the real visit of a team of five medical education experts will be here Jan. 24-27. We hope you will mark your minds and calendars for these important activities still ahead. We thank again Dr. Paul Wallach, Dr. Andria Thomas and the entire Academic Affairs team for taking on leadership of this all-important task.


Absolutely Always… Giving Your Best

A big, big part of why this is such a great medical school is, of course, our great educators. People who just love to share knowledge, inspire and help students, and just generally pass on the legacy of learning – and doing! One of those folks is absolutely Dr. John Fisher, an infectious disease physician by training and an educator by heart and probably genetics. Dr. Fisher has technically retired, but we are so happy to say that he is one of the amazing individuals who love their work so much, that he just keeps coming back.  Of course, our students regularly return the respect. Dr. Fisher got his first Excellence in Teaching Award from our students the year he started in 1978 and has gotten more than 50 since. Well guess what, the kudos keep coming, even in semi-retirement. This long-time fellow of the American College of Physicians was recently advanced to a “master” of the college – no doubt – and awarded the Jane F. Desforges Distinguished Teacher Award from this prestigious group for his leadership in medical education and for being, well, a terrific teacher. Let us add our endless thanks to those of the students’. We so hope he just keeps on keeping on.


And Often… Having a Great Time in the Process

And finally today, we find ourselves going, once again, full circle. Because our students really are our reason for being. Just as they are inspired by teachers such as Dr. Fisher, they inspire us in return. One of the many, many privileges we will share with our Class of 2019 is tomorrow at 3 p.m., at the Bell Auditorium, when they first get those iconic short, white coats, with their name and the name of the Medical College of Georgia absolutely together. Our President, Dr. Keel, will give his very first welcome to our students on their white coat day. Stephen Jackson, President of the Class of 2016, will share with his newest colleagues, the white coat tradition, and our Dr. Charlie Linder, who like Dr. Fisher just keeps on giving, will give the keynote address. What a day it will be and what a medical school you are because, after all, you are the Medical College of Georgia. Thank you.


Upcoming Events


The Alan Roberts, M.D., Mini-Medical school 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.


Today – The annual GRU Alumni Barbecue and Celebration, open to the public, is set for 5:30-8:30 p.m. today 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. 7t atwww.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 20 – GRU Office of Leadership Development hosts a public symposium featuring Elizabeth “Liz” Thompson, a leading nonprofit executive, at 3:30 p.m. in the Maxwell Theatre, Summerville Campus. This is the office’s inaugural session of Leading Lives: GRU Conversations in Leadership Series. Ms. Thompson is currently president of the Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education and governing board chair of the University of Chicago Charter School.

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. 6-8 – Liaison Committee on Medical Education Mock Site Visit

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.

Jan. 24-27 – LCME Site visit

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, Keynote speaker, Dr. Claire Pomeroy, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, location and time TBD.


Have a terrific weekend!

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