“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

When PTSD strikes our nation’s soldiers…

We started last week talking about our emergency medicine department working with our Eisenhower Army Medical Center colleagues to learn more about how ultrasound can help improve patient care in settings from battlefields to emergency rooms to family medicine clinics. This week, we are privileged again to start with more collaborative efforts with and for our brave colleagues who protect our nation. Most of us have heard about the potentially devastating impact of post-traumatic stress disorder. No doubt, the commitment of our military to each of us often puts these brave souls in direct danger and means they see and experience things that most of us could not and would not want to even imagine. This time we share that Dr. Vernon Barnes of our Georgia Prevention Institute, in collaboration with Dr. John L. Rigg, program director of Eisenhower’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, has shown that relatively simple, and certainly safe, Transcendental Meditation can have a hugely positive impact on our active duty-soldiers living with PTSD.


We help them strike back…

Their study looked at 74 active-duty service members, many of whom have had multiple deployments over multiple years, and now have PTSD or anxiety disorder. Our Dr. Barnes traveled to Eisenhower to teach half these soldiers how to practice Transcendental Meditation in addition to their usual treatment. The remainder just continued their normal therapy course. The study found that the soldiers who regularly practiced Transcendental Meditation reduced, some even eliminated, their need for medication and it helped them get better control of their absolutely life-impacting PSTD symptoms. In fact, our Dr. Barnes now regularly travels to the TBI clinic to teach soldiers who want to learn this technique. How terrific is that! As you would imagine, this study and the soldiers captured the interest of many across the globe. Please check out this terrific piece on this work by Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today, http://bit.ly/1mV0mr9. We are pleased to share that the more mainstream media also showed great interest in this important work, including Robert Preidt at HealthDay and the fine folks at U.S. News and World Report, http://bit.ly/1UODkgF. Great job to all. We thank our soldiers again for their commitment to us and to our country and we thank our researchers for being tireless advocates for better health and life.


When patients deserve more… You find a way to give them better

You know, you are truly a bunch of innovators here, immersed in the world of medicine, science and medical education whose mantra is: What can I do to improve one, two or all of the above. Well just like the super cool work for our veterans, our Dr. David Terris is a longtime pioneer in his specialty, thyroid surgery. He has helped take that classic multi-inch neck incision down to less than an inch for some patients and developed a technique that totally eliminates a neck incision for others. Well he just keeps on looking for ways to make things better for patients. Now he has taken a retrospective look at hundreds of his own cases and shown that, with the right treatment approach, outpatient thyroid surgery is safe for most of us, even the elderly and super-elderly. Of interesting note is that over the last say decade, as the complexity of the cases and the percentage of overall cases handled on an outpatient basis have gone up significantly, readmission rates for outpatients is less than one percent. Awesome. We absolutely appreciate Dr. Terris’ diligence and vigilance for patients. Please keep it up! Lots of international interest on this too. Check it out here http://bit.ly/1l6v0ga.


Because You Are the Best…

So you absolutely know that we love our alumni and that is because they are the best, amazingly dedicated professionals who, like you, are committed to improving our health. In fact, many of you are our alumni and we could not be more pleased. Well, we also are pleased to share that the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences really likes their alums too and, guess what? They keep honoring one of theirs who is on our faculty! We are talking about Dr. Norman K. Pollock, which takes us back to the GPI for another visit and keeps us on some super science. This bone biologist has – count them – three degrees from this UGA college, the last of which is a doctor of philosophy in foods and nutrition in 2008. He came to us the very next year and has been doing plenty of super science since, including work that is mega-relevant to the next generation of healthy humans by exploring areas like obesity, metabolic dysfunction, bone health and their unhealthy intersection. His alma mater first honored him in 2002 with its undergraduate research award and again in 2007 with the Bill and June Flatt Nutrition Excellence Graduate Scholarship Award. He’s gotten lots of national honors as well, including multiple awards from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, and we are proud to say he received the Young Clinical Science Faculty Award from us in 2012. Now he has been honored with the 2016 Emily Quinn Pou Professional Achievement Award presented annually by the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences to graduates who have attained substantial achievements and are at the midpoint of their career. No doubt. Our congratulations to our Dr. Pollock and our appreciation to our UGA colleagues for honoring him.


The faculty, staff, students and residents… of Georgia’s medical school

Dr. Michael Diamond may not be our graduate (he actually graduated from Vanderbilt University Medical School) but he is definitely ours now and, guess what? He is being honored at the 2016 Georgia Bio Starry Nights Awards Dinner! Georgia Bio is our state’s life science industry association and Dr. Diamond will be center stage for his tireless and successful efforts to help bring to the children of our state who are living with intractable epilepsy, the first clinical studies of cannibidiol, a marijuana derivative that could make a difference for these children and their families.  While Dr. Diamond is a prolific researcher in his field of reproductive endocrinology, our Dr. Yong Park, an expert in pediatric epilepsy, is, of course, managing the cannibidiol trials, which are ongoing.  But Dr. Diamond’s dogged persistence helped ensure that the trial would happen here. No doubt he is used to surveying the landscape then jumping into action. At our university alone he is, deep breath here, senior vice president for research and vice president for clinical and translational research and, at our medical school, he is chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate dean for research. We are thinking this is a super cool, well-deserved honor. Our congratulations to Dr. Diamond, our thanks to Georgia Bio and our appreciation again to our Governor Nathan Deal for enabling us to be a part of this important initiative.


We love sharing great news…

Speaking of great research, did you know that amid the busy holiday season, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a $32.1 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health. This $2 billion increase is on the heels of more than a decade of little-to-no increases in this gold standard for medical research funding.  Did you hear that this week President Obama announced a new cancer research initiative “for the loved ones we have all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.” This new “moonshot” will be led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year. What else do we need to say except: awesome.



With you and about you…

We may have mentioned this month’s accreditation site visit from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education a time or two! That important visit is now just nine days away, and while its importance no doubt makes it a bit angst-provoking, as we have also said time and again, it also is a terrific learning and improvement opportunity. Last year we asked our students to share with us what we do well and not so well to again officially get their important measure of their medical school. This week, at their quarterly town hall meeting, fourth-year Augusta Class President Stephen Jackson talked eloquently about the results of the Independent Student Analysis. Our student input was, per usual, invaluable and let us know that we are – translation: you are – doing an awesome job educating the next generation of physicians. They had mostly high praise – citing things like the great availability of faculty and official school leaders and the accessibility of student health services – and they also gave some great feedback on how we could do better, which is a vital part of continuous quality improvement. Parking is always an issue but, thankfully, many of their concerns about great learning space were beautifully resolved with the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons. Our thanks to executive committee members, Drs. Lael Reinstatler and Michael Schecter, Class of 2015; Stephen Jackson and Joseph Krakowiak, Class of 2016; and Katherine Menezes and Palmer Feibelman, Class of 2017, for leading these efforts.


And are always super glad… that you are the Medical College of Georgia

And finally today, we also wanted to share that this was the best recruitment year ever for our three clinical campuses strategically located in Northwest, Southwest and Southeast Georgia! Come this warm July, our Northwest Campus will welcome 10 new third-year students, Southeast Campus will welcome 20 and Southwest Campus will welcome 14. As a friendly reminder, our third- and fourth-year students are the ones who can opt to live and learn at these clinical campuses or, of course, right here at the home base! Drs. Paul Wallach and Kathryn Martin share that the bus tours students take as second years are seriously great recruitment tools and, of course, so are the amazing physicians and hospitals they meet when they arrive. Just another total win-win for our state and our students. No doubt, our students have the best possible smorgasbord of clinical medical education available anywhere. Have we mentioned lately that the first two years of learning are super-fab as well both here and at our second-four-year Medical Partnership campus with our great UGA colleagues! Great going!


Upcoming Events


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. 11 – Augusta University Day at the Capitol.

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., Regional reception, 6 p.m.

March 4 – The Alan Roberts Memorial Lecture, noon-1 p.m., Lee Auditorium, Kathy Kinlaw, Director of Emory University’s Program on Health Science and Ethics.

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, Harrison Education Commons.

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

April 29-May 1 – Alumni Weekend. On April 29, Department of Neurosurgery 60thanniversary lunch and CME, noon-4 p.m., BI3079; MCG Dean’s Reception, 5:30 p.m., Harrison Education Commons followed by MCG Alumni Association Banquet, 6:30 p.m., also at the Harrison Education Commons. April 30, MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting, 9:30 a.m., Harrison Education Commons; President’s Cookout, noon-2 p.m., at president’s home, Twin Gables, 920 Milledge Road; MCG Class Reunions, starting at 6:30 at the Augusta Marriott for Classes of 1946, 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006. May 1, MCG Emeritus Club Breakfast, Augusta University Alumni Center on 15th St., 9:30 a.m.; Memorial Service, 10:30 a.m., Alumni Center.

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, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

May 13 – Graduation, 2 p.m., Civic Center.

June 16 – Investiture Ceremony, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 5 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 3 p.m.; reception to follow at the Old Medical College building.

Have a wonderful long weekend!

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