“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.”

-Lilly Pulitzer


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

A great Match … For our Class of 2016

Wow and amazing always describe Match Day at the Medical College of Georgia! Today, 223 members of our senior class in Augusta and at our Athens campus participated in this terrific tradition. It’s when senior medical students and residency training programs across the nation rank each other, then the National Resident Matching Program puts the two together and the news is spread at our nation’s medical schools at the strike of noon! How exciting is that. Our stellar seniors definitely showed their stuff with 100 percent matched in 24 specialties in 34 states. Our students placed all over the country, at many of the nation’s top training programs, such as Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai and Harvard. Twenty eight percent of our students will be doing their residency in Georgia. Just great news all the way around. And here’s more. About half our students matched in primary care – internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine – and there were great showings in areas such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology and general surgery as well. We are just so, so proud of our students. Vice Dean Paul Wallach says these winning numbers are the result of a super class and amazing educators. We completely agree and our special thanks to Dr. Stewart Shevitz, associate dean for student affairs for our senior class, for always going that extra mile, typically with a smile. He so reflects the commitment you all have to our students and to our future. A huge congratulations to our Class of 2016. We know you will absolutely continue to make us proud.


Great honors as well …

So you already knew that our students are just amazing, bright, enthusiastic, altruistic, just the kind of folks we all want to be taking care of us one day.  Nothing says that much better than a great Match and selection for the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which recognizes exemplars (don’t you love that word!) of humanistic patient care who are role models, mentors and leaders in medicine. Saturday night our 33 new third-year student inductees were absolutely honored with their family and friends and faculty mentors close by. The indelible Dr. John Fisher was the keynote and a particularly cool aspect of this gathering was that it was also in the midst of an amazing art exhibit at the marvelous Morris Museum of Art. Our special thanks to Vice Dean Wallach for encouraging such fusing of excellent art and medicine! Also among the cool crowd were some amazing art history experts, including Dr. Michael Schwartz, professor of art history and humanities at our AU, Scott Thorp, AU chair of art, and Tara Chokshi, chair of art at Augusta Preparatory Day School! So clearly lots of good conversation, visual stimulation and stellar students! Hard to beat.


For our Class of 2017

We could stop here but we so wanted to share the names of our student inductees. They include, deep breath, from our home base campus here in Augusta, Charlotte Ball, Shanti Bhatia, Amanda Bradley, Bruce Byrd, Eryn Calder, Rachel Calhoun, Austin Evans, Jada Fambrough, Elena James, Steven Kent, Samantha Lee, Katherine Menezes, Mohamed Mohamed, Devi Morrison, Alexander Pan, Jung Mi Park, Ravi Patel, Grace Patterson, Samuel Payne, Leslie Peard, Christine Phillips, Kelsey Porter, Anna Sulimirski, Brian Sullivan, Lauren Titus, Satyam Veean and Kelli Wheeler. From our awesome Athens campus, inductees were Timothy Hutton, Rachel Johnson, Laura Kent, Stephen Purser, Donald Vickers and Sarah Whelchel. Our faculty advisors for this super cool society are Dr. Bunja Rungruang, associate program director of our OB-GYN residency, and Dr. John Francis, campus associate dean for student and multicultural affairs in Athens. By the important by, residents, fellows and physician educators also are members of this prestigious group. In fact, inspiration for the national group began with medical educators and residency program directors wanting help identifying exceptional residency applicants. No doubt. Our absolute congratulations and appreciation to our newest amazing inductees.

Great rankings for our super scientists …

So you know our faculty are, well, just the best and great mentors in all the great things our students reflect. An absolute undeniable among those is that they are so hardworking! In fact, in a recent Association of American Medical Colleges report, our scientists ranked 20th in research productivity among 58 of the nation’s public medical schools responding to the survey. By the by, there are actually 78 public medical schools in the U.S. The simple explanation of how this ranking was figured out was looking at direct expenditures per principal investigator. We would absolutely rank this amazing group even higher and throw in a few more points for their endless enthusiasm and commitment. We also were listed 70th in the recent Blue Ridge Rankings of the National Institutes of Health funding, the gold standard for biomedical research, among 138 of the nation’s medical schools. And, how is this for cool: NIH funding alone was up 16 percent from last year at our MCG! The icing on this cake is that all these rankings – including the late breaking U.S. News & World Report research ranking of 73rd – were up from last year! Collectively, you amazing individuals have $99 million in total grants and contracts as we speak.


Who are at the top … Of their important game

How is that for a segue into some super science! Earlier today a study was published online from Dr. Lan Ko, cancer biologist in our Department of Pathology and the university’s newly renamed Georgia Cancer Center, that shows how a gene known for aptitude at repairing DNA, can cause breast cancer when mutated. Talk about going from helpful to hurtful, mutations of the GT198 gene were known to be present in both early onset breast and ovarian cancer. But now our scientists have shown the mutations’ direct contribution to making some breast cancers happen. In fact, the stem cells that normally make healthy, key pieces of breast tissue, have these mutations that instead essentially end up making a perfect cancer bed. Per cancer’s awful usual, the mutated gene enables uncontrollable growth. The great news is that we have found this and now recognize its potential as a way to both diagnose breast cancer early and as new and early treatment target if we can just get rid of those errant stem cells. Per science’s usual, this was the result of awesome work by many including Dr. Nita Maihle, also a cancer biologist, and Dr. Nahid Mivechi, cell biologist and radiobiologist and a group leader at the Cancer Center. Their work was done in samples from more than 250 women from across our world, who were absolute essential collaborators as well in the battle against this disease. Fabulous work. Please check out more here http://bit.ly/1SY3vUo.

Great evidence that future generations …

Okay, just one more science item! Last week wrapped up with a great Graduate Research Day. Keynote Dr. Dora Angelaki, chair of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, who is doing pioneering work in how the many parts of our brains process multisensory information and how when things don’t go well we have diseases like autism and schizophrenia, gave an outstanding talk. This 32nd annual celebration also featured some truly inspiring and informative work by graduate students, residents and postdocs! We are talking some broadly impactful work here like MPH health management student Katelynn Castille’s studies of whether there is a cervical cancer screening disparity between gay and straight women. Back to breast cancer for a moment, MPH student in environmental health Tiana Curry-McCoy is taking a look at the potential role of breast milk in breast cancer research. We send our congratulations to all presenters and advisors and to our great colleague, Graduate School Dean Mitch Watsky, for another amazing day of science. We hear some well-deserved award winners will be announced April 20.


Will be the super same

As we start wrapping things up today we find ourselves again talking about graduate medical education. We had a recent Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education site visit to make sure we also are handling this super-important aspect of medical education well. While we will know officially in May, we are so happy to share that things went very well and once again, it was because of the terrific team that you are. Shawnda Claxton, institutional coordinator responsible for our complying with ACGME – who actually just started with the GME main office in June but was rheumatology residency program coordinator for 14 years – worked closely with our GME guru Dr. Walt Moore to prepare the significant documentation that went out beforehand and for the actual visit. Our fabulous face to the ACGME also included 11 peer-selected residents and 11 residency program leaders. Our endless thanks to everyone who, per your amazing usual, pulled together to ensure the ACGME got what they needed from us.



Finally today we say goodbye to yet another great former faculty member. Dr. Gerald B. Holzman, Professor Emeritus in our Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was vice chairman of that department for nearly 11 years until his retirement May 1994. He also served as associate director of the residency program, where his significant educational efforts included developing a log for recording residents’ experience, and helping teach the radiology residency and fellows rotating through OB ultrasound. He was president of the Faculty Senate and a national player whose roles included serving on the National Board of Medical Examiners and as an examiner for the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When he left us, Dr. Holzman became vice president for education at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Our thoughts are with his family and our gratitude with him.


Upcoming Events


March 24 – Educational Innovation Institute’s Health Sciences Education Day with the theme “Instructional Technology in Health Sciences Education,” noon-5 p.m., Harrison Commons. See http://www.augusta.edu/mcg/academic-affairs/eii/eiihealthscienceseducationday2016.php.

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 27 – Inaugural celebration and investiture of President Brooks Keel, details to come!

April 28 – Spring Induction Ceremony, AOA Honor Medical Society, 4 p.m., 1210-B Harrison 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 12 – Hooding 2016, Keynote speaker, Dr. Claire Pomeroy, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, http://www.augusta.edu/mcg/students/hoodinggraduation.php.

May 13 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

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.


Dust off the pine pollen and have a great weekend!

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