“For good nurture and education implant good constitutions.”

– Plato

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

You fight the good fight…
You just never cease to be amazing. Every time we think we’ve heard just the best thing we have ever heard from you, well, we hear another one or two. This week, we’ve got so much awesomeness going on, we hardly know where to start! But here we go with Dr. Nita Maihle who has been named the dean of the Department of Defense’s national initiative to enable the success of early career ovarian cancer investigators. How amazing is the DOD for taking up the fight against ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women, and for the up-and-coming investigators who absolutely will help us win this war. Just awesome. Equally awesome is our Dr. Maihle, a passionate, accomplished investigator herself at our medical school and Cancer Center, who is no doubt a great model for any of us and already an accomplished leader to boot. Like so many of you, she had done – and is doing – way, way too much to cover here but please check out more here http://bit.ly/1qfYCdn and here http://bit.ly/1OppAFJ. Just terrific, Dr. Maihle. Thank you for your leadership and commitment.

You lead with distinction…
This week we also are so very privileged to share that our Dr. Sylvia Smith, a retinal cell biologist and chair of our Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, has been appointed to the National Advisory Eye Council. Just super that her prestigious colleagues on this group include folks such as the director of the National Institutes of Health and the secretary of Health and Human Services. This group, of course, has its sights on better vision for us all, including figuring out what research gets funded and the future direction of vision research. We say that they could not have a better colleague than Dr. Smith. She is one of those quiet but strong leaders who knows no fear in prowling the frontiers of the retina and taking on the diseases that hurt it and our vision. She also knows no bounds in providing support where it is absolutely due. Our endless thanks and congratulations to her. Way to go.

And with a vision of what is great…
Speaking of having vision, you know our 1945 graduate, retired Air Force Brigadier General Dr. James Culver, had just that when he and his amazing wife Jean decided to endow the university’s James & Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute. We just have to throw in here that the great team that leads this institute just happens to be Dr. Smith and our chair of ophthalmology, Dr. Julian Nussbaum. Quite another dynamic duo right here at Georgia’s public medical school. Well this very Saturday at lovely Lake Oconee we are having the super fun Eye Ball to further benefit this terrific institute. You might want to note here that these folks don’t just know eyes and research, they know how to throw one great party for an amazing cause. Did you know that Dr. Culver served as ophthalmologist to the manned space program? How is that for some perspective? Just a great bunch working hard every day to protect our sight. Thank you.

As well as the knowledge and commitment…
Okay, maybe just one more amazing bit of vision tied to one more amazing alum. This 1955 graduate became the first ophthalmologist in nine Southeastern states to be trained in what-was-then the new field of vitreo-retinal surgery. In fact Dr. William S. Hagler learned from Dr. Charles Schepens, who established the first-ever retina service and retinal disease fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in beautiful Boston. Dr. Hagler would go on to have a near 40-year career that included being the first full-time faculty member in the Emory University School of Medicine Ophthalmology Department. Like so, so many of you, this amazing professional became an amazing educator of the next generation. In keeping with his obviously terrific traditions, he recently established the William S. Hagler, MD Chair in Ophthalmology at his alma mater to help ensure that this next generation stuff absolutely continues. Of course we would be remiss here if we did not add an invitation to each of you to also consider financially supporting these and other amazing initiatives at our medical school. Please check that out here http://mcgfoundation.org/giving.html. Great, great news!

To make it even greater…
Moving right along to the vasculature! That’s right, we are taking a step toward, well Dr. David Stepp who we also are absolutely pleased to share has been appointed chair of the NIH’s Vascular Cell and Molecular Biology Study Section. We definitely like having both Drs. Smith and Stepp in key roles in making important decisions about which research gets funded because we know they will make the right decisions for the right reasons. Dr. Stepp is actually a charter member of this group that looks at cardiovascular grant applications that focus on the endothelial cells that line our blood vessels and the smooth muscle cells that give our blood vessels strength, sometimes too much and we call it hypertension. Anyway, Dr. Stepp is an accomplished researcher and all around great citizen of our medical school who is taking on the unfortunate synergy between obesity and cardiovascular disease in his very own lab. Great going again.

You have great colleagues…As a result
There was certainly some great going a bit south of here this week with our amazing partners at Phoebe Putney Health System breaking ground on some equally awesome but low-cost housing for our third- and fourth-year students living and learning down that way. We have talked in recent months about our now decade-old first regional campus based at Phoebe down in Albany. But we just say here again, that like the best of partners, Phoebe along with the so many fine physicians down that way – many MCG graduates! – have been great partners always. From the very beginning, they were feeding our students and otherwise making them feel so at home as they learned. Now this. Wow. Check out more here http://bit.ly/1T7OTBE.

Endless stories to tell…
Per our often usual, as we start wrapping things up, we find ourselves going full circle, leaving you today by telling you once again just how amazing you are. No doubt our latest issue of our biannual magazine, MCG Medicine, helps tell your story and it is finally out! Please check a few moments to check it out here http://magazines.augusta.edu/category/publications/medicine/. We also, of course, have some actual magazines that we are happy to share as well if you want a handful. Just call the dean’s office! We hope you enjoy.

And even more being written
Today we leave you with some final thoughts about our very reason for being. This week we send our amazing Class of 2016 out into the world. Today is graduation and yesterday we celebrated Hooding. What a glorious series of moments. Per usual, our amazing students said it best. Our Athens class president Joey Krakowiak told those of us at Hooding, “We have just begun our lifelong pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of our patients.” True words, Joey. Our Augusta class president, Stephen Jackson, also rightfully acknowledged the immeasurable contributions of families and classmates to each student’s individual success. “We are stronger together than alone,” Stephen said. “There were thousands of applicants for our seats, with good scores and great grades, but we are graduating from the Medical College of Georgia today. Hold yourself to that high standard throughout your career.” Stephen and Joey, thank you both for being such terrific leaders and thank you all for being such a terrific class. We want to say again how very proud we are, how very fortunate we are that you picked us as your medical school, and how we always hope to make you proud. You, after all, are the next generation. You are the young minds, as Joey said, that will build upon what we know today so that you can take even better care of your patients. We know you will do great things. You have taken up the mantle of medicine and that brings a sense of comfort and fulfillment to your medical school that words cannot describe. Please never forget us. We will never forget you.

Upcoming Events

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

May 14 – Community Celebration of our Athens students’ graduation, 10 a.m., University of Georgia Health Sciences Campus, Marching Grounds, reception immediately following. Go to the George Hall if there is rain!

May 18 and 19 – Third Wounded Warrior Conference on The Hidden Wounds of War, such as mild traumatic brain injury, PTSD and suicide, sponsored by the Augusta University Research Institute, Inc., and the AU Office of the Senior Vice President for Research in conjunction with the Augusta Biomedical Research Corporation and the Augusta Warrior Project. The two-day event kicks off with a reception and dinner and plenary presentations on May 18th at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 605 Reynolds Street, Augusta, in the River Room from 6-8 p.m. The cost per person is $10. The Symposium will be held at the Charlie Norwood VAMC Uptown Division-1 Freedom Way, 3rd Floor, 3B-111, May 19th from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cost to attend to is $30 per person, free for students and residents. The fee includes breakfast and lunch. Register at http://www.augusta.edu/ce/medicalce/2016/woundedwarrior.php.

May 26 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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

Aug. 12 – New date for the State of the College address, noon, Lee Auditorium!

Nov. 4 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 5 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 3 p.m.; reception to follow at the Old Medical College building.
A great weekend to you all and particularly to our newest graduates!

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