“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”

-William Blake  

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It’s no doubt hard to beat… A good night’s sleep…
You all definitely work hard, sometimes (we hope) you also have a chance to play hard, you continuously juggle significant work and family life, you (fill in the endless blanks). But what if, in your super-busy world, you simply could not sleep so that you could wake refreshed and ready for another 100 mile per hour day? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that is too true for a lot of us: about 10 percent of U.S. adults have a chronic insomnia disorder. Not only can it make us feel listless and lousy short term, insufficient sleep can carry its own health risks including obesity and cardiovascular disease. Now that is enough to make it even harder to sleep. We say most of this here to also say, per your usual, you have your finger on the pulse of what matters.

And our Dr. Vaughn McCall wants to make sure… You sleep safe and sound  
One of the treatments for insomnia is hypnotics, prescription sleep aids that can help calm our minds so we can go to sleep. Those drugs carry an FDA warning of suicide risk and our Dr. Vaughn McCall, psychiatry chair and expert in the trifecta of depression, insomnia and suicide, got to wondering just how often the drugs themselves were associated with a suicide. He decided to look more closely at that risk. He found that fortunately the risk is rare and appears associated with an unusual response to the drugs that appears to stimulate people instead of the desired result of calming us. While we can’t predetermine who those individuals are, the problem seems to surface within the first 10 days of using the drug so that reminds health care providers and family members to be diligent observers in the first couple of weeks of treatment. More great insight coming out of our medical school. We thought it was worth noting here that Dr. McCall utilized the Freedom of Information Act to get detailed reports of related deaths from the FDA, a process he shares that was relatively straightforward and worked just as it should. You can absolutely check out more here.

Dr. Lin Mei among top neuroscientists… Presenting at Rutgers Brain Health Institute
Like our Dr. McCall and so very many of you, our Dr. Lin Mei, chair of neuroscience and regenerative medicine and a GRA eminent scholar, also never shies away from tough questions about our complex and compelling brains. In fact, he runs right to and through them, which is how he and his team are providing voluminous new info on how our brains and bodies connect at that infamous, invaluable neuromuscular juncture where brain cells meet muscle cells! He’s among a dozen top neuroscientists participating in the upcoming Rutgers Brain Health Institute Plenary Seminar Series in New Jersey this academic year.  Dr. Mei will be discussing synapse formation, plasticity and muscular dystrophy at the Oct. 27 gathering. We thank him for his leadership and bottomless interest in our brains.

Our cardiology fellowship honored… For outstanding contributions to advancing health equality
Turns out that our Dr. Vincent Robinson, director of our cardiology fellowship program and Glen E. Garrison MD Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine, has already been up the New York way this month. He picked up the 2016 Spirit of the Heart Diversity in Cardiology Award from the Association of Black Cardiologists for our nearly 60-year-old cardiology fellowship. Did you know we had one of the first of these training programs in the nation? Well our program was honored for its ongoing commitment to improving the diversity of cardiologists. As you know, our graduates are not just great doctors, they are great leaders and include fine individuals such as Dr. Uzoma N. Ibebuogu, now associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who was actually just back at home base giving a continuing medical education presentation over Labor Day weekend. Super. And, how is this for cool? This jam-packed event not only included a bunch of leaders in heart care, there were also some other super-special honorees. In fact, Queen Latifah received the Distinguished Health Advocate Award for her advocacy for heart health and reduction in cardiovascular disease disparities. We understand her efforts were inspired by her mom’s diagnosis of heart failure. By the by, you know you want to check out this photo of Dr. Robinson with actor/advocate Lamman Rucker. P.S. The star on the right is Mr. Rucker!

Dr. Martha Tingen selected by NCI for committee that helps ensure good cancer care
So while we are on a leadership roll, our Dr. Martha Tingen, Charles W. Linder, MD Chair in Pediatrics and associate director of our Georgia Prevention Institute who directs the Tobacco Control program at the Cancer Center, has been selected for a two-year term on the Cancer Care Delivery Research Coordinating Committee of the National Cancer Institute. The NCI selected her for this relatively new committee that helps coordinate efforts in Cancer Care Delivery Research across the nation – that means figuring out the best ways to get patients the care they need – as well as NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program, which supports the development of cancer clinical trials for minorities and the underserved. How is that for some important charges? We are absolutely certain that Dr. Tingen will be a fierce advocate on all these important fronts. We hope you know that we have one of only seven sites nationally right here for both. Our Dr. Sharad Ghamande, chief of gynecologic oncology, is the principal investigator for the Community and Minority Underserved site – Dr. Tingen is a coinvestigator on that – and she leads the Cancer Care Delivery Research initiative for us. We hope you also know that our basic and physician scientists are constantly chipping away at the cancer beast. Great news and more great work clearly ahead on this. Congratulations and thank you Dr. Tingen.

Alumnus Dr. Allen Coffman selected as Pediatrician of the Year in Tennessee
Okay, just one more point of pride on your work and your impact as we wrap up today. You know at our heart and in our heart is the education of the next generation of physicians. Your enthusiasm, accomplishments, general smarts and leadership are why one of the nation’s first medical schools is so dang good at that (and a bunch of other stuff). If the proof is in the pudding, ours is our students and alumni, who are simply the most amazing individuals. We were just down in Albany last night for yet another terrific regional reception and there was just so much love and support for our medical school. Well a little further north, there was another recent alumni celebration of sorts. Our Dr. Allen Coffman is a pediatrician from our Class of 1999 who is president and medical director of the Pediatric Healthcare Improvement Coalition for the Tennessee Valley – a nonprofit determined to see that every child in the beautiful Tennessee Valley has great medical care. Well he was just named Pediatrician of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Coffman recently served a two-year term as president of that fine state organization, and he’s been a busy full-time practitioner at Highland Pediatrics in Hixson, Tennessee for nearly 15 years. Perhaps what is most inspirational in all that he does is his clear commitment to gather others and cobble together a plan on behalf of children. Talk about looking out for the next generation. Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Coffman.

Our Southeast Campus closed Wednesday… All are safely relocated
Finally today our thoughts are with our nation and other neighbors such as the people of Haiti as Hurricane Matthew barrels down upon us. We wanted to share that our regional campus leadership made the very prudent decision Tuesday to close our Southeast Campus – based in Brunswick and Savannah – on Wednesday and that our 40 third- and fourth-year students were safely evacuated along with our staff. In fact, they were able to move toward safety ahead of the crowds. We thank Dr. Kathryn Martin, associate dean for regional campus coordination, for her leadership and wisdom.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 13 – Alumni Association Savannah Regional Reception, Savannah Golf Club, 6 p.m.

Oct. 14 – Augusta University’s Brew N Que, a night of great food, music, kid fun and fireworks at dusk, 5:30-8:30 p.m., D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre on the Summerville Campus, presented by the AU Alumni Association. Tickets are $15 Adults, $10 AU students and children under 12, $20 at the door. To purchase tickets call 706-737-1759 or visit https://alumni.augusta.edu/bbq.

Oct. 18 – Reception and plaque presentation honoring Bowdre Phinizy and Meta Charbonnier Phinizy, whose generous gift in honor of Meta’s father, Leon Henri Charbonnier, marked the inception of MCG’s very first endowment, 5:30 p.m., Harrison Commons.

Oct. 18 – A Service for the Healing of the Mind and Spirit, 7 p.m., St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church, 1420 Monte Sano Ave., a communitywide event for those whose lives have been touched by mental illness, sponsored by the Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Augusta.

Oct. 20 – MCG Faculty Senate Meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 1 – Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception. Coosa Country Club, 6 p.m.

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

Nov. 5 – White Coat Ceremony, Bell Auditorium, 2:30 p.m.; reception to follow at the Old Medical College building.

Have a great weekend!


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