“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

-Nelson Henderson


Dear Colleagues and Friends,


We honor the legacy of Bowdre and Meta Phinizy…

This week we took a step back into our medical school’s distinctive and proud history to provide a long-overdue public recognition of the incredible legacy of Bowdre and Meta Phinizy. Eighty-five years ago this extraordinary couple gave an exceptional gift that was your medical school’s very first endowment. Tuesday, we unveiled a plaque honoring the Phinizy family, whose generosity funded the Leon Henri Charbonnier endowment, and has helped support the 13 faculty who have been privileged to hold Charbonnier Professorhips. It now prominently and properly hangs in the lobby of the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons as a reminder to students, faculty and guests of the undeniable power of philanthropy and people – just like the very building in which it was placed. We were delighted to have with us that evening Mr. Bowdre Mays, Mr. Phinizy’s great-nephew, and his wife Lynn, as well as Regent Jim Hull, also a descendant of the fine Phinizy family, who shared valuable insight into the legacy of the Phinizy family. It was, no doubt, a proud occasion for our medical school and we so hope for the Phinizy family. As Regent Hull perfectly reminded us, “A life well-lived means giving to others and giving back, and the greatest gift you can give your family, the greatest inheritance, is the example of giving to others.”


The Charbonnier Endowment has provided funding for incredible faculty…

Our guests at Tuesday’s event also included many stars at our medical school who have been privileged to hold Charbonnier Professorships and Endowed Chairs. They included, deep breath here, Dr. Bill Strong, pediatric cardiologist and co-founder of our Georgia Prevention Institute, which has brought in $75 million in extramural funding to this great institution; Dr. Joe Bailey, long-time leader of our Section of Rheumatology and a tireless physician advocate; Dr. Tony Mulloy, an endocrinologist and our recently retired senior associate vice president for clinical research administration and senior associate dean for clinical research; Dr. Mike Madaio, longtime chair of our Department of Medicine; and scientist Dr. David Stepp, who reminded us that being named a Charbonnier Chair also means being “a part of one of the proudest traditions at this medical school” by the sheer virtue of holding a part of one of our most established and respected endowments. Indeed.


Two new Charbonnier Endowed Chairs named…

How’s this for timing? We were thrilled to learn on the very same day as the plaque unveiling that our two newest Charbonnier Endowed Chairs have been approved by the University System of Georgia. Our beloved pediatric surgeon, Dr. Robyn Hatley, is the newest Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Surgery and our vice dean, Dr. Paul Wallach, is now also the Leon Henri Charbonnier Endowed Chair in Medicine. Dr. Hatley received his surgery training here and then left us for a three-year fellowship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. We were proud to welcome him back in 1989 to our medical school, where he has chaired our pediatric trauma committee and helped lead our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, program since 1997. Dr. Wallach, an internist who, for the last several decades has found his calling in academic affairs, came to us in 2012 and expertly led us to our recent full 8-year reaccreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Both Drs. Hatley and Wallach are true leaders at this medical school and we couldn’t be happier about this latest well-deserved recognition for them. You can read more about Tuesday’s event here and see more pictures from the evening here.


MCG alumni leading the Medical Association of Georgia…

While we’re on the subject of leadership, we wanted to let you know that for the sixth time in seven years a graduate of the state’s medical school has stepped up to serve as president of the 7,800 member-strong Medical Association of Georgia, which serves as the voice for physicians across this great state. Dr. Steven M. Walsh, a 1982 graduate, was sworn into office just this past weekend at MAG’s House of Delegates Meeting in Savannah. A Roswell anesthesiologist and part of a volunteer surgical team that treats the less fortunate in Guatemala, Dr. Walsh told us all that his “ultimate objective is to ensure that every Georgian has reasonable access to physicians in every specialty.”  We absolutely applaud and share that objective. We also have to note here that he succeeds another great graduate of this medical school, Atlanta-area surgeon and member of the class of 1978, Dr. John Harvey, who served admirably over the last year. Thank you both for representing the physicians of this state and your medical school so well. You can read more here.


ACP honors a fellow and student for their service to others…

Like Dr. Walsh, so many of you are so eager to volunteer – sharing your precious little time away from work to help others. This coming weekend, the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians will recognize several of our own for their service to others at its annual scientific meeting up the way in Braselton. Dr. Lavanya Viswanathan, a second-year fellow in our gastroenterology and hepatology program, will receive the Outstanding Resident in Volunteerism and Advocacy Award, and fourth-year medical student, Anna Sulimirski, the Outstanding Medical Student in Volunteerism and Advocacy Award. We’re told that Dr. Viswanathan spends much of her time in service to the ACP, helping address the gender pay gap in medicine and raising ACP’s social media profile. And when she’s not doing that, she’s volunteering at a free, volunteer-run, monthly clinic at the Columbia County Health Department. Anna has tirelessly served as a student volunteer at our 8th street clinic, which provides health care to this area’s underserved. She even raised money for pharmacy cards for patients by selling bumper stickers! She hopes to pursue a career as a nephrologist and practice in Nicaragua, where she spent two summers as a public health intern, so she can help address the horrific problem of chronic kidney disease there, which affects up to 14 percent of men working on sugarcane plantations, due mostly to the harsh working conditions.


And a professor for teaching efforts…

The college will also recognize Dr. Edward Chin Jr., professor of medicine and director of our endocrinology fellowship training program, with the J. Willis Hurst Outstanding Bedside Teacher Award. The award is named for the former chairman of medicine at Emory University, whose dedication to instilling principles of lifelong learning gained him worldwide attention as a gifted and influential teacher. Our Dr. Chin certainly fits that bill. “He has an infectious enthusiasm for learning and energizes the learning environment,” our Dr. Walter Moore, senior associate dean for graduate medical education and VA affairs, tells us about Dr. Chin, who also is a 1984 graduate of our medical school. Thank you Drs. Chin and Viswanathan and Anna for your leadership and service to others and to your medical school. We are proud to have you here at Georgia’s public medical school.


Collaboration leads to discovery…

As we wrap up today, we wanted to share some super science that speaks to the power of collaboration across our university. Our Dr. Jack Yu, a passionate pediatric plastic surgeon in our medical school and Dr. Babak Baban, an inspired immunologist across campus at the Dental College of Georgia, have found the first evidence of unique immune cells in the tissues of the mouth and lips that help explain exceedingly low rates of infection from cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries. Drs. Yu and Baban also think that these cells, called innate lymphoid cells which also are present in the gut and lungs and some other mucosal areas, hold potential as a sort of natural alternative to antibiotics and may even have further therapeutic potential, such as treating obesity.  These super smart cells, they call a SWAT team, immediately spring into action when they sense something out of whack, which explains why they have so many important implications. As usual, truly fascinating stuff. Read more about their work here and here.


Upcoming Events


Oct. 25 – LASER or Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous, 6 p.m., Harrison Commons, Room 1120D, hosted by the College of Allied Health Sciences.  This forum, organized by the AU Department of Art, brings leaders in art and science together to share their creative research through brief presentations and an interactive panel discussion. Includes presentations by musician and composer Wycliffe Gordon, occupational therapist Mallory Lanier; and Jiri Rosicky, CEO of Invent Medical Group.

Through Oct. 31 – Snuggle Up for Safety Drive, a supply drive for victims of domestic violence. Wish list items include toiletries, clothing, household items and other miscellaneous things like arts and craft supplies, board games, book bags and strollers. Drop off donations on the Summerville Campus in University Hall, Suite 325, Allgood Hall, Room N 218, or the Student Counseling & Psychological Services office on the second floor of the Central Energy Plant. On the Health Sciences campus, donations can be left at the Dental College of Georgia in Suite 5205. You can also donate at the Christenberry Fieldhouse on Wrightsboro Road.

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.

Nov. 12 – Acoustic Café, a concert for the Equality Clinic of the CSRA, 6:30 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way Extension. Featuring performances by area artists Sam Dack, Marc Trimm, Stoney Cannon, Lori Newton, Douglas Oxford, and Jaycie and the Beards. Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the door or $12 in advance for students/military or $15 at the door; available at UU Churches of Aiken and Augusta, Metropolitan Community Church of Augusta and That Place Coffee in Le Pavilion Shopping Center.

Dec. 1 – Ambulatory Care Services 12th Annual Silent Auction to benefit the American Heart Association, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Terrace Dining. Help with gift baskets and other items for auction is needed. Contact Steve Galles, sgalles@augusta.edu or Judy Howard, jhoward@augusta.edu for more information.


Have a great weekend! We hear it’ll be a cool one!

Leave a Reply