March 10, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,


The Georgia Cancer Center joins forces with MCG

We want to offer a very warm welcome to our colleagues in the Georgia Cancer Center who are now even more integrated into the medical school. After considering the fact that the vast majority of the faculty at the cancer center are MCG faculty, that the majority of National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in this nation are part of a medical school, and that by closer collaboration we could advance more quickly in the war on cancer, our President Keel made the decision that the Cancer Center Director will report to the MCG Dean. We do hope that this will result in an increased sense of collaboration and teamwork between the Cancer Center and the medical school. We are very impressed with the dedication and commitment to patients by the nurses, physicians and staff who are the frontline of the Cancer Center as well as the ongoing strong science and research by the faculty.

On the topic of Cancer, a great book to read for medical students is the Pulitzer Prize winner, the “Emperor of all Maladies” by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The writer is a medical oncologist who provides a “biography” of the war on cancer with many patient vignettes that provide the heroic struggles of patients and their physicians in the introduction of new cancer treatments. Read this and you will catch the excitement of the Georgia Cancer Center; you might even decide to become an oncologist or cancer researcher.

The first beams will be laid next week to support the connector between cancer research and care

Cancer –  like cardiovascular disease, vascular biology, neuroscience, obesity, diabetes, regenerative and reparative medicine, genomics, population health and personalized medicine –  is a major area of focus here and will continue to be a major focus at MCG and our university. There is no doubt that the more we can work as a team, the more that we and ultimately our students, residents and patients, will win. Like the first beams being laid next week across Laney-Walker Boulevard as a symbol of the synergy between discovery and patient care at the Georgia Cancer Center – and throughout our medical school – we are all inextricably connected in our missions and in our commitment.

Free lung cancer screenings find cancers early, when they are most treatable

Here’s some scientific proof. Dr. Carsten Schroeder in our Department of Surgery and our cancer center and Dr. Norm Thomson in our Department of Radiology, have a paper published this month that shows how free lung cancer screenings in high risk populations saves lives in our community, and likely anyone’s, see here and here.  They made smart use of the natural downtime of a combined PET/CT scanner to safely and quickly look at the lungs with low-dose CT. In the first year of screening, which began in 2014, they found more than double the rate of a large, national study as well as a Massachusetts-based screening program.

High-risk individuals living in underserved areas of our own community benefit

While many of us may not think of our community as a rural area that is distant from ready health care, this does describe much of our 150-mile radius and the surroundings of many cities in many states. Drs. Schroeder and Thomson rightly want to sustain and expand the screenings that also found most of the cancers early, when they are most treatable. Dr. Schroeder has already reached out to Dr. Kathryn Martin and her colleagues across the state that comprise our regional campus network, as logical next steps in bringing this truly lifesaving screening to others.

Student Bianca Islam participates in American Association of Cancer Research Early-Career Hill Day

Meanwhile, our MD/PhD student Bianca Islam was among 15 early career scientists in Washington D.C. last week advocating for “predictable, robust and sustainable funding increases for the National institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.” Bianca was part of the American Association of Cancer Research Early-Career Hill Day March 1. She and others met with 21 House and 18 Senate offices from 15 different states in their very noble and needed campaign. In our short time together with me serving as interim dean, we have already talked a lot about the inspiration our students give to us, their educators. Bianca definitely fits this bill as an articulate, passionate, informed advocate for better science and life. We thank Dr. Darren Browning, cancer researcher in our Georgia Cancer Center and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, for his excellent mentorship.

Match Day 2017 starts at 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 17

When we think of our great students we can’t help but think of Match Day which is just a week from today. The festivities start at 11:30 a.m. in the Harrison Commons. A brand-new tradition will signal the start of this longtime celebration of the moment when our students – and medical students across the nation – learn where they will be doing their residency training. Our new polished brass bell on which the MCG seal is engraved, will be rung officially for the very first time to signal the start of this exciting and important day at MCG. As many of you know, bell ringing has a strong celebratory tradition on both campuses of our university. In fact, the university’s mark features a bell. Today, I must add, it is my distinct privilege to ring the bell on this momentous day for our students, their families and educators.

MCG researchers work to help women and their physician improve infertility treatment choices

Part of the strength of true teams is that everyone brings to the table diverse strengths. The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology definitely provides a distinctive – and essential – skill set for MCG. We wanted to share that Dr. Arni Rao, a mathematical modeler in the department, in collaboration with Dr. Mike Diamond, chair of OB-GYN and senior VP for research at AU, recently published an insightful first piece of evidence that Markov modeling could help a woman and her physician better determine which infertility treatment works best for her. It has to do with factoring more timely, relevant data into the complex equation. See here.

Dr. Alleyne publishes his third children’s book

Dr. Cargill Alleyne, chair of neurosurgery and Marshall B. Allen Jr. Distinguished Chair of Neurosurgery, is, of course, best known as a brain surgeon, educator, investigator and leader at MCG. But did you know he also is the author of children’s books? Of course, they have a sort of medical theme as well because they help children learn – and probably want to learn more – about how the body works. His inspiration came from a long family trip where son Nathan and daughter Nicole were asking him about the brain. You can check out his newest book, Joan’s Bones, here. The book is beautifully illustrated by medical illustrator Colby Polonsky, who works with the Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology and is a 2011 graduate of the medical illustration program in our university’s College of Allied Health Sciences.


Upcoming Events

March 16 – The first G. Lombard Kelly Lecture, overseen by graduate students in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, noon, Harrison Commons, 2006 Nobel Prize Winner for the discovery of RNA interference in gene expression, Dr. Andrew Fire, professor of pathology and genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine.

March 16 – Gainesville Regional Reception, MCG Alumni Association, Northeast Georgia History Center, 6 p.m.

March 17 – Match Day, festivities start at 11:30 a.m., letters start getting handed out at noon, Harrison Commons.

March 20 – Reception welcoming Dr. Doug Patten, the new associate dean of MCG’s Southwest Campus, and honoring inaugural Southwest Campus Associate Dean Dr. Iqbal Kahn, 5-7 p.m., Southwest Campus Offices, 1000 N. Jefferson St., Albany. Sponsors include campus faculty, the MCG Alumni Association, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and MCG Interim Dean Dr. David C. Hess. RSVP to Elaine Blankenship.

March 24 – Health Sciences Education Day, Educational Innovation Institute, starting with Education Grand Rounds at 8 a.m., first floor, Harrison Commons. Dr. Stephen Chew, chair of physiology at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., will discuss “What Learning Science Says (and Doesn’t Say) About Developing Critical Thinking,” at 9 a.m., followed by a workshop, see here for more information.

March 30 – Columbus Regional Reception, MCG Alumni Association, home of Dr. and Mrs. George McCluskey, 6 p.m.

April 14 – The Raft Debate, 6:30 p.m., Harrison Commons, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association.

April 19 – AOA Visiting Professorship Lecture, 4 pm, Harrison Commons, Room 1120, Dr. Robert Bakos, Professor Emeritus of Neurosurgery University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry and Former Residency Program Director & Chief of Neurosurgery, will discuss “The Strange Case of Dr. Billroth and Mr. Brahms.”

April 20 – MCG Faculty Senate Awards, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

April 26 – University Faculty Assembly to honor outstanding and retiring university faculty, 5:30-7:30 p.m., in the Alumni Center at the Health Sciences Campus.

April 27-30 – Alumni Weekend, Dean’s Reception, April 28, 6-7 p.m., Harrison Commons, followed by MCG Alumni Association Banquet and Distinguished Alumni Award Presentations. Class Reunions for Classes of 1952, 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, April 29, Augusta Marriott. Reception starts at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. More details to follow.

May 11 – Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, reception following at the Old Medical College building.

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