March 24, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,


Great leaders, successful students, accomplished faculty highlight this and every week at MCG

We’ve definitely had a couple of memorable weeks. We said goodbye to one pioneering campus dean and officially welcomed an equally innovative and inspired new one to our first regional campus in Southwest Georgia. We received University System of Georgia approval for our latest Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. One of our longtime faculty members who happens to be an MCG graduate was rightly awarded an endowed chair and another accomplished researcher a Regents Professorship. Our senior students showed once again how great they are by being very competitive nationally in their quest for residency positions.  The work of our great scientists was making headlines around our Augusta community as well as our more global community. Please permit me to say to you again what a privilege it is to be with you on such days, on any day.

Dr. Khan honored as the inaugural leader of Southwest Campus, Dr. Patten as the new associate dean

This week started off with a reception welcoming Dr. Doug Patten, the new associate dean for MCG’s dozen-year-old Southwest Campus, based in Albany. Dr. Patten, who exudes enthusiasm for his work and for our students, started with us officially in January. He was chief medical officer for our longtime partner in medical education, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, when the campus started and more recently had the top medical position for the Georgia Hospital Association. The inaugural assistant dean for the Southwest Campus, Dr. Iqbal Khan, joined the MCG faculty in 1990 as director of the In Vitro Fertilization/Andrology Laboratories and eight years later was named director of undergraduate medical education for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2005, he assumed leadership of the Southwest Campus and helped build the strong relationships that last today. These individuals reflect what many of us aspire to: true passion for what they do and true respect for others. In fact, during this fun gathering, Dr. Patten kept pushing any discussions about himself to his kind colleague who helped start it all and now retires from MCG.

Dr. Bill Pannell, 1972 MCG graduate, is one of those making a difference in Southwest Georgia

Among the some-50 people gathered for this event sponsored by Phoebe and the MCG Alumni Association, was 1972 graduate Dr. Bill Pannell, who always knew that he wanted to be a surgeon for his hometown of Cordele. His lost his parents early in his life and he says the town essentially raised him. Dr. Pannell held true to his commitment to his community, even started the first American College of Surgeons Transition to Practice program there, which takes general surgeons who have just finished residency and lets them train one-on-one with an established surgeon to help ease the transition into independent practice. He still takes one fellow per year, teaches MCG students at the Southwest Campus and is the campus’ surgical clerkship director. We thank Dr. Pannell for his commitment and enthusiasm. The many distinguished guests for this event, sponsored by the Alumni Association and Phoebe, also included Phoebe’s President and CEO Joel Wernick, one of the longest-serving hospital CEOs in Georgia. It is a real pleasure for me to get to know fine individuals like these better.

Match Day 2017 captures the success of MCG students and educators

Like the faculty and staff here in Augusta, all these individuals, share in the success of our students and this past Friday was a day of celebration for us all, both here and at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership campus in Athens. At Match Day 2017 here, President Keel said, “You’ve probably heard this all of your lives, but you truly are the best of the best of the best. We know you could’ve gone to medical school anywhere and are thankful you chose the Medical College of Georgia. We also hope that you’ll return home to the great state of Georgia to practice one day.” Our seniors’ match rate consistently surpasses the national rate and this year and these students were great as well.  Of our seniors who participated in the national announcement of where medical students will do their postgraduate training, 100 MCG students or 49 percent of the class will join, at least initially, a primary care residency. Top specialties also included emergency medicine. MCG students matched in 38 states and 28 percent of our seniors will remain in Georgia for the next phase of their education. Seventeen percent of the class will stay at AU Health/MCG or other MCG-affiliated residencies like at St. Mary’s and Athens Regional or Wellstar/Kennestone in Atlanta. We are very proud of our students and our educators. You can get a recap of some of the fun and results in Augusta here and here, and more details on how things went in Athens here and  here.

Dr. Xin-Yun Lu, new Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, joins MCG June 1

We join Dr. Lin Mei and the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine in welcoming Dr. Xin-Yun Lu to MCG June 1 as Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Translational Neuroscience. Dr. Lu is currently a pharmacologist and molecular behavioral neuroscientist at the School of Medicine of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Her work includes exploration of the clinical potential of the fat-derived hormones adiponectin and leptin. While these hormones are factors in many common disease states, Dr. Lu is exploring their relationship in depression and PTSD. She promises to be a great colleague for many already here. We thank the GRA again for its commitment to a healthier state and world and for its innovative initiatives to support research in Georgia.

Drs. Roni Bollag and Adviye Ergul receive academic honors

Two longtime MCG faculty also have received high academic honors. Dr. Roni J. Bollag, who earned his PhD in human genetics at Yale in 1989 and his medical degree from MCG in 2004, has been named Distinguished Chair for Oncologic Pathology. Dr. Bollag is an associate professor and director of the transfusion medicine fellowship in the Department of Pathology and director of the Biorepository at the Georgia Cancer Center. Vascular physiologist Dr. Adviye Ergul has been named a Regents Professor, a category that honors full-time faculty for exemplary performance. Dr. Ergul has a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Miami School of Medicine. She also is a graduate of the University of Istanbul Cerrahpasa Medical School who completed a clinical biochemistry residency. She joined our faculty in 2000 and is a National Institutes of Health and Veterans Affairs-funded stroke investigator and strong collaborator. We thank and congratulate both of these faculty members.

Research shows the health benefit of whole body vibration in model of obesity and diabetes

In a great example of the power of partnership in science, Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist in Dr. Mei’s department, and Dr. Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, biomedical engineer in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, are corresponding and first authors respectively on an interesting study that indicates the benefit of whole body vibration in the face of obesity and diabetes. In their model of these often coexisting conditions, they showed this passive, but whole body movement, could help improve problems like insulin resistance and weaker muscle and bone. The benefits were similar to 20 minutes daily on a treadmill. While no one is suggesting this passive approach be used by most of us, it indicates possible help for those who, for a variety of reasons including their health, cannot be more active. Their work garnered great international interest from outlets such as TIME and Forbes as well as science and media sites internationally.

Respectfully yours,

David C. Hess, M.D.
Interim Dean, Medical College of Georgia


Upcoming Events

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

April 13 – Spring Body Donor Memorial hosted by the Class of 2020 to honor their first patients, 2 p.m., GB1210, Harrison Commons. Brief reception follows.

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., Harrison Commons.

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.

Nov. 10 – Annual Memorial Service for Body Donors, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium. Donors’ families and friends are the honored guests.

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