April 14, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

The Harrison Commons gets great new signage

While the iconic golf signs lined Augusta’s streets last week another icon also was getting some well-placed signage. On both fronts of the J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons – R.A. Dent Blvd., and the front door most of us use that faces the main parking lot – the name “Medical College of Georgia” is now prominently displayed. It was great, inspiring really, to see the big bold letters on this beautiful building that is MCG’s academic home and already bears the name of an esteemed MCG alumnus. We thank our university’s leadership and facilities division for making this happen. Please see it here signage or better still, in person.

Dr. Wallach elected Vice Chair of National Board of Medical Examiners

MCG had another very cool and public display of its impact the week before when Dr. Paul Wallach, vice dean for academic affairs, was elected vice chair of the National Board of Medical Examiners Executive Board. As many of you may know, this important group sets state-recognized exams for medical students, like the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Dr. Wallach has served as a volunteer for the 80-member NBME for 20 years, including serving on the USMLE Composite Committee and the Committee to Evaluate the USMLE Program. We congratulate and thank Dr. Wallach for his leadership in medical education nationally and at MCG.

Dr. Bollinger earns the only mid-career physician-scientist grant from the American Glaucoma Society

Another distinctive national honor recently went to Dr. Kathryn Bollinger, an MD/PhD – glaucoma specialist and retinal cell biologist – in the Department of Ophthalmology. Dr. Bollinger is this year’s sole recipient of a mid-career physician-scientist grant from the American Glaucoma Society. She had been honored with a young clinician scientist award from this group years ago. This new honor will enable her studies of how to better protect the optic nerve in the face of glaucoma. Her target is the sigma-1 receptor – which we believe naturally protects neurons – that is found in astrocytes, supportive brain cells that also naturally protect neurons. The destructive high pressure of glaucoma may mean that we need to turn up the action of the sigma-1 receptor. We congratulate Dr. Bollinger on this true honor and thank her for her contributions to better managing a condition that is a leading cause of blindness.

Dr. Sharma receives Clinical Research Award from American College of Gastroenterology

Dr. Amol Sharma in the Department of Medicine’s Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology received a Clinical Research Award for smaller programs from the American College of Gastroenterology. These awards help support junior faculty at some of the country’s smaller GI training programs as well as science. Dr. Sharma’s research and clinical focus include neurogastroenterology and GI motility. The college will help support his work in comparing biofeedback therapy for fecal incontinence in the home versus office setting. Funding begins this summer.  Nearly 18 million adults in the United States have fecal incontinence, according to the NIH, and it’s more common in women and older adults. We appreciate the American College of Gastroenterology’s support of Dr. Sharma and his efforts to better address this difficult health issue.

Dr. Miller honored by his medical school alma mater

Dr. Brian Miller, psychiatrist and schizophrenia expert, is being recognized with The Ohio State University College of Medicine’s 2017 Early Career Achievement Alumni Award. He will be officially honored at his alma mater’s white coat ceremony Aug. 1. It’s certainly worth noting that Dr. Miller is technically our graduate too, because he completed his residency and fellowship at MCG and AU Health before joining the faculty in 2010. Dr. Peter Buckley was his longtime mentor and Dr. Dale Svendsen, former medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Dr. Miller’s mentor for his master of public health degree, nominated Dr. Miller for this honor. We congratulate Dr. Miller and thank him for his pioneering contributions as well, particularly in better understanding and treating inflammation in schizophrenia.

Dr. Rawson honored for service to the American College of Radiology

Dr. Jim Rawson, chair of radiology, received recent kudos as well from the American College of Radiology Economics and Health Policy Department for his service to the college. He’ll be honored at the college’s upcoming annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Dr. Rawson currently serves on the college’s Commission on Economics and the Radiology Integrated Care Network. He has done a lot of additional economic work with this group including chairing the Hospital Prospective Payment System and Economic Issues in Academic Radiology. Another round of congratulations is in order.

Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony set for 5 p.m. April 20

Please hear much more about our great faculty as the MCG Faculty Senate Awards Ceremony, Thursday, April 20 at 5 pm, in the Harrison Commons (a good opportunity to check out the new signage!).

Alumni Association sponsors another great Raft Debate tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The contribution of physicians is really at the heart of the fun and often-fascinating Raft Debate, set for 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Harrison Commons. Here’s yet another opportunity to see those new signs and be entertained by our faculty who go head-to-head on the rather divisive issue of which one of them should survive if the ship is sinking and there’s a single one-person raft to safety. The stars of this year’s debate, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, include Neonatology Fellow Dr. Emily Masoumy, Pediatric ENT Dr. Drew Prosser, who is a 2008 MCG graduate, and Cardiologist Dr. Sean Javaheri. This event is always great fun and this year AU President Dr. Brooks Keel will join in to moderate the fate-determining discussion. Dr. Helena Spartz, assistant professor of pathology, will serve as devil’s advocate. The great news in this life or death matter is that MCG students are the judges. It’s hard to know who has the best role here but please join us and check out last year’s photos here Raft Debate 2016.

 The Book Corner: Some writings you might like to read

Like so many of you, I enjoy reading so I wanted to start occasionally sharing with you some books I have come across that may be of interest. This week it’s the “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds,” by Michael Lewis. Lewis is also the author of “Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” and “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” which I also enjoyed. This Lewis book is a story of the collaboration between two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and Amos Tversky, both Israelis. While a subtheme is the value and synergy of research and personal collaboration as well as the accompanying friction, jealousy and heartache when these unravel, the main theme of the book is our cognitive biases. We have “fast” and “slow” thinking and while the “fast” is often correct, it is also often biased and can lead to wrong conclusions. For example, the “fast” intuitive judgments of baseball scouts are often notoriously wrong while a slow and statistical “Moneyball” approach to baseball (importance of one base percentage and “walks”) is often better. Kahneman and Tversky illustrate our cognitive biases in medicine, economics and almost every area of life. For further reading, you might consider Kahneman’s bestseller “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

 CSRA March for Science set for Saturday, April 22

If you want to stretch your legs for a good cause after some serious reading time, you can join the CSRA March for Science in downtown Augusta, Saturday, April 22 from 3-5 p.m. at 11th and Tatnall Streets near the old Golf and Garden’s property. This event is held in conjunction with the March for Science event in Washington and is locally hosted by the CSRA Hub. March missions include supporting great funding for research and robust research communication. AU’s Rebecca Lambert and MCG’s Dr. Nevin Lambert have helped organize this purposeful and healthy fun for science. You might see some familiar faces if you check out this promo CSRA March for Science.

David C. Hess, M.D.

Interim Dean, Medical College of Georgia


Upcoming Events

Today – 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 – Augusta University Memorial Ceremony, in memory of the students, faculty and staff lost this year, 3 p.m., Summerville Campus at The Grove. For more information, specialevents@augusta.edu or 706-737-1451.

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.

April 28 – Drs. Robert and Lois Ellison Lectureship, 2-3 p.m., Lee Auditorium. Dr. Michael D. Delph, Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University, will discuss “Cardiovascular Health: A Potential Hurdle in the Upcoming Space Race.”

May 11 – Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.  Featured speaker, Dr. Steven G. Gabbe,

Emeritus Chief Executive Officer of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and former Senior Vice President for Health Sciences for The Ohio State University and Chief Executive Officer of The Ohio State University Medical Center, will present “A Glass Half Full of Lemonade.”

Reception follows 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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