July 7, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

USC School of Medicine student dies in apparent hiking accident in Peru
We share heartache with the family and friends of Seth Thomas, as well as our colleagues at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, over the tragic death of this second-year USC medical student.  Seth, an extremely fit young man and experienced hiker, apparently died while hiking in the Andes Mountains Friday, June 23. His body was found by Peruvian police that Sunday. Seth was among a group of five USC medical students, 11 of our students as well as one student from the University of California, San Francisco, working and learning as they helped provide care to the women of Peru. All students there were immediately brought home. The nearly decade-old CerviCusco was established under the leadership of Dr. Daron Ferris to help correct the also tragic reality that women in the area were dying of cervical cancer because they did not get proper screening and treatment. The official clinic opening in 2008 followed an international humanitarian effort that blossomed in 2005. We thank the great and brave individuals, including our students, who helped search for Seth, and who relentlessly strive to help others.

Drs. Hunter and Fulzele find new clues for what goes wrong with the knee joint in osteoarthritis
Part of the magic of medical schools is how so many of you here and elsewhere just always strive to help others by providing care directly, as the Peru program does, and also by the pursuit of better ways to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Monte Hunter, chair of Orthopaedic Surgery; bone biologist, Dr. Sadanand Fulzele; and their colleagues took on the common and sometimes debilitating problem of osteoarthritis. It hurts to just think about this “wear and tear” arthritis that destroys the cartilage between our bones. They knew the synovial fluid of the joint was a good window into joint health so they looked further at the messages cells were sending and receiving through the fluid. They found some seriously bad communication happening, particularly in women. As an example, messages that were good for joint health, were often turned off, or at least altered, in females. They think some of what they found helps explain why the condition is more common in women and will ultimately help lead to better diagnosis and treatment. Their great work got a lot of well-deserved attention internationally. Please see here.

Center for Ultrasound Education and Research helps make ultrasound the stethoscope of the future
Another area where we are making some pioneering progress is expanding the use of ultrasound. The Center for Ultrasound Education and Research is home base for this evolving and logical approach that uses the safe and painless capabilities of ultrasound to provide a direct eye into the working – or somehow malfunctioning – body that is better enabling medical students and residents to learn and faculty to treat. Vice Dean Dr. Paul Wallach has been a huge proponent of this technology, which he reasons physicians will soon be carrying around like they do stethoscopes today. The university’s partnership with the health technology company Philips Healthcare has given us a lot of innovative imaging equipment, including handheld ultrasound devices that definitely make the concept of carry as you go believable and probably inevitable. It’s great that our students and residents will be so well prepared.

Third-year class just finished first-rate training on how to use handheld ultrasound in the clinic
In fact, our entire third-year class just completed training on the Philips Lumify handheld ultrasound systems. They have been training to use these small devices in their clinical rotations for the first time ever and they reviewed abdominal and OB ultrasound scanning to be ready.  Some of these students are already using these comparatively small devices on their Family Medicine rotations that started this week and, in fact, are the first to use them on this important rotation in frontline medical care. We thank Becky Johnson Etheridge, director of MCG Ultrasound Education, and Dr. Matt Lyon, an MCG graduate and emergency medicine leader here who also directs the AU Center for Ultrasound Education and Reseach, for their great contributions to moving medical education and this helpful technology forward. Special thanks as well to Dr. Daniel Kaminstein, an emergency medicine physician, who is director of international ultrasound development and completed his graduate medical education studies with us, including a dual fellowship in ultrasound and international medicine. We also thank a host of faculty who also are critical to this growing initiative, faculty like Dr. Steven Holsten, a member of the Trauma/Burn/Critical Care team, who completed his surgery residency and surgical critical care fellowship with us and now directs both those training programs. Dr. Holsten is already using the technology to assist in the rapid assessment of trauma patients and co-developed a course with Dr. Lyon that improves the safety of central line placement.

Dr. Greenspan is the new president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Dr. Bennett S. Greenspan, an expert in nuclear medicine as well as bone and general radiology in the Department of Radiology and Imaging, is the new president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. Dr. Greenspan is a professor here who joined our faculty in 2012. His past academic appointments include time at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Like many of you, he has made many contributions at a national level. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Academic Council of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the American College of Nuclear Medicine. He’s been honored with a Distinguished Service Award from the American Board of Radiology, for which he was an oral examiner as well as an item writer for the written board exam for 11 years.  He has held numerous leadership roles with the American College of Nuclear Physicians, including the presidency, and co-chaired the American College of Radiology Practice Guidelines and Standards Committee for Nuclear Medicine for four years. There is a lot more great stuff here but this gives you a glimpse of Dr. Greenspan, a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago who also got a master’s in medical physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. We appreciate his service and leadership in medicine and radiology.

Dr. Rawson will help assess Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award winners
The chair of radiology, Dr. Jim Rawson, also was recently honored again, this time by helping choose who else to honor. He has been named to the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. This honor, which bears the name of the 26th Secretary of Commerce and was established 30 years ago by Congress, recognizes achievements and results of U.S. organizations. We are certain Dr. Rawson was a great pick to make these strategic picks.

Pediatric cancer program receives $153,000 in gifts from two national foundations
We had great and touching news over the last couple of weeks about philanthropic gifts to support our important and innovative clinical research programs for children with cancer. Cannonball Kids’ Cancer Foundation, founded in 2014 by Michael and Melissa Wiggins, parents of young Cannon who battled neuroblastoma before his second birthday, has given its second $100,000 gift to help support the immunotherapy program here led by Drs. David Munn and Ted Johnson, both pediatric oncologists and MCG graduates. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, helped make a $53,000 gift come true by matching the first $25,000 raised by a group of supporters of Dr. Johnson during the 2016 Alex’s Million Mile fundraising event. Alex’s Lemonade Stand was founded by Alexandra “Alex” Scott to raise money to help support pediatric cancer research, when Alex was still in the midst of her own fight. The work these gifts support, the people who do that work and the children who need it could not be more inspiring. Neither could the individuals who donate their time and money for these children.

The College of Nursing nurse anesthetist program is given doctoral status
A couple more great and brief news items as we wrap up today. We congratulate our colleagues in the College of Nursing for having the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthetists elevate their master’s level program to a doctor of nursing practice program in anesthesia. The first students in the three-year program will start next spring.

The latest issue of MCG’s magazine is now online and should soon be in your hands
Finally, the brand new edition of our biannual MCG Medicine magazine is online, on campus and hopefully in a lot of hands finally this week. You can check it out online here and/or call the Dean’s office, 1-2231, if you would like some actual magazines.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 2 – First day of class for the Class of 2021. 

Aug. 11 – State of the College Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Oct. 5 – Fifth Annual Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium, honoring new endowed chairs, Regents’ professors and emeritus faculty.

Oct. 27 – White coat ceremony, details to come. 

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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