July 21, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Vaughn McCall named associate dean for faculty affairs
I am pleased to share this week that Dr. Vaughn McCall, chair of our psychiatry department, has also assumed the duties of associate dean for faculty affairs at MCG. This job has at its heart enabling the success of our faculty. He will work with others across MCG to support the work of essentials like promotion and tenure, leadership and faculty searches and overseeing programs geared specifically at recruiting, hiring and retaining our faculty. On a national level, he will serve as MCG’s representative to the Group on Faculty Affairs of the Association of American Medical Colleges. Dr. McCall came to us nearly five years ago to this day from Wake Forest. This established clinician, educator and leader, has a way about him that exudes common sense and true commitment to the success of others. The fact that he is a successful physician scientist long-funded by the National Institutes of Health gives him an important understanding of research and the challenges of external funding. I believe he is a perfect fit for this position with bottom line responsibilities of ensuring our faculty have the resources and guidance they need for success. Please join me in thanking him and welcoming him to this additional role.

 Dr. Joseph Hobbs named senior associate dean for faculty diversity and primary care
A very familiar face and voice – he is after all, the star of the weekly Georgia Public Radio spot the Medical Minute, see/hear here – around these and many parts is family medicine chair, Dr. Joseph Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs, a 1974 MCG graduate, has served as MCG’s first senior associate dean for faculty affairs and primary care since 2013. As with everything he does, this senior statesman and absolute fan of MCG has worked tirelessly on our behalf and now, we want even more. He will of course continue as chair, but he is now also our new (and also first) senior associate dean for faculty diversity and primary care. Among many other things, Dr. Hobbs will work with so many others across MCG, including many of you at our regional campuses and second four-year campus in Athens in partnership with the University of Georgia, to promote racial, gender, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity and a culture of inclusion. He and we do this because it is the right thing for Georgia’s public medical school. In partnership with others, he will also ensure that MCG meets the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s new Standards on Diversity, which, among other things, ensure we have the policies, practices and focused efforts in place to achieve appropriate diversity across our entire academic community.

Video highlights the heroes of MCG’s desegregation
This is the kind of work this native Augustan, who was among MCG’s first black graduates, has prepared for and done his lifelong. While we all intrinsically understand the importance and benefit of diversity in every aspect of our lives, the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of MCG, which we continue to honor, drove home to me again the great strides that have been made here. That great work must continue and deserves a leader like Dr. Hobbs. I invite you to take a few moments to watch this poignant piece on the brave individuals who helped make Georgia’s public medical school a better place, here. I would be remiss if I did not also thank AU Senior Video Producer Tim Johnson for his commitment to beautifully but succinctly telling the story of these important times in our past and for our future.

Student Quante Singleton wins American Medical Association Foundation Minority Scholars Award
It is one of my great privileges as a still-new dean – about six months in as we speak – to get to know you and your stories and I never cease to be inspired by you and them. Before medical school, Quante Singleton spent nine years as a fireman/paramedic in an underprivileged neighborhood in Atlanta. He says part of the reason he finally decided to pursue his longtime dream of going to medical school was working with the people in that neighborhood, who had little to no access to health care. He dreams of going back to that area one day to open free health care clinics. Quante is well on his way to living his dream. This third-year student is a recipient of the 2017 American Medical Association Foundation Minority Scholars Award. The award, presented in association with Pfizer Inc., rewards his kind of personal commitment to improving minority health and scholastic achievement to groups defined as historically underrepresented in the medical profession. Quante is one of 25 medical students nationally to receive this honor and scholarship, which provides $10,000 in tuition assistance. Quante, who has been active in our Student National Medical Association, was nominated by Linda James, MCG assistant dean for student diversity and inclusion. He is interested in pursuing orthopaedic surgery, inspired by the doctor who repaired his twice-torn anterior cruciate ligament. In fact, he served as president of the MCG student Orthopaedic Interest Group from 2015-16. Thank you Quante for what you have done and will do.

MCG grad and first-year resident Dr. Abigail Cline wins national essay competition
Dr. Abigail Cline, a 2017 MCG graduate who is now a first-year resident here in internal medicine, has written essays throughout her time here. That alone is amazing, considering how busy our medical students are. But we are proud to share that she has won first place in the 2017 Essay Competition sponsored by the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation for her fascinating ponderings on how to make regular conversation about biomedical research part of the world’s dialogue. I must say it makes me want to give at least a symbolic “high five” to her for wanting to make this critical component of the future well-being of us all more a part of mainstream. Please take a few moments to read her winning work, here in which she proposes a writing fellowship at major biomedical institutions where writers can begin to learn and love science as so many of us do and to ideally make science part of their creative works ahead. She notes how Jurassic Park introduced many to cloning and the chaos theory as it entertained.

Award-winning essay proposes innovative way to make biomedical science part of the daily dialogue
Dr. Cline rightly notes as well how the “fantastic promise” of gene scissors like CRISPR, or stem cells could be part of the next blockbuster. Dr. Cline already won the American Medical Association’s John Conley Ethics Essay Contest her first year of medical school, when she wrote about a physician’s responsibilities and limitations in medical advocacy. Also during her first year, she wrote a research proposal that received the Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, which provided support for her summer research. Only 50 fellowships are awarded every year. The Lasker Foundation’s essay contest engages scientists and physicians in training by asking them to discuss the role of biomedical research in society. The annual foundation awards are sometimes called “the American Nobels.”As a winner, Dr. Cline will receive $10,000 for educational expenses and will travel to the Lasker Awards Luncheon in New York Sept. 15. Our hats are off to Dr. Cline, who already has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of Georgia. Like science, individuals like her are our future.

Dr. Ruth Harris elected president-elect of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
When you first meet Dr. Ruth Harris, physiologist and professor in our Department of Physiology, you can tell that she has that true love of science that Dr. Cline would like to inspire in the world. There is no doubt her studies are fascinating and relevant: One focus is dissecting the complex interactions in our bodies that make consuming too many sugary drinks just bad for us. In fact, she just received another grant from the National Institutes of Health to further explore how frequent blood sugar spikes that result from gulping down too many of these can make us leptin-resistant and obese, see here. We are proud to share that Dr. Harris was recently elected president-elect of the international Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, a multidisciplinary group of those “committed to advancing scientific research on food and fluid intake and its associated biological, psychological and social processes.” Dr. Harris has been a member of this group, which is holding its annual meeting in Montreal as we speak, since 1991. Like the writer experiences Dr. Cline proposes, Dr. Harris’ science and the work of her colleagues across the globe, are great examples of how and why science matters to us all. Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Harris.

Our emergency medicine residents will show their ultrasound skill in national competition
Finally today, I want to share one more story of yet another winning team at MCG. Our emergency medicine residents competed this week in the Sim Center on our campus to determine who will represent us in the 2018 SonoGames®, which are held in conjunction with the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s annual meeting. The games are a national ultrasound competition in which residents demonstrate their skills and knowledge of point-of-care ultrasound in an exciting and educational format. Over 300 emergency medicine residents battle it out in front of hundreds of spectators to prove they have mastered the skills to become SonoChamps and bring home the SonoCup! MCG’s emergency medicine residency team won the 2017 national competition and we would not be surprised by an encore performance. Our proud representatives at the upcoming competition include third-year emergency medicine residents Drs. Hunter Faircloth, Frank Dicker and Parker Smith. We must add that Drs. Smith and Faircloth also are MCG graduates.


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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