September 1, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Richard McIndoe continues to lead national diabetic complications program
It has been a busy, exciting couple of weeks at MCG, with many great people here being honored in many different ways. I wanted to share just a few of those with you today. We are pleased to report that Dr. Rick McIndoe has recently received a $12.8 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue to lead a national research initiative focusing on diabetes complications. Dr. McIndoe, associate director of the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine, came to us in 2002 from the University of Florida. He and Dr. Jin-Xiong She, center director, were definitely a recruitment of two stars. They have clearly helped us become leaders in diabetes research and much more. Although very different people, they have in common being straight shooters who are able to think complex issues through and identify a path to efficient success. 

The strategic initiative helps encourage early investigators, medical students
Diabetes is definitely a complex and pervasive problem, both in its incidence and its impact on the body. Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, the CDC tells us, and complications range from nerve and kidney damage to cardiovascular disease and stroke. With the great support of the NIDDK, Dr. McIndoe is helping manage a strategic attack on diabetic complications that includes helping new investigators be successful against them. Also, like so many of you, this work is helping inspire medical students to become physician scientists who will join the fight. Dr. McIndoe has led an evolving version of this national research initiative since 2001. We thank him for his thoughtful and successful leadership. See here and here.

Dr. Betty Pace honored with inaugural American Society of Hematology award
We also proudly share with you today that Dr. Betty Pace, interim section chief of pediatric hematology/oncology, has been selected by the American Society of Hematology as the inaugural recipient of its Award for Leadership in Promoting Diversity. Dr. Pace, a leader in the field of sickle cell disease and in successful diversity initiatives in her field, will rightly be honored during ASH’s upcoming annual meeting in Atlanta. Like Dr. McIndoe, Dr. Pace has sustained success. While working at the University of Texas at Dallas, she created a pipeline of minority students who trained in her lab. A few years into that she received National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funding to establish what is now called – and now in full swing here – the Programs to Increase Diversity of Individuals Engaged in Health-related Research, or PRIDE, a great mentoring program for junior faculty. “Dr. Pace has spent a lifetime supporting the development of an inclusive hematology workforce and has encouraged the career development of a multitude of underrepresented minority trainees,” said ASH President, Dr. Kenneth C. Anderson. Please join me in congratulating and thanking her.

Endowed chairs enable recruitment and retention of top faculty
At MCG, Dr. Pace is also the Francis J. Tedesco Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. The Tedesco Chair that Dr. Pace holds was established in the MCG Foundation in 2001 as Dr. Tedesco was retiring as the sixth president of the university, which was then called MCG. For some of you who are newer to us, back then we were the MCG School of Medicine. The MCG name was kept for the medical school when the University System of Georgia changed the university’s name to Georgia Health Sciences University in 2010. “I know of no better way to honor our retiring president, Dr. Francis J. Tedesco, a man who has helped transform the Medical College of Georgia into a world-class provider of health sciences education, biomedical research and patient care,” the late Dr. William E. Mayher III, chairman of the board of the MCG Foundation and a huge supporter of his alma mater, said in announcing the chair. Tedesco, who also served as interim dean for a time and came here as chief of gastroenterology in 1978, became president in 1988.  Jennifer, the daughter of Dr. Tedesco and his wife Luann, had childhood cancer and was treated at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. An important update here: Jennifer Ellis today is a mother and successful professional in Augusta.

Dr. Darrell Brann receives the inaugural Mahesh endowed chair
Endowed chairs provide so much support for MCG, enabling us to recruit and retain great contributors like Dr. Pace. We are proud to also share today that Dr. Darrell Brann, a 1990 PhD graduate of MCG, has been named the inaugural Virendra B. Mahesh, PhD, DPhil, Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience. This great chair honors Dr. Brann’s longtime colleague and mentor who is Chair Emeritus of what started at the Department of Endocrinology and became the Department of Physiology and Endocrinology. The new chair supports MCG faculty who excel at research in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Brann’s work, most recently on the impact of estrogen on the brain, certainly can be described that way. Dr. Brann is vice chair of the neuroscience department and has graciously agreed to serve as interim chair effective Nov. 1 when Dr. Lin Mei leaves for Case Western. Dr. Brann’s many contributions to MCG and to the university include establishing scholarships to support graduate students. There is a definite circle of greatness here and we appreciate being in the middle of it.

Dr. Patricia Martinez Quinones wins top state surgery resident research award
Dr. Patricia Martinez Quinones, a 2014 graduate of the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, is now a general surgery resident here doing research work in the Department of Physiology. She recently was honored with the first place award in the Resident Paper Competition of the Georgia Society of the American College of Surgeons. The award-winning work is further exploring the unfortunate connection between cancer treatment and cardiovascular disease. Her focus is the relatively new cancer treatment, everolimus, which has been used to help transplanted organs survive. It plays a role in cell growth and proliferation so it is also now used to treat metastatic breast, colon, renal and other cancers. More to come on this one soon in our news items, which we hope you regularly explore because, as you know so well, there is just a lot of great work going on. We congratulate Dr. Martinez Quinones on her work and thank, particularly Dr. Clinton Webb, for being a strong mentor.

Wishing our best for an old friend, Charles Esposito
Today, we would be remiss if we did not also say thank you to longtime colleague Charles Esposito for his 32 years of service to the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. The “Blue Goose” has the privilege of providing care to disabled and chronically ill Georgia veterans. Charles has been an amazing advocate and friend for veterans and for all of us during his service as executive director. We wish him well in his retirement.

Hurricane Harvey hits, many great individuals and teams strike back
I know that the ravages of Hurricane Harvey have been on all our minds, most important of course the lives immediately lost and so many struggling to cope with the uncertainty of where they go in the hours, weeks and years ahead. But, as is almost always true, these worst hours so often bring out the best in us. Houston is a great example of a city that has very much pulled together to help itself. There also are people from across our nation, not only fire and rescue professionals, but citizens who simply felt compelled to hook their boats up and join the significant rescue and recovery effort in Houston and surrounding communities. As most of you know, Houston, our nation’s fourth largest city, is home to Texas Medical Center, regarded as the world’s largest medical city. This medical city defines what each of you and we strive to do right here: to maximize not just individual effort to improve the health and wellbeing of others, but to be part of a true collaborative effort that has an immeasurable multiplier effect much like this rescue effort for Texas and beyond. Texas Medical Center is the home of 23 hospitals, nearly 10,000 beds and more than 100,000 employees as well as giants like Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Texas Heart Institute. During the best of times they are a collective force, and during these very difficult times, they continue to be as well. I know you join me in thanking them and so many others for their shared commitment to health and wellbeing. See here.

Radiology resident Dr. Skon Nazarian heads out today to help
One important footnote today. While we are certain there are more local Harvey stories to share, we just learned that Radiology Resident Dr. Skon Nazarian, later today, is taking a huge trailer full of needed items directly to Texas. This Houston native, whose parents and sister still live there, will be loading up items until 3 p.m. today in front of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. Please share some new items like clothing and hygiene products and nonperishable food items, if you would. He’s also hoping to help out animals in need out that way with dog and cat food, leashes, collars and more. A GoFundMe account also has been set up, see here. We feel certain Dr. Nazarian will ensure the safe delivery of all.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 11 – Health Simulation Week begins with an open house and tour of the Simulation Center in the Harrison Commons, GB3001, from 8 a.m. to noon that Monday and continues through the week with related lectures demonstrations and opportunities to try out the center yourself, see here.

 Sept. 16 – MCG Alumni Association Augusta Regional Reception, Augusta Marriott, followed by a board meeting at the Harrison Commons on Sept. 17.

Sept. 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Sept. 28 – MCG Alumni Association Albany Regional Reception, Doublegate Country Club.

 Sept. 30 – The Medical Partnership campus invites students, alumni, faculty, staff and family to a celebration of the Georgia VS Tennessee football game, from noon to 7 p.m., at George Hall on the UGA Health Sciences Campus, 1425 Prince Ave., see here.

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

Oct. 17 – MCG Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception, Coosa Country Club.

Oct. 19 – MCG Alumni Association Savannah Regional Reception, the home of Dr. Melvin Haysman (Class of 1971) and Mrs. Roberta Kamine-Haysman.

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.

Dec. 7 – Augusta University All Alumni Savannah Regional Reception, Chatham Club.

Jan. 19 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Feb. 23 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

March 23 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

May 25 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

June 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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