September 29, 2017

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

MCG graduates make an impact across Georgia and beyond
Across our nation, the name “Medical College of Georgia” is synonymous with educating great physicians. It was our founding mission back in 1828 when we were authorized to award a bachelor of medicine degree. We get Google alerts weekly about the some 9,500 graduates we have living across our state and well beyond and the impact they are having. This week, for example, we learned that Dr. Brad Buckler, a 2004 graduate who also completed his residency and neonatology fellowship here, was named physician-in-chief for the Dwain & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah. Dr. Buckler is an assistant clinical professor at his alma mater and an active educator with Mercer University School of Medicine students studying in Savannah. Last week we heard that Dr. John L. Reynolds, an anesthesiologist from beautiful Shelby, N.C., just became the 164th president of the North Carolina Medical Society. Dr. Reynolds completed his anesthesiology training with us.

Nearly 50 physicians have already been recruited to start at MCG this fiscal year
It is always a great honor to hear of the impact of the graduates of our medical school and our 48 training programs. Medical Scholars Research Day on Monday this week, see here, gave another glimpse into the great promise of our future graduates. I say much of this to also say that having great physicians here as mentors and educators for our medical students is obviously critical to the long success of physician education at Georgia’s public medical school. As a longtime faculty member, I recognized the importance of the search for great physicians to join our faculty, but as dean I have experienced the truly relentless pace of this pursuit. For this fiscal year, for example, we have recruited 49 physicians coming to nearly every clinical department, many to fill vacancies but others to begin to give us some needed depth and new talent. In fact, some of our recruits also take us back to the great physicians we are privileged to educate.

Dr. Lisa Renee Hilton, bariatric surgeon and MCG graduate, has joined the faculty
A great example is Dr. Lisa Renee Hilton, a 2007 University of Georgia graduate and 2011 graduate of MCG, joined the faculty in August. A bariatric surgeon and assistant professor of minimally invasive and digestive diseases surgery, she will assume the position of director of the bariatric surgery program later this calendar year. Dr. Hilton completed her general surgery residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the primary teaching hospital of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. She completed her minimally invasive and bariatric surgery fellowship at Yale University before returning to MCG. She was chief resident while at Jackson and became a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society while at Yale.

Drs. Jennifer L. Lanzer and James E.J. Crownover, Class of 2010, return as well
Dr. Jennifer L. Lanzer, a specialist in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, came back to her alma mater Sept. 1 as an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This member of our Class of 2010 has also been very busy, completing her ob-gyn residency at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and fellowship at Emory University. Her MCG classmate and husband, Dr. James E.J. Crownover, completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UPMC and primary care sports medicine fellowship at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, before working as a sports medicine physician at Children’s Orthopaedics of Atlanta. He will be joining us the first of November as an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. We are pleased to welcome them all back to MCG in these much-needed specialties.

First physician recruiter is onboard next week
These and many other key physician recruits have prompted us to also recruit a physician recruiter. Arman Razavipour, who has worked as a physician recruiter for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine, starts in early October and will be literally located in our Dean’s Suite. He’s also worked as senior physician recruiter for the Air Force and ultimately helped train other recruiters for this branch of the military. I like the Air Force’s slogan “Aim High” and believe that Arman will help all of us do that by streamlining and strengthening our recruitment process. He will be a partner for the leadership team of MCG and our health system. I know we all will be glad to have him here.

Next week we also pilot same-day, next-day patient appointments
Along a similar and important efficiency line, next week we pilot the availability of same-day and next-day appointments for patients in family medicine, general internal medicine, cardiology and neurology. By May, we plan to have this option universally available to our patients. While this will mean some adjustment by everyone involved in patient care, evidence suggests that it is something that patients want and sometimes need. There also is evidence it ultimately enables health care teams to not just see, but to keep and recruit more patients. As always, I appreciate your effort for patients and for our success.

Dr. Stil Kountakis honored by American Rhinologic Society
It is my pleasure as well to share that Dr. Stil Kountakis, chair of otolaryngology, has received a presidential citation from the American Rhinologic Society. He was honored at the group’s annual meeting earlier this month in Chicago. Dr. Kountakis has served as president of the society, helped started the society’s journal,International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology and is today a member of its editorial board, and received its Golden Head Mirror Teaching Award two years ago for his service, teaching, clinical and research contributions to the society. He also received a presidential citation from the Triological Society Southern Section early this year. We are sure the University of Texas-Houston Medical School – which in 2015 became the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School – is proud of their 1988 graduate and so are we.

The science of Drs. Yukai He, Bobby Thomas and Sylvia Smith making headlines
A lot of great science out there in recent weeks from MCG faculty, including the innovative work of Dr. Yukai He, immunologist in our cancer center and Department of Medicine, on how cancer vaccines could be more effective, see here. Dr. Bobby Thomas, neuroscientist in pharmacology and toxicology and neurology, recently received a $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue a new treatment target for Parkinson’s disease, see here. It’s very nice that Dr. Thomas also has support for his research from the all-volunteer, local CSRA Parkinson Support Group, see here.  Dr. Sylvia Smith, chair of cellular biology and anatomy, recently received a $300,000 grant from the Foundation Fighting Blindness for her promising work to preserve vision in severe retinal degeneration. I also wanted to share here that the Lions Club of Augusta will host a benefit concert, Terri Gibbs and Friends, at 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Imperial Theatre downtown, to benefit the James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute, which Dr. Smith and Ophthalmology Chair Dr. Julian Nussbaum co-direct, see here. I thank you all for the great science and great support.

The Investiture Ceremony is next Thursday
Our sixth annual Investiture Ceremony is next week, an event that honors new department chairs, endowed chairs, Regents’ professors and professors emeritus from the past year. It also honors the donors who make endowed chairs and much more possible at MCG. It honors individuals like Dr. Bruce LeClair, a longtime leader in family medicine in Georgia and at MCG, who last October was named the Ollie O. McGahee Jr. MD Chair in Family Medicine. Like Dr. LeClair, the late Dr. McGahee, a 1958 MCG graduate who lived in Jesup, Ga., most of his life, worked to improve patient access and disease prevention. Dr. LeClair’s many roles include longtime leader and mentor for our student-inspired clinics for the underserved in our community. Investiture is set for Oct. 5, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium.


Upcoming Events

Check out MCG research highlights on the Medical Minute with MCG Family Medicine Chair Dr. Joseph Hobbs (Class of 1974) every Saturday and Sunday at 8:16 a.m., 1:20 p.m. and 5:18 p.m. on Georgia Public Radio stations across our state and archived here.

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

Oct. 12 – Reading and Analyzing Educational Research Articles workshop, 4:15-5:45 p.m., CJ-1201, RSVE to

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, Class of 2021, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, register here. Reception immediately following.

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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