July 27, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Welcome MCG Class of 2022
We welcome the Class of 2022 to the Medical College of Georgia. This great group of 230 freshmen was chosen from among 1,256 Georgia applicants and 1,900 potential students from other parts of the country. Our newest class includes 225 Georgia residents, per our commitment as Georgia’s public medical school. They are about half male and female and 48 are underrepresented in medicine. Students came to us from 51 colleges and universities with an average MCAT of 510.7 and overall GPA of 3.8. Those numbers are consistently at or above the national average for medical schools.

The freshman class of 230 includes 41 students from South Georgia
Our newest class also includes 41 students from the southern portion of our state. While most of our state needs physicians – our state’s current ranking is 39th in the number of physicians per capita – and we all are definitely immersed in problems like heart disease and stroke, our fellow Georgians in the southern part of our state tend to have an even tougher time. We have 34 Georgia counties that do not even have an internal medicine physician and 15 without a family medicine physician, most of them in South Georgia counties like Baker, Long and Quitman. Long County, for example, has a population of about 18,000 and not a single family physician. Experience tells us that having students from areas of need will help us better meet the need.  I appreciate very much the commitment by each of you to improve those numbers and those lives.

Dr. Lucas receives $2.5 million grant to pursue novel pneumonia target
One of the top 10 killers in our state and nation is pneumonia. Dr. Ralf Lucas and his colleagues in the Vascular Biology Center and across the nation are making great strides in the quest for an immunotherapy for this common and potentially deadly condition. They want, and seem to have found, a drug that activates our innate ability to keep the millions of air sacs in our lungs clear of fluids and the walls of the capillaries that carry oxygen out to our bodies tight. These natural states are hampered in pneumonia, and not addressed by current therapies. Dr. Lucas has been working with a manmade peptide for about a decade that, in his lab and in early human trials in lung transplantation and acute lung injury, appears to do just that. He hopes to have his TIP peptide in clinical trials for pneumonia here and elsewhere within a few more years. I am certain that the $2.5 million grant he just received from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, along with his continued hard work, will ensure a steady path to the clinic. Congratulations Dr. Lucas. See here and here.

Drs. Singh and Lee provide insight into best way to diagnose myeloma
One of the many great things about being here is the pure enthusiasm people like Dr. Lucas have for what they do. Dr. Gurmukh Singh, vice chair of our Department of Pathology, is definitely another individual who continues to be challenged by the needs of patients and excited to help find solutions. One of the challenges is improving the diagnosis of myeloma, a cancer of our plasma cells. Healthy plasma cells produce a lot of different antibodies that protect us from invading agents, but when they go bad, as they do in myeloma, the cells instead produce a single antibody that does not work and can instead lead to cancer. Dr. Singh and pathology resident Dr. Won Sok Lee recently published a paper that indicates that we may want to look in both the urine and blood for the dysfunctional antibody and a more definitive diagnosis.  Their finding is different from much common practice. Check it out here. Great stuff. Dr. Lee, who is now a chief resident, is another great example of success and enthusiasm. He came to us from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School by way of an internal medicine residency at Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, and we hear he happens to have a great tenor voice.

Internal medicine resident strives to improve rates of colorectal cancer screening
Dr. Koosh Desai is another resident who enthusiastically chooses to seek solutions. He is a 2016 MCG graduate now doing his internal medicine residency. Dr. Desai, who plans to become a gastroenterologist, is leading the Georgia Colon Cancer Prevention Project, founded just a few months back. The goal is to bridge the significant gap in colorectal cancer screening rates at federally qualified health centers and the rest of our state. The health centers, which provide primary care to the underserved, have a screening rate that’s a little less than half the 66 percent rate for Georgia. Georgia has nearly 300 of these centers (for perspective California has 1,585 and Wyoming has 20).

Georgia’s federally qualified health centers are Dr. Desai’s focus
With the help of groups like the American Cancer Society and the National Colorectal Round Table, his project has already implemented screening policies at a handful of these clinics that serve 90,000 people. Dr. Desai vows to do the same for them all. Thank you Dr. Desai for having passion and leadership for this cause. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Georgia and colorectal cancer is among the top 10 in both new cancer cases and cancer deaths, the CDC tells us. I wanted to also note that about this time three years ago, when Dr. Desai was still a student and studying at our then decade-old Southwest Campus, he was among the students launching a program to help schoolchildren and their parents learn more about how to prevent diabetes. That time, partners included the Dougherty County School System and our long-time colleagues at Phoebe Putney Health System.

The General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, 10th District, is a new partner
We found more great partners in the war on cancer at last Saturday’s gathering with the 10thDistrict of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. Collectively the convention represents more than 550,000 African American Baptists in our state. For this event, members from about 150 churches were at MCG and the Georgia Cancer Center to talk about the fact that we are here for them for everything from prevention to early detection to complex cancer care when needed, including making clinical trials available. I really appreciate the Rev. Karlton Howard, president of the 10th district, and so many individuals from this part of the state sharing their time and looking at what we can provide to their parishioners together. I like that we already have a history since the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia was founded right here in Augusta in 1870. Today its 10th District includes Burke, Columbia, Glascock, Hancock, Jefferson, Lincoln, McDuffie, Richmond, Taliaferro, Warren, Washington and Wilkes counties.  I hope there will be a long and strong future based on our mutual interest in the wellbeing of others. I want to thank Drs. Martha Tingen and Sharad Ghamande for their usual extra effort to ensure that success.

MCG Alumni Association hosts welcome event for Northwest Campus students
Looking north, the MCG Alumni Association hosted its Welcome Dinner for third-year students of the Northwest Campus last week at the Vogue, a new event facility in Rome. Dr. Joe and Cheryl Burch, Class of 1985, were the hosts for the great event that also included clerkship directors and our area alumni. Since day one, there has been good energy and support from those alumni for the students at the Rome-based campus. Alumni gathered for this event included Dr. Dan Hanks, Class of 1969; Dr. Dave Hale, Class of 2005; and Dr. Barritt Gilbert, Class of 1995, whose son, William, is now a third-year student. Dr. Paul Ferguson, retired president of the Harbin Clinic, was there as well, and while he is an Emory University School of Medicine graduate, we count him as an honorary MCG alum and a driving force behind the success of the Northwest Campus. The Alumni Association welcome event for the Southeast Campus is tonight and for new students here at the main campus is Monday and lunch for freshmen in Athens is Wednesday.  I appreciate the Alumni Association’s invaluable support and enthusiasm.

Dr. Terrence T. Kuske, associate dean for curriculum emeritus, dies
Finally today, I wanted to note the passing of Dr. Terrence T. Kuske, associate dean for curriculum emeritus. Dr. Kuske, was a 1960 graduate of St. Louis University School of Medicine, who completed his internal medicine residency there and at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City. He was chief resident and a research fellow at the now closed Goldwater Memorial Hospital in New York City and a clinical science fellow at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He joined our faculty in 1971, was named associate dean for curriculum in 1975 and served for two years as interim chief of our former Section of Nutrition.  He was a councillor for Georgia chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and our delegate to the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools. He was an investigator in areas like hypercholesterolemia. He was an honored educator, and Dean Fairfield Goodale wrote often to him about his efforts on behalf of medical education and MCG. We thank Dr. Kuske again for his service and send our best to his family.


Upcoming Events

Today – MCG Alumni Association welcome dinner for students at the Southeast Campus in Savannah.

July 30 – MCG Class of 2022 Freshman Reception, 5 p.m., Harrison Commons, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association.

August 1 – First day of class for new students. Freshman Lunch, noon, AU/UGA Medical Partnership campus, Athens, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association.

(New date!) Sept. 21 – State of the College address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Sept. 23 – MCG Alumni Association Board meeting, 9:30 a.m., Harrison Commons.

Oct. 6 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

Oct. 10 – Georgia Cancer Center expansion opening. More details to come.

Oct. 11 – MCG Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Coosa Country Club.

Nov. 9 – The annual Memorial Service for Body Donors will be held at 1 p.m. in the Lee Auditorium. Donors’ families and friends are the honored guests. The service is conducted jointly by the students, faculty and chaplains from the Medical College of Georgia and its Athens campus, the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, the Dental College of Georgia, the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences and Nursing and The Graduate School.

Dec. 7 – AU Alumni Holiday Drop-in, 6-8 p.m., Maxwell Alumni House, Summerville Campus.

2019 Events

Jan. 24 – AU All Alumni Savannah Reception, 6 p.m., Chatham Club.

Feb. 19 – MCG Alumni Association Board meeting, 3:30 p.m., and Macon Regional Reception, 6 p.m., both at the Idle Hour Country Club.

March 7 – MCG Alumni Association Gainesville Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast Georgia History Center.

April 26-28 – Alumni Weekend, Dean’s Reception, 6 p.m., April 26, Harrison Commons.

May 9 – Hooding ceremony.

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