August 24, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Webb receives top honor from AHA Council on Hypertension
It is my privilege to share with you that Dr. Clinton Webb, chair of the Department of Physiology, has been selected for the 2018 Excellence Award for Hypertension Research, the top award of the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension. Dr. Webb will be honored at the upcoming September Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions in Chicago. He is a unique and gifted individual and scientist who has focused his professional career on improving our understanding of how disease impacts function of the 60,000 miles of blood vessels inside each of us. He is a leader here at home and nationally, serving, for example, as associate editor of the American Journal of Hypertension. He hastwice chaired the Fall Conference Committee of the AHA Council on Hypertension, and currently serves on the Scientific Sessions Program Committee. Like so many of you, he has been diligent throughout his career in also being a great mentor to the next generation of scientists, having helped educate 48 postdoctoral fellows, 73 PhD students, 89 graduate students and 13 medical students. I thank Dr. Webb for his tremendous contributions to hypertension, to science and to our wellbeing.

Physiology Department jumps up 13 places in NIH funding
It has definitely been a great year for the Physiology Department. The department, which has 14 full-time faculty and a dozen postdoctoral fellows, is now 26th in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding out of 81 physiology departments ranked by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. That is great news on its face that is multiplied because that position is up from 39th last year. Physiology Department faculty also ranked 10th in research dollars per faculty member, according to the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology. BTW, one of Dr. Webb’s many accomplishments over the years include serving as chair of that prestigious group. My congratulations and thanks again to everyone.

Dr. LeClair receives MAG Physician Award for Community Service
Dr. Bruce LeClair joined our Department of Family Medicine faculty 18 years ago after a 13-year career in the United States Army. He has commanded a medical detachment, and directed a civilian clinic, inpatient unit and residency rotations right here. He has been a medical student advisor, physical diagnosis instructor and Essentials of Clinical Medicine Small Group leader. He has been a long-time member of the Admissions Committee. He is an often-honored educator, and one of the most important lessons he has shared with our students is the importance of compassion for others. Dr. LeClair’s work with clinics in our community that serve the underserved is legendary. He is being recognized for his service with the Medical Association of Georgia’s Physician Award for Community Service, which recognizes a physician going above and beyond for others. Dr. LeClair has directed the student-run free clinic since 1997, helped found the Equality Clinic and a Women’s Health Clinic, as well as a project to serve Asian and Hispanic populations.

The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians nominated Dr. LeClair
“To me, the clinic is really about a set of core values,” LeClair once said of the homeless clinic the Department of Family Medicine has been supporting since 1989.  “We provide a service to people in need. We provide a teaching and learning environment for our students. And we help people understand the holes that exist in our society for some people.” Thank you Dr. LeClair for helping fill these unhealthy gaps. “He understood that being involved in the community would affect positive change in people’s health,” wrote Dr. Loy D. “Chip” Cowart, president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, in nominating Dr. LeClair for this latest honor.  This is another one of those times where these great stories come full circle. Dr. Cowart is a 1992 MCG graduate with more than 20 years of practice serving more rural areas of Georgia. He has served as president of the Georgia Health Family Alliance and is now chairing the 2018 capital campaign for this Georgia Academy of Family Physicians program that supports the clinics where Georgia Academy members donate their time, including some of the initiatives Dr. LeClair has led. Ten years ago, Dr. LeClair was also president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Dong receives $2.4 million NIH grant to find how adverse childhood events translate to lifelong cardiovascular risk
Children in harm’s way have to be one of the biggest motivators for most of us to do for others. While this project doesn’t include clinics, it opens a door to learning more about how adverse childhood events, from the trauma of rape to physical or emotional abuse or neglect, can also leave a child with a lifelong risk of cardiovascular disease. A group of MCG experts, led by Dr. Yanbin Dong at the Georgia Prevention Institute, recently received a $2.4 million grant from the NIH to explore the hypothesis that significant mental stress stresses cells which release so-called “danger” molecules or DAMPs, which help set up a scenario of chronic inflammation and increased blood pressure. At the end of their study, this MCG-led team hopes to emerge with targeted prevention and/or treatment strategies to help these young people.

“Danger” molecules released by stressed, dying cells are a focus
The great team includes Dr. Webb, who is lead on a large NIH program project looking at how hypertension also stresses cells, which sets up this cycle of DAMP release, more inflammation and higher blood pressure; and Dr. Shaoyong Su, genetic epidemiologist, who studies adverse childhood events and has already made some links to higher blood pressures. Other investigators include Dr. Greg Harshfield, GPI director; Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, MCG pharmacologist and physiologist; Dr. Haidong Zhu, MCG molecular geneticist;  and Dr. Wenjun Li, a biostatistician who directs the Health Statistics and Geography Lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. We definitely send along our best on this.

Listen to Dr. Rao on NPR’s Science Friday at 3:40 p.m. today
We told you last week about the research of Dr. Satish Rao that was making a lot of headlines. You can tune in to NPR’s Science Friday,, at 3:40 p.m. today to learn more about this work looking at an unexpected result of probiotic use or tune into our local Georgia Public Broadcasting station, WACG-FM at 90.7.


Upcoming Events

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.

Oct. 30 – Investiture Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium. Reception will follow.

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.

Nov. 30 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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.

Jan. 25 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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.

Feb. 22 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

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

March 29 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

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

May 9 – Hooding ceremony.

May 24 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.