October 19, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Ghamande named chair of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
It is my pleasure to share with you today that Dr. Sharad Ghamande, longtime chief of gynecologic oncology and executive vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has been selected as department chair. Many of you know Dr. Ghamande, who came to MCG 18 years ago, almost to the day. He is one of those individuals who seems like he should actually be a couple of individuals because he is so very driven and productive. He leads by the example of his hard work and by remaining focused on what is best for patients and the next generation of physicians. He has served as associate director for clinical research and trials at the Georgia Cancer Center since 2016.  He is principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program – Minority Underserved Sites, our state’s only cancer research program focused on providing the underserved access to the latest developments in cancer therapies and therefore hope to many Georgia patients and families battling cancer. Please join me in congratulating, thanking and supporting Dr. Ghamande. See here.

Dr. Vale from the University of South Florida is the new neurosurgery chair
More great news on the leadership front. Dr. Fernando L. Vale, who has served as vice chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine for a decade, has been selected as chair of our Neurosurgery Department. He joins us Feb. 1. Like our new OB-GYN chair, Dr. Vale is a definite doer, accomplished in his field and in his successful collaborations with others. He has quite a list of jobs that also include director of the neurosurgery residency program and of the functional and epilepsy neurosurgery division. He is chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at Tampa General Hospital, a USF teaching hospital, and directs the Neurosciences Interdisciplinary Program at Florida Hospital Tampa, another USF teaching hospital. He is an examiner in functional and epilepsy surgery for the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Neurological Association. He is both a natural collaborator and leader, again by example, who will help our Neurosurgery Department and medical school continue to move forward. An official release will go out soon. Please congratulate Dr. Vale and thank Dr. John Vender, vice chair of our Neurosurgery Department, for his hard work as interim chair and always.

Many important recruits still in the works
While we still have many important recruitments in the works, including searches for our cancer center director and chairs of neuroscience and physiology, we continue to make great progress toward an even stronger MCG leadership team. Let me thank again the members of the search committees who have dutifully helped us search and find a stronger future for us. More to come.

GEM Lab is now a designated lab for the NCI-MATCH trial
How is this for more great news? Our Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory, which does high-tech testing on many fronts, is now the seventh academic lab in the nation to be a designated laboratory for the National Cancer Institute’s Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, or MATCH trial. The GEM Lab is home to Augusta OncoTarget, a test developed here under the leadership of Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, GEM Lab director, in collaboration with biotech company Illumina and IBM Watson, that enables the most comprehensive test to date of gene variants known to cause a wide range of cancers, from bladder to brain to colorectal to melanoma. One of the many unique aspects of this brainchild of Dr. Kolhe is that it simultaneously looks for six different variant classes in both the DNA and RNA of 170 genes.

Test developed by Dr. Kolhe gives an unprecedented perspective on a patient’s cancer
This is definitely what precision medicine and precision oncology – and great medicine – are all about. Augusta OncoTarget is already giving patients and their physicians specific gene targets in an individual patient’s cancer as well as drugs out there in the world that can target them. This is in perfect keeping with the NCI-MATCH trial, which is taking an unprecedented look at treating a patient’s cancer-causing genes rather than cancer type, like breast or prostate cancer. Much more to come on this, but since Dr. Amyn Rojiani, chair of our Pathology Department, shared the great news with MCG chairs and center/institute directors on Monday, I wanted to share it with you now. Thank you Dr. Kolhe for not just accepting what is and for your diligence and passion in finding better targets and treatments for patients. This is also leadership and this is amazing.

MCG graduate now president of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
We are definitely on a leadership roll here because it is also a great pleasure to note that Dr. Douglas W. Lundy, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon, co-president of the 24-site, Atlanta-based Resurgens Orthopaedics and 1993 MCG graduate, is now president of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. We told you this was coming a year ago, but are proud to now remind you that it’s here. As I have said many times, but hopefully not too many, nothing reminds me better of the impact of MCG, of the impact of you, than to meet our alumni and see their impact. Thank you again Dr. Lundy for your contributions to medicine and for making your medical school so proud. See here and here.

Distinguished MCG graduate, Dr. Marion H. Jordan, dies in a traffic accident
This is a much more difficult leadership story to share. The late Dr. Marion Harvey Jordan was a 1969 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia. In 1978, he became medical director of The Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. When a plane was crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001, killing all aboard the plane as well as 125 individuals at the Pentagon, it was Dr. Jordan and his team at The Burn Center who provided care to those who survived. He was an active member of the American Burn Foundation, including serving as its president in 2003, and was the 2008 recipient of its Harvey Stuart Allen Distinguished Service Award. He was an investigator looking for better ways to treat burns and a friend of firefighters. The D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation posted on Facebook: “His loss will be felt by firefighters, burn teams and burn survivors around the country.” His loss also will be felt by his medical school. Dr. Jordan was to be honored this spring as our 2019 Distinguished Alum for Professional Achievement. He will now be honored posthumously. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends. Please see here and here.

Grand opening of the M. Bert Storey Research Building to be rescheduled
Last time in these writings, we talked about the scheduled Oct. 10 celebration of the opening of the M. Bert Storey Research Building at the cancer center. Destructive Hurricane Michael would cancel those plans, but we will let you know when the event is rescheduled.

MCG students lend a hand after hurricane takes a toll on Southwest Georgia
Finally today, I wanted to share that Hurricane Michael also took quite a toll last week on our Southwest Campus and certainly that part of the state generally. Many structures were destroyed, many are still without power and some without running water. In keeping with the great tradition of MCG, students at our Southwest Campus are showing up to help with the significant cleanup efforts. According to campus associate dean, Dr. Doug Patten, students will pitch in to help clean up Chehaw Park and Zoo, where we have hosted many student/alumni dinners. They’ll also volunteer with the Salvation Army to cook meals. Only two clinical sites had to be moved down that way – one in Bainbridge and one in Miller County. The site in Miller County should be up and running Monday. Bainbridge wasn’t so lucky – while the clinical sites (hospitals and doctors’ offices) are fine, student housing was destroyed. They may not be back up until December. As always, we appreciate the people of Southwest Georgia and our students.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 22 – MCG Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception, 6 p.m., at the new Vogue, a downtown event space.

Oct. 24 – Roberts Memorial Medical Ethics Lecture, noon, Lee Auditorium, with Dr. Kevin T. Fitzgerald, John A Creighton Chair and professor, Creighton University School of Medicine, discussing the ethical and clinical implications of genetically manipulating human DNA utilizing advanced technologies such as CRISPR.  Lunch will be provided.

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 15 – Match Day, noon, Christenberry Fieldhouse (new location).

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.

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