December 14, 2018

Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

MCG graduate is president-elect of American Academy of Pediatrics
How is this for great synergy? Last week, as we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, the American Academy of Pediatrics was announcing the selection of a 1984 MCG graduate as its new president-elect.  Dr. Sara “Sally” H. Goza, a general pediatrician who has served the children and families of Fayetteville, Georgia, for more than 30 years, assumes the role as the academy’s president January 1, 2020. Her many contributions to Georgia’s children also include 20 years of service to the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, including a term as president.

Dr. Sally Goza has served the children of Fayetteville, Georgia for more than 30 years
Dr. Goza is on the Community Physician Advisory Council for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Her community service also includes serving on the boards of the Girl Scouts and of Promise Place, which provides domestic violence prevention and services to residents of not just Fayette County, but Spalding, Pike and Upson counties.  “I still wake up every day and love what I do, taking care of children and their families,” Dr. Goza told the academy upon her election. “It is truly a calling to have the privilege to care for the world’s most valuable resource: our children.” Thank you, Dr. Goza, for your commitment to the children of Georgia and well beyond. See here.

Two students present at American Society of Hematology meeting
As I look back on our 190 years, it’s a bit overwhelming really to think about the impact of our graduates like Dr. Goza. And, as I am proud and wont to say, I cannot be anything but optimistic about our next 190 years when I look at our students today. Like the children of Fayetteville to Dr. Goza, they are an inspiration for us all. That includes impressive accomplishments like 75 percent of our students doing research in addition to their usual studies and commitments. And, the fact that two of them presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, or ASH, in San Diego. Like Dr. Goza, first-year medical student Camila Albo and first-year MD/PhD student Oluwamayokun “Mo” Oshinowo, were on a national stage making MCG proud.

Camila Albo is exploring chronic pain in sickle cell disease
Camila’s work is exploring the chronic pain some patients with sickle cell disease live with, in addition to the hallmark episodic pain crises. She and her collaborators, like MCG sickle cell expert Dr. Abdullah Kutlar, have found some of the first evidence that nerve growth factor, which is important to neurons including those that transmit pain, is an important factor in the chronic pain experienced by about 30 percent of patients with sickle cell disease. As Camila and her colleagues write, if their findings in a small group of patients continue to hold in larger studies, it could lead to innovative and targeted pain treatments for these patients. Look here for more info here.

Oluwamayokun “Mo” Oshinowo works to identify those most at risk from low platelet count
Mo is looking at a condition in which patients have a low platelet count – and increased bleeding risk – without any clear cause. It’s called immune thrombocytopenia purpura and it affects about 4,000 children and 8,000 adults each year. There is no good way to tell if the problem will simply resolve or if it will persist and cause significant bleeding risk, he tells us. So Mo and his collaborators at Georgia Tech and Emory University are finding a way to identify the problematic cases. Platelets are cell fragments that aggregate to prevent bleeding and are typically good at both contracting and adhering. They have evidence that platelets with less contractile force are more likely to be present in patients with problems. Interesting work and potential by both Camila and Mo and great job having this presenting opportunity so early in your careers. Thank you.  Learn more about Mo’s research here.

Dr. Dong describes natural protection pathway for kidneys
Dr. Zheng Dong was on a more virtual stage recently. We talked a while back about his work to protect our kidneys, and now he’s published an interesting paper in The Journal of Clinical Investigation that delineates the way the powerhouses, or mitochondria, of kidney cells try to protect themselves when they are not getting enough blood and oxygen. One of his important findings is that an acute kidney injury induces hypoxia inducible factor-1, or HIF-1, which then makes additional adjustments that help protect the cell, at least for a while. Dr. Dong says that enhancing this natural protection could be a good treatment strategy for a common condition that can result from a host of problems like trauma, failure of organs like the heart, or even an overdose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. With this newfound insight, one logical treatment choice might be already available inhibitors that prevent degradation of HIF-1.  Good job, Dr. Dong. I know you will keep on looking out for our kidneys and for us. See here.

Dr. Donald Sherline, former OB-GYN chair, dies
Also today, I wanted to note the passing of a former great MCG leader, Dr. Donald Sherline, Brooks Professor and Chair Emeritus. Dr. Sherline was chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1982-96. His many accomplishments at MCG include furthering development of subspecialties and fellowships in areas like reproductive endocrinology and gynecologic oncology. Like so many of you, he was a leader in his field, serving as president of the Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics and co-founder and first president of the association’s educational foundation. He was president of the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine and an examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. We appreciate Dr. Sherline’s service to MCG, to his specialty and to the babies he helped deliver. See here.

Physiology wraps gifts; Dean’s Diary wraps up for 2018
As we wrap this up, it’s worth noting that in keeping with the many fine traditions at our 190-year-old medical school, our Department of Physiology is wrapping up gifts for patients at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. This is a great tradition started by our former physiology chair Dr. Clinton Webb that speaks again to the hearts and minds of those of you who are MCG. This is it for the Dean’s Diary until the new year. As always, I send you and your family my best and my dutiful thanks for your contributions here and across the world. Have a safe and happy holiday.


Upcoming 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, Lee Auditorium.

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

March 15 – Match Day, noon, Christenberry Fieldhouse.

March 29 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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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