Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Mattson named chair of physiology
Please join me in welcoming to MCG Dr. Dave Mattson as the new chair of the Department of Physiology and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Hypertension. This is definitely another one of those times when you feel a peace that a great choice has been made. Dr. Mattson has been on the faculty of the Medical College of Wisconsin for more than 20 years, where like many of you, he has stepped up whenever needed, including serving as president of the Faculty Senate and interim senior associate dean for research. He leads with a vision for success and by serving those he works with, ensuring their individual achievement while never forgetting the success of the group. He is an eight-time recipient of MCW’s Outstanding Medical Student Educator Award. He is a national leader as well with a 15-year track record of leadership with the American Physiological Society, and an even longer history serving on special emphasis panels and research groups for the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association. He has hypertension, one of our state and nation’s biggest health problems, as his research focus, and is leading an NIH Program Project grant that will provide more insight into the kidney’s role in this major contributor to heart attack, stroke and more.

The Georgia Research Alliance aids faculty recruitment, retention and science
Dr. Mattson is an MCG natural in his style, his accomplishments and his commitment to fighting cardiovascular disease. I hate it that we have to wait until July 1 for his arrival.  I want to thank the Georgia Research Alliance again for their invaluable help in recruiting Dr. Mattson, particularly president Russell Allen and senior VP Susan Shows. Their enthusiastic commitment to our state and to discovery is a huge plus for MCG, Augusta University and the other research institutions across our state, as well as for the physical and economic wellbeing of our state. In fact, please stay tuned because we will be announcing just next week another critical new leader the GRA also helped us recruit.

Dr. Lu finds new target for depression; gets $3.5 million NIH grant for Alzheimer’s research
About this time two years ago, we were announcing the recruitment of molecular behavioral neuroscientist Dr. Xin-Yun Lu from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio to our Department of Neuroscience as a GRA Eminent Scholar in Translational Neuroscience. Her work is definitely translational. It’s looking at both body-wide and cell metabolism with a focus on developing novel therapies for conditions like depression and PTSD. This week she is making international news with her work elucidating a new target for resolving classic and often debilitating symptoms of major depression. Dr. Lu also just received a $3.5 million grant from the NIH to pursue a novel hypothesis that may help explain the brain degeneration and cognitive defects that occur in Alzheimer’s. You will be hearing more about that project and Dr. Lu. Thank you yet again GRA and Dr. Lu. This is definitely the kind of support and leadership that, like Dr. Mattson’s, enables success of the individual and of the whole and a healthier future for us all.

Dr. O’Keeffe, the new trauma chief, starts in April
Since we are on a recruitment roll, please know that Dr. Terence O’Keeffe, a faculty member at the University of Arizona for about a decade, joins us April 1 as chief of the Section of Trauma/Critical Care/Acute Care Surgery. Dr. O’Keeffe, is an honored surgeon and educator and definitely a prolific writer and investigator, having written or coauthored 21 book chapters and more than 170 journal articles. He went to medical school at the University of Edinburgh and completed his trauma fellowship at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. He can speak four languages. I welcome the new trauma chief to Augusta and to MCG. I wanted to also thank Dr. Dan Albo, surgery chair, for his enthusiastic leadership and recruitment efforts on many important fronts.

Dr. Layman elected to Association of American Physicians
Now let’s look at some serious staying power and success. Dr. Larry Layman came to us as a research fellow in reproductive endocrinology, in 1986. He stayed on as a faculty member until 1992, then was off to Tufts University and the University of Chicago before coming back to MCG as chief of the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Genetics in the summer of 1999. He also now co-directs the MD/PhD Program. We told you back in November that this true physician scientist had just gotten a $2.6 million NIH grant to do complex genetic analysis on patients with the rare MRKH syndrome, in which the vagina and uterus do not develop. He has now been elected into the prestigious Association of American Physicians, for leading physician scientists just like him. Congratulations again Dr. Layman and thank you.

Students propose innovative public health solutions
Here’s more evidence of the quality of our present and future. Several of our first-year students presented great ideas at their first annual Public Health Initiative Showcase last Friday. This new event was a cool way to showcase the students’ top eight public health project proposals and their efforts to address health issues facing Georgians. Students came up with these proposals during their public health intersession and projects ranged from an intervention program to deter childhood obesity through a healthy lifestyle program aimed at school-aged children to a plan to place free sunscreen dispensers at major sporting events, public beaches and pools in an effort to reduce skin cancer rates. Three top-projects were chosen by guest judges, including Dr. John Iskander, acting deputy director for science for the Division of Public Health Information Dissemination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Winners include programs that provide cooking utensils to aid heathier eating
The winners, starting with third place, include the Veggie Park Pantry, which provides basic cooking necessities throughout our community, while targeting underserved populations. Those necessities include things like basic spices, flour and pans to cook with. Students want to partner with the Veggie Park Food Market, an already successful farmer’s market providing fresh fruit and veggies to the inner city, so more people can prepare healthy meals with the food they buy. Team members for that great project were Camila Albo, Matt Shopshire, Garima Sinha, Matt Pearson and June Moon

A mobile health clinic could help reduce preventable diseases
I am glad I was not a judge for this tough contest. Second place was the Augusta Care-A-Van, a free student-run mobile health clinic designed to rotate through Augusta neighborhoods with a high prevalence of preventable diseases to provide screenings, treatments, referrals and counseling. Team members were Harrison Cowart, Jameson Kenerly, Letisia Cortes, Jahan Threeths and Henry Twibell.

Awareness campaign could improve rates of flu vaccination for undergrads
First place in this serious competition was Swipe Out the Flu, which aims to increase the number of undergraduate students who get a flu vaccine by creating a campuswide awareness campaign at the Summerville Campus. This group proposes working with student affairs, student government, housing officials and others to get the word out about the availability of flu vaccines in student health. They’d also host a flu shot fair day on that campus. The goal would be to have at least 25 percent of the AU undergrads getting a flu shot by December 2019. Team members were Boyd Guttery, Hasith Sangabathula, Srilaxmi Kishor, Jazmine Elleston, Atul Lodh and Pranjal Mishra. Great thinking everybody. Let’s find a way to put all these plans into action.

Drs. Stager and Tuan pass
Finally today we are sad to share the passing of two of our faculty members, Dr. Robert D. Stager, chief of the Division of General Gynecology, and Dr. Dorothy Y.H. Tuan, molecular biologist and professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Dr. Stager was a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed his training at the William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan. He first came to MCG in 1999, went to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor in 2005, returned to us in 2014, and was named division chief in 2017.  Dr. Tuan earned her PhD in biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology and did her postdoctoral training at Harvard University. She came to MCG in 1993 from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We thank these fine individuals and professionals for their service to MCG and to medicine. Our thoughts are with their family and with their friends, who include many of us in the MCG family.


Upcoming Events

Tomorrow – 8th annual Igniting the Dream of Medicine Conference, sponsored by the Medical College of Georgia Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs and its chapter of the Student National Medical Association, will welcome more than 500 high school and college students from across the state for a look at what it’s like to apply to and attend medical school.

March 2 – The 13th Annual Heart & Sole 5K benefitting the NICU, PICU, Child Life Program, Pediatric Cardiology and Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The event was started by Stacey Haskins Garner to honor her niece, Bowen McElreath, and to honor the care she received in her 13 days of life at CHOG. At 7 p.m. there also will be a celebratory event at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center, 1301 Greene Street. Find more information or register for the race and/or evening event.

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

March 8 – Second Look, sponsored by the Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs, brings accepted URM applicants back to campus to spend time with SNMA and other medical students, network with our underrepresented minority administrators and faculty, learn more about our 6-week summer pre-matriculation program, hear about and see firsthand housing options on campus and in the Augusta community, and much more. 

March 9 – Revisit Day, hosted by the MCG Office of Admissions, is an opportunity for all accepted applicants to meet institutional leaders, spend more time with faculty and students and participate in hands-on simulation, ultrasound and problem-based learning demonstrations.

March 9 – CSRA Heart Walk. MCG graduate and interventional cardiologist Dr. Vishal Arora is the executive champion for AU’s Heart Walk Campaign. Festivities start at 8 a.m. and the 3.1 mile walk starts at 9 am. at the Greeneway in North Augusta, S.C. Find a team or start one and raise support for the number one killer in our state and nation.

March 15 – Match Day, noon, Maxwell Theatre, Summerville Campus.

March 29 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 19 – The annual MCG Raft Debate, 6:30 p.m. J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association

April 25 – MCG Faculty Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

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

May 9 – Hooding ceremony, guest speaker Dr. Leah Brown, orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and treatment of the knee, shoulder and elbow. She was an NCAA All American and two-time NCAA National Gymnastics Champion while a student at the University of Georgia. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and served for two years as battalion surgeon at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego. She was a Medical Aid Station Director during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Orthopaedic Surgery Department Head during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and has received the Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal.

May 10-11Paceline bike riding event to benefit the Georgia Cancer Center. You can choose various routes and ride 20, 45 or 100 miles and raise $750, $1,000 or $1,500, respectively, to help us fight cancer.

May 24 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

May 30-June 1MCG Statewide Faculty Development Conference, Teaching Tomorrow’s Physicians Today: MCG’s Mission for Georgia, Jekyll Island Convention Center.

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, location TBD.

Oct. 19 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

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