Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Artificial Intelligence is becoming more real at MCG
Artificial intelligence helps us make better cars, virtual reality games, beer and helps Alexa answer our divergent questions. As of this month, it’s also helping us better educate medical students. In fact, Dr. Doug Miller and his great colleagues in Academic Affairs are the first in the nation to offer medical students a comprehensive course on artificial intelligence and health care. It started this month as an elective for 20 students that will serve as a summer trial run that helps us determine how best to implement AI into the curriculum. No doubt this is great timing as AI, also called machine intelligence, is clearly such as big part of our daily lives and increasingly part of our health care.

MCG establishes the nation’s first AI class for medical students
There are a lot of definitions of AI, but broadly I think it’s using machines to help us make good decisions, from recognizing there is another car too close behind while we are backing up to mega-important decisions like which treatment might be best for an individual’s cancer. We have talked about the work here of great faculty like Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, molecular pathologist and director of our Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory, to first take an increasingly broad assessment of the gene mutations at work in an individual with cancer. Then, using the vast analytical capabilities of AI, to assess all that is found, identify treatments that directly impact the mutations and even make recommendations, which of course are still the final say of doctor and patient.

The AU School of Computer & Cyber Sciences lends its AI expertise
That is some pretty magic stuff that is evolving and, in health care, already also includes things like Q&A apps for self-diagnosis and teaching a computer to recognize the difference between an image of pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism. This course that is not intended to make our students AI experts, rather to make them comfortable with this very important, rapidly emerging tool in their chosen profession. Fortunately we do have AI experts from the AU School of Computer & Cyber Sciences, who partnered with Dr. Miller and other medical education and health care experts to develop this course and even help teach it.

Dr. Doug Miller is leading this innovative AI charge
The eloquent vice dean for academic affairs is among the teachers for this new course as well as Dr. Murthy Rallapalli from the School of Computer & Cyber Sciences, who specializes in database management and data sciences. Also, Dr. Jason Orlosky, an adjunct faculty member in the school as well as the College of Allied Health Sciences, who is an expert in computer vision and how computers can be made to gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos, as well as our own Dr. Kolhe. In fact, Dr. Miller presented the cool course at the 2019 Information Technology in Academic Medicine Conference Sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Information Resources the week before our inaugural class started. Great effort everyone, and we especially appreciate the expertise of our colleagues in the School of Computer & Cyber Sciences.

1939 graduate Dr. Harold B. Levin honored by his son with a scholarship that bears his name
Our students are definitely worth every extraordinary effort that is made on their behalf. One of my joys as dean is learning what our students do here and in their lives; stories and graduates like these. The late Dr. Harold B. Levin, Class of 1939, was the youngest of seven children and the only one to go to college. He went to Georgia Tech at night for just three years then gained early admission to MCG as well as an ROTC scholarship. After his MCG graduation, Dr. Levin served in World War II, where he was honored with a Bronze Star. He came home to Atlanta to practice medicine until he was in his 80s. On this D-Day just passed, his son, Dr. Jay Levin, a 1983 MCG graduate and dermatologist also practicing in Atlanta, honored his father by establishing the Harold B. Levin M.D. Scholarship. The $100,000 endowment fund will help deserving students today. See what I mean? My great thanks to both Dr. Levins.

NBA star brings attention to the progressive eye disease keratoconus
Finally today, for you basketball fans out there who have been watching the NBA finals come down to the wire, you know that even though the Toronto Raptors emerged as winners last night in this series, Steph Curry is always a superstar. He has already been named the NBA’s most valuable player twice and won three NBA championships along with his Golden State Warrior teammates.  What you may not know is that all the while, keratoconus, a progressive eye disease, was taking a toll on his vision and his still-amazing game. He shared his storythis past April. Well, I am happy to say that our Dr. Yutao Liu also recently upped his game in the effort to better understand the condition that affects up to about 1 in 2,000 and often surfaces when we are teens.

Dr. Yutao Liu brings $2.1 million NIH grant to fight keratoconus
Dr. Liu, vision scientist and human geneticist in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, just received a $2.1 million grant from the National Eye Institute to better understand what the disease and the gene mutations associated with it do to the cornea, which lets most of the light into our eyes so we can ultimately see. Like most of you, his long-term goals include finding better ways to treat or even prevent keratoconus and avoid results like extreme nearsightedness and double vision. He has even developed the first keratoconus mouse model to enable these studies that will also examine human corneal tissue. Like Steph Curry, Dr. Liu has great teammates like cornea specialist Dr. Amy Estes and collaborators at Duke University. Congratulations and thanks Dr. Liu and team.


Upcoming Events

June 21 – Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium. Faculty Senate meetings resume in August.

July 23 – MCG Alumni Association Rome Regional Reception to welcome students to our Northwest Campus, 6 p.m. at The Vogue.

July 26 – MCG Alumni Association Savannah Regional Reception to welcome students to our Southeast Campus, 6 p.m. at Vic’s on the River.

July 31 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Lunch to welcome students to the AU/UGA Medical Partnership campus, noon on campus.

Aug. 1 – MCG Alumni Association Freshman Reception in Augusta, 5 p.m., Harrison Commons

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

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