Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

White Coat Ceremony set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19
I may have already mentioned to you a time or two how much I love history, particularly MCG’s nearly 200-year history. As a physician-scientist and educator, of course I also love talking about/discovering what is ahead. But there is just something neat about also looking at what has already happened to get us where we are, and ideally to help direct our future. The White Coat ceremony we hold this week is really not that old by MCG standards. The first ceremony was held at what is now the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1993 and we started it here at MCG in 1996. But those short white coats are definitely iconic and mostly make me smile when I run into a group of our students wearing them and learning medicine. The coats and the students are at the heart of what we do at Georgia’s public medical school and at my heart as well.

The Class of 2023 will take their Oath of Service
The White Coat Ceremony this year is at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Bell Auditorium downtown. Our students write the Oath of Service and Responsibility they will recite then, and our Class of 2023 did a great job with theirs. Saturday they will pledge to cultivate the best version of themselves, to use what they learn for service and advocacy, to be open and collaborative with patients and colleagues, to “continue the legacy of dedicated, selfless service that our predecessors have established.” Our 187thclass commits to be part of the next great generation of physicians and MCG graduates. Great stuff.

The first acceptances for the Class of 2024 went out today
Even as our Class of 2023 is officially coming on board, we are just sending out the first acceptance letters for the Class of 2024 who are part of the regular decision process. Regular decision means they are interested in MCG but also are looking at other medical schools. We already sent out 20 early decision notices — students who promise to come here if accepted — in September. My thanks per always to the Office of Admissions and to our Admissions Committee for their endless efforts to keep the next great generation coming.

Senior David Oh among those coming to the aid of trapped cargo ship workers in Brunswick
Meanwhile, senior David Oh is in the midst of residency interviews as he plans the next step in his education in diagnostic radiology. He was definitely where he needed to be in early September. David was doing a family medicine rotation in Brunswick when the huge Golden Ray cargo ship we have all heard about somehow capsized in St. Simon’s Sound. Four of the crew were trapped on the ship and David’s father called him from South Korea when he learned they were from his country. David, who was born in South Korea but now hails from Suwanee, was there right after the men were rescued, to hear what they had been through and to help comfort them in their native language. When we thanked David for his effort, he thanked the Southeast Campus and his medical school for what they have done to help him, including helping instill the value of helping others. Thank you again David. 

Northwest Georgia continues to embrace medical education
Up in north Georgia just last week, our Alumni Association and host Dr. Joe Burch, a 1985 graduate who happens to be a diagnostic radiologist, were having a regional reception in Rome. This a beautiful part of Georgia anytime and definitely at this fall time when a good crowd of MCG graduates gathered. Alumni Association President Dr. Lynne Brannen, a 1982 MCG graduate who practices pulmonary and critical care medicine right here in Augusta, was there to thank the many great doctors up that way helping educate our third- and fourth-year students. Nate Howell, a classmate of David’s, was there to thank them as well for the front seat perspective they provide to him and to other MCG students.  Our Northwest Campus — based in Rome and our youngest campus with an official start year of 2013 — began with a hub of enthusiasm that continues to this day. In fact, there is fervent interest in officially expanding the campus up that way to Dalton, a model that has worked so well in Southeast Georgia, with bases in both Savannah and Brunswick (where David was when he got that important call). Dalton, which is about 40 miles northeast of Rome, and the Hamilton Health Care System there already are great partners in medical education and we look forward to strengthening the bond.

Dr. Kenneth Sang-Ho Kwon awarded $1.7 million NIH grant to look the role of exosomes after acute kidney injury
Since we have been talking about traveling, it brings to mind exosomes, nanometer-sized containers that haul important cargo around in our bodies and likely deliver signals as well, maybe even about what to do with the cargo. This is a science fiction/real life science topic that has scientists looking at exosomes as a natural drug delivery system and maybe also an important diagnostic biomarker for disease. Our Kenneth Sang-Ho Kwon, cell biologist in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, is right in the middle of this. He recently received a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to try to figure out just what the swarm of exosomes are doing and carrying when they show up following an acute kidney injury. Dr. Kwon’s focus is specifically what’s happening in the tubules, the little extension off of each kidney filter where waste products gets passed on for elimination in the urine but also where a lot of stuff we need like water and glucose get resorbed. Tubules are a major site for these acute kidney injuries, which are on the increase. More to come on this cool topic in the coming weeks on the MCG home page and elsewhere. Our congratulations and thanks to Dr. Kwon who came to us in 2018 from the Medical University of South Carolina. We are glad you are with us.

State of the College now set for noon, January 9
Finally today, I wanted to note that the State of the College Address has been moved to noon, January 9, in the Lee Auditorium. I apologize for two moves of this also annual tradition but after the new year was just better timing this year. We’ll see how it goes then make a decision on whether this is one tradition we want to permanently adjust.


Upcoming Events

Oct. 19 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, guest speaker is Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health and former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nov. 1 – Body Donor Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 4 – Medical Scholars Research Day, Harrison Commons.

Jan. 9 – State of the College, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Jan. 16 – Alumni Association Savannah/Brunswick Regional Reception, 6 p.m., location TBD.

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