Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Dr. Satish Rao receives $4.2 million NIH grant to study treatment for fecal incontinence
He is doing it yet again. Prolific physician-scientist Dr. Satish S.C. Rao has recognized a difficult problem for his patients and is taking it on. Our director of neurogastroenterology/motility and the Digestive Health Clinical Research Center saw that injured nerves are a significant factor in debilitating fecal incontinence, found a better way to identify the problem and is now leading first in the world studies of a painless method to do something about it. He developed a technique that uses the power of the magnet to generate electrical energy to activate and rejuvenate nerves that are key to stool control. Many of you know that magnetic stimulation already is being used in areas like depression. Dr. Rao has early evidence that his device, which is placed on the back to impact the relevant nerves, can enable a major reduction in this hard-to-manage problem.

The study uses a magnetic stimulation device Dr. Rao developed
I know this is one of those topics that is a little difficult to discuss but it is such a quality of life and common problem in this country, affecting some 40 million among us, often the result of the natural acts of childbirth and of just growing older. Dr. Rao, the J. Harold Harrison, MD, Distinguished University Chair in Gastroenterology, recently received a $4.2 million National Institutes of Health grant to pursue further clinical studies of magnetic stimulation in 132 patients.  Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is the second study site.  Dr. Rao has a great team here working on this innovative trial that includes gastroenterologist Dr. Amol Sharma, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Yun Yan, research associates Dr. Tennekoon Karunaratne, and Audrey Eubanks, research technician Dr. Enoe Jimenez and biostatistician Dr. Deepak Ayyala. If findings continue to hold, the next step would be a final stage clinical trial before this painless technique is widely available. Thank you all for your diligence in and enthusiasm for moving clinical care forward.

Drs. Fulton and Weintraub receive MCG Professionalism Award
You know it’s going be a great year when you can start out talking about such impactful work. My thanks to the many of you who were with me yesterday for the State of the College address where, like here, I am proud to highlight your regularly inspiring accomplishments. The Vascular Biology Center is definitely a regular presence in these biweekly writings and elsewhere as we gladly highlight the basic science, and clearly translational, work on this cohesive yet collaborative group that is taking on Georgia’s top killer, cardiovascular disease. Yesterday I announced Professional Awards to Drs. David Fulton and Neal Weintraub, the director and associate director respectively, of this powerful group of scientists. One of the best things about these two individuals and a consistent theme at the Vascular Biology Center is a serious but collegial approach to science. Charts of the grants submitted by and awarded to center faculty look like a stairway to heaven.  Their postdocs are also well-funded, nationally competitive and also friendly. Their staff, including department administrator Cindy Tuttle and grant officer Sandy Ferguson, are great and our new recruits for the center rave about them.  It’s just a good place doing great work that is a great model for us all. I thank Drs. Fulton and Weintraub for their leadership and each center member for their outstanding contribution to science and to MCG.

MCG graduate Dr. Scott Bohlke receives Advocacy Award
We talked this summer as well about Brooklet, Georgia’s only physician, 1992 MCG graduate Dr. ScottBohlke. He is just a great guy doing very different frontline but also transformative work by giving people access to a doctor. I always have to mention that he also happened to play minor league baseball for the Durham Bulls and Burlington Braves. I should also mention here he was a major in the U.S. Air Force. Because like so many of you, this family medicine physician is a doer and natural leader. He is a longtime board member and former president of our Alumni Association and the Medical Association of Georgia, serves on the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce, serves on our MCG Advisory Board and so much more. But probably nothing he does is more important than the care he provides to the citizens of Brooklet, Georgia, population of about 1,700. It is really for this reason that I chose to award Dr. Bohlke the Community Advocate Award. Thank you Dr. Bohlke.

Regional campuses have another full complement of new students headed their way
Here’s evidence that there are more Dr. Bohlke’s in the making at MCG.  I am happy to report that we have another full complement of soon-to-be third-year medical students set to fan out across the state this summer to learn more about the practice of medicine and Georgia’s communities. As most of you likely know, students can opt to do their third and fourth years at our regional campuses. We have 10 students from the Class of 2022 who will be going to the Northwest Campus based in Rome this coming July, 23 headed off to the Southeast Campus based in Savannah and Brunswick and 14 students going to the Southwest Campus based in Albany. It is great to see such interest by our students in learning medicine in these unique environments and overwhelming to think about the support of the physicians and hospitals there. I am happy to share that the Dalton community also is now offering extended clinical clerkships up their way, which our students are happily pursuing. This kind of movement helps reinforce that together we can better meet the physician needs of our expansive and diverse state.

Dr. Loretta Davis is an American Academy of Dermatology Patient Care Hero
Hero is a pretty strong word but Dr. Loretta Davis is definitely up to the task. The chair of our newest department, the Department of Dermatology, has been honored by the American Academy of Dermatology as a patient care hero (one of the best kinds) for her treatment of a family with the rare genetic disorder pachyonychia congenita, which causes painful, debilitating callouses and blisters on the bottom of your feet. Anyone who knows Dr. Davis is hardly surprised, but we are happy to see her receive this national honor and grateful for the care she provides. As we have said before, Dr. Davis is also definitely a doer and she works with style and compassion to get a huge amount of work done. In addition to a big clinical and teaching load, she is about a year into the job of chair and has made great strides in building this department, which was a division in the Department of Medicine for so long. This includes new recruits like Dr. Kathryn Anne Potter, a South Carolina native and Medical University of South Carolina graduate who is fellowship trained in Mohs surgery. And Dr. Harold S. Rabinovitz, a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine graduate who was on his alma mater’s volunteer faculty and had a diverse, active private practice. He just got here this month where he will focus on students, residents and treating patients with skin cancers. Good stuff. Congratulations Dr. Davis.

1945 MCG graduate Dr. Irving Victor died this week at the age of 97
There is a small group room in the Harrison Commons that bears the name of Dr. Irving Victor and his wife Cissie. He was a lifetime member of our Alumni Association and past chair of the MCG Foundation who received the 2003 Distinguished Alumnus Award for Loyalty. He practiced urology in his hometown of Savannah for 41 years. He brought emergency medical services to Chatham County in the 1970s.  He served as chief of staff of the three Savannah hospitals, and in fact helped with the 1997 consolidation of St. Joseph’s and Candler hospitals. He would help start Vic’s on the River, which features great Southern and fine dining on the beautiful Savannah River and home of what I consider the best crab cakes in the state. Our friend Paul Hinchey, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s/Candler, told the Savannah newspaper this week: “He was an icon in every sense of the word.” Just a few years back, Dr. Victor received the second Eminent Alumni Award from his undergraduate alma mater Armstrong State University, where he was a past president of the Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees. Our thoughts are with his family and the Savannah community. We have all lost a good man, friend and achiever.


Upcoming Events

Feb. 13 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

March 19 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

April 29 – MCG Faculty Senate Awards, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

May 7 – Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

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