Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Drs. Arni Rao and Jose Vazquez develop coronavirus app

We talk often about how Georgia’s only public medical school is rightly addressing our state and nation’s top killers. Coronavirus is not on either list but it certainly has been on the minds of many and in the headlines for several weeks now. As I hinted here a few issues back, mathematical modeler Dr. Arni Rao and infectious diseases chief Dr. Jose Vazquez have put their heads and expertise together to quickly conceptualize and develop plans for a coronavirus app that works with artificial intelligence to put into the hands of anyone who wants it a rapid assessment of their coronavirus risk and info about the nearest facility to seek testing for those who need it.

AI will quickly generate good info for patients, health care facilities

Like these two individuals, there is a lot more to the story because part of what AI can do is not only calculate risk for an individual, but help collect and interpret good, emerging data on who is getting sick and where to enable health care facilities like our own to be well prepared to meet the need. Drs. Rao and Vazquez are working with app developers now and we should have this app available for our phones in the next few weeks. An article about it came online this week in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. Dr. Rao tells us he wanted to do something to help calm some of the fears out there on this emerging infection and the app will be free to those who want it. I thank both Drs. Vazquez and Rao for working quickly to help address an evolving health care concern. Lots of interest out there as you can imagine. Great going.

The GPI may have found a new risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Back to the list of top killers, as you know cardiovascular disease definitely makes the list for our state and nation. The great minds at the Georgia Prevention Institute, longtime experts on what is good and bad for our hearts and overall health, may have just found a new cardiovascular risk factor: social media. While I am not a huge consumer of social media (in fact I don’t even look at emails after 10 p.m.), it permeates many lives these days 24-7.  So Postdoc Dr. James D. Halbert, Research Associate Michelle Brown, GPI Director Dr. Greg Harshfield and others decided to take a look at what heavy social media use is doing to nighttime blood pressure. Nighttime blood pressure should dip significantly so our bodies can rest and recover from the day’s stresses, and when it doesn’t it’s considered predictive of cardiovascular risk. Now they have evidence that social media use affects that important pressure. They saw among healthy adults that heavy social media users had higher nighttime pressures, and that younger individuals were most stressed by social media, perhaps, they theorize, because it is more important to them. Also blended personality types, rather than individuals who are either extroverts or introverts, were most affected by high social media use. Dr. Halbert is presenting this work for the team next Friday at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Long Beach, California. More to come on this then. 

MCG’s Got Talent happens tonight; doors open at 5 p.m., show starts at 6 p.m.

I hope it is clear most days that talent and compassion abound at MCG. Today our Class of 2023 will highlight the diversity of that talent and compassion with the amazing show “MCG’s Got Talent.” Doors open at 5 p.m. and the show begins at 6 p.m. at the Maxwell Theatre at the Summerville Campus. The show benefits Child Enrichment Inc., a 40-plus year old program started by physicians, nurses and social workers to help neglected and abused children overcome and rebuild their lives. The cause and the significant effort of our MCG’s Got Talent Executive Board is plenty enough reason to be there. So are the people you will see perform. Faculty like Dr. Pamela Tipler, director of our Internal Medicine Residency Simulation Program, a trained flight surgeon who has served our country and others through efforts like helping take care of Uganda’s underserved. I also have to mention she is advisor and founder of the SeroTONEins whose praises we were singing last time in these writings. This time, Dr. Tipler will be the one on stage. You also will be able to laugh with Akash Chakravartty, a second-year student doing research with MCG Faculty Senate President and cardiologist Dr. Vincent Robinson, when he isn’t on stage. Our emcees are first-year students Oge Mgbodile and Daniel Adamkiewicz, who also happen to be performing along with many others.  I hope you can be there tonight for a good time for a good cause.

Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, here this week 

Speaking of how MCG has talent, we also told you last time that 1984 MCG graduate and Fayetteville pediatrician Dr. Sally Goza, who is president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, would be with us this week. If you were not able to catch her two talks here, you can learn more about her and the important national effort for children on The Means Report on WJBF-TV which airs this Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Monday at 12:30 p.m. and again Tuesday at 2:35 a.m. (for those who can’t sleep but hopefully still have good nighttime blood pressure). My thanks to Brad Means and Means Report executive producer Marlena Wilson for their continued interest in medicine and in MCG. Dr. Goza also sat down with veteran health/science reporter Tom Corwin at The Augusta Chronicle for this story that is bound to inform. Please check them out.

Second Look on tap for today, Revisit Day is Saturday

Our Admissions Office, Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs and Student National Medical Association are quite a force in ensuring that the next generation of Dr. Gozas keep coming. Today we are hosting the annual Second Look day for underrepresented in medicine students who have been accepted to MCG and are taking the opportunity to look and learn more about us before they make a final decision on whether to choose us as their medical school. Future medical students can begin to make that important decision April 30. Today they are meeting with students who did choose MCG along with faculty and other leaders, hearing about cool programs like the pre-matriculation program coming up this summer. Many of today’s participants will stay with us through tomorrow for the annual Revisit Day where up to 150 students will take another look before making their decision. Our current students volunteer their time to be with these young people, sharing their insight as well as info about other great volunteer work they do like the student-run health clinics and showing them around our Augusta campus. MCG graduates like Dr. Kelli Braun, associate dean for admissions, will fill them in on our statewide learning model that enables them to experience every kind of medicine they may want to practice. As we like to say, everything from complex care facilities like our own hospitals, to the small town rural practices of some of our amazing volunteer faculty. We hope our special visitors will decide they really like what they see here. I can promise them they will love what they learn.

Gold Humanism Honor Society induction is also tomorrow

This weekend is definitely a big one because tomorrow is also the Induction Ceremony for the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which recognizes students, residents and faculty who exemplify the practice of compassionate care and who serve as role models, mentors and leaders in our profession of medicine. They are nominated by their peers for this big honor. Faculty advisors for this society are great examples of what it stands for: Gynecologic oncologist and interim section chief Dr. Bunja Rungruang and infectious diseases physician Dr. John S. Francis, who is also associate dean for student and multicultural affairs at the Athens campus. There is a long list of inductees this time but I want to list them all here because induction in this society is an honor that it is my privilege to share with you.

39 faculty, residents and students will be recognized for excellence

Saturday’s inductees include faculty inductees: Dr. John Odom, general surgery; Dr. Christopher Pallas, cardiology; Dr. Richard Sams, family medicine; and Dr. Scott Richardson, internal medicine. Resident inductees: Dr. Hannah Childs, obstetrics/gynecology; Dr. Benjamin Harper, urology; Dr. Daniel Sharbel, otolaryngology; Dr. Shion Betty, internal medicine. Student inductees: Rabeea Ahmad, Sehar Ali, Haritha Aribindi, Raymundo Bustos, Julian Butler, Bria Carrithers, Anabel Cartelle, Asma Daoudi, Sonal Dugar, Zola Francis, Sarvani Ginjupalli, Shelby Howard, Erick Juárez, Meera Kuntawala, Pearce Lane, Elizabeth Lockett, Kathryn Martin, Daniel Mbom, Valerie McLure, Vidya Medepalli, Bria Peacock, Steven Perry, Chandler Rountree, Rachel Vaizer, Allison Withers; and in Athens Brett Askins, Peter Bodunrin, James Cho, Ehi Ediale, Kelsey Garcia and Sherayar Orakzai. To make a great celebration even better these outstanding individuals also will be entertained by the SeroTONEins. My congratulations and many thanks to each of you. 

Macon regional alumni reception hosted by 1985 graduate Dr. Bill Jarrard

I was on the road again recently for the Alumni Association regional reception down in Macon. We always have a big, fun group in Macon. This gathering was hosted by Dr. Bill Jarrard, an ophthalmologist and 1985 graduate, and his wife Cindy. With us was another longtime supporter Dr. Roy Rowland, a 1952 MCG graduate who served in both the Georgia and U.S. House of Representatives. I never fail to be amazed by the contributions of MCG graduates, and we thank Dr. Rowland again for his service to medicine and to our state and nation. We also thank him for his support of our emerging 3+ program, which already has begun to further streamline and strengthen how we educate physicians. It was great to see so many of our colleagues south of Augusta including Dr. Paul Turk, an anesthesiologist who is a classmate of Dr. Goza’s and a member of our MCG Foundation Board; Dr. Billie Jackson, a dermatologist and native Augustan who also is a 1984 graduate (that must have been a really good year); 1967 graduate and family physician Dr. Bill Brooks; and Dr. David Kent, also a dermatologist and 1982 graduate whose son Dr. Steven Kent is doing his dermatology residency with us now. We also have tremendous support from Regent Allen Gudenrath of Macon and it’s always good to see former chair of the Board of Regents Bob Hatcher as well. Third-year student Savannah McKenzie from Canton, Georgia was with us as well spending time with her future fellow alumni. We really had a good time.

Dr. Shaheen Islam an editor for first comprehensive interventional pulmonology study guide

Finally today, it is also my pleasure to share that Dr. Shaheen Islam, interventional pulmonologist and chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, is one of the editors of the Interventional Pulmonary Self Study Book, which is a sort of study guide (with questions and evidence-based answers) to help fellows prepare for the interventional pulmonology board exam. The board exam for this specialty is only a handful of years old and this is the only comprehensive study guide out there. It’s published by The Association of Interventional Pulmonology Program Directors and Dr. Islam co-chairs that group’s Education Committee. Dr. Islam came to us in July 2018 from The Ohio State University College of Medicine where he was director of interventional pulmonology.

Upcoming Events

March 10 – AU Town Hall on the coronavirus, noon, Health Sciences Building, Room 1222, Health Sciences Campus. Click here to livestream.

March 13 – AU Town Hall on the coronavirus, noon, University Hall, Room 170, Summerville Campus. 

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

March 20 – Match Day, noon, The Miller Theater, 708 Broad St.

March 24 – Athens Alumni Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Home of Dr. Mark and Betsy Ellison, 1982 graduate and Athens urologist.

April 17 – The Raft Debate, the annual fun, educational deliberation of which type of doctor should get the only raft on a sinking ship, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6:30 p.m., Harrison Commons.

April 24-26 – Alumni Weekend featuring the MCG Dean’s Reception and Alumni Association Banquet, 6 p.m., April 24 at the Augusta Marriott; Campus Discovery Tours, 9:45 a.m., April 25, starts at the Summerville Campus; President’s Cookout, noon, April 25, D. Douglas Barnard Jr.  Amphitheater, Summerville Campus; Reunion Dinners, 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner, 9 p.m. Alumni After-Party, Augusta Marriott; MCG Emeritus Club Breakfast, 9:30 a.m., MCG Alumni Memorial Service, 10:30 a.m., both in the J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons

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

April 30 – President Keel’s State of the University Address, 11 a.m., Maxwell Theatre, Summerville Campus.

May 7 – Hooding, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium. Reception follows in the Old Medical College building on Telfair Street. 

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

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