Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Transcribed audiotapes now online provide insight into MCG’s past and future

You know I love history and MCG, and the history of MCG is always fascinating and relevant, particularly as we look toward our future. I found out recently that Renée Sharrock, curator of Historical Collections and Archives in the Greenblatt Library, made great use of some teleworking time by transcribing audiotapes about some greats from back in the day. Like the first lecture of Dr. Philip Dow, chair of the MCG Department of Physiology from 1960-71, that he ever recorded. It was one worth saving. Dr. Dow was talking about his predecessor, the famous Dr. William F. Hamilton, who came to MCG in 1934. You all likely have heard of the Hamilton manometer that bears his name and enabled monitoring of “blood pressure changes in any part of an animal body and nearly any part of the human body.” This device grew out of his own fascination with hemodynamics and determination to invent ways to learn more if he needed to. Like so many of you today, Dr. Hamilton was a force here and more globally. He founded the American Heart Association Basic Science Council and served as president of the American Physiological Society in 1955. The Hamilton Wing of the Sanders Research and Education Building is named after him. It really feels like déjà vu reading those early conversations about groundbreaking cardiovascular research, publishing studies, NIH funding and fellowships.

MCG’s first female student was longtime Athens pediatrician Dr. Loree Florence

Like Dr. Loree Florence, the first female medical student to graduate from MCG and in the state. Dr. Florence was a native of Athens, who started school when she was only five because her seven-year-old brother was starting and she didn’t want to be left behind. She started Shorter University in Rome, Georgia at age 15, where some doctors she met first mentioned that she would do well in medicine. After college, her first job was teaching school in a one-room schoolhouse in Wilkes County. She would go to Washington, D.C., and work for the War Department and the IRS and finally decided that original suggestion to be a physician was the right one for her. You can tell from the interview with her what an insightful and fun individual she was moving among other greats in those days. People like Dr. G. Lombard Kelly, who served as dean of MCG for 15 years and as the first president in 1950 when MCG, then the name of the entire health sciences institution, was granted independent status, and Dr. Virgil P. Sydenstricker, an acclaimed nutritionist and scientist and longtime Department of Medicine chair who was one of the first to describe the symptoms of sickle cell anemia. It took Dr. Florence a while to figure out she wanted to practice pediatrics and would ultimately return to her hometown to practice her specialty for 45 years. She would become the first female member of the national honor medical society Alpha Omega Alpha. 

Historical Collections Curator Renée Sharrock helps bring MCG history to life

I want to thank Renée for her proactiveness in making this information readily available to all of us. She is one of those individuals who is always happy to help and contributes a ton when she does. In fact, you might want to give her a call (706-721-3444) sometime to check out the Historical Collections and Archives room on the second floor of the library she helped put together. You will feel like you have stepped back in time, and you will find some interesting items like a collection of foreign bodies that have been removed from the throats of our patients over the years, including safety pins and dentures, and lifelike plaster of Paris and resin models of the human anatomy. You can even see a Hamilton manometer. If you want to get more historical perspective you may also want to check out here and here. I also want to say that thinking back about these greats reminds me of you, the greats who are MCG today. Good days are both ahead and behind us.

MCG Heroes, major contributors in medicine and academics, honored at Faculty Senate

Speaking of Renee and MCG’s esteemed past, you can also learn more about greats like Drs. Sydenstricker and Hamilton each month at the Faculty Senate meetings where an “MCG Hero” who has made significant contributions in medicine and academics is recognized. Check out the meeting next week at noon Nov. 19 and learn more about Dr. Paul G. McDonough, Professor Emeritus, who came to us in 1964 as a research fellow in reproductive endocrinology and genetics study under other greats like Dr. Robert B. Greenblatt (who the library is named for). Dr. McDonough would direct the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, Fertility and Genetics for about 30 years, establish the Reproductive Endocrinology Fellowship, serve at its director and train 33 fellows. He also developed our in-vitro fertilization program, and a lectureship that bears his name began in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2003. Like the many greats before and now, Dr. McDonough was nationally accomplished as well, receiving, for example, the Society for Gynecological Investigation’s 1995 President’s Distinguished Scientist Award. This recognition of our past began last year under the leadership of MCG Faculty Senate President Dr. Vincent Robinson.

Dr. Julie Dahl-Smith is Georgia Academy of Family Physicians Educator of the Year

A key part of our future that definitely takes us back to our roots is a renewed vigor in educating primary care physicians, which are much needed particularly in more rural areas of our state and nation. We have always been good at educating primary care physicians (and all physicians), and now we want to do more of it. In keeping with being good at it, it is my pleasure to share that Dr. Julie Dahl-Smith, vice chair of education for the Department of Family Medicine and director of our allopathic and osteopathic family medicine residency programs, is the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians 2020 Educator of the Year. Dr. Dahl-Smith was selected for her “steadfast pursuit of excellence in teaching future family physicians.” Dr. Dahl-Smith did her family medicine training with us then joined the faculty in 2002, and has been leading the residency programs most of her time here. She is a preceptor for our students doing family medicine clerkships and the designated physician for the Harrisburg clinic, which serves our neighbors. She is a good citizen also for actively serving in the MCG Faculty Senate, including currently serving as vice president and chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. She is an exam writer for the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians. Thank you and congratulations Dr. Dahl-Smith.

Dr. Lia Pierson Bruner is MCG’s representative to the AAMC Group on Women in Medicine and Science

Speaking of our future, new leaders continue to emerge, one of the reasons I am certain that the MCG legacy will continue ad infinitum. It is also my pleasure to tell you that I have selected Dr. Lia Pierson Bruner, assistant professor of medicine based at our Athens campus, as our designee for the Association of American Medical College’s Group on Women in Medicine and Science. In her new role, Dr. Bruner plans to organize discussions, presentations and networking events to develop a stronger, supportive community for female faculty at MCG. She is an honored small group educator and clinical skills preceptor for both students and residents. Dr. Bruner cofounded the AU/UGA Medical Partnership Group on Women in Medicine earlier this year and is co-advisor for the Women In Medicine Student Group there. She is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the family medicine residency at Boston University Medical Center who joined our faculty in 2017. I appreciate her taking on this additional important role for us.

MCG graduate Dr. Bryant W. Wilson and his spouse, Andi Schwartz, donate $100,000 to support general surgery residency

Finally today, I wanted to share the also great news that 1983 MCG graduate, Dr. Bryant W. Wilson, and his spouse, Andi Schwartz, have made a $100,000 gift to support general surgery residency education at his alma mater. While such generosity is always great, the timing of this generous gift could not be better because general surgery is one of those key primary care areas we are trying to grow with our significant curriculum changes that began happening this academic year. Dr. Wilson just retired from a 32-year career in general surgery, primarily at Piedmont Medical Center in Atlanta. He is a UGA graduate who completed an internship at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta after medical school, then came back to us for his surgery training, including serving a year as chief resident. His leadership roles include serving on Piedmont’s Board of Directors and as president of the Georgia Surgical Society and Southern Society of Clinical Surgeons. He says he was inspired to give because of all that he has received from his wife and children, parents, teachers and mentors who helped him achieve his goal to become a surgeon. It is great to hear these stories of success and appreciation from our graduates. Thank you and your spouse for your commitment to the future, Dr. Wilson. We promise your gift will be put to good use, and we hope others will take a similar strong stand.  If you’d like to help, please contact Leigh Hurt, senior director of philanthropy at 404-660-9846 or

Please continue to take good care out there and “mask up”.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image001-1.png

Leave a Reply