Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Potential Students do a virtual “Revisit”

I think that Renée Zellweger in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire was the first one I heard say: You had me at hello. But way back when, while I was looking for the best place to do my neurology training, MCG pretty much had me at hello. That was — and is — because of a lot of reasons that we talk about here and elsewhere. It felt like home, but I get that everyone may want to at least take a second look. That is what our Admissions Office provided recently for recent applicants who have been accepted to MCG. Like pretty much everything right now, it was a virtual event, and while that was not ideal for obvious reasons, what was ideal was that made it easy for students to take a second look and listen without having to travel. Last year’s Revisit Day, our third, was in person and had about 120 participants, which is great. This year more like 220 potential future students signed up to see and hear awesome student and MCG advocates like Dr. Jennifer Tucker, an MCG graduate and pediatric emergency medicine physician, who also is assistant dean for career advising and our fourth-year class dean. And, Dr. John Francis, an MD/PhD who is campus associate dean for student and multicultural affairs at our Athens campus. Even the constraints of using an online video communications tool can’t detract from the enthusiasm and approachability of these two, so I am betting Revisit 4.0 was a huge success. As icing, our students like Class of 2022 President Christian Cullen and Asma Daoudi, who spent her senior year at our Southeast Campus, shared their insight on the clinical years here, where opportunities are essentially boundless because of our statewide regional campus network that provides opportunities for learning in pretty much any kind of practice setting, from a solo practice in a small town to working in an academic medical center.

MCG Admissions Office, Academic Affairs, make it easy for them to like what they see

I thank Associate Dean for Admissions and MCG graduate Dr. Kelli Braun, Admissions Director Jenny Crouch and the entire Admissions Office for continuing to make the essential and endless task of choosing the next class of MCG graduates work even in these unprecedented times. Our Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs also offered a virtual Second Look for our URM applicants. This year’s event was also virtual with 55 hopefully future students hearing more about innovations like our 3+ curriculum from the amazing Dr. Renee Page, OB/GYN and associate dean for curriculum; and about the great and improving academic advising and support we provide from the undeniable force of Dr. LaShon Sturgis, an MD/PhD, MCG graduate and emergency medicine physician. There was also time with our student leaders in the Student National Medical Association, the Latino Medical Student Association and our almost brand-new Black Men of MCG. Thanks yet again to Linda James, assistant dean for student diversity and inclusion, for her steady leadership that makes so much happen like Second Look. Honestly, I am not sure how you say no to these individuals, and to the excellence they provide in medical education here, our reason for being since 1828.

Dr. Dan Schwartz selected for Department of State Fulbright Specialist Program

As you can see, our Department of Emergency Medicine faculty are an important factor in pretty much anything we do here, and are leaders on even the toughest fronts. While many of us know it can be tough at times to provide the best of care to patients within the organized confines of an academic medical center, many of our emergency medicine faculty, including Department Chair Dr. Richard Schwartz, are experts in providing structure to the chaos of manmade and natural disaster zones and ensuring those patients get where needed in the most logical, lifesaving order. The department is full of pioneers in optimizing the response of diverse groups with diverse skill sets, from paramedics to police to military personnel, who converge when bad things happen. They work with our military, the GBI and FBI and others, including providing tactical medicine support as these specialized forces do their often dangerous job. Now our Dr. Dan Schwartz has been selected for the U.S. Department of State Fulbright Specialist Program. That means for the next two years at least, he will serve as a consultant in emergency management, prehospital, operational and austere medical care to foreign governments and educational institutions alike.

Dr. Schwartz will serve as a consultant to foreign governments and educational institutions

Dr. Schwartz is a rare hybrid, a colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard as well as a faculty member in our Department of Emergency Medicine since 2018, who is medical director of our STORM Tactical Medical Education Program in the department’s Center of Operational Medicine. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. He is currently assigned to the Alabama National Guard, which is headquartered in Birmingham. He is a 2003 graduate of Sackler School of Medicine of Tel Aviv University in Israel, did an emergency medicine fellowship at University of Texas at San Antonio, emergency medicine residency at CHRISTUS Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, research, trauma and critical care training at Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles and general surgery training at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx. There was also flight surgeon training at Fort Rucker and Joint Services Trauma Management at Fort Sam Houston. He just completed a term as flight surgeon for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard 28th Combat Aviation Brigade and will take on that role now with the Alabama National Guard. He is an operational support physician for the GBI and served as tactical support physician for the Pittsburgh FBI SWAT and Pennsylvania Attorney General Special Operations Group SWAT before that. He is a board member of the National Association of Veterinary Emergency Medical Services and teaches operational canine medical support. He is a prepared and busy man, and we are glad he shares his time and expertise with us and the world. Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Schwartz.

Dr. James Gossage leading North American study to improve treatment for rare genetic disorder, HHT

Dr. James Gossage, pulmonologist, is on a different kind of frontline, in the fight against HHT, or hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. That’s a rare inherited and potentially deadly disorder, which puts patients at increased risk for arterial venous malformations, or AVMs, where arteries feed directly into veins rather than smaller and smaller blood vessels first, pressure which the veins are not equipped to handle. We are among 26 centers of excellence in North America for HHT treatment, and Dr. Gossage directs our center. He has played a big role nationally with HHT, like serving on the Organizing Committee for five HHT Scientific Conferences, including the one planned for 2022. He also served as medical director of Cure HHT from 2008-19. I am pleased to share that the CURE HHT Foundation has received a $5 million grant from the Department of Defense to pursue further study at 10 of these centers on how the chemotherapy drug pazopanib may help patients. Dr. Gossage is the PI and is leading this national study and has been part of previous studies showing how this drug can reduce chronic bleeding in patients. Like each of you, Dr. Gossage wants to help patients do better, and like all of us, he has had great partners in making that happen. In this case Dr. Dennis Sprecher, cardiologist who recently retired as senior director of discovery medicine and drug development at GlaxoSmithKline. Thank you Dr. Gossage for your leadership and commitment.

MCG Alumni Association hosts the annual Raft Debate tonight

Great doctors also have me at hello. In fact, I think I shared with you my pediatrician who helped cure my horrific ear aches was my first. So don’t look at me to decide who gets to take the only one-person life raft when the ship is sinking. But that is the premise for the typically hilarious Raft Debate, sponsored by our MCG Alumni Association. Doors open at 6 p.m. tonight (yes I said doors open) and the program begins at 6:30 at the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons. Of course sound safety steps will be used, but if you would rather livestream you can also do that here. Like the personalities of our presenters at Revisit Day and Second Look, you will be captivated either way. They include Dr. Wanda Jirau-Rosaly, family medicine physician and geriatrician; Dr. Lisa Leggio, pediatrician, and Dr. Kenneth Byrd, otolaryngologist. Our antagonist/devil’s advocate will be Dr. Natasha Savage, pathologist, pathology residency program director, vice chair for academic affairs for her department and MCG graduate, and Dr. Leonard Reeves, associate dean for our Northwest Campus in remarkable Rome, who can definitely help stir up trouble, will actually try to maintain order as moderator. Expect anything, mostly fun if you can share in this great event. I thank our Alumni Association and MCG friend Scott Henson, AVP for Alumni Engagement, for helping end our Friday on a fun note and for their essential support of Georgia’s public medical school.

Dr. Keel’s State of the University Address is today

Finally today, before you head over to the Raft Debate, I hope you also will join AU President Brooks Keel for his State of the University Address livestreaming from 3-4 p.m. here. He will be unveiling an exciting research initiative in “InflammAging and Brain Aging.” More to come. Please continue to take good care out there, wear a mask and get vaccinated.

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