Honoring our commitments

Leadership: Honoring our National and State Commitments
November 12, 2010


Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We had superb turnout and showing of our MCG faculty, staff, and students at this year’s annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) which was held earlier this week. Shaping the Physicians of the Future was the theme of the meeting. We had great presence at the meeting with several people giving key presentations, leading workshops, and also presenting posters that attest to our national excellence in education.

The plenary session held talks from Chair Deborah E. Powell, MD, President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, about key points in academic medicine. It was inspiring to observe Dr. Kirch’s leadership of AAMC, especially as we appreciate also his former role as Medical College of Georgia Dean at MCG. The keynote speaker, Thomas Gladwell, famed author of ‘ The Tipping Point’, was simply outstanding in his comments about leadership. It was also gratifying to appreciate from the AAMC’s conference – both with our curriculum activities and with our medical expansion activities – that we at MCG are in step with the national directions and with the AAMC as we shape our medical students and residents to become the physicians of the future. We also held a reception at the AAMC to welcome Dr. Azziz to the AAMC community as our president. The reception was very well attended by both internal and external colleagues. Dr. Robert Sokol, former Dean and Michigan State University senior faculty, spoke eloquently about Dr. Azziz’s talents and stellar accomplishments. Please see the SOM webpage for photos of the event ( /medicine/aamc-meeting.html). We were especially honored to have Dr. Mims Aultman, a senior MCG Alumnus (Class of 1953) and longstanding supporter of MCG, at this reception. All-in-all, this was impressive academic leadership and national visibility for MCG … and we also learned a lot.

We had the opportunity at this week’s Board of Regents meeting to provide an update on the Georgia Health Sciences University’s commitment to medical training and expansion throughout Georgia. Dr. Barbara Schuster gave a detailed account of the progress of our MCG-UGA Medical Partnership. With input from our educational leaders, I had the privilege of briefly outlining our now-considerable statewide presence and how through partnerships we are helping to meet the state’s physician workforce needs by increasing our class size from 190 to 300 by 2020. As Dr. Azziz succinctly puts it, the state of Georgia truly is our campus. Regent Kenneth Bernard and several other Regents gave us encouraging feedback on our activities. This overview also resonated so well with our announcement yesterday to establish a clinical campus in Rome, Georgia. Drs. Azziz, Boyd, Hobbs, Mr. Ginn and I received a resounding welcome from the Rome community. We had the opportunity to survey the impressive array of resources to support this new campus. The campus is already training students on rotation and with new resources now it will build its programs over time such that we anticipate that by 2013 it will be fully operational to serve a substantial group of our third- and fourth-year students. The Rome site will evolve to become a residential campus. With the superb array of clinical facilities and community network in Rome, this will lend itself to an integrated training curriculum – another addition to our portfolio and efforts to improve health statewide and beyond. This is a remarkable accomplishment and an exciting new beginning. This would not be possible without the inspiring leadership of Dr. Paul Ferguson, Dr. Dan Hanks, Dr. Len Reeves, Georgia Highlands College President Mr. Randy Pierce and in particular Regent Willis Potts. We are so grateful to these leaders and so many other community leaders in Rome, as well as to Dr. Linda Boyd for her outstanding collaborative skills and leadership.

We are also delighted that our leadership team for the Children’s Medical Center (CMC) is continuing to strengthen our partnerships with regional pediatricians. Specifically, our colleagues are advancing the proposed strategic partnership and co-branding of the CMC with the excellent children’s services that exist at Phoebe Putney hospital in Albany. This partnership will extend the reach of vital children’s services in our region, facilitating access to pediatric subspecialty care directly (and also through telemedicine) and providing complex joint care for mothers that are pregnant with children with fetal anomalies. We are excited that this important initiative is progressing and we very much appreciate the leadership of our partners at Phoebe Putney who run a superb facility in their region. It is a pleasure and a privilege to partner with these leaders.

In Atlanta this week, our research leaders met with Mr. Bob Bozman, a leading venture capitalist, with Mr. Bernie Mercer and with research leaders from Emory, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University. We discussed our opportunity for collaborative activities in biomedical science. This activity builds on the recent Georgia Life Sciences Summit and also our meeting last month at MCG’s Technology Transfer unit when we hosted trade representatives from Israel, China, Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Chile, among other nations. We also had the opportunity to tour in downtown Augusta the excellent facilities for biomedical sciences that are housed within the Georgia Medical Center Authority. We observed great work and more opportunities there. Clearly we are gaining momentum in this area.

Recently, under the leadership of Ms. Laurie Ott, the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project hosted the CSRA Research Consortium at the Charlie Norwood VAMC. Dr. Azziz shared his vision and how it connects with the CSRA Research Consortium. The Consortium was formed in 2008 with partners from all over the CSRA to collaborate and highlight Augusta’s research capabilities. We are very excited to have our visions align and work with the leaders in the CSRA.

Yesterday we honored the sacrifice and legacy of our nation’s heroes on Veteran’s Day. Last week we also honored a group of people who gave selflessly of their mortal remains – those who donated their body for medical anatomy training. The Body Organ Donor Memorial Services was held to honor, remember and recognize the altruism of the donors and their relatives. Our students spoke about the impact of this upon their training. The ceremony was so dignified and it also touched the hearts of those who attended. Please consider attending next year – it is a remarkable experience.

Every week there is news from our student and resident communities. First, we would like to send our congratulations to Ronnie Zaiden, SOM Class of 2013 for being elected as a national delegate to the AAMC. Ronnie also presented his first poster presentation at the AAMC this year. Congratulations to Ronnie. Second, our residents are very busy in the clinics/hospital setting but increasingly – and with support of key faculty – they are also busy on the research front. During the month of October we had over 35 events for our residents …. poster presentations, accepted abstracts, or awards given across the country. We salute our residents for their hard work on the research front. Congratulations also to Dr. Ora Singer, in the division of Rheumatology who was honored as a 2010 Distinguished fellow at this week’s annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

As you all may know, Erroll Davis is retiring after great service as Chancellor of the Board of Regents. A search committee has been formed with members from all over the state. Our very own Dr. Lin Mei was appointed to the search committee for the USG Chancellor. Congratulations to Lin for this wonderful opportunity to collaborate and partner with institutions from around the State of Georgia to choose our next Chancellor.

And … finally … TODAY IS …..Enterprise-wide celebration at Fort Discovery. This is the culmination of many hours of work by all of you to see the Enterprise-wide strategic plan come to fruition. It is time to celebrate. There are over 2400 tickets holders waiting for the festivities to begin – an amazing and unprecedented showing. We are looking forward to seeing everyone this evening at 5:30. Lots of great food, entertainment, and a brief presentation are waiting to happen.

Many thanks for your commitment to our institution and with our community.