Success is a personal standard

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”

– Zig Ziglar

Inquiring Minds… Super Students

Talk about showing up! About half of our sophomore students spent their last free summer – clinical rotations will be occupying their summers from here on – pursuing research. Terrific! Also, terrific was Medical Scholars Research Day this week in Augusta and the previous week in Athens where they got to show off their very hard work. We talked about mettle last week and their presentations reflected the kind of enthusiasm and deep love of learning more about what makes us tick that produces great physicians and physician-scientists. Impressive projects like Caroline Lewis’ studies with Dr. Paul McNeil of a rare but bad side effect of a drug used to treat bone loss from cancer and osteoporosis and Santosh Patel’s work with Dr. Betty Pace on the role of specific proteins in sickle cell disease. Our students say these summer studies bring to life what they learn in the classroom. Indeed, we all learn best by doing. Our congratulations, of course, to our students, and a special thanks to Dr. Richard Cameron, Mary Anne Park, Cheryl Dickson, and so many others who helped make the magic.  Check out some photos on our Facebook page – We’ll also be featuring more samples of these excellent presentations over the coming weeks.


Pioneering for Patients… Fighting Sickle Cell Disease

Speaking of sickle cell disease, our medical school has long been a strong contributor not only to great care of patients with this condition but also as pioneers in improving care. No doubt most of you have heard of Drs. Virgil  P. Sydenstricker and Titus H.J. Huisman, whose work in this area dates back to the early and mid-1900s, respectively. More recently, we discovered the game-changing fact that regular blood transfusions can reduce stroke risk in children with sickle cell disease. No doubt there is more ahead from us for these patients. Drs. Abdullah Kutlar, Steffen Meiler and David Pollock just secured an $8.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to find a good way to stop the kidney and lung damage as well as the chronic pain these patients may have to endure. Another great part of this grant is mentoring the next generation of sickle cell researchers and Dr. Pace is taking the lead there. You may know that a related study here also has us working to ensure the next generation of caregivers for these patients who have very specific medical needs. See what we mean about pioneering?  Also exciting is that the Sickle Cell Center is getting a well-deserved and terrific new home with the renovation of the Shepeard Building. They should be making a move to their new digs in October. Exciting news on so many fronts here. Read more about the latest grant here and here


Face to Face… Straight Talks

We had this academic year’s first meeting of the Student Affairs Committee of the MCG Faculty Senate recently. What a terrific opportunity this provides students and faculty alike to talk face-to-face about a wide-range of issues that matter to students in both Athens and Augusta. The topics for this meeting ranged from the need for bike racks and recycling to how students can optimally select advisors that will support their changing needs and how Student Affairs Committee members can ensure they know what their fellow students’ needs really are. Great conversation and a great illustration of our faculty and students’ commitment to each other. Of course, this kind of close connection between students and our fine faculty are a hallmark of our medical school.


Honoring Survivors… Vanquishing Violence

While October is typically a gloriously beautiful month in our city it is also a month that brings to the forefront the very ugly and too common issue of domestic violence. In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to honor victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse, our university will host a series of informative, helpful events in the coming weeks. The kickoff this year is the Purple Light Nights® Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 1 from 7-8pm in the Quadrangle Lawn of the Summerville Campus. Student organizers will be collecting old cell phones, new household and children’s items, and gift cards to benefit SafeHomes, which may be the only respite for some abuse victims. What an incredibly wonderful way to not only recognize but to help victims of violence. The month will culminate with the 7th annual SafeHomes Survivor’s Walk Thursday, Oct. 24 starting at 6:30 p.m., also at the Quadrangle Lawn.  You can follow this important initiative and learn more about domestic violence as well here,, including these sobering statistics from the CDC: each year, intimate partner violence results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries among women and nearly 600,000 injuries among men. .We laud GRU students, Dr. Allison Foley and the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work for their strong leadership role.


Home Away from Home… Children Deserve a Great One

And speaking of a great cause, we understand that our community’s initiative to build a bigger, even better Ronald McDonald House on the GRU campus is going incredibly.  Most of you likely know the Augusta community has been privileged to have this home away from home for the families of sick or injured children for nearly 30 years on Greene Street.  This summer ground was broken on a beautiful new facility on our Health Sciences Campus that will include more guest rooms; two isolation suites so children receiving bone marrow transplants or chemotherapy can stay safely with their families; a large, family-style kitchen; and so much more.  About $4.4 million of the requisite $5.8 million has been raised and today our very own Dr. Charlie Howell is participating in the shooting of a PSA to help raise the rest. As we have happily said time and again, truly inspirational are the efforts made by our hometown – and our faculty, staff and students – to help others. Way to go all. Check it out yourself at


Judicious Judge… Remarkable Mental Health Advocate

And speaking of our awesome community, the honorable James G. Blanchard Jr., the Eighth Division Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, is the outstanding recipient of the 2013 Community Partner Award from our Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior.

Blanchard, who presides over Drug Court and Mental Health Court in the Augusta Judicial District of Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties, was honored for working to address the unique needs of individuals who come into the legal system with mental illness and substance abuse problems. Indeed.  Judge Blanchard helped establish the Drug Court for our area, which seeks to create safer communities and reduce substance abuse rates by providing structured, comprehensive treatment to substance abusers. The list of cares, concerns and actions goes on and on for this incredible individual who clearly understands the meaning of justice.


Best of Both Worlds… Excellence Emerges 

Another great example of awesome thinking and doing comes from our former resident, Dr. J. Brian Thornburg, who is now in Naples, Fla., and was featured recently in Parents Magazine as one of seven pediatricians who found new ways to care for their patients by thinking outside the box. Our resident graduate, the second concierge pediatrician in the United States, calls it an old-fashioned approach to modern medicine.  He and his wife, Dr. Helen Thornburg, have eight children together and decided this old approach to new medicine might be the optimal way to blend a strong family and professional life. It’s obviously working well for them and their patients – he has had patients on the waiting list since this started in 2006 – and he even founded a company, Innovative Pediatrics, LLC, in 2011 to help other physicians do the same. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics has asked the company to help develop national home care standards.  We applaud his innovation and his honor.


Another Great Resident Alum… Top of Field

Also hot off the press, Dr. Reid B. Blackwelder, a 1987 graduate of our Family Medicine Residency Program, is the new President of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Awesome! Dr. Blackwelder served in the National Health Services Corps for many years as the only physician in Trenton, Ga. For the past 21 years, he has been in Kingsport, Tenn., where he has maintained his efforts to educate the next generation of physicians by teaching medical students and residents. He is clearly a national force as well. He’s been a member of the AAFP for more than 30 years and received the academy’s 2008 Exemplary Teacher of the Year Award. Now he’ll be advocating on behalf of family physicians and patients nationwide. Drs. Blackwelder and Thornburg are more terrific examples of the quality of education – and individual – associated with our medical school. We can’t resist another ‘well done’ here.


Fabulous Follow Up… Awesome Accounts

And finally, a bit of follow up. We talked last week about our Pathology Department’s fascinating find of a new test that will distinguish early liver cancer cells from healthy liver cells. We are so glad that much of the world also found it fascinating, including being included among CBS News’ top medical stories, (it’s the third story in this link);  featured on Yahoo News,; The Times of India (one of the largest newspapers in the world),; and many, many other outlets. Great job again Drs. Kolhe, Rahardja, Vasa and Rojiani. We also had a great visit with our esteemed colleagues from the Korean Ministry of Health who, as we talked about last week, visited our city – and our Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services – to learn more about disaster preparedness. The Augusta Chronicle ran a good front page story on our guests, One final follow up, check out this video about the recent Innovation Summit  produced by Jared Bell,  One more time: GREAT job all.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 28 – The annual Jaguar Jaunt 5k starts at 7:30 am at the Maxwell House on the Summerville Campus.  Join friends, family, and neighbors for a run through the historic Summerville neighborhood and the Summerville campus.  Runners (and walkers) of all fitness levels are invited and proceeds support  GRU students and patients  as part of our A Day for GRU. Visit for more info and registration.

Oct. 2 – GRU EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, co-sponsored by the College of Allied Health Sciences, Developing Interprofessional Sexual Health Competencies: Why We Should Care, noon-1 p.m., EC 1222.

Oct. 3 – Come out to meet Ms. Sherron Watkins, Enron Whistleblower at 6 p.m. on the Summerville Campus. She is the Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics.

Oct. 9, 10 – GRU’s  2013 Annual Patient- and Family- Centered Care Conference will have the theme , I am the Patient Experience: What’s In It for Me, and will be held Oct. 9, 1-5 p.m. and Oct. 10, 8 a.m.–noon, in the Lee Auditorium on the Health Sciences Campus. This year’s speaker is Jason Wolf, Executive Director of the Beryl Institute.

Oct. 10- The MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception will be held at 6 p.m. at the Doublegate Country Club in Albany, Ga.

Oct. 10 – The GRHealth Special Premiere Advertising Event provides a sneak peak of GRHealth’s consumer advertising initiatives, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m., in the Lee Auditorium on the Health Sciences Campus.

Oct. 11 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Oct. 12 – The White Coat ceremony will be held at the Bell Auditorium at 3 p.m. with the reception immediately following at the Old Medical College building. Please check this event page on our MCG Facebook to follow details-

Oct. 15 – Join in the grand opening of the Northwest Campus based in Rome at noon at the James D. Maddox Heritage Hall at Georgia Highlands College, 415 E. Third Avenue at Glenn Milner Blvd. in Rome. Follow this link for a map: and for the event page.

Oct. 15 – The MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception will be held in Rome, Ga. at 6 p.m. at the Coosa Country Club

Oct. 18-20 – The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter is co-hosting the Empowering Future Physicians Conference 2013 with the Morehouse School of Medicine. Please check out this event link for more information,

Oct. 26 – The MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception will be held in Augusta, Ga. at 6 p.m. at the Augusta Country Club.

Oct. 27 – The MCG Alumni Association Board Meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Alumni Center Ballroom on the GRU Campus.

Nov. 8 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 14 – Dr. Ricardo Azziz’s State of the Enterprise Address, noon, Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre, Summerville Campus.

Nov. 15 – GRU EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, co-sponsored by the Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences, Critical Thinking: Teaching and Measuring, noon-1 p.m., GC 5002.

Nov. 21 – ElI Career Development 101 for new faculty will be held noon-5:15 p.m. at the GRU Alumni Center.

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

Check out our MCG Facebook page at and Twitter page as well #Follow.


Have a great weekend!