Uplifting Humanity

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Finding a Cause … Seeking a Solution

We started this month talking about doing something that needs doing, in that case Drs. Christie Palladino and Lara Stepleman filling a significant educational gap by providing a one-stop site where health profession educators could find tested tests. We are now halfway through this glorious month and we find ourselves with yet another excellent example of recognizing a problem and finding an answer. You see, about 10 percent of patients with clinical symptoms of the muscle weakening disease myasthenia gravis have no sign in their blood of the two antibodies known to be associated with the disease. But our Dr. Lin Mei and his team have helped fill in this important blank for at least some of these patients. They have found a third antibody associated with this disease, the most common disease affecting the important interaction between the brain and muscle. We all know that the body makes antibodies to fight disease but, unfortunately, in diseases like myasthenia gravis, it also makes antibodies against its own tissue. In this case, Dr. Mei, along with postdoctoral fellows Chenyong Shen, Yisheng Lu and Bin Zhang, have found antibodies against the protein LRP4, which aids conversation between the brain and muscle. It’s a big deal that very likely will help physicians such as our Dr. Mike Rivner provide a more conclusive diagnosis, and, likely, enable more targeted, future treatment as well. For those of us privileged to work as or with physicians or basic scientists, this kind of finding is an aspiration and, frankly, remarkable. We commend Dr. Mei and his team for their diligence and brilliance. Learn more here: http://news.gru.edu/archives/10267.

Safer Roads … Moving Medicine’s Frontline

Here’s another great difference we have made this month: as of this week you just may see Dr. Todd Burgbacher, an emergency medicine and EMS physician, helping EMTs and paramedics provide even more exceptional care at the scene of our area’s worst accidents and disasters. If you are wondering about the difference between an ER doc and an EMS doc, it’s that EMS physicians also specialize in pre-hospital care, so taking care of patients at the scene. It’s an emerging extension of emergency and trauma care that has happened in some of our nation’s largest cities and now has happened in Augusta. We are so thrilled to be able to make this kind of difference for our community. Our emergency department already is among the area’s busiest, our clinical facilities are the region’s designated Trauma Center, we educate EMTs – and will soon educate paramedics – we provide emergency physicians for Trinity Hospital of Augusta and the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dr. Phillip Coule is Medical Director of the Augusta Fire Department, and, well, you get the idea. The addition of Dr. Burgbacher – who did his emergency medicine residency here, by the way, before completing an EMS fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center – on our roads hopefully gives us all an even greater sense of comfort that our community has the best emergency and trauma care possible and a sense of pride of the tremendous role our faculty, staff and hospitals play at one of the worst possible moments. Certainly more to come on these fronts. Read more about the latest here: http://news.gru.edu/archives/10297.

A Great Deal … Governor visits Northwest Campus

Gov. Nathan Deal also recently was on the road to visit our newest campus based in Rome. You likely remember that we cut the ribbon on the Northwest Campus just last month, which was really awesome. The governor coming to see us there was truly icing on the cake. While we hate to put words in his mouth, he seemed very pleased, asked a lot of terrific, on-point questions, gave us the opportunity to talk more broadly about our distributed model of education that has students living and learning out across our state and much more. Once again, Dr. Leonard Reeves, Vicki Wiles and Meg Fisher were terrific hosts. We so appreciate the governor’s time and support. Exciting times ahead!

Great Colleagues … Appropriate Appropriations

We also recently had the honor of joining other medical schools in our state for a meeting with the state House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. Certainly each of us had the opportunity to talk about our individual efforts. We, for example, once again talked about our distributed model of education that is so well-supported by our state. We were privileged as well to talk again about the University System of Georgia initiative to grow 400 more residency slots in our state as it brings many new hospitals into this vital aspect of growing more doctors for Georgia. We even got to share our new video. Have you checked it out yet (see http://bit.ly/1aMqadv)? But frankly it also was a chance to look around the room at the terrific colleagues we have in medical education, at Emory, Mercer, Morehouse and PCOM, and to make due note of the complementary efforts of these very fine institutions.

Primary Care … Primary Focus

So we go from a few terrific highs to a sobering fact for a Friday (or any day): to even maintain the status quo – and who wants to do that – Georgia will need an additional 2,099 primary care physicians by 2030, a whopping 38 percent increase from where we currently stand, according to a recent report from the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and Family. This is a Washington, D.C.-based group affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians. For context, that 2030 figure for Georgia is above average for other states and the nation. While a bit daunting, it’s not super surprising when you think about the fact that Georgia continuously ranks among the top 10 states in population and population growth. That sheer size of our population, the fact that we are all getting older, and that more individuals will be seeking care because of health care reform, all are definite factors. Fortunately, the Robert Graham Center also offers up some solutions, including physician-reimbursement reform, dedicated funding for primary-care resident training, and medical school debt relief. To throw some good news on top, these very reasonable strategies and others, like tax credits for community-based faculty who teach third- and fourth-year students, are being incorporated and actively pursued as part of Georgia’s Primary Care Summit Action plans, an important strategy being developed by representatives from throughout our state for the wellbeing of our state. We commend this essential, multifront effort for the physical and frankly financial wellbeing of our citizens and our state. No doubt, this is one of those efforts that requires all hands on deck, but we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize our own Denise Kornegay for her colossal role.

Number One … Hot Business Climate

So back to great news about our state! Site Selection magazine just ranked Georgia absolutely number one for business climate. That’s certainly great news but also not a huge surprise: our state has ranked in the top 10 for five years The many strengths of our state include incredibly collaborative teamwork, logistics assets, a well-trained workforce, proactive state and local economic developers, such as the Augusta Economic Development Authority, and so much more. This kind of news once again gives us all a sense of pride in our state and optimism for an even more fabulous future. Check out the magazine’s cover story here: http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2013/nov/cover.cfm.

A Different Kind of Governor … Medical Leadership

Speaking of great news, another shout out to Dr. Walter Moore who was just elected to serve as Governor-elect Designee of the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. He’ll officially begin the Governor-elect post this coming April and be sure-enough Governor in April 2015. Dr. Moore will be representing our state in this prestigious group’s Board of Governors which actually includes leaders from, not just the United States, but Central and South America, Canada and more. We know, per always, he will represent his medical school, profession, and state well!

What Happened in Augusta … Was Magic

In an incredible follow up, please know that Vegas definitely paid off for our medical students. If you are looking quizzical at this point, please remember that last Friday our students had a terrific talent show, A Night in Las Vegas, to clearly have some fun but also to raise money for their Teddy Bear Clinic. The clinic was recently started by the Class of 2016 in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club in Augusta to promote the health of underserved children. We proudly share with you that nearly $1,200 was raised by this too-fun event for the awesome cause of healthier children. Once again, it is so gratifying to know and to note that our students – who are our future – are talented and giving individuals on so many fronts. We are very proud to call them ours. A special awesome shout out to Students Alykhan Lalani, Steph Ryals, Farres Obeidin, Al Ray, Aleena Lakhanpal, Tarun Aurora, Merry Ma, Hampton Vernon, Michael Skelton, Afoma Umeano, Lindsey Haack, Anjali Patel, Krupal Hari, and Dresden Melton. Way to go!!

Terrible Tragedy … Hope for Recovery

Finally today, we simply must note the tremendous tragedy that has occurred in the Philippines. Such trauma and loss boggles the mind and the heart. We want to say that our hearts and minds are with the people of this island country and our voluminous gratitude is with world family that has rallied to help.



Nov. 19 – Interpreting Statistical Output: p-Values Don’t Tell the Whole Story, noon, Hardy Meeting Room, Second Floor, Jaguar Student Activities Center, Summerville Campus, facilitated by Dr. Deborah Richardson, Office of Faculty Development and Teaching Excellence. Registration required, email ctl@gru.edu.

Nov. 19 – Starting and Growing Life Sciences Companies :Drivers of Innovation, a conversation with leaders in Augusta’s life sciences innovation community presented by Georgia Bio. Breakfast at 7:30 and the program begins at 8 a.m. at the Walsh Meeting Room of the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center. Students, faculty and staff are welcome at no cost but please email Chris McKinney, Chrisopher.McKinney@gru.edu.

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

Nov. 22 – MCG Faculty Senate, noon, Lee Auditorium.

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

Jan. 23 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Jan. 28 – President Ricardo Azziz’s State of the Georgia Regents University & Health System Enterprise Address, Maxwell Performing Arts Theater, noon, Summerville Campus.

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

March 13 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

April 24-27 – The 2014 Alumni Weekend including the MCG Class Reunions & Alumni Banquet.

May 1 – Annual State of the Medical College of Georgia Address, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Ongoing – The GRU Cancer Center is offering a two-step tobacco cessation service for all Georgia Regents University & Health System students and employees who need help quitting tobacco use. Step 1: Initial Visit and Health Assessment. Make an appointment by calling 706-721-6744 or on-line at www.grhealth.org (click on “Request Appointment”). Step 2: Tobacco Cessation Classes, one-hour group sessions for six weeks, provide tools and support to help you quit tobacco. Cessation classes are held on the Summerville and Health Sciences campuses. For more information, visit http://gru.edu/cancer/tobaccofree/.

Check out our MCG Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/grumcg and Twitter page as well #Follow.

Enjoy your weekend.