A good head and a good heart

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Nelson Mandela

Important Journey … Defining Destination 

We hope you all had a terrific time with your family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday and appreciate so much your coming back to us! We did some traveling ourselves, which is always great, but frankly it’s also great to get back to our homes and to our day jobs, especially when our job is working at the state’s public medical school! Thanks to one of our remarkable colleagues here, we learned a little more over the holidays about the importance of travel and the journey home!  Dr. Graydon Gonsalvez has found that in order for our messenger mRNA to get where it’s going in a cell, it may need to catch a ride on one or more of our internal taxi cabs, called motor proteins. Kinda like us, our mRNA can be heading in one direction, run into a roadblock, and jump into another taxi cab headed in the other direction – at least for a moment – to ultimately arrive at its destination. The conventional thought was that the path for our mRNA was pretty much a one-way street. We like the idea of this flexibility because if mRNA doesn’t get to the right place some bad things can happen like Alzheimer’s or cancer or Fragile X syndrome, which can cause mild to severe intellectual deficits. When it reaches the right destination however, it basically means the right proteins are expressed in the right place and everything from brain cells to muscle cells to us work as they should. Our congrats to Dr. Gonsalvez who just got a $1.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to further his studies of these fascinating and essential travels. More to come we are certain and you can already read more here: http://news.gru.edu/archives/10337.

Taking Care of (Pre-Hospital) Business … Every Day

Speaking of traveling, an enthusiastic  group of travelers recently pegged Augusta as the right destination for them to learn more about pre-hospital care!  Twenty paramedics from the Korean EMS Program came calling on our Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalist Services and the Augusta Fire Department for an exciting opportunity to learn more about vehicle extrication and helicopter operations. Our Korean colleagues tell us we are much better prepared to manage some of the more serious on-the-scene situations like the head-on collision simulated for this training. We appreciate their assessment and absolutely must note that we are privileged to have the Augusta Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance Service, and, of course, our Sheriff’s Department, as partners in this important work.  Last week’s training exemplified how well everyone works together to ensure trauma victims get the best care. It was also a great opportunity to share that we’ll be starting a one-year paramedic training program this coming February headed up by Jeff Garver.  More great news! There’s already a national shortage of these well-trained first responders and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for EMTs and paramedics will grow more than 30 percent by 2020. You might remember that last month we shared another important piece of helping build a stronger front line: that our Dr. Todd Burgbacher is now on the road to lend a hand at the worst-case scenarios. And let’s not forget we are the region’s Level 1 Trauma Center!!! We say awesome and a huge thanks again to our fire and police professionals and to our EMTs and paramedics,  for working with us and for taking such great care of our community. Read more about our Korean colleagues here: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/education/2013-11-27/korean-paramedics-firefighters-train-gru.

Children Rock … So Does Radio

With children often top of mind, and particularly so this time of year, how about taking a listen to Augusta radio stations 104.3 WBBQ FM and 96.3 KISS FM for a bit today or Saturday and catch some of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Radiothon. You will be absolutely inspired by the stories our youngest patients and their families share and absolutely proud that we are privileged to provide their care. The radiothon runs through 7 p.m. today and cranks back up from 7 a.m.to noon tomorrow. You could also stop by the lobby of our children’s hospital in you are nearby and get a real taste of this annual incredible event. Last year’s event brought in $239,000 for our children’s hospital! What another remarkable indicator of the commitment of our community, certainly by the radio stations who devote their precious air time and talent, as well as so many incredible individuals who continue to show up for kids. If you’d like to lend a financial hand, pledges can be made by calling 706-922-KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 1-866-412-KIDS (5437) or by going online at www.caresforkidsradiothon.com

A Day of Recognition … Decades of Service

Speaking of the community, our incredible MCG Ryan White team, who for nearly two decades has been in our community offering testing and information about HIV infection, joined the university’s

Student Health Service to recognize World AIDS Day this week.  The gathering was held up at the Summerville Campus and gave yet another opportunity to share how dramatically the scenario has changed, from an unknown and largely untreatable condition that emerged in the 1980s, to a condition that most caregivers today consider a chronic health problem. No doubt our Ryan White team along with the health care team that provides care to patients has contributed enormously to this fortunate turnaround. Docs like Peter Rissing, who was around when we first started hearing about this new infection, was among those sharing his valuable insight with the crowd. But the real issue here continues to be preventing the spread of this virus and our Ryan White team continues to rock on the topic!

Helping Her PREVAIL … Meeting People Where they Are

And speaking of prevention, our Dr. Lara Stepleman, who helps take care of the mental health of our HIV-positive patients, is taking on another tremendous effort to reduce infection. She’s recently received a $1.6 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to tackle head on – and in the community – the tough reality that substance abuse and mental health problems can increase the risk of getting infected as well as spreading this diligent virus. Her focus for this initiative is African-American women in the surrounding 15 counties and will expand screening and treatment for these at-risk women and their partners. Key to the success of the initiative is treatment navigators who are advocates for patients and super knowledgeable about community and private centers that can provide the substance abuse and mental health services they need. The grant is dubbed SHE PREVAILS and we absolutely think she will!  Congratulations and thank you Dr. Stepleman for taking on this important initiative. 

Chili and Beams … Interprofessional Awesome

Speaking of inspiring, don’t know if you had the opportunity to attend the recent Chili with Beams reception celebrating the raising of the final steel beam on the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons!  If not, you might want to take a few extra minutes to drive down RA Dent Boulevard, or probably better yet, head up to one of the top floors of one of the research buildings on Laney-Walker, and check out this amazing structure that is rising out the Georgia red clay. As we have discussed, this incredible facility, which is scheduled to be open this coming fall, will be a true home for the academic programs of our medical school and a beautiful space for more interprofessional education and just good collaboration with our colleagues in dentistry, nursing and allied health sciences. Construction is scheduled to be completed by fall 2014. It is truly exciting to see the progress. We can assure you that there is plenty more to come on this topic!!

The Eyes Have It … Opthalmic Photographer Captures It

On that happy note, we are also so happy to share with you this week that Mike Stanley, Chief Ophthalmic Photographer in our Department of Ophthalmology, is – once again – a top award winner at the Ophthalmic Photographers’ Society meeting held annually in conjunction with the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting.  In fact, this is eight years in a row for our award-winning photographer who has a studio in the clinic with the eye docs.  Because of the expertise of our faculty, Mike has the opportunity to shoot a lot of unusual or extreme eye conditions. This year’s first-place photo was quite celestial looking but was actually of a lens that was out of position on the pupil. Mike captured the amazing image – the central one posted here http://on.fb.me/1g7pIg0 – by bouncing a light off the retina thereby illuminating the unusual situation. He also took second place for his dramatic photos of a macula – the point of central vision which is targeted in macular degeneration – where much of it has died and more is dying. If you look again at the link, the dark area, which looks like a pit on the surface of the moon, is the dead portion of the macula and the surrounding lighter area is where it’s dying. Right beside there, the spot you see with what looks like a spider web shooting out of it, is actually the optic nerve! What awesome images and talent. Mike has been with us for nearly 28 years and we congratulate and thank him for sharing these amazing perspectives.

What a Ranking … What a Gift … What an Alum

Okay, here is another terrific honor! The fabulous $66 million gift to our medical school by our late alumnus, Dr. J. Harold Harrison, is among the top 10 gifts from individuals to hospitals or health organizations this year according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Dr. Harrison’s incredible gift to support scholarship and faculty endowed chairs ranked number four on this list. Of course, it’s absolutely number one to us and is one of those things we will never stop smiling about and being so grateful for. Check out the list here: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/racs-/-icd-9-/-icd-10/10-largest-donations-from-individuals-to-hospitals-in-2013.html. Read more about the incredible man behind it here: http://www.gru.edu/mcg/georgiamedicine/index.php. We have to say again: Awesome!!

A Jury of Peers … Find him a Fellow

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lin Mei on being elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science by his peers across the country. We actually talked the middle of last month about his latest finding of a new cause of myasthenia gravis. Dr. Mei is just a great scientist who is helping answer important questions about how our brains work, including communicating with our bodies, and providing great insight about how to better treat the devastating consequences, such as myasthenia gravis and schizophrenia, that can occur when our fabulously complex system doesn’t work optimally.  We truly are fortunate to work with so many fabulous individuals and groups at this institution that are making a real difference. Not a whole lot more one could ask for!

Lasting Legacy … A Better World

And finally today, we must pay tribute to an individual who absolutely made a difference for us all.  Nelson Mandela lived his life with great purpose, passion and a bold commitment to a better world. He was a truly remarkable individual, leader and inspiration.



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 6 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 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.

June 12 – Investiture Ceremony, 5 p.m., location to be determined.

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.

Have a great –  but likely rainy – weekend!