Our 185th Birthday

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Saint Francis of Assisi

This is it … Our 185th Birthday 

Let’s start today with a resounding “Awesome” to officially celebrate the day – Dec. 20, 1828 – that a handful of determined souls got the go-ahead from the Georgia Legislature to establish the Medical Academy of Georgia. We’ve talked about this historic event often (including just last week!) but we simply had to note right off again this historic day for our medical school, our state and our nation.  In fact, it is hard to imagine ever growing tired of talking about such a truly transformational moment in time. Can you imagine being one of the incredible individuals, led by Drs. Milton Antony and Joseph Adams Eve, who took those formative steps that led to Georgia’s first medical school 185 years ago? Those of us privileged to work and study here today, hold that incredible legacy in our hands and, ideally, in our hearts.  We believe that’s a great place that would make our forefathers proud. Thank each of you again for all that you do to ensure that our future is as dynamic and significant as our proud past.


Founding Father … Incredible Individual

Did you know that before he ever helped start MCG, Dr. Antony performed the first lung surgery in the United States??!! It was 1821, when he removed “one or two pounds of pulmonary tissue” along with two portions of ribs, according to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.  What an innovator and remarkable founding father. Let’s say awesome one more time!

Checking Up … Finding Good

And here is a great example of 185-years-old and grand. The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education  recently came calling to look at the clinical learning environment where our residents help provide care to our patients.  The purpose of this Clinical Learning Environment Review visit was to better understand how supportive our institution is in ensuring that we provide high-quality patient care and resident education in an environment that is safe for our residents as well as our patients and their families.  There was also an emphasis on ensuring that there is effective and timely resident supervision by our faculty in the health care setting.  A great emphasis was also placed on the quality of communication as one set of residents hands over the care of patients to another. Ours was the 90th clinical system surveyed out of about 390 sponsoring institutions/teaching hospitals in the nation. The visit was a foundational part of the next accreditation system by the ACGME, which will have an expanded emphasis on patient safety and quality of patient health care.  This is great news for everyone. Our residents did a great job explaining how they learn and how we teach them to function as members of a team caring for our patients. While we are still waiting for the written report, the preliminary verbal report indicates all went very well. We simply must join Dr. Walter Moore in thanking our residents and fellows, faculty and program directors, hospital staff and senior leadership of our hospital and our medical school for the incredible cooperation and support provided to our graduate medical education program.   A special shout out back to Dr. Moore as well as to David Hefner and Dr. Kevin Dellsperger and especially to Amy Legg, coordinator of the MCG Residency Training Programs,  for their particularly important role in this visit as well as their ongoing commitment to the training of our next generation of physicians.

The Heart of the Matter … Sounds Strong

Okay, this is another great example of us doing it up right. So we have 12 cardiology fellows and they all recently took the American College of Cardiology in-service training exams. These are voluntary tests fellows can take to prepare for the cardiovascular disease certifying examination by the American Board of Internal Medicine, which they must take, usually a few months after they complete training.  It’s also a great way for us to see how well we are doing at training. As Dr. Vincent Robinson so aptly put it: once again our fellows demonstrated exceptional prowess on the national stage. There were results like one of our first-year fellows scored in the 98th percentile nationally and one graduating fellow scored over the 90th percentile. In fact, the overall score of our fellows was above the national average!! Fabulous. So here is the incredible lineup: Drs. Syed Shumile Zaidi, Mohammad Reza Amini, Ashkan Attaran, Michael Luc, Michele Murphy, Lauren Holliday, Jacob Misenheimer,  Simi Kumar, Amudhan Jyothidasan, Loren Morgan, Rebecca Napier, and Pratik Choksy. This is just terrific and congratulations to you all. We are seriously liking the fact that such gifted individuals will be taking on the nation’s number one killer: heart disease. Kudos as well to Dr. Robinson, who directs the training program, and a big congratulations goes out to Drs. Sheldon Litwin and Michael Madaio, as well.  This is another job well done by so, so many.

Eye on the Target … Radiating Success

By the way of more good residency news, the ACGME will be back to see us in February for a site visit of our new radiation oncology residency program.  When we announced the new Department of Radiation Oncology back in May, this was one of many important items on the agenda and mind of Dr. Spring Kong, the inaugural Chair. We appear to be making great progress and are excited to be adding this important specialty to our training programs.

No Room in the Inn … Plenty of Interest in the State

And speaking of doing well, we talk a lot about our regional campuses, and we wanted to share one small update this week. Things are looking good across the network for this summer when rising juniors embark on their clinical experiences. We’ve got full houses at the Southeast and Northwest Campuses and double the number of students at the Southwest Campus.  No doubt, taking our first- and second-year students out to visit these incredible clinical campuses is invaluable in helping them determine where best to spend their third and fourth years of medical school. And, no doubt, we are absolutely grateful for the remarkable support we have from physicians and hospitals across state that makes the model of medical education work for our students and our state. More great news: the four-year campus in Athens also has a full complement and, in case we have not mentioned it lately, the first class to start on the Athens campus graduates this year! Kudos to our campus deans, to Kathryn Martin and to Paul Wallach for helping make this incredible network work.

Online Education … More MOOC

So a different kind of educational model also is gaining significant momentum and that’s online education, the official term is Massive Open Online Course or MOOC.  Our University System of Georgia has been doing its due diligence on this, looking at critical elements like the shifting role of educators and students, appropriate tuition, and improving completion rates over previous models of online learning. Most recently Dr. Nelson C. Baker from Georgia Tech and Dr. Robert H. Hoar from the University of Wisconsin came to GRU to share their experiences to date.  They provided a lot of insight, of course, and generated a lot of healthy discussion as well about how to optimally prepare and use this approach  at our university , including implications for medical student education. No doubt there are some and we appreciate the USG’s proactive stance as well as the opportunity for college leaders on our campus to hash it out. Great discussion and plenty more to come.

Pitching a Tent … Poking a Hole

Okay, so have you ever looked inside a toilet bowl that doesn’t get flushed regularly?  Don’t flush yet, please keep reading. You just might see a faint pink ring and that, as they say, is a biofilm. So, no doubt, it’s not the most pleasant topic but it is an incredibly important one for your health. You see, bacteria and fungi shoot out sugars to pitch these biological tents that protect them from hazards like too much oxygen, or antibiotics or even antibodies that we make. And, we have some great people working hard to learn more about biofilms with the ultimate goal, of course, of penetrating them so we can better target disease-causing invaders like bacteria. Dr. Stu Thompson, in fact, just got a $1.5 million grant to learn more about the biofilm pitched by Campylobacter jejuni, a way-too-common cause of diarrhea and vomiting in this country.  Chicken and other birds are a major source for this particular bacterium and Dr. Thompson wants to know what sugar Campylobacter uses to make its tent and basically how it makes the tent. The clear bottom line is figuring out how to poke a hole in Campylobacter’s protection. We say: poke away and congratulations! Read more here:  http://news.gru.edu/archives/11126.

Best Thoughts for the Holiday … and for One We Have Lost

Finally today, we wish you and your family a terrifically safe and happy holiday next week. And we ask something of you as well. Please keep in your thoughts over the coming days the many, many friends and loving family members of Adrienne Harris Dill. Adrienne, administrative assistant in the Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs, died last Friday at age 26 of melanoma.  For those who were not fortunate enough to know her, we share that she lived – although far too briefly – the kind of life that most aspire to. She had a deep devotion to her family and friends, a beautiful smile and heart, a remarkably brave spirit, and a true love for her medical school, her students and her faculty. We already miss her.


Jan. 1 – Happy New Year!


Jan. 16 – Alumni Association meeting in Columbus, 6 p.m., at the home of Dr. and Mrs. George McCluskey, Class of 1984.

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.

March 13 – GRU University Senate Spring Assembly and Faculty Awards, 5-7:30 p.m., Alumni Center, Health Sciences Campus, Ballrooms A, B and C.

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.

May 8 – Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, with Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, as guest speaker.

May 9 – GRU Graduation, James Brown Arena.

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 terrific weekend and a great time next week.