Hard work

“There is no substitute for hard work.”
Thomas A. Edison


2014 and MCG … A Rousing Start

Happy, happy new year to you all. We so hope that you had a terrific holiday that included time and fun with your family and friends. It’s been relatively quiet around campus the last two weeks – please note that  we said ‘relatively’ – and it’s always super neat to see the place stretch, smile and hit the accelerator full force once again. We think it’s going to be a great year on many fronts. Economists are saying key economic indicators like housing, business investments, and consumer spending are truly starting to rally, check out http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304773104579266701008158062 and  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-consumer-confidence-rises-better-job-outlook,  which is really good to hear as we break open this brand-new year. And, we want to thank each of you again for continuing to help us rock and roll forward.

Looking for Answers … To Better Lives

And here’s a timely example. Dr. Josѐ Vazquez, who joined us this summer as the Chief of Infectious Diseases, and his new colleague in the dental school, Dr. Scott DeRossi, recently got funding from the National Institutes of Health to look at why HIV-positive patients, who mostly do so well on antiretroviral therapy, can still have significant problems with their oral health. Even in the face of awesome oral hygiene, these patients’ problems can include tooth decay and gum disease as well as yeast and HPV infections, which, at their worst, can be deadly. Our Drs. Vazquez and DeRossi are thinking that the HIV and possibly its treatment as well, are altering the bacterial makeup in the mouth, which is so important to not only good oral health but overall health as well. So they have joined colleagues at Louisiana State University and Ohio State University to look at key indicators like what the bacterial makeup looks like before and after initiating antiretroviral therapy in more than 400 patients. This is important follow up work that should ultimately help these patients live even better. We send congratulations as well as our best wishes for great success in the pursuit.

Success Breeds Success … And Fascinating Findings

Okay, here’s another great example of the diligence and success of our faculty. Not sure how many of  you remember back to 1998 when Drs. Andrew Mellor and David Munn found that an enzyme called indoleomine 2, 3-dioxegenase, or IDO, was used by the fetus to avoid being rejected by the mother’s immune system. This made a huge, enduring splash and set the international stage for identifying novel ways for attacking things like cancer – we later found that tumors use this local immune suppressor as well – and autoimmune diseases. In the world of  just how complicated are our bodies, Dr. Tracy McGaha, working with these other two awesome scientists, has now learned that in specific situations, like a big bacterial infection, IDO can also help activate immunity. How’s that for interesting. That, of course, opens new doors for treating overwhelming infections like septicemia and is yet another terrific example of the power of innovative thinking and pure diligence. Did we mention that it was also funded by the NIH along with the Wellcome Trust.

Identifying Culprits … Improving Vision

So here’s one more. Dr. Ruth Caldwell has been taking on diabetic retinopathy for nearly 30 years, with the goal of intervening in the horrific vision destruction that can accompany both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  You see the retina really doesn’t like high glucose levels and the net effect can clog and/or otherwise destroy blood vessels in the eye. One of the terrible ironies is that the body attempts to grow more blood vessels but they end up further obstructing, rather than improving, vision. Dr. Caldwell aptly describes it as a wound healing response gone wrong.  Well she, along with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Modesto Rojas and research associate Zhimin Xu, have recently found a key piece of how all the trouble starts.  It was already clear that reactive oxygen species, which are naturally generated by the body’s use of oxygen, were a factor in this bad condition and they had learned that  ROS generated by retinal cells and bone marrow cells particularly played a  major role. Now they have found that the ROS production by both is required to set the stage for the vision destruction that follows. That, of course, means if they can block one or the other, they can probably also block this damage. In fact, they are already working on just that. Their study is in PLOS ONE and was funded in part by the Department of Veterans Affairs and NIH! Awesome again. We just cannot say enough about the power of relentless hard work and how fortunate we are that our faculty and staff are the best poster people for it!

Speaking up … About Moving Forward

Speaking of contributing to a great present and future, we are wrapping up the extensive process that has built the MCG Strategic Plan, which will set our tone and agenda for moving forward. If you have not already, we ask again that you please take a few moments to look at the collective efforts of many from our medical school and community and provide your feedback to us by next Friday, Jan. 10. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/feedbackMCG then get your comments to Ms. Leslie Bedenbaugh at lbedenbaugh@gru.edu. As always, your input is invaluable as we all work toward the same great goal of ensuring that our medical school is the best possible. We want to share send our thanks again to so many individuals who worked so hard in 2013 on this important task.

Diversity and Inclusion …The Way to Rock and Roll

We close today on yet another high note and indicator of our strong present and future. Our university will receive the 2014 Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.  Officials with those two professional associations lauded the GRU Office of Diversity and Inclusion for its initiatives, community service and professional development opportunities, which foster diversity and inclusion within the intercollegiate athletic community. We say ‘hear, hear’ and ‘way to go’ to Dr. Kent Guion and his terrific staff. Talk about serious teamwork.


Jan. 13 EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, Background Knowledge, Deliberate Practice, and Expertise, Dr. Rodway Mackert, Department of Oral Rehabilitation , 7:15-8:15 a.m., BC 130.

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

Jan. 17 – The Martin Luther King Day Celebration will be hosted this year by Paine College at noon in the Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel.  

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.

Feb. 27 –EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, Using Mobile, Video Analysis Technology to Record and Evaluate Student Interviews: A Pilot Study, Dr. Marlene Rosenkoetter, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing,  and Dr. Deborah Smith, Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., EC 1210.

March 6 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

March 7 – EII Health Science Education Grand Rounds, Passing on the Fundamentals of Patient Care to a Tech-Saturated Generation of Learners, Dr. John Richard Pittman Jr., Visiting Professor, Emory University, 8-9 a.m., BT 1810.

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 17 – EII Health Sciences Education Grand Rounds, Teaching Laparoscopic Skills through Validated Measures, Dr. Kelli Braun, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, noon-1 p.m., HB 4010.

April 18 – MCG Alumni Association Raft Debate, 5-7 p.m., location to be determined.

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.  Reception follows at the Old Medical College Building.

May 9 – GRU Graduation, James Brown Arena.

June 12 – Investiture Ceremony, 5-6:30 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.

Enjoy your weekend!