There are two ways

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”

– Booker T. Washington

  Great New Leader… On Board So you know how we really like starting out with some awesome news and are always so glad we have so much to share. Well, we start this week by sharing that we now have a new Chairman of Pharmacology and Toxicology! Dr. Alvin Terry, who has been around these parts for quite a while – he did his postdoctoral training at our university – is a terrific ambassador, leader and educator at our school and university. He’s also a federally funded and accomplished investigator looking at how environmental toxins, including pesticides, affect our brains and looking for better drugs to treat tough problems like memory loss and psychiatric disorders. Here’s a terrific example of his adeptness at all the above. Many of you likely remember Dr. Jerry Buccafusco, another terrific researcher and dedicated faculty member, who died in 2010. Drs. Buccafusco and Terry were great collaborators and friends and when he died rather unexpectedly, without missing a heartbeat, Dr. Terry picked up the work that was so important to his friend. This is the kind of commitment and team that makes our medical school great. Leaders like Dr. Terry are another. Congratulations.

Great Long-Time Leader… Still on Board And speaking of commitment, Dr. Willie Caldwell is the definition of it.  He has led our Pharmacology and Toxicology Department for nearly 30 years!!  When he decided a while back, that it just might be time to refocus a bit on his equally relevant research of our vascular system, in his customary style, he also agreed to keep on keeping on until we could identify his successor to help ensure continued smooth sailing. What a guy. We don’t really have sufficient words to thank Dr. Caldwell for all he has done for our medical school and for remaining a good-hearted, level-headed individual throughout. Truly, he sets an example for us all.

Spicy Salsa… Good for the Heart So this is heartwarming as well!  Our MD/PhD students have teamed up with La Asociacion Latina De Servicios Del CSRA to host an awesome Valentine’s night of salsa dancing. But that’s only half the great news because the event at Surreal at Surrey over at Surrey Center will benefit the student-staffed La Clinica Latina, which provides good, basic health care to our underserved citizens. Last year they helped more than 320 individuals.  You talk about some win-wins here. Participants can have some fun, get some exercise, and help others in the process, all of which are mega-good for their own hearts. BTW, our own Dr. William Salazar is President and Medical Director of ALAS. See what we are talking about!  Our students, faculty and staff really are some of the best by every definition! Check it out here: http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/performanceSearch.jsp?performance_id=1797866. Doors open at 6 p.m. next Friday.

Capitol Idea… Terrific Learning Opportunity Since we are already talking about students, we wanted to make sure you know that our very second Medical Student Advocacy Day is this coming Tuesday. About 40 students along with some of our medical school leaders will be boarding a bus bound for the state Capitol at 6 a.m.!!  Talk about a terrific, slightly different, learning experience. They will get a firsthand look at the beautiful seat of our state government, watch the legislative process happen live on the floor, and meet with some of our legislators and Gov. Deal. They’ll also hear from Dr. William E. Silver, a 1963 graduate of our medical school, who is head of the Medical Association of Georgia. You can check out how the day is going here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405905996326461/?ref=22. Our special thanks to Jeanette Balotin and Leslie Bedenbaugh in the Dean’s office and Margie Miller, a terrific new addition to our university’s Legislative Affairs group, for making this happen.

At the Top… A Great place to Be And since we are on such a rocking roll, how’s this??  A news release detailing one of our awesome physician-scientist’s studies of delayed puberty ranked number three among the 10 most visited news releases posted on EurekAlert in 2013. Can we get an awesome?? EurekAlert is the news service for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and it’s one of the places we post the major research releases written about our fine faculty, in this case, the work of Dr. Larry Layman. Way to go with your innovative studies, Dr. Layman! You may remember we told you something about this work when it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine back in July. Not surprisingly, a lot of the other top posts from around the world were obesity-related, including the top-visited release about a cool study out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute where they found a gene regulator that coaxes stem cells into becoming brown fat, which is actually a good fat that helps fight obesity.  You can check more out about this here: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-02/aaft-otu020514.php.

Sodium Splash… Makes Big Ripples Speaking of EurekAlert, obesity, and incredible research, our Dr. Haidong Zhu’s seriously relevant work published in Pediatrics about sodium consumption by adolescents shows, interestingly, how even when you put calories aside, taking in lots of sodium is correlated with fatness and inflammation. Talk about food for thought. Dr. Zhu, along with her terrific colleagues including sodium-retention guru Dr. Gregory Harshfield, showed that most adolescents eat as much salt as adults and we already know we eat too much of it. As Dr. Zhu so aptly put it, most studies show the more food you eat, the more salt you eat, and the fatter you are. This study adjusted for food and drink and the correlation was still there. Here’s to putting that salt shaker down and eating an apple. And, here’s thinking/hoping this will make the top list of science releases next year!  It’s already creating quite a lot of media activity across the globe. You can read all about it here: http://news.gru.edu/archives/11331.  

Top Teacher… For the Body and Brain We have to give at least one more shout out this week, this time to Athletic Trainer Christina Haupt. You see Ms. Haupt has a really interesting job with our Sports Medicine Center and its unique partnership with four nearby South Carolina high schools. Her full time job is actually working at Silver Bluff High School, where she helps teach the health sciences/sports medicine curriculum and works with the school’s numerous athletic teams as well. And she must be very good at it because, in her very first year at it, she has garnered the First Year Teacher of the Year Award. Can I get just one more: Awesome??  This is yet another one of those win-wins cause students and student athletes get a great education and athletic training/coverage and, if/when they need it, we are right here to provide terrific sports medicine care.  BTW, Ms. Haupt and her fellow athletic trainers will be staffing the GRU Augusta Half Marathon and 10K later this month. Check it out in our events listing and go congratulate her in person!

Trending… Down Not Out OK, one more bit of interesting news as we exit this week. In a recent blog, Dr. Sally Rockey, the NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, highlighted some notable, but not-really-surprising trends in the recently updated NIH Data Book. NIH Application success rates dropped to a historic low in 2013, in fact most numbers went down, along with the NIH budget, which decreased by more than 5 percent – by $1.55 billion – from the previous year. Interestingly there also was a decline in submissions and the average size of an award was down.  Check out the federal scene more here: http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2014/01/10/fy2013-by-the-numbers/.  Here are a few stats about our medical school over the first six months of our fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Our NIH research grant submissions were only down slightly, from the first half of FY 2013 compared with the same period in FY 2014, with 132 versus 129, respectively. The average request in those two periods was close, just above $300,000.  We got 98 NIH Awards averaging a little more than $310,000 each in that first six months of FY 2013 while our total awards actually went up in FY 2014, to 105. Unfortunately the average award amount was down fairly substantially, to just over $216,000. It’s of additional note that for those same periods, our total submissions for all grants and contracts – so other sources like the American Heart Association and non-research activities like service – went up, from 344 to 389 and so did our awards, from 310 to 327, although the award amount did drop once again. Interesting stuff that is a little hard to interpret but, one thing is for certain, we have some of the hardest-working faculty and staff anywhere.

Upcoming Events Feb. 8 – GRU’s annual Military Appreciation Day will take place as the GRU Jaguars take on the Young Harris Mountain Lions in women’s and men’s basketball. Hundreds of soldiers will be in attendance from Fort Gordon as well as the 2014 recruits. Fans are encouraged to get to the arena at 1:00 p.m., prior to the women’s tipoff, to welcome and honor the soldiers as they enter Christenberry Fieldhouse in a “Ring of Honor”. The women’s halftime will feature a performance from local drill teams and the men’s halftime will include an induction ceremony for the new recruits along with the reading of the soldier’s creed. Both games are free to veterans and active duty personnel and family members, who present their military ID, veteran card, or DD-214 form. Feb. 13 – MCG Faculty Senate meeting, noon, Lee Auditorium. Feb. 14 – A night of fun and Latin Dancing in support of the MCG student-staffed Clinica Latina, a local clinic providing free primary health care services to uninsured patients in the community. The event begins at 7 p.m. at Surreal at Surrey in Surrey Center.  Student tickets are $10, regular tickets, $15 per person, $25 per couple. A free salsa lesson is provided. Feb. 22 – Igniting the Dream, a one-day conference for high school or college undergraduates interested in a career in medicine, see bit.ly/IGNITE2014. 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. Feb. 28 – 2014 GRU Augusta Half Marathon and 10K, cosponsored by the Augusta Sports Council. Starts at 8 a.m. Find out more here: http://augustahalf.org/. 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 8 – The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk gets underway at 8 a.m. at the North Augusta Greenway. Get some friends and family together for some a fun, healthy activity and raise money to take on the country’s number one killer. This one really hits close to home since MCG  ranks 7th nationally in AHA funding and 1st in Georgia.  Learn more here: http://heartwalk.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1072197. 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. March 21 – Match Day, noon, Lee Auditorium. April 3-4 – Composite Sate Board for Medical Educational quarterly board meeting will be held on the Southeast Campus, Savannah. 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. Actor and Writer Ben Stein and Fast Company magazine founding Editor William “Bill” Taylor are the keynote speakers. For more info visit, http://grualumni.com/alumniweekend. 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!

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