Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”   -Confucius


Seasons Come… And They Go

As we put a bow on the first week of Spring, the weather is (mostly) warming, the flowers are blooming, and the pollen is starting to give everything that lovely yellow tint… Anyway, it’s just an exciting time of year in our beautiful city. And, how cool is it that the eyes of the world start focusing this way just about the time we look our best! Fabulous. So as we shake off the wool of winter and pull out the short-sleeves, we just had to note another exceptional season that is passing down in Southwest Georgia. Dr. Doug Patten, chief medical officer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, has been with us since we started our Southwest Campus back in 2005. Peggy Cohen, the campus clinical rotation coordinator, said it exceptionally well. “Dr. Patten has always been our voice.” Indeed! He helped start our very first regional campus and never for even a heartbeat lost his enthusiasm for it. In fact, not unlike a proud parent, he was showing some of our chairs and other visitors around during a visit just a few weeks back. We all love medical education; that’s clearly why we are a part of Georgia’s public medical school. And, it’s super and cool that Dr. Patten and so many individuals we are privileged to work with across our state have embraced it as well and made educating the next generation part and parcel of their lives. As we’ve said a million times, we simply could not do this without such statewide commitment. As Dr. Patten moves on to a new position at the Georgia Hospital Association, we feel comfortable speaking for our state in thanking him for his commitment and passion. The great news is that he will never be a stranger because he is a true friend. Thank you Dr. Patten and our very, very best to you.

And More Than Flowers… Are Blooming This Spring

Since we are already talking about educating the next generation, we also just had to share the happy news that our new radiation oncology residency program has gotten initial accreditation to start this July 1 with four residents. Awesome!!  We told you late last month that the visit from the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education had gone well. Boy is it great to get it right! And, BTW, guess what was among the most competitive specialties in last week’s Match Day??  Right again! Radiation oncology along with neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, and plastic surgery, according to the National Resident Matching Program. A seriously special “way to go” out to Drs. Spring Kong, Walt Moore, Chris Sheils, JianYue Jin, and John Stewart, as well as Tammy Clements. Dr. Kong reminds us that it takes a team to do great stuff. We say: Absolutely! One more BTW.  If you weren’t able to be with us for Match Day, check out this awesome video from Jared Bell and Timothy Johnson, in the Office of Communications and Marketing, and it will seem like you were:  http://bit.ly/MCGMatch2014Video.

 The Legislative Wrap Up… Makes One Nice Package  

Speaking of wrapping things up, can you believe the 2014 Legislative Session is over already? Just to hit a few highlights, the medical marijuana bill did not pass but a resolution to study its efficacy was added to Senate Resolution 981 which, among other things, creates joint study committees related to health issues. We’ll be following this issue obviously and lending assistance as needed. The approved budget includes about a 3 percent increase in the University System of Georgia budget, bringing it to $1.939 billion, and maintains the current level of student enrollment. It also contains $11.4 million for merit pay and employee recruitment and retention salary adjustments; $5 million for equipment for the Cancer Research Building; and $2 million to support the system’s fabulous graduate medical education initiative, which is working to add 400 new residency positions in our state as it brings more hospitals into the important task of educating the next generation. We say: Terrific. We also say a big “thank you” to our legislators and governor, and to our government relations team, led by Michael Shaffer. Margie Miller, who was new this year to the team as Director of State Relations, has already been tremendously helpful and responsive. Monty Philpot and Detra Brown, associate director of AHEC, also spent a lot of time ensuring we have a great presence at the capitol. Also for the first time this year, GRU undergraduate Andrew Sprankle, who we are sure had an outstanding learning experience as a government relations intern, rounded out the team.

 A Well-Deserved Deduction… For a Mega-Important Job

So we were holding out an important highlight.  You know how we started out today (and many days!) talking about the awesome support we find across our state in helping educate the next generation?? Well, we have 1,711 community clinical/adjunct faculty and a lot of these fine folks are hands-on super volunteer educators. So, Rep. Ben Harbin sponsored a bill, the language of which actually was added to a different bill, but the bottom line is that fine community-based physicians in our state who welcome medical students, along with physician assistant and nurse practitioner students, into their practice get a $1,000 tax deduction. While there is no way that begins to cover the invaluable role these volunteer educators play, we are delighted that this has been done and we so appreciate the undaunted stewardship of Rep. Harbin, as well as Rep. Barbara Sims and Denise Kornegay, executive director of AHEC, of this matter. Way to go everyone!

Our Best Ambassadors… Calling Our Alums 

Speaking of cool ways to support our school and medical education, the MCG Spring Phonathon we told you about earlier really blossomed this week. Our students have been calling our alums, encouraging them to come home for Alumni Weekend next month and it’s just been another inspiring episode in the life of Georgia’s public medical school. First-year student Matt Kaufman actually worked the phones twice this week and shares that he has really enjoyed the conversation and time spent soaking up some of our rich history. Remember we are 185 years old until December! In fact, it was that rich and strong history of educating great physicians that brought Matt to us from beautiful West Palm Beach. Thanks to Matt and all our students who volunteered their time to connect with our alums. They include Nirja Acharya, Charlotte Ball, Shanti Bhatia, Eryn Calder, Elizabeth Cappello, Sirivalli Chamarti, Agni Chandora, Abagail Cline, David Deng, Aditi Dey, Alex Dodd, Jada Fambrough, Amina Farooq, Kerrie Grunnet, Shirley Hao, Samiya Hussain, Brice Hwang, Stephen Jackson, Noah Koon, John Licata, Robert Liebman, Merry Ma, Kathleen Menezes, Kansara Neal, Edwin Perry, Taylor Phelps, Colleen Pollitzer, Orishebawo Poppla, Lauren Prusinski, Stephanie Ryals, Chinar Sanghvi, John Shapiro, David Smolar, Margaret Story, Lauren Titus, Victoria Vaughn, Kelli Wheeler, Jennifer White, Hunter Wilson, and Cherry Yu. Special thanks as well to Jenn Russ and her Advancement team for making this happen and to our incredible alum, Dr. Sandra Freedman, for her support. Simply terrific on all fronts.

Distinguished Honors… For Remarkable Individuals

On the subject of alums and the USG, we got some more great news from both last week.  Dr. Esteban Celis was named GRA/Cecil F. Whitaker Jr. MD Eminent Scholar Chair in Cancer. Hopefully many of you have met Dr. Celis who came to us from the Moffitt Cancer Center. He’s a physician scientist, well versed in academia and industry, pursuing tumor immunobiology and immune-based therapies for cancer. He’s been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1999. Talk about sweet longevity. Well this chair also honors, of course, Dr. Whitaker, a 1962 graduate and incredible advocate of our school. Talk about a winning team! Also, Dr. Sylvia Smith, our chair of Cellular Biology and Anatomy and a super retinal researcher who has been funded by the NIH since 1992, was named a prestigious Regents’ Professor by the USG Board of Regents. Awesome again. Closer to home, we also got news that Dr. Kris Dhandapani, another famous faculty member in our Department of Neurosurgery, who is working hard to reduce lasting damage from traumatic brain injuries and happens to be an alum of our graduate school, was among our university’s inaugural Jag 20 awardees, recognizing emerging alumni leaders under age 40. Super cool again. It’s so great to see our distinguished colleagues get these well-deserved honors.

The Tea Leaves Say… Welcome Confucius Institute

As we slide into the weekend, we thought Confucius just might think this was cool.  Just in case you have missed all the signs, tents, Tai-Chi demonstrations, tea tasting, and the red and green dragon boat parked behind the Kelly Administration Building this week … we wanted to share that the Confucius Institute officially opens today. This new institute, created in partnership with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, will focus on the study of Chinese medicine, language and culture and generally strengthen our bond and our studies with our China colleagues. Our university joins more than 400 universities worldwide to host institutes for the study of Chinese language and culture, and is the first in the western hemisphere with a focus on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The Institute’s offices are officially open on the first floor of the Kelly Administration Building, which makes them our neighbors, and a museum is there as well. A lot is going on here as you will see, that will eventually include certificate programs in Chinese medicine and opportunities for faculty and student exchanges.  An initial course in Chinese language and culture starts in the fall. A special congratulations to Drs. Roman Cibirka and Joe Tsien, who has been named director of the institute, for getting this going.  Hopefully there are many great things to come.

Upcoming Events

March 28 – GRU Chapter 324 Phi Kappa Phi New Member Induction Ceremony, 7 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

March 28 – Free seminar, “Prostate Cancer: From Diagnosis to Treatment,” 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 28 at the Kroc Center, 1833 Broad St., featuring Dr. Rabii Madi, Director of the Center for Advanced Robotic Surgery, Georgia Regents Medical Center. To register, call 706-721-7942, or visit gru.edu/robotics.

March 28, 29 – GRU hosts the 91st Annual Meeting of the Georgia Academy of Science. Details at: gru.edu/trends/gas.

March 29 – The 14th annual Southeast Medical Wilderness Adventure Race (MedWAR) at Fort Gordon. For more information visit http://www.medwar.org/southeast/ and https://www.facebook.com/medwar.southeast.

April 3-4 – Composite State Board of Medical Examiners 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 17 – Office of Innovation Commercialization Lunch and Learn Series with John Greenwald and Larry Villanueva, partners in the Atlanta intellectual property law firm, Gardner Groff Greenwald & Villanueva, PC. To register, or for more information, visit gru.edu/oic/lunch-learn.php or contact Sandra Jackson at sanjackson@gru.edu or 706-721-0153.

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

April 24 –History of Health Sciences Lecture Series talk by Bill Andrews, Interim Chair and Program Director of the GRU Department of Medical Illustration on “The Gravid Uterus,” noon-1 p.m. in the Greenblatt Library’s Historical Collections and Archives Room. A copy of the rare book donated by MCG Alum Dr. Leslie Wilkes is on display.

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.

April 29 – President’s Lecture Series, Dr. Eugene P. Trani, President Emeritus, Virginia Commonwealth University, discusses “Making a Merger Work,” at noon, Lee Auditorium. Reception follows.

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., 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.

Have a fabulous weekend!