We have it in our power to change the world over.

“We have it in our power to change the world over.”   – Thomas Paine


The State of the College… Is a Tribute to You

So you just may have heard us mentioning a time or 20 in recent weeks just how we really hope you will be there for the State of the Medical College of Georgia Address this coming Thursday, May 1  (noon, Lee Auditorium). Well we hope you know that the reason we want you there is that you are the Medical College of Georgia. In fact, when an incredibly talented group of you helped develop our strategic plan – which we also happen to be talking about next week! – our forward plan got dubbed: MCG’s 185-year Legacy and Future: People Make it Happen. Certainly a truer sentiment has never been crafted. MCG equals some of the best and busiest physicians, scientists, educators, students, residents, and staff assembled on the planet. That fact was so clear to us yet again as we made our way through your mounds of accomplishments just this year in preparation for the talk. Seriously, even looking at just the entries in this weekly dialogue, the amount of work, talent, and achievement was both exhilarating and frankly exhausting. You are the Medical College of Georgia so we hope you will be there next week when we remind you, yet again, just how awesome you are!

The State of Our Graduates… Is as Well

OK you know a few examples of excellence just had to follow so how about the 200-plus of them that will be standing in the graduation line week after next. We may also have mentioned … that it’s our largest graduating class ever. Truly awesome for the future of our state and nation and right on the mission of our school. (More on the Hooding tradition for this fabulous class next week!). The record class results from the graduation of our very first cohort of students from the Athens campus. Wow, we can still remember the early discussions about a second, four-year campus for our medical school. We appreciate the support of UGA, the Athens community and the leadership of Dr. Barbara Schuster, Shelly Nuss and so many others who have helped create such a good learning environment for our students. As mentioned recently, soon residents will be added to the mix. We wanted to share also that this is our 178th graduation. For those already doing the math (aren’t we 185 years old and didn’t the first few classes just go to school for a few years and …), our very first class was actually four students and they graduated April 7, 1833, we were closed a few years during the Civil War and, amazingly, there was one year during World War II when we actually had two graduating classes, but trust us – and our medical historian – the math works! And we are proud of it!

Because With The Right Stuff… You Can Win a Marathon

Zoom in on the Class of 2014 and you will find a lot of super stars, in both the classroom and in life. Take Hammad Aslam. Many of you likely remember Vice Dean Emeritus Rhee Fincher’s annual charge to our freshmen that medical school really is a marathon, not a sprint. Well Hammad is among those completing his medical school marathon this year. And, while medical school is a long, hard – albeit inspiring – road for us all. Hammad experienced a physical loss that would have sidelined many of us. In fact, he was headed home to Snellville, Ga., May 23, 2009, after looking for a place to live while at our medical school, when his family’s SUV hydroplaned. Hammad experienced a variety of injuries, including a break in his spinal cord. But the young man who wanted to be a doctor all his life, would not let that stop him. So May 9 Hammad will be where he belongs: in the graduation line for the Medical College of Georgia. He’s been at the Athens campus and will be coming to our hospital in Augusta to spend a year training in medicine, then he’s off to UAB to become a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Hammad blogged a while back, see http://bit.ly/1lP9w2f, that he wanted folks to see him for what he is and for what he does, not for what they may see as imperfections. There’s no doubt that we see a doctor. Congratulations Hammad.

And Find Better Ways… To Treat Disease

Zoom out to our faculty and you will find plenty of superstars as well. People such as Dr. Pamela Martin who is looking for better treatments for diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of adult blindness. You may remember we told you a while back a little bit about a receptor, Gpr109a, that cardiologists target with mega doses of niacin to lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good ones, and our Drs. Vadivel Ganapathy and Nagendra Singh exploring it’s potential to prevent colon inflammation and cancer. Well, how awesome is it that Dr. Martin has also found Gpr109a on the surface of cells at the back of the eye and, with the help of about a $2 million grant from the National Eye Institute, she is pursuing its role in inflammation that can lead to vision loss. In fact, she already has evidence that moderately activating the receptor inhibits the destructive inflammation in diabetic retinopathy. And yes, niacin, appears to work here too along with beta hydroxybutyrate, an alternate energy source for the body. Check out more here,http://bit.ly/1lcjoER. See what we are talking about! People are the Medical College of Georgia and we so hope you will come hear more about them at the State of Your College address May 1!

And Even… Turn Back the Clock

Okay, we gotta give you just a few more excellent examples this week.  Not sure if you remember that more than a decade ago now, we recruited facial plastic surgeon Dr. Achih Chen to our college from the famed Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills. In his tenure with us, Dr. Chen has done a remarkable job helping many individuals turn back the clock. But, as is our very nature at the state’s public medical school, he is also looking for better ways to do it. His experience is showing that a serious triple threat that addresses the real issues of our aging faces and necks – take a deep breath here – including a sagging neck and chin line, loss of youthful volume in the middle of our face, and, of course, wrinkled and often discolored skin, can be safely addressed in one operation. He tells us frankly that, if that multi-pronged approach is not taken for many patients, it really does not produce their desired result. He presented his patient findings at the 2014 Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and he’ll be talking about them as well May 8 on the television show, The Doctors. BTW, that airs locally on the NBC affiliate at 4 p.m. Way to go Dr. Chen. We will be watching!!

Rocking Residents… Working to Make a Better Future

Here’s a stellar showing that already aired. Our medicine residents who focus on research, Drs. Monique Bethel, Burles “Rusty” Johnson, Jigar Bhagatwala and Samip Parikh were all awesome participants in the James R. Lyle Resident Research Award competition by the Richmond County Medical Society held earlier this week. Dr. Bhagatwala emerged as the winner among this group of presenters. He is working with researchers Yanbin Dong and Haidong Zhu on the potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation – which we all think about in terms of healthy bones – in reducing cardiovascular disease risk and improving cellular aging and gene expression in obese African-Americans with vitamin D deficiency. Just like our researchers and residents, the findings are looking good and could just yield a relatively inexpensive and safe way to reduce cardiovascular risk. Such success requires terrific mentoring on the part of folks like Drs. Dong and Zhu, Walt Moore and Stan Nahman, of our remarkable residents. Our special thanks to Dr. P.K. Natrajan and the Richmond County Medical Society for their encouragement and support. Great job all.

While One of Our Researchers… Really Shakes Things Up

One more note on Dr. Zhu. We told you just a few weeks ago about her published study on the association of high sodium consumption and obesity in adolescents creating a lot of excitement. Well, she is making some serious sparks again with related work looking at how consuming a lot of sodium – her research shows a lot of kids consume as much as adults who consume too much – can speed up cellular aging. Ok, this is the kind of stuff that even Dr. Chen can’t fix! She presented her work at the recent American Heart Association meeting and it got lots of awesome pickup across the planet such as FOXNews.com, Yahoo!Health, and CBSNews.com. Check out the CBS piece here,http://cbsn.ws/1d7SaOv. Wow again Dr. Zhu. We so appreciate you taking on such an important health issue for our state and nation and our children. Our best to you yet again.

And Our Alumni… Come Home

And last but certainly not least today we welcome our alums back home for the 2014 Alumni Weekend, which continues through Sunday and includes Class Reunions and the Alumni Banquet.  This is really such a glorious opportunity each year and really just a lot of fun as well. More to come on this next week. We note that our university’s signature alumni event this year features Renaissance man Ben Stein tomorrow from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Christenberry Fieldhouse, 3109 Wrightsboro Road. It’s $10 for alumni, $15 for the rest of us. Visit grualumni.com/signatureevent for more details. Hope to see you there.

Upcoming Events

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.

Now through May 4 – Optic Chiasm: The Crossing Over of Art & Science at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta, seehttp://bit.ly/1hotPzd, featuring work by MCG Chief Ophthalmic Photographer Mike Stanley and GRU medical illustrators Bill Andrews, William J. Stenstrom, and David J. Mascaro.

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.

May 22 – Residents as Teachers program, a new required, half-day course for all rising PGY2 residents in MCG core clinical departments with required medical student rotations, including Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Neurology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Surgery, from 1:15-4:30 pm in GRU Alumni Center. Lunch will be provided from 12:45-1:15 pm.   A second class will be offered Wednesday June 4th, at the same time and location. Contact Amy Legg in the GME office, (alegg@gru.edu), for more information.

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/.

Have a great weekend.