The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”   -Sydney J. Harris


Teaching Like Nobody’s Business…

The rumor is that he can write on a white board with both hands at one time.  Certainly it’s pure fact that Dr. Vadivel Ganapathy is one fabulous teacher.  He came to us as a postdoc in 1981, started on our faculty that next year, was a full Professor by 1993, and Chairman of our Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology by 2004.  When he gets in front of a classroom or even when he’s just sitting behind his desk talking about the body’s intriciacies with a visitor, you can feel that teaching and science are just part of his DNA.  From sharing his love of amino acid metabolism with high school students considering a future in health care to sharing the basics of biochemistry with our freshman students in way that only he can, he is just a rocking educator and so much more.  Like so many of you, he isn’t just passionaltely sharing what others have found.  He is unlocking the mysteries of how our bodies do what they do.  He’s shown the world more about how transporters in our bodies help us do great stuff like make optimal use of the fruits and vegetables we eat, helped us understand how these kind of high-fiber foods protect us from colon cancer, and has made some amazing connections between too much iron in our bodies and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindess in older adults.  This prolific scientist has authored or co-authored nearly 500 scientific papers and has been honored for his teaching by students – typically more than once each year – every year for past 20 years, including this one.  Next week is his last week with us and,  although he’s retiring from here, this super-energized individual is far from really retiring.  In fact, we doubt that you could find retirement in his DNA.  He’s headed west, to Texas Tech in Lubbock and, while this is one sunset we really hate to see, we can only wish him our very best because every day of those 33 years, Dr. Ganapathy has given us his very best.  Please join us in yet another salute to him.

Please also join us in congratulating our Interim Chair, Dr. Shuang Huang.  Dr. Huang came to us in 2007 from California’s The Scripps Research Institute.  He is a cancer biologist, a National Institutes of Health-funded scientist studying metastis of breast and ovarian cancer, and an avid educator to boot.

And Learning With Great Passion…

Speaking of students, passion, and great research, Medical Scholars Research Day is coming up this Monday, Sept. 22, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Wellness Center.  A record 140 students from our Augusta and Athens campus spent most of their summer between their first and second years of medical school working alongside our awesome investigators.  If that sounds like we are helping educate the next generation of Dr. Ganapathys, who will never settle for what’s already known, we sure hope and think so!  For those of you closer to the vicinity of our Athens campus, you can also check out more about these amazing summer projects done by our Athens students the following Monday, Sept. 29, from 4:30-6 p.m. on the second floor of Russell Hall on UGA’s Health sciences Campus.

Ensures a Great Future for Our Medical School…

Great news as well about those who may follow next.  You may remember that last year we, in collaboration with our colleagues in the College of Science and Mathematics Department of Biological Sciences, started a B.S. to M.D. degree program to optimally prepare already outstanding students for medical school and even shave a year off their undergraduate years if all goes well.  This year, we are so pleased to share that the program has been expanded to now also best-prepare students for a dental degree.  In fact, the new name is the Professional Scholars Program and from the lineup this year, that looks like a great name.  The program has 33 students this year, 29 interested in medicine and four in dentistry and they have an average GPA of 3.9.  As we have said before, the students admitted to this program are not automatically guaranteed a spot in our medical school, but they sure will be if they continue to excel.  We again so appreciate the efforts of Dr. Richard Griner, Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, and his entire department, as well as our Dr. Paul Wallach for making this happen.  As we all know, preparation is essential so we hope this will be a terrific program for students and the medical and dental schools alike.

With a Diversely Talented Team…

So, no matter how great a student we are/were, math is one of those things we tend to love or really not love, wouldn’t you say?  But it’s also absolutely one of those must haves, from balancing our checking accounts (even online) to planning our vacation budget to doing really terrific science.  Thankfully, there are fabulous folks, like the ones you will find in our Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, who really understand and love math.  They help scientists searching for answers figure out what data needs to be collected to get those answers then, when the data is gathered, they can help them analyze and really make sense of it.  What a skill and what a necessity, particularly in this day when snazzy technology is generating record levels of data to sort through.  One of the newest members of our biostatistics department, Dr. Jie Chen, says their work is kinda like helping tell a story from the massive data and these important stories are being told in labs and thru clinical trials across our medical school each day.  Here’s a cool example of what biostatisticians bring.  We all know the names of different types of cancer but did you know that some cancers also are associated with higher or lower DNA copy numbers?  The usual DNA copy number for humans is two, because we get one copy from our mother and one from our father.  But one of the things Dr. Chen specializes in is figuring out the DNA copy numbers that are linked to different types of breast cancer.  That could help physicians make a better diagnosis, help monitor how well treatment is going – when it works well, the number can actually revert to two, which is just awesome – and, of course, help identify new treatments.  We think this is just terrific and we thank Dr. Chen and her colleagues for their amazing effort that so often occurs behind the scientific headlines.  We also want to congratulate Dr. Chen who was recently elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Society, one of 63 new Fellows from 25 states, the District of Columbia, and seven countries, honored for their professional contributions and leadership in the statistical science field.  Please join us as well in welcoming Dr. Chen to our medical school and in thanking all our colleagues in biostatistics for their invaluable contribution to better health.  Like any great team, each of you brings different strengths and knowledge to our medical school, yet you all share that important commitment.

Where Everyone Has an Important Niche…

Probably next to our faces, our voices are the most identifiable thing about us.  Other than an occasional bout of laryngitis, it’s also something most of us figure is going to pretty much always be there.  Well, there is simply no better voice for the voice than Dr. Gregory Postma, an advocate for keeping it well, and a fierce competitor against anything that threatens it, from a chronic cough to gastroesophageal reflux.   In fact, we are willing to bet that World Voice Day, held every April 16, is one of his very favorite days!  Please join us in congratulating this advocate, educator, investigator, and physician for being selected as the Vice Chair of our Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.  Dr. Postma is a major player on the national scene as well, an examiner for the American Board of Otolaryngology Oral Board, former President of the American Broncho-Esophagological Association and Dysphagia Research Society, one of America’s Top Doctors since 2002, and recipient of the 2010 Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Otolaryngology.  Dr. Postma has been with us almost 10 years and, as per always, we are so very thankful for and proud of the amazing talent we can call our own. Congratulations Dr. Postma.

And So Many… Leave a Lasting Legacy

Speaking of a great voice, our 1949 graduate, the late Daniel B. Sullivan, a surgical oncologist in our community for many, many years, was a terrific example of excellence in and passion for health care. To that remarkable end, the University Health Care Foundation with the help of Dr. Sullivan’s many friends, colleagues and family members, established the Dr. Daniel B. Sullivan Endowment to provide support to those who reflect his fine example.  Our students and residents along with University Hospital’s employees and medical staff are eligible for the one-year grants.  What a great way to honor such a great legacy and individual, whose significant accomplishments include earning a Combat Medic Badge while volunteering as a battalion aid surgeon in the Korean War and helping found the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center.  Our medical student recipients this year include Elliott Burdette, Christopher Caughman, Harold Rivner, Daniel Tanenbaum, Matthew Powell, Austin Cail, Puja Chebrolu, and Jessica Howell.  Please join me in congratulating our students along with the University Hospital recipients and in thanking the University Health Care Foundation and President Laurie Ott for being such terrific hosts last Friday and stewards of Dr. Sullivan’s legacy always.  This is one of those many occasions when we smile about the wonderful individuals we are also privileged to call colleagues.

And Hopefully Have Some Fun… Along the Way

And finally today, rumor also has it that the weather is trending toward clear and cooler this weekend so it should be a great time to enjoy the international flavor and fare of the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta that starts today in our great hometown!  Check out more here:

Upcoming Events

Sept. 22 – Presidential Lecture Series, noon, Lee Auditorium. Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, former University of Toledo President, led a vigorous process of growth and transformation to establish a new vision, a new identity and a new level of educational quality and excellence at the university. For more info visit

Sept. 22 – Sixth Annual Medical Scholars Research Day, noon-2 p.m. Wellness Center, Health Sciences Campus.

Sept. 25-26 – Fifth Annual Southern Translational Education and Research Conference, sponsored by UGA and GRU, “Targeting Obesity Research from Bench to Bedside,” Augusta Marriott. For more information and registration visit:

Sept. 26 – Reception for New Faculty, 6-8 p.m., The Pinnacle Club, hosted by the Faculty & Spouse/Partner Club and the Faculty Club. RSVP by Sept. 21, or

Sept. 29 – Fourth Annual Student Research Symposium, Athens campus, 4:30-6 p.m., Russell Hall.

Sept.  29 – New Faculty Reception and Fall Assembly, University Senate, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Alumni Center Ballrooms A, B, and C, Health Science Campus.

Oct. 1-5 – Westobou Festival in Augusta. Learn more here:

Oct. 7 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception in Savannah, 6 p.m., Savannah Golf Club.

Oct. 9 – Hull College of Business presents Russell A. Blanchard Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics Cynthia Cooper,, 6 p.m., Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom, Summerville Campus.

Oct. 11 – White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium.

Oct. 16 – Opening celebration of the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons, 11 a.m., 1301 R.A. Dent Blvd. Afterward, please join us for an Open House of our new academic home, from 5:30-7 p.m. with the program starting at 6 p.m., a wine and cheese reception, and continuous tours by medical students.

Nov. 14 – Body Donation Memorial Service, 1-2 p.m., Lee Auditorium

Feb. 24 – MCG Alumni Association Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, Board Meeting and Regional Event, starting at 2:30 p.m., Idle Hour Country Club, Macon.

March 5 – MCG Alumni Association Regional Reception, 6 p.m., Northeast History Museum, Gainesville.

April 17 – Raft Debate, sponsored by the MCG Alumni Association, 6 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

April 23-26 – Alumni Weekend.

May 1 – State of the Medical College of Georgia address, noon, Lee Auditorium, lunch provided.

May 4 – MCG Graduation Dinner, 6:30 p.m., location to be determined.

May 7 – Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., location to be determined.

May 8 – Graduation, 2 p.m., James Brown Arena.

Have a great weekend.


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Augusta University Staff is a collection of talented writers, photographers, students and professionals; all working together to promote and support the amazing impacts and every day wins of Augusta University and the people that make up JagNation.