VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 7 - Number 4 - Fall 2008

We hope that you’ll enjoy these quick highlights from the MCV Campus. Please  to friends who might like to learn more about the School of Medicine! 

Student News

198 New Doctors-To-Be
The largest applicant pool ever — more than 6,000 — has yielded the largest class ever. More than 20 states are represented in the Class of 2012, with students who include a software developer, a Montessori teacher, a former professional fiddler, an organ donation coordinator and an entrepreneur whose foundation aimed to provide clean drinking water in rural Bangladesh. See pictures from the White Coat Ceremony.

The Admissions Office is already at work assembling next year’s class. Interviews have begun and, this year, alumnus Dr. Wyatt Beazley III, M'61, is heading the Admissions Committee’s work.

Step 1 Scores
The National Board scores are rolling in for the Class of 2010. With all but two of the results in hand, the average score for the class was 223.2 — our highest ever on the crucial exam that is officially known as Step I of the USMLE. The students achieved a 95.7% pass rate, with 13 students scoring above 250. These statistics will surely exceed national averages, which will be published later in the year. Learn more about how the students prepare for this major exam on Dean Dr. Jerry Strauss’ new blog

The Health of Harvey’s Heart 
For third-year medical students mastering the nuances of murmurs that wheeze, blow or growl, the medical school’s newest patient simulator doubles as a valued teacher. Harvey can realistically simulate 30 cardiac conditions challenging students to track varying blood pressure and pulse as well as heart and breath sounds. Read more about how Harvey is improving the students' approach to physical exams

Research News

New Chemoprevention Gene Therapy Kills Pancreatic Cancer Cells 
In the July issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, researchers reported that combining a dietary agent with a gene-delivered cytokine effectively eliminates human pancreatic cancer cells in mice. Dr. Paul Fisher, who was recently named chair of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, led the study that was supported by the NIH and the Samuel Waxman Cancer Foundation. Read a news release about the CGT study findings or the study’s abstract

International Research Team to Study Molecular Genetics of Depression 
“This is an especially exciting project because it will be the largest of its kind to try to understand the genetic underpinnings of an especially common and disabling psychiatric disorders,” said Dr. Ken Kendler, who is a key collaborator on the study supported by a Wellcome Trust grant totaling more than $2.8 million. He will collaborate with colleagues at the University of Oxford in England and China’s Fudan University to analyze up to 1 million genetic markers. Read more about the international project that will make its results freely available through a Web accessible database. 

Optimize Wound Healing and Limit Infection 
A three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army will allow VCURES researchers to study a naturally occurring hormone can reverse stress-inhibited wound healing. The researchers have also shown the hormone to have biological ability to combat bacterial, viral and fungal infections as well as protecting against lethal radiation poisoning. Read more about the wound healing research that is part of VCURES’ portfolio of $36 million in research funding awarded since 2000.

Clinical News

New Critical Care Hospital Opens 
Virginia’s only hospital devoted to critical care was dedicated earlier this month. The $192-million facility’s 15 levels include 232 private rooms, 10 ORs, an updated burn center and ICUs devoted to premature newborns, neuroscience, cardiology, trauma, respiratory and oncology. Learn more about the new hospital’s advanced systems for patient care and safety, the special considerations that went into the Evans-Haynes Burn Unit and the Neonatal ICU or a facility overview.

Virtual Colonoscopy Highly Accurate for Detecting Colorectal Polyps 
CT Colonography could serve as a primary screening option for colorectal cancer, according to research findings published in the September 18 of the New England Journal of Medicine. “It also is much easier for patients, does not require the patient to be sedated, miss a full day of work, or have someone to drive them home,” said Radiology Professor Dr. Robert Halvorsen, Jr. Read more about the largest multi-center study to estimate the accuracy of the state-of-the-art technology. 

VCU Health System Again Ranks Nationally 
The VCU Health System is the only medical center in Central Virginia to be ranked in U.S. News’ America’s Best Hospitals issue for second consecutive year. In addition, the Health System was named one of the nation’s 100 best companies for working mothers for the fourth time. Read more about programs that were lauded in news releases about the rankings from Working Mother and US News

Alumni News

Med School Goes on the Road 
Charlottesville Area Alumni Meet the Dean: About three dozen alumni and friends of the medical school gathered at the Farmington Country Club in September. See pictures from the event.

Next stop: San Antonio Texas! Go online to give us your latest contact information so that we can send you an invitation for the upcoming alumni gathering on Nov. 2. The San Antonio reception coincides with the annualAAMC meeting, so if you’ll be in attendance, please let us know so that we can include you in the party. 

Class Years Ending in '4s and '9s - Save the date for Reunion 2009! 
Reunion Weekend 2009 will be held April 24-26. If you would like to assist in planning your class activities, please contact Lelia Brinegar, Alumni Outreach for the School of Medicine, at! And plan to start the weekend early at the medical school’s day-long CME course on Friday, April 24, where you can earn up to 6.75 credit hours. 

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Annual Fund dollars now go 
100% to support of scholarships! You can give online at the
school’s eGiving page

Check out the upcoming CME offerings from the medical school’s Office of Continuing Professional Development & Evaluation Studies including conferences.

When medical students want to learn how to recognize the cardiovascular conditions that plague their patients, they 
turn to:

a) Academy Award nomine Harvey Keitel
b) American radio broadcaster Paul Harvey
c) The 1950s film, Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart
d) Harvey, a full-sized mannequin that can morph from man to woman and from an aortic insufficiency diagnosis to mitral stenosis symptoms.

Past issues of SOM
eNews are online.

For More Information: 

MCV Alumni Association 
MCV Foundation