VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 9 - Number 4 - Fall 2010

White Coat 2010 
At the White Coat Ceremony, this year's 200 incoming students were welcomed into the medical school. Selected from 6,350 applicants, the students arrived on campus in August. Check out this video to see what the incoming students have to say about starting medical school; see photos from the White Coat Ceremony; watch Dr. Cheryl Al-Mateen's address to the students; or read the Dean's Message on whether medical school is really like drinking from a fire hose.

What I Did with My Summer 
While we were vacationing at the beach, MD/PhD candidate David Gibb headed to Japan to explain how his groundbreaking research began as an attempt to understand allergies but ended up explaining a key element of cancer. Fourth-year student MaryEllen Cleary began her tenure as one of only two students in the country to serve on the LCME, the national accrediting organization for U.S. and Canadian medical schools. And the Class of 1979's Dr. Michelle Whitehurst-Cook, now associate dean for admissions, marked her 10th year leading a team of med students and residents to the RAM free health clinic in Wise County. Click on the names above to learn more.

Student News

Research News

International Teamwork Uncovers How the Deaf Have Super Vision 
Ever wonder how it is that people who are deaf or blind seem to have enhanced perceptual abilities in their remaining senses? Anatomy and Neurobiology's Dr. Alex Meredith was part of a research team whose results in the Oct. 10 issue of Nature Neuroscience caught the attention of National Geographic. Read the news release, the study findings in Nature Neuroscience or National Geographic's coverage.

Drug Combination Shrinks Tumors in Vivo 
Doxorubicin is a powerful anti-cancer drug, but its use is associated with irreversible heart damage. But new findings show that combining the impotence drug Viagra with doxorubicin enhances its anti-tumor efficacy in prostate cancer while alleviating the long-term damage to the heart. Read more about Cardiology's Dr. Rakesh C. Kukreja's study that was published in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers Seek Answer to Allergy Questions 
When faced with a patient with a penicillin allergy, an allergist can gradually desensitize them to their allergy by giving a low dose of penicillin and then steadily increasing the dose. With a $7 million grant from the NIH, Internal Medicine's Dr. Lawrence Schwartz hopes to answer the question of why in the world that works. Read more about the study that is getting underway.

Clinical News

Portable Power for the Total Artificial Heart 
A 418-pound console has meant that artificial heart patients were tied to the hospital. Now, the Pauley Heart Center is the lead institution in a national clinical trial that will test a 13.5-pound driver that can be worn in a backpack. That will allow artificial heart patients to recuperate, rehabilitate and return home while they wait for a donor heart to become available for transplant. Read more or watch video clips about portable power for the total artificial heart.

Preventing Childhood Obesity 
Current estimates say approximately one out of every three U.S. teenagers is overweight. Research teams are using motivational interviewing and equipping parents with the right tools to combat the epidemic. Read more at the links above.

Guidelines Developed for Treatment of Infantile Spasms 
A team of U.S. neurologists, led by Chief of Child Neurology Dr. John Pellock, has established a set of protocols to aid pediatricians and neurologists in the diagnosis and treatment of infantile spasms, a rare neurological disorder that causes clusters of severe muscle contractions. Read more about the guidelines.

Construction Progress: a New Medical Education Building 
Have you seen plans for the new medical education building? This link will take you to architectural renderings, floor plans and even a time-lapse video of A.D. Williams coming down to make way for the new structure. Start your exploration of the new building here.

Newly Renovated Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety 
The new medical education building will have two floors dedicated to simulation and clinical skills training. But simulation training can't wait for the building to open in 2013. So meanwhile, the Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety has opened its doors on its renovated space in North Hospital. A science writer from VCU's news office recently had the chance to test her lifesaving skills - without putting a patient in peril. Read her take on how the center provides teaching moments in a safe setting.

CME Opportunities 
For additional information and to register for the courses below, visit, or call (804) 828-3640 or (800) 413-2872.

16th Annual VCU Sports Medicine Update in Primary Care Conference
December 2-5, 2010
Williamsburg, VA 

An intensive update of sports medicine topics that will be of specific interest to physicians in primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine, sports medicine, physician assistants, athletic trainers, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals. New this year is an emphasis on pediatric aspects of sports medicine. 

9th Annual Alumni Update Course 
April 16, 2011 
MCV Campus

The one-day program will cover the latest in a broad range of fields. The course coincides with Reunion Weekend, but is open to all alumni. Earn up to 6.75 credit hours, covering topics as diverse as robotics, pediatrics and diabetes.

End of Year Charitable Giving 
With the end of the tax year approaching, please remember that 100 percent of the medical school's Annual Fund supports student scholarships. With your help, these scholarships enable the school to recruit top incoming students as well as reward current students who demonstrate outstanding merit. And with Dean Strauss matching all Annual Fund gifts, your impact will be doubled!

Alumni News

Med School Goes on the Road 
Next stop: the Washington DC area! Go online to give us your latest contact information to be sure that you'll get an invitation to join Dean Strauss for cocktails at Petits Plats on November 7.

Alumni in the News 
Did you know that the Class of 2000's Dr. Katie Laughon is co-author on a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology? Read in the LA Times about her study that looked at the high C-section rate. Or did you know that housestaff alum and now-CEO of the VCU Health System Dr. Sheldon Retchin has been appointed to a new commission that serves as a national resource for Congress, the president and the states regarding the nation's health care workforce? Click on the links above to learn more.

Genetics and the Future of Health Care 
There's still time to participate in the MCV Foundation's three-part lecture series. In the third-lecture in the series, the National Institute on Aging's Deputy Director Dr. Marie A. Bernard will tackle Important Issues in Boomer Health and Aging on Dec. 7. Meanwhile, you can watch the first two lectures online

Memorializing Dr. Brooks 
As much as we remember his skill as an outstanding teacher, clinician and surgeon, we also recall the backward scrubs, the Dove soap and the green pen. James W. Brooks, M'46, the long-time thoracic surgery professor and admissions committee member was also the 23rd president of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association. In tribute to Dr. Brooks, the STSA is now uniting with colleagues and former trainees to raise $50,000 to endow an award for medical students to attend the annual STSA meeting. The Class of 1984's Stephen C. Yang, now a professor of surgery and oncology at Johns Hopkins, is heading the effort. If you wish to make a gift, a PDF of the brochure and gift card are available online.

With the Season of Gift Giving Around the Corner 
The MCV Alumni Association offers neckties and bow ties by Vineyard Vines. The ties feature the Egyptian Building and the MCVAA seal. They are handmade in the USA from 100% imported printed silk and double wool blended lining. Neckties are available for $65 in green or yellow; bow ties are available for $50 only in green. MCVAA members will receive a $10 discount on either item. 

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  Egyptian Building


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