VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 2 - Number 3 - Fall 2003

We hope that you'll enjoy these quick highlights from Campus. Please forward this newsletter to friends who might like to learn more about the School of Medicine! In this issue...

Student News

Incoming Class Arrives on Campus 
The 184 students who make up the Class of 2007 have joined the medical school's ranks. Drawn from 3,911 applicants and 629 interviews, this year's incoming students represent 24 states and 74 undergraduate schools, with an average GPA of 3.5 and average MCATs of 28.3. Orientation activities included the annual White Coat Ceremony, during which students received their first white coats. See photos, read about the White Coat Ceremony or review a list of the first-year students and their undergraduate schools. 

Research News

Researcher Discusses Medical Marijuana on NPR's Science Friday 
With a number of states moving to ease restrictions on patients getting and using marijuana for symptom relief, National Public Radio's Science Friday recently tackled the subject of medical marijuana. Joining the discussion was Billy R. Martin, Ph.D., the Louis & Ruth Harris Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, whose research has contributed greatly to science's understanding of marijuana's effects. Listen to the discussion

Toxic Mix of Loss, Humiliation Could Spark Depression 
In addition to serious loss, humiliating events in a person's life -- particularly involving romantic breakups -- appear to be strongly linked to risk for major depression, according to a study of more than 7,300 twins. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, was led by Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., the Rachel Brown Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, who discussed the findings on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. Learn more about the study or listen to the radio interview. 

Serious Liver Damage Still Possible in Patients with "Normal" Liver Function Tests
Patients with normal results from a laboratory test commonly used to detect liver abnormalities still could suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a study published in the June issue of Hepatology. "The absence of obvious symptoms and a low normal ALT value do not guarantee freedom from advanced stage chronic liver disease," says Arun J. Sanyal, M.D., chair of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Read more about the findings.

Clinical News

Report to CDC Points to VCUHS as "Good Example" of Smallpox Preparedness 
In a report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine singles out the VCU Health System as "a good example" of an organization that has attained a high level of preparedness without vaccinating its healthcare workers before a smallpox attack. Learn more about the report. 

Massey Cancer Center Chosen as Palliative Care Leadership Center 
The Center to Advance Palliative Care, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant to the Massey Cancer Center's palliative care program to help increase the availability of palliative care in the U.S. Of the six institutions with exemplary palliative care programs chosen to be leadership centers, Massey is the only one located on the East Coast and the only cancer center. "We now have the opportunity to teach our methods to more than 100 teams from other cancer centers over the next three years," said Thomas Smith, M.D., medical director of Massey's Thomas Palliative Care Unit. Read more about the grant. 

MCV Hospitals Named to Top 100 Hospitals in Nation 
MCV Hospitals has been named one of the Solucient 100 Top Hospitals in the U.S. for 2002. Solucient Corporation – which maintains the country's largest healthcare data base – announced the awards when it released its latest survey: "100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks for Success Class of 2002." MCV Hospitals is one of only 16 major teaching hospitals in the U.S. selected for the honor. Read more about the survey. 

Faculty News

Help in Solving Bizarre Death to be Featured on National TV Show 
Alphonse Poklis, Ph.D., a forensic toxicologist in the Department of Pathology, recently sat down with a producer from Court TV's Forensic Files to share his story of assisting Oklahoma police in solving a mysterious death. "I enjoyed sifting through the evidence. This is how forensic toxicology started out -- as a way to help law enforcement solve cases. I do it because it's our highest calling." Read more about the case. 

Dr. Harvey J. Sugerman Retires After 30-Year Career 
This past summer, Harvey J. Sugerman, M.D., retired from his post as vice chair for the Department of Surgery. With more than 210 articles, 59 book chapters in medical textbooks and 20 books to his credit, Dr. Sugerman has gained an international reputation for treating obesity with gastric bypass surgery. Next year, look for Dr. Sugerman and several of his patients to be profiled as part of a yearlong National Geographic project on obesity. Read more about Dr. Sugerman's career. 

Alumni News

Back by Popular Demand - The Second Annual Alumni Update Course 
Because of the positive response to last year's inaugural course, the day-long CME marathon will return this fall, on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Education Complex. Plan to join the Medical School Advisory Council, fellow alumni and School of Medicine faculty for a full-day program covering the latest issues across a broad range of fields. Review the Annual Update Course's agenda, faculty and other details. Register early; deadline is Nov. 11. (Viewing brochure requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) 

Randolph-Minor Hall Razed to Make Room for Cancer Center Expansion 
Most alumni will remember Randolph Minor Hall, the brick building on College Street that sat across from the Egyptian Building and, at various times, served as a dormitory, faculty offices and patient clinics. Recently, the seven-story building was raze to make way for a new $29.7 million state-of-the-art research addition for the Massey Cancer Center. See photos of the demolition and learn more about the new 60,000 square-foot five-story addition that is expected to be completed in March 2005. 

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  Egyptian Building


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