VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 4 - Number 4 - Fall 2005

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

Class of 2009 Arrives on Campus 
Hailing from 22 states and chosen from among more than 4800 applicants, members of the School of Medicine's Class of 2009 marked the beginning of their medical education in the school's 10th annual White Coat Ceremony. Read more about the White Coat Ceremony or see pictures from the ceremony.
During orientation week, first-year students were also introduced to Project HEART, a new initiative begun by Isaac Wood, M.D., the medical school's Associate Dean for Student Activities. As part of the project, the incoming medical students each received pocket-sized quilted hearts designed to remind them why they were called into service as physicians. Read more about Project HEART or see pictures

More than $1 Million in Scholarship Support for MCV Campus Students
With the cost of tuition arguably one of the most difficult issues facing today's medical students, the MCV Campus recently honored the generosity of alumni, faculty and friends who have made it possible for the MCV Foundation to distribute more than a million dollars in scholarships last year. At a brunch earlier this month, scholarship donors and student recipients celebrated the lasting legacies that have been established through 137 scholarship funds on campus. Read more about the celebration or see pictures

You can hear for yourself what a difference scholarships make for our students via eight online video interviews with scholarship recipients. For information about endowing a scholarship, contact Tom Holland, Associate Dean for Development in the School of Medicine. 

What They Did with Their Summers
For today's medical students, the summer between their first and second years is often the only time they can call their own in a tightly scheduled four-year curriculum. What they do with those golden weeks is as varied as the students themselves. Read more about what a few of our students did with their summers

Research News

NCI Grant Supports Investigation into Colorectal Screening 
Less than 50 percent of the age-eligible population receives recommended colorectal cancer screenings. Family Medicine's Steven Woolf, M.D., has been awarded an NCI grant to study the factors that influence this decision. He hopes the resulting data will improve the screening rate and ultimately lead to earlier detection. Read more about the screening study

Key Protein Vital to Normal Red Blood Cell Development 
In a finding that may point to future gene therapies for patients with sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia, researchers have shown in studies with mice that the KLF2 protein is crucial for making young red blood cells. "Our findings are significant for future treatment of these blood disorders, potentially using gene therapies and other novel strategies," said Human Genetics' Joyce A. Lloyd, Ph.D. Read more about the genetic study published in the October issue of Blood. 

Enzyme Linked to Spread of Breast Cancer Cells 
In the August issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers showed that epidermal growth factor stimulates a family of enzymes that is linked to the spread of breast cancer. "If we understood how tumor cells spread or metastasize, we would be able to design better tools to help treat cancers," said lead author and Biochemistry Chair Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D. Read more about the ongoing research

Clinical News

Guidelines for Treating Hydrocephalus
Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a debilitating condition in the brain that often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Now, an international team of medical experts led by Neurosurgery's Anthony Marmarou, Ph.D., has established the first clinical guidelines to help improve the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Review the guidelines

Thomas Palliative Care Program Earns National Honors
The Thomas Palliative Care Program at the Massey Cancer Center earned a prestigious "Circle of Life" award from the American Hospital Association. The model program provides patient-centered palliative care to people with serious or terminal illnesses. Read more about the unit that was one of three national award recipients from a field of more than 1,500 hospital-based palliative care programs. 

Faculty News

Faculty Contribute to NASA Tests 
Researchers from the School of Medicine are working with NASA to train and test astronauts on surgical techniques that can be used during space flights. "As manned missions move farther out into the solar system, the lag in communications between mission control and the space crew will require a new level of medical autonomy," said Surgery's Ronald C. Merrell, M.D. Read more about the training that took place in Houston in August. 

Professor raises profile of women's mental health 
Psychiatric News has drawn attention to the work of Susan G. Kornstein, M.D., who is raising the profile of psychiatry and highlighting its integral role in women's issues as her position as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Women's Health. Read more about Dr. Kornstein, who also is the medical school's eighth faculty member in nine years to be accepted into the Hedwig van Amerigen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine Program for Women. 

Two School of Medicine Faculty among Four Honored at Convocation 
At the September Convocation ceremony, VCU recognized Phillip B. Hylemon, Ph.D., with the University Award of Excellence, and Suzanne E. Barbour, Ph.D., with its Distinguished Teaching Award. Read more about the accomplishments of Drs. Hylemon and Barbour

Alumni News

Two Special Tax-Wise Opportunities in Effect Through End of Year 
Between now and December 31, some alumni are considering two options for making a one-time increased gift or paying off an existing pledge. New legislation passed in September has doubled the contribution limit for certain outright gifts of cash from 50 percent to 100 percent of adjusted gross income. In addition, donors over the age of 59 1/2 have an opportunity to fund outright gifts with assets withdrawn from an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. For more information, please contact Mickey Dowdy or Tom Holland or call (800) 332-8813. You can also visit for examples and more details to share with your tax advisors. 

Earn CME, Reconnect with Your Alma Mater
Mark your calendar for the 4th Annual Alumni Course on Friday, April 21, 2006. Scheduled for the first time to coincide with Reunion Weekend, this popular daylong course offers up to 6.75 hours in CME credit. Stellar faculty - including two Institute of Medicine members - will cover topics ranging from avian flu and pediatric obesity, to screening tests and geriatric medicine. A brochure with more details will be mailed in January. Plan to start Reunion Weekend a day early, or even make a special trip to Richmond. 

Medicine Alum Elected President of the MCV Alumni Association
George W. Burke III, M'70, has been elected to serve a two-year term as president of the MCV Alumni Association of VCU. Read more about the pulmonary-critical care physician who has been involved with the association for 32 years

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Receptions 
Plan to catch up with old friends and meet newly appointed Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss, M.D., Ph.D. A reception for alumni from the Virginia Beach area is planned for December 4. Additional receptions are planned for Roanoke, Northern Virginia and Baltimore in the spring. Make sure that your contact info is up-to-date so that you'll receive your invitation. 

Genetic sequencing of deadly 1918 influenza virus shows a link to bird flu
School of Medicine alumnus Jeffery Taubenberger, M.D.' 86, Ph.D.'87, led the study that used the power of genetic sequencing to reconstruct the 1918 influenza virus that killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide. Dr. Taubenberger is with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington and also holds an affiliate appointment in VCU's Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Read more about Dr. Taubenberger's work

School of Medicine eNews is prepared by the School of Medicine's Alumni and Development Office. All alumni and friends for whom we have e-mail addresses will receive School of Medicine eNews unless they unsubscribe; you can do so by sending an e-mail to If this newsletter was forwarded to you by a colleague and you would like to subscribe to future issues, please send an e-mail to We use collected e-mail addresses only to send our own information to you; we do not rent or sell e-mail addresses to anyone.

  Egyptian Building


We're interested in your comments on this communication. Please email us your thoughts.

Update Your Contact Info and provide the Alumni and Development Office with your latest news via our online update form.

Check out the upcoming CME offerings from the medical school's Office of Continuing Physician Professional Development & Evaluation Studies including conferences in sports medicine and other fields.

Annual Fund dollars support student interest groups and scholarships as well as special projects in the medical school. Learn about how your Annual Fund gift impacts the school and find a link to online giving via the MCV Foundation's secure eGiving page.

For More Information: 

MCV Alumni Association 
MCV Foundation 
VCU Campaign