VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 8 - Number 4 - Fall 2009

We have email addresses for less than half of our medical school's 10,000 alumni, so to help keep your classmates connected, please forward your SOM eNews! 

Student News

White Coat Gallery 
With 200 students, the Class of 2013 is the medical school's largest ever. Among its members are rock climbers, a jazz guitarist, world travelers and a student who aspires to be a third-generation doctor. See pictures from the White Coat Ceremony and get Dean Strauss' perspectives on entering the medical profession in this time of debate and change. 

Making a Difference in Wise County 
It was the last weekend of summer break when a 20-member team from the medical school packed up for a six-hour drive to Virginia's Appalachian Mountains. For three days, they devoted themselves to the Remote Area Medical Expedition's free health clinic held annually at the Wise County fairgrounds. Read more about the students' experience at a clinic that drew 2,700 patients from 16 states. 

Discovering America from the Back of a Bike 
On Sunday, May 31, rising second-year medical student Charley Nottingham started pedaling. His route would take him across the U.S. in 46 days of hard riding. Nottingham's trek was the 2nd Annual Ride for Jim, a trans-America bike ride and fundraiser. Read about his favorite parts of the trip, see pictures from the road and find links to his blog, a route map and news coverage from a Roanoke TV station. 

Research News

New Study Tracks Hand Washing 
"Health care workers don't deliberately avoid washing their hands; they get distracted or are so busy moving from one thing to the next they don't remember to do it," said Dr. Mike Edmond, chief hospital epidemiologist. The VCU Medical Center hand-washing rate is already at about 87 percent - nearly twice the national average. A new study will test whether that rate can be improved upon with a system that serves as a constant reminder, continuously monitoring and recording data. Read more about the hand-washing study

Possible Genetic Factor for Male Infertility Identified 
A gene involved with the production of sperm may contribute to male infertility and lead to new approaches to male contraception. Led by the Medical School Dean Dr. Jerry Strauss and Ob-Gy's Dr. Zhibing Zhang, the study appeared in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences the week of Sept. 14. Read more about the infertility findings

Researchers Study Major Depression, Heart Disease 
"Although coronary artery disease and major depression frequently co-occur, we do not well understand why," said Dr. Kenneth S. Kendler, professor of psychiatry and human genetics. Findings released in August showed that "having coronary artery disease produces a substantial and long-lasting increase in risk for major depression." Read more about the genetics findings that resulted from an international collaboration among Kendler's team, researchers from West Virginia University, the University of Southern California and Sweden's Karolinska Institute. 

Clinical News

Lexi Undergoes Rare Brain Surgery 
Seven-year-old Lexi suffers with kernicterus, a type of brain damage that was caused by excessive jaundice after she was born. This summer she underwent a rare brain surgery that may allow her to talk or even walk. The Charlotte Observer provided continuing coverage of the story. Find links to those articles along with coverage by ABC News. 

VCU Medical Center Again Ranks Among "America's Best Hospitals" 
The 2009 edition of U.S. News' publication of America's Best Hospitals again includes the VCU Medical Center. This year, four programs were noted for excellence: rehabilitation ranked 20th; the heart and heart surgery and kidney programs ranked 44th; and orthopaedics ranked 45th. Click the links above to read more about the medical center or the four specialty programs. 

Creative Healing 
From a $1.2-million, 600-piece art collection to musicians who visit patients in their rooms, the Arts in Healthcare program injects fine arts into the healing process. Read more about the creative program that sprung more than 20 years ago from a collaboration between the School of the Arts and the medical center. 

School News

Med School Goes on the Road 
Next stop: Boston! Go online to give us your latest contact information so that we can send you an invitation for the upcoming alumni gathering on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 8. The reception coincides with the annual AAMC meeting, so if you'll be in attendance, please let us know so that we can include you in the party. 

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Honors SOM Physician 
Internal Medicine Chair Dr. Richard P. Wenzel has been named a recipient of the 2010 Maxwell Finland Award for his pioneering contributions that have advanced the understanding of infectious diseases. He will join a roster of past recipients that includes Drs. C. Everett Koop and Michael E. DeBakey. Wenzel is the first editor-at-large of the New England Journal of Medicine and was among the leading commentators on swine flu, the SARS outbreak and smallpox vaccination. Read more about Wenzel's contributions.

Increase Your Income in Troubled Times 
A minimum gift of $25,000 is all that it takes to establish a gift annuity that can support the medical school's future. It's a simple contract between you and the MCV Foundation that – unlike a trust – requires no involvement by attorneys or financial institutions. The MCV Foundation manages the annuity and you benefit by:

  • realizing increased disposable income, particularly compared against our current economy's fallen interest rates and reduced corporate dividends.
  • receiving an income tax charitable deduction that may be used for as many as six tax years.
  • avoiding capital gains taxes associated with giving appreciated assets, such as securities.
  • avoiding estate and gift taxes.

You and up to one additional beneficiary will receive a guaranteed quarterly income for your lifetime(s). The payment never changes, and part of the income is tax-free. At your death, the principle of the annuity goes to create a gift fund at the MCV Foundation in support of a purpose you designate. For a calculation of what your annual payment would be, contact Tom Holland at, (800) 332-8813 or (804) 828-3800. 

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

15th VCU Annual Sports Medicine Update in Primary Care 
December 4-6, 2009
Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center 

An update on the latest developments in sports medicine for the primary care provider is offered for physicians, physician assistants, athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals. Call (804) 828-5415 for more information. 

The 14th Annual Virginia Liver Symposium and Update in Gastroenterology Conference
February 20, 2010
Richmond Marriott Hotel

The program is designed for physicians and mid-level medical providers who treat patients with liver and gastrointestinal disorders. View the brochure and register online at the link above after November 1, 2009.

Annual Alumni Update Course 
April 24, 2010 

The medical school's day-long CME course is designed to update you on a broad variety of fields. It will cover topics as diverse as health-care reform, managing chronic pain and swine flu. Look for a brochure with more info to be mailed later this fall. 

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.

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Reunion 2010
Graduates from classes ending in 5s and 0s will celebrate milestone Reunions next spring. Mark your calendars now for April 23-25.

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

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