VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 8 - Number 2 - Spring 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

Oh the Places You'll Go! 
Match Day brought good news for our fourth-year students who beat the national average with 96 percent of the students matching to one of their top choices. The medical center also celebrated: for the first time in at least 16 years all our training programs were fully filled with our program directors' top choices! Get Dean Strauss' perspectives on our Match stats, see photos from Match Day or review a list of the students' residency destinations

More than two dozen M4s were among the 88 students who received a scholarship from the Annual Fund this year. But the economy has taken its toll, and next year we may be able to offer Annual Fund scholarships to only half that number. You can help change that. Please go online to make a gift to the Annual Fund - where gifts of any size combine to make an impact. 

Fourth-Year Students Try Something New 
Lesli Brown did an unusual fourth-year internship just blocks away from the MCV Campus at Virginia's General Assembly. As the legislative session drew to a close, the Richmond Times-Dispatch featured Lesli who, according to the paper, "hopes to be a bug in lawmakers' ears on health-care issues in the future." 

A new fourth-year elective took eight students on a two-week trip to the mountains of rural Honduras. Dr. Steven Crossman, the elective's faculty coordinator and a Class of 1995 alum, hopes that "they come back with the awareness that 'primary care' means so much more to those who are poor. It includes access to clean water, shelter, education and nutrition." Read more about the global health service learning elective that is part of Family Medicine's ongoing program in Pinares, Intibuca. 

Branden Engorn served on the medical school's Admissions Committee this past year and also spent a month working in the admissions office. So who could be better at giving us a first-person account of what life is like inside the admissions office, where 6,200 applications are narrowed down to 900 interviewees and ultimately an incoming class of 200 students? 

ATTENTION: Alumni Parents with children considering medical school:The Associate Dean for Admissions is an alumna of the Class of 1979. She is happy to counsel students who are applying to our medical school. Follow the above link to access her contact info. 

Research News

Medical School Moves up in NIH Rankings 
The past year has brought an increase in research funding and, with it, a significantly higher position in the NIH rankings. The medical school moved up six positions to No. 53. "Most importantly, the research is being translated into improved clinical care," said Dean of Medicine Dr. Jerry Strauss. Read more about the NIH rankings

A Strategy for Raising Solid Organ Donation Consents 
In the U.S., the major source of donor organs is from deceased patients, but consent from family members has remained relatively low. Read more about a five-year, $3 million NIH grant that could increase the rate of consent to solid organ donation

Clinical News

Helping Young Burn Victims Cope 
A severe burn is a painful and traumatic experience, especially when the patient is a young child. But a new device in the Evans-Haynes Burn Center may help by distracting patients with its fiber-optic cable lights, a colorful bubble column, projected imagery, soothing vibrations and aroma therapy. Read more about the Vecta Distraction Station and a study to determine if it helps decrease recovery time and the need for pain medicine.

For Love of a Dog 
A specially trained facility dog is a welcome addition to the Virginia Treatment Center for Children's staff. "Some of our children are intimidated by adults," said Tess Searls, Bahia's handler and a nurse clinician at VTCC, "but a dog normalizes their hospital experience." Read more about two-year old Bahia who has spent most of her life training to work with patients. 

School News

New President for VCU 
The Board of Visitors has announced that Michael Rao, Ph.D., will be the next president of VCU and its VCU Health System. He comes to VCU with the experience of three successful presidencies at universities of increasing size and complexity. Read more about Dr. Rao's background

Kornstein Elected President of NASPOG 
Dr. Susan G. Kornstein has been elected president of the North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynecology that serves clinicians and researchers who work at the interface of the fields of psychiatry and OB/GYN. Kornstein herself is currently recruiting participants for an NIH-funded study of a new treatment method for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe and debilitating form of PMS. Read more and get contact info for the PMDD study. Traditionally, NASPOG's annual meeting is held at the president's home institution, and Kornstein hopes many alumni will make the trip to Richmond to take part in the 2010 meeting next January. 

Long Line of Richmond YWCA Honorees with VCU Ties 
A member of the medical school's Class of 1989 and current faculty member, Dr. Robin Foster is newest addition to the YWCA's list of outstanding Richmond women. In the 25 years that the YWCA has been making the awards, the organization has recognized 300 women for their community contributions, including 32 women with ties to VCU and more than a dozen from the medical school. Read more about Dr. Foster and find a list of previous VCU awardees.

McCue Award Honors Woman Cardiologist of the Year 
Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., a recognized authority on preventive cardiology and women's heart health, has taken the top honor in the inaugural McCue Woman Cardiologist of the Year Award program. Carrying a $10,000 prize, the award was established by a grant from the family of Dr. Carolyn McCue, an alumna of the Class of 1941 and a faculty member in the medical school for 42 years who ventured where few men, and even fewer women, had gone before - into the practice of pediatric cardiology. Read about Dr. Merz, her Grand Rounds presentation or learn more about the McCue Award

Charitable IRA Rollovers 
A limited-time provision for charitable contributions from Individual Retirement Accounts could give you an opportunity to help the medical school. If you are 70 ½ or older, you can make tax-free gifts of up to $100,000 directly from your IRA to the MCV Foundation until the end of 2009. You can get more information about your options from Tom Holland, Associate Dean for Development at (800) 332-8813, (804) 828-3800 or

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

4th Annual Central Virginia Spine Symposium 
April 17, 2009
The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia

The symposium is intended for healthcare providers who encounter patients or athletes sustaining spine injury. Learn to accurately diagnose, optimally treat and effectively prevent painful spinal injury. 

7th Annual Alumni Update Course
April 24, 2009
Richmond Marriott West

The one-day program covers the latest in a broad range of fields, including osteoporosis, colonoscopy, treating weekend warriors' knee and shoulder injuries and improving patient adherence. The course coincides with Reunion Weekend, but is open to all alumni.

37th Annual Hans Berger Symposium 
May 18-19, 2009 
Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building on the MCV Campus

The clinical neurophysiology symposium features nationally known speakers who will address options for refractory epilepsy, including: childhood treatment, dietary modification, psychiatric comorbidities, neurostimulation and radiosurgery. Attention: a reduced rate of $100 is available to all alumni of the School of Medicine, and registration is free to VCU SOM faculty, students and VCUHS health care providers. 

31st Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference - Pediatrics at the Beach
July 17-19, 2009 
Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel 

Three half-day sessions include important topics in the areas of emergency medicine, primary care, developmental and behavioral pediatrics. This course is designed for physicians and other health care professionals who deliver primary care to children and adolescents.

Alumni News

Med School Goes on the Road 
Nearly a dozen alums and friends joined Dean Jerry Strauss at a Delray Beach reception, where he shared design schematics for the school's new medical education building and a new recruitment video. See pictures from the evening.

Go online to give us your latest contact information so we'll be sure to include you in future alumni gatherings. 

Class Years Ending in '4s and '9s - Reunion Weekend is Almost Here! 
Sure, you'll see former classmates at Reunion Weekend. But what else can you do?

  • Learn to cha-cha and samba in a ballroom dancing class.
  • Plan your next vacation: alumni tours are headed to the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps and Thailand.
  • Earn up to 6.75 CME credit hours at the April 24 Alumni Update Course.
  • Cruise the canal system that was George Washington's solution for circumventing the James River's seven-mile falls.

Get details and see who's coming to Reunion Weekend or check out the CME course.

AMA Honors 1946 Alumnus for Volunteerism 
Richard Baylor, M'46, was honored with the Jack B. McConnell, M.D. Award for Excellence in Volunteerism from the AMA Foundation for his work in spearheading the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic. Read more about Dr. Baylor, who recently stepped down as medical director but continues to have a daily presence at the clinic

Housestaff Alum, now with the Gates Foundation, Returns to Campus 
Tadataka Yamada, M.D., completed his GI training here in 1974. Now, as president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Health Program, he leads the foundation's efforts to help develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world. Read about his return to the MCV Campus where he offered a warning about the danger posed by preventable diseases and poor health-care practices. 

First Annual Clancy A. Holland Lecture 
The first Holland Lecture will address the ethical problems inherent in today's health care system. The lectureship was recently established by an anonymous donor to recognize the contributions that Dr. Clancy A. Holland has made to the wellbeing of Virginians and to the ethics of health care. An alumnus of the Class of 1962, Holland practiced as a family physician for 42 years and served as a state senator for more than a decade. Read more about the 2009 Holland lecturer, Dr. Larry A. Green of the University of Colorado's Department of Family Medicine, who will speak at noon on May 13 in the Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building. 

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What's the most important aspect of a prospective student's application?

a) Extraordinary MCAT scores
b) Exposure to the healthcare field
c) Drop the names of important people at your interview
d) Major in biology as an undergrad

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