VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 13 - Number 2 - Spring 2014

We have email addresses for only about half of our medical school's 16,000 alumni, so to help keep your classmates connected, please forward this issue of SOM eNews!

Student News

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a match!
The Class of 2014 chose a superhero theme for Match Day, the rite of passage for fourth-year medical students. By the afternoon of March 21, 98 percent of our participating students had matched to residency destinations around the country. Nearly a third are headed into primary care fields. Other popular choices are anesthesiology, OB/GYN and emergency medicine. Want to see where the M4s are headed? You’ll find photo and video links on the medical school’s Match Day portal. You can also check out the VCU news release and coverage from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Largest-ever applicant pool made up of strong candidates
We're one step closer to assembling the Class of 2018! In March, the Admissions Committee completed the last of more than 1,000 interviews – chosen from an all-time high of 7,829 applicants. Not only is the applicant pool growing, the competitiveness of the applicants is also on the rise. They’ve got strong MCAT scores and grades as well as amazing clinical and community service experiences and research participation. We expect next year's incoming students will number 216.

First-year student among the winners at ACP national meeting
The Class of 2017’s Jackie Britz is one of five winners in the research category of the American College of Physician’s Abstract Competition, held earlier this month. She presented findings from research she conducted while working toward her MPH at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Read about Jackie’s study of the potential effects of charging England’s immigrants to access primary healthcare services. 

Research News

Antibiotic may improve metabolism, protect against diabetes risk
The number of patients with type 2 diabetes is expected to double over the next 20 years. Because diabetes is associated with heart attack, Pauley Heart Center researchers are working to gain a basic understanding of the molecular relationships between diabetes and heart disease. They’ve discovered rapamycin, an antibiotic used to boost organ survival in transplant patients, may improve metabolism and protect the heart against complications in diabetic mice. Read more about their findings published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

New Study to investigate Parachute device as a help for heart failure
A new study is underway to monitor the effects of the Parachute™ Ventricular Partitioning Device. The study will enroll heart attack survivors suffering from heart failure. “After certain large heart attacks, a portion of the heart muscle turns into a scar,” Zachary Gertz, M.D., said. Read more about how the Parachute device partitions off the non-functioning heart.

Veterans with TBI returning home with other combat-related challenges
Traumatic brain injury has been termed the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but PM&R Chair David Cifu, M.D., says the more defining condition of these wars is polytrauma – two or more injuries to an organ system. Earlier this year, Cifu published findings showing the majority of veterans with TBI had a diagnosed mental health disorder and approximately half had both PTSD and pain. Learn more about Cifu’s findings and read his perspective in the latest installment of the Washington Post's multi-part series After the Wars.

Clinical News

VCUHS and Community Memorial Healthcenter to join operations
This month, the VCU Health System and Community Memorial Healthcenter in South Hill, Va., announced an affiliation to improve the range and depth of healthcare services in Southside Virginia and Northern North Carolina. The agreement, which should be completed by June 30, will also enhance the medical school’s education and research opportunities. Read more about the agreement

Artificial hearts give mother and son an unusual connection
In 2006, the VCU Pauley Heart Center was the first on the East Coast to implant the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. Earlier this year, Albert Kurtyka became the center’s 75th patient to be implanted with the device that is a bridge to human heart transplant for patients dying from end-stage biventricular failure. Two years ago, his mother, Diane was the 59th. Read about how his mother’s experience helped Albert as he waited for a donor heart and prepared for a speedy recovery post-transplant.

Sniffing out danger
From the next room, you smell something burning in the kitchen. Rushing in, you see a smoking pot left on the stove. You quickly turn off the burner. But what if you couldn't smell? Physiology’s Richard Costanzo, Ph.D., analyzed more than three decades of patient data and discovered those who can’t smell are three times more likely to experience an olfactory-related hazardous event such as gas leaks, burning pans and spoiled food. Read more about the research presented at the AChemS annual meeting.

School News

Janet Mundie announces her retirement 
It’s true: her 37th Match Day was the last one. She estimates she's seen about 6,000 students through the Match. She’ll retire after graduation, drawing to a close a tenure that spans 42 years. To show what affection she’s inspired in those who’ve known her, a campaign is underway to endow a scholarship that will carry her name. The Mundie Scholarship is part of the ongoing 1838 Campaign that aims to expand the medical school’s scholarship endowment to one on par with our peer institutions. Please make your gift in honor of Janet Mundie before graduation.

Peeples’ memoir details civil rights activism
In a new autobiography, longtime professor Edward Peeples, Ph.D., tells the story of his childhood in a working-class Richmond neighborhood in the 1930s and 40s and his journey to become a civil rights activist and a key member of VCU's faculty in the university's early days. Read more about Peeples’ autobiography, which he began to work on after his retirement from full-time teaching. "The life has taken 79 years," he said. "The book only took seven." 

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

42nd Annual Hans Berger Clinical Neurophysiology Symposium 
May 19 – 20, 2014
MCV campus 

Distinguished faculty from epilepsy centers and neurophysiology laboratories across the country will offer physicians, technologists and medical professionals practical information in applying state-of-the-art electrodiagnostic testing in the clinical management of patients with epilepsy and related disorders.

“Peds at the Beach” – 36th Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference
July 18-20, 2014
Virginia Beach 

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. 

Richmond CME for Docs 
4th Wednesday of each month, 6 - 8 p.m.
Bon Secours Heart Institute, 7001 Forest Avenue, Richmond 

A collaboration between Bon Secours Medical Group and the VCU Office of Continuing Medical Education has resulted in a relevant, evidence-based CME series. The monthly lectures are aimed at helping physicians to improve and enjoy the practice of medicine. Offered at no charge to participants, the lectures are open to physicians and physician extenders.

13th Annual Alumni Update Course
April 18, 2015
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. Mark your calendar now, topics will be announced in the fall.

Alumni News

Reunion 2014
Hundreds of alumni returned to the MCV Campus to re-connect with friends at Reunion Weekend. During the weekend, Leah Bush, M’84, and A.W. "Gus" Lewis, M’69, were honored as this year’s Outstanding Medical Alumnus and the Caravati Service Awardee, respectively. Read more about their contributions at the links above. You can also see photos from Reunion Weekend.

Attention Tidewater Alumni!
Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss will host a reception for medical school alumni who live in Virginia’s Tidewater area on Sunday Sept. 28 at the home of Vaughan Howard, M’77. Invitations will be mailed this summer.

Go online to give us your latest contact information to be sure that you’ll get an invitation to future events in your area. 

Alumni in the News
Edith Mitchell, M’74, was on the MCV Campus earlier this month to speak about minimizing cancer care disparities. Andrew Villamagna, M’06, has been elected a fellow by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Robert Dabrow, M’84, and Samir Pandya, M’04, both have roles as associate program directors for, respectively, the new pediatric residency program at Florida Hospital for Children and the general surgery residency at New York Medical College, Westchester Medical Center.

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