VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 6 - Number 3 - Summer 2007

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

Step I of the Boards Is Behind Them 
Coached by Physiology Course Director Dr. Linda Costanzo, the second-year medical students have made it through one of the big hurdles of their medical education: Step I of the National Boards. Along the way, they benefited from an intensive study schedule that featured 60 content reviews by stellar faculty and personalized study plans. And through the Annual Fund, they received encouragement and good wishes that arrived in the form of goodie bags given out during an 8-hour marathon physiology review. Read more about how our students prepare for the intimidating test

Graduate Student to Attend International Meeting of Nobel Laureates 
Microbiology and Immunology's Jennifer Patterson has been appointed by the National Science Foundation to a U.S. delegation traveling to the 57th Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. Since 1951, Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, physics and medicine have met with students from various countries annually to discuss their research and issues of importance in their fields. Read more about the meeting at which 20 Nobel laureates will gather with 500 young scientists from across the globe. 

Club Med - Largest of Its Kind in the US 
For students interested in Internal Medicine, Club Med provides exposure to the specialty as well as access to role models and mentors from the faculty and community. With a membership of 472, the student group represents the largest club in the country. This past spring, Club Med sponsored a lunchtime panel with fourth-year students who had matched to Internal Medicine residencies. Sponsored in part by the Annual Fund, the lunchtime panel provided a venue for the M4s to share their perspective on what residencies look for and what their fellow students could be doing to better prepare themselves for matching into a great residency. 

Research News

Cure for Hepatitis C 
"It is rare in the treatment of life-threatening viral diseases that we can tell patients they may be cured," said Mitchell Shiffman, M.D., chief of hepatology and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program. "In hepatitis C today, we are able to help some patients achieve an outcome that effectively enables them to put their disease behind them." Read more and hear Dr. Shiffman comment on the study that showed nearly all patients treated successfully with peginterferon alone, or in combination with ribavirin, had no detectable virus up to seven years later. 

Rural Hospitals Show Improvement in Patient Safety Systems 
A new study examining patient safety systems in rural hospitals shows that these hospitals are making changes to address the problem more rapidly than urban hospitals. Daniel Longo, Sc.D., director of research in the Department of Family Medicine, says that the gap between urban and rural quality measures is narrowing. Read more about the patient safety report

Correlation Between Bile Duct Obstruction and Ductal Cancer 
The Department of Pathology's Alphonse E. Sirica, Ph.D., recently presented findings that show a correlation between bile duct obstruction and ductal cancer. Read more about the findings that establish a unique preclinical model that can be used to rapidly test and evaluate novel molecular treatment strategies. 

Clinical News

Blood Conservation Guidelines Developed for Cardiac Procedures 
A new set of clinical guidelines can help physicians decrease the need for blood transfusions in high-risk patients during cardiac operations. "If these guidelines are adopted by a majority of cardiovascular centers in the world, we can decrease the amount of blood transfusions, blood usage and cost and blood shortages would be less frequent and not occur to such a degree," said Anesthesiology's Bruce Spiess, M.D. Read more and hear Dr. Spiess comment on the conservation guidelines

Informed Men Less Likely to Choose Prostate Cancer Screening 
"Whether to be screened for prostate cancer is a difficult decision for patients," said Alex Krist, M.D., an assistant professor of family medicine. "Given that informed patients are less likely to opt for screening, clinicians clearly need to provide patients information about the risks and benefits of screening prior to testing. Ultimately, this will allow each patient's values to be incorporated into their screening decision." Read more about the screening study

School News

On the Road 
The medical school has stepped up its traveling schedule recently, with Dr. Jerry Strauss hosting alumni receptions on both coasts. Over the past several months, receptions have been held in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Florida, San Francisco and most recently in Chicago. Drawing up to 50 guests in a single evening, the events allow the Dean to share his vision for the medical school. Plans are underway for future visits in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. See pictures from San Francisco and Florida

CME - Pediatrics at the Beach 
The 29th Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference will take place July 20-22 at the Hilton Oceanfront Hotel in Virginia Beach. Three half-day sessions include topics in Emergency Medicine, Primary Care and Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. This CME course is designed for physicians and other health-care professionals who deliver primary care to children and adolescents. For more information call (804) 828-3640 or register on-line

CME - Controversies and Updates in the Management of Prostate CancerTo be held September 29 at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, this course is designed for physicians and other health-care professionals who deliver care to patients with prostate cancer. The conference will cover the latest issues and updates in the management of prostate cancer in the areas of surgery, radiation therapy, systematic therapies, imaging and the economics of prostate cancer. For more information call (804) 828-3640 or register on-line

Charitable IRA Rollovers 
A limited-time provision for charitable contributions from Individual Retirement Accounts could give you an unprecedented opportunity to help the medical school. Between now and December 31, 2007, individuals aged 70 ½ and older may transfer up to $100,000 per year. The charitable distribution counts toward Minimum Required Distribution requirements and may be made in addition to any other charitable giving you may have planned. The provision does include some limitations, and we recommend you seek the advice of your tax and/or legal counsel before deciding on a course of action. If you would like more information about your options under this unique provision, please contact Tom Holland, Associate Dean for Development at (800) 332-8813, (804) 828-3800 or

Alumni News

Reunion Weekend 2007 - April 27, Richmond 
The last weekend in April saw the MCV Campus brimming with more than 1300 alumni and friends who had returned to celebrate Reunion. The weekend's attendance was the largest turnout since 1999! The School of Medicine's Classes of 1957 and 1982 celebrated the 50th and 25th anniversaries of their graduations by making generous gifts in support of student scholarships in the medical school. In appreciation of the graduates' support of current students, Dean Jerry Strauss announced his intention to match what each Class raises dollar for dollar -- thereby doubling the gifts' impact. See pictures from Reunion Weekend

Save the date for Reunion Weekend 2008: April 10-13, 2008 
Classes ending in '3s and '8s - mark your calendar! Reacquaint with classmates, revisit campus buildings, reunite with your medical class. Reunion Weekend promises to be a great gathering of MCV friends both old and new. Again this year, the weekend will kickoff with Friday's day-long CME course designed to update you on a broad variety of topics. 

Planning for Reunion Weekend is underway! If you would like to volunteer to serve as your class representative and assist with the planning of your class event, please contact Lelia Brinegar, Director of Alumni Affairs for the School of Medicine, at

Let Us Know Who's Gone on to Greatness! 
Nominations are now being accepted for both the Outstanding Medical Alumnus Award and the Caravati Service Award, which are presented during Reunion Weekend. The Outstanding Medical Alumnus Award honors a graduate who is nationally recognized and acknowledged by leaders in the field of medicine as having made distinguished contributions to health care. The Caravati Service Award is presented to an alumnus in recognition of service to the MCV Alumni Association, participation in activities of the School of Medicine and contributions to their local community. Nominations are particularly encouraged of those classmates celebrating a reunion in 2008. If you would like information on the nomination process for either award, please contact Lelia Brinegar, Director of Alumni Affairs for the School of Medicine, at All nomination materials must be received by November 1. 

Alum Recounts Experiences in Iraq 
During his time in Baghdad, U.S. Army Capt. David Steinbruner, M'01, H'04, was stationed at the 10th Combat Support Hospital. Said to be the busiest in Iraq - and with a reported 94 percent save rate - the hospital and its staff were featured on CNN's program "Combat Hospital." In May, Dr. Steinbruner returned to his training ground to recount some of those experiences during the Department of Emergency Medicine's grand rounds. Read more about Dr. Steinbruner's visit or go to the CNN Web site to view portions of the television program. 

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Check out the upcoming CME offerings from the medical school's Office of Continuing Physician Professional Development & Evaluation Studies including conferences in Pediatrics and Prostate Cancer.

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