VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 4 - Number 1 - Winter 2005

We hope that you'll enjoy these quick highlights from the MCV Campus. Please forward this newsletter to friends who might like to learn more about the School of Medicine! In this issue...

Student News

University's top multiculturalism award goes to medical student 
Susangeline Strickland, a second-year medical student, recently received the Riese Melton Award, the capstone award given to the university member who has done the most to promote VCU's mission of diversity. She was recognized for her work tutoring disadvantaged inner-city children in the Church Hill neighborhood where she and her husband Percy live. Susangeline also participates in the Department of Family Medicine's Inner City/Rural Preceptorship, a program open to students interested in practicing in medically under-served communities in Virginia. 

Students organize EKG workshop 
Rapidly and accurately interpreting EKGs can be a daunting task. For nearly 100 first- and second-year medical students, the challenge was made more manageable through January 8's Basic EKG Interpretation Course. Timed to augment the M2 Cardiology course and the M1 Physiology Course's Cardiac Section, the student-organized workshop received tremendous positive feedback. This course, and a follow-up workshop scheduled for February, are supported in part by the School of Medicine's Annual Fund. Learn more about the EKG workshops and how your Annual Fund gift impacts the medical school. 

Research News

$3.2 million to evaluate pharmaceutical drugs to combat cocaine abuseThe National Institute of Drug Abuse has awarded $3.2 million to VCU's Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies to test therapeutic drugs that could help cocaine abusers deal with their addiction. "Each year about 1 million Americans try cocaine for the first time, and many of them go on to become addicted," said Robert Balster, Ph.D., director of the institute. "Unfortunately there are no approved medications for the treatment of cocaine abusers." Read more about the award

Scientists decode genome of potential bioterror agent 
The genome sequence of a dangerous parasite with bioterrorism potential has been decoded, enabling scientists to better understand the organism and work to develop vaccines and therapeutic drugs, wrote Gregory A. Buck, Ph.D., a professor in microbiology and immunology, in the Nov. 28 issue of the journal Nature. Read more about the research

New technique patented, to be used in regenerative medicine
VCU scientists and engineers have developed and patented a unique technique to grow three-dimensional tissues and organs in a mold made from material the human body naturally uses to repair wounds, potentially eliminating the chance for rejection. If successful, the new technique eventually would allow patients to grow new organs from their own cells and in effect, be their own transplant donors. Three researchers from the School of Medicine participated in the work to develop the technique

Clinical News

Critical Care Bed Tower project underway 
Construction of a state-of-the-art, 16-level, critical care bed tower was launched in early January. The $100-million facility, which is expected to be in operation in 2007, will allow a major expansion of the Emergency Department and will expand the medical center's critical-care capacity. Read more about the critical care bed tower and see the architectural concept. 

Racial equity in health could save more lives than advances 
The number of lives saved by medical advances over the last 10 years is far outdistanced by the number of lives lost to racial disparities in health status, according to Steven H. Woolf, M.D., professor and director of research in the Department of Family Medicine. "Policymakers should reconsider the prudence of investing billions of dollars in the development of new drugs and technologies, while investing only a fraction of that amount in the correction of racial disparities in health." Read more about Dr. Woolf's analysis, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health. 

Neurosurgeon develops new device for deep brain surgery 
Neurosurgeon Kathryn Holloway, M.D., was the lead developer of a new piece of equipment that is now being used by physicians in 20 hospitals around the world to perform delicate surgical procedures deep inside the brain. Read more about the so-called "frameless" device that is being used in highly precise surgical techniques that place tiny electrodes into remote areas of the brain to treat Parkinson's disease, tremors and dystonia. 

Faculty News

Physiology professor receives national medical educator award 
Accordions, rubber bands, Slinkies, and a mattress spring are the tools of the trade in Dr. Linda Costanzo's first-year respiratory physiology course as she demonstrates how diseases like emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis take their toll on lung function. Read more about how her trademark method for making complex concepts understandable led to the physiology professor being chosen to receive the 2004 AOA Medical Honor Society's Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Chairman of Radiation Oncology Dies at 61 
Dr. Rupert K. A. Schmidt-Ullrich has died after a lengthy illness. The nationally and internationally recognized radiation oncologist and molecular radiobiologist was the founding chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Read more about Dr. Schmidt-Ullrich, who had been recently appointed as the first Florence and Hyman Meyers Chair of Radiation Oncology. 

Professor publishes first-of-its-kind book on psychosomatic medicine 
James L. Levenson, M.D., vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, has edited the first textbook in the newly recognized subspecialty devoted to the treatment of psychiatric disorders in complex medically ill patients. VCU has one of the only accredited fellowships in the country in psychosomatic medicine, a term that refers to the effects of mind and body on each other, interacting in health and illness. 

School News

Proposed building to honor Medical College of Virginia tradition 
The VCU Board of Visitors has approved commemorating the proud tradition of the Medical College of Virginia through the naming of an educational building proposed for the School of Medicine. To be known as the MCV Health Sciences Building, the 500,000 square-foot building would provide modern classroom and laboratory facilities commensurate with the nation's top medical schools. To be situated on the land currently occupied by West Hospital and AD Williams, the building is anticipated to be VCU's highest priority for the next state bond bill. View architectural renderings of the proposed building. 

Alumni News

Reception honors DC-Area alumni 
In November, the School of Medicine hosted a reception for 60 alumni and friends from the DC region. Dr. Dickie Newsome, Dean of Medicine, and Dr. Hugo Seibel, retired Associate Dean of Student Activities, were on hand to welcome guests. See pictures from the reception. 

Dean's Tea draws Grand Alumni and Emeriti Faculty 
More than four dozen guests enjoyed an afternoon reception for Grand Alumni and Emeriti Faculty at The Country Club of Virginia on November 14. See pictures from the reception

Make sure that your contact info is up-to-date so that you'll receive invitations to future School of Medicine alumni receptions.

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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 breast imaging, gastroenterology, and leadership.

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