VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 7 - Number 1 - Winter 2008

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

A Friendly Face in an Unfamiliar Place 
Thanks to alumni participating in a pilot program, fourth-year students traveling around the country for residency interviews had help in facing the daunting costs as well as the challenges of navigating unfamiliar cities. The program, Help Our Students Travel, matched students with alumni who were willing to provide a place to stay as well as invaluable advice about residency training, the prospective medical center and the community in which they were interviewing. Learn more about the HOST program and how Kendra Sweet, M'07, welcomed Mireille Truong to Arizona this fall. If you would like to participate next year, contact Lelia Brinegar at

National Kudos for Student Group 
The Student Family Medicine Association has been awarded a 2007 Program of Excellence Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The awards recognize Family Medicine Interest Groups for their efforts to stimulate interest in the organization's activities and careers in family medicine. The award is presented annually to just 10 model programs on medical school campuses around the nation who exhibit exemplary efforts. To learn more about the group's activities, check out its nomination package

Research News

Healthy Pregnancies Are Focus of Two New Grants 
Medical school researchers are working to change some alarming statistics. Nearly $10 million in recently awarded federal grants will help in the battle to eliminate health disparities among racial and ethnic populations through research in the field of maternal, infant and child health. Despite improvements to the nation's general health, African-Americans experience adverse pregnancy outcomes much more frequently than whites, resulting in infant death rates that are more than twice those of the white population. Read more about the projects that include both basic and clinical research. 

Trauma Study Reports Results with "Blood Substitute" PolyHeme 
An experimental blood substitute called PolyHeme may improve survival of critically injured and bleeding patients when blood is needed but not available. Read more about the results of the blood substitute study, which involved 32 Level-1 trauma centers across the U.S. and were presented at the American College of Surgeons meeting in November. 

$2 Million Supports Work to Develop New Cancer Therapies 
Steven Grant, M.D., Massey Cancer Center's associate director for translational research, has received two research grants in support of his work to develop new cancer therapies. Read more about the NCI renewal totaling nearly $1.3 million that is directed to improving the activity of a novel class of agents in the treatment of leukemia and other blood malignancies. A second $700,000 grant from the V Foundation for Cancer Research supports his work to develop new strategies and create treatment approaches for multiple myeloma and related blood cancers. 

Clinical News

Some Clinicians Recommend Repeat Colonoscopies Too Soon 
While colonoscopies are important screening tools to detect colon cancer, the review of Alex Krist, M.D., assistant professor in the department of family medicine, found that in only 39 percent of cases were endoscopists' suggestions correct as to when retesting should occur. Read more about the study findings

Healthy Behaviors 
An updated resource gives clinicians a complete overview on helping patients adopt health behaviors and how to deliver recommended screening tests and immunizations. Family Medicine Professor Dr. Steven Woolf's "Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice" offers practical guidance on how to counsel patients on topics such as exercise, nutrition, substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections. The second edition also features a chapter about using electronic medical records. 

School News

A New Facility for Teaching and Training 
VCU has two major state legislative priorities for the General Assembly session that convenes this month. The first is a proposal to establish a state-of-the-art training hub for medical students, residents, physicians, and other healthcare providers on the site of A. D. Williams Clinic. The Governor has included $59 million in state support for the construction of the new building as part of a proposed general obligation bond. If the state's General Assembly approves the bond package, the project will be submitted to the voters on the November 2008 ballot, for funding in mid-year of 2009. You can learn more about our plans for a new School of Medicine Building, which would allow class size to be expanded up to 250 students, at

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

6th Annual Alumni Update Course
April 11, 2008
Richmond, Va

Kick off Reunion Weekend with nationally recognized faculty from the School of Medicine. The daylong CME course on Friday offers up to 6.75 credit hours and covers a range of topics from Parkinson's disease to obesity and depression. Plan to start Reunion Weekend early, or even make a special trip to Richmond - the course is open to all alumni, including those not celebrating a Reunion year. 

36th Annual Hans Berger Symposium 
May 19-20, 2008 
on the MCV Campus 

Distinguished faculty from epilepsy centers and neurophysiology laboratories across the country have been invited to the 36th annual commemoration of Hans Berger's birthday. This symposium offers 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 Conference
July 18-20, 2008 
Virginia Beach 

The 30th Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference will feature three half-day sessions on topics including Emergency Medicine, Primary Care and Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. This course is designed for physicians and other health care professionals who deliver primary care to children and adolescents. An on-line brochure and registration will be available February 1. 

Health System CEO Speaks Out on Graduate Medical Education 
Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin, chief executive officer of the VCU Health System, testified before a Congressional Committee that a proposal to eliminate Medicaid funding for graduate medical education would endanger the ability of teaching hospitals to maintain their mission of training physicians as well as reduce the access of millions of Americans to healthcare. Read more about Dr. Retchin's testimony

He has also been appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to the 17-member Council on Graduate Medical Education. Read more about his appointment to the Council that provides an ongoing assessment of physician workforce trends, training issues and financing policies, and recommends appropriate federal and private sector efforts to address graduate medical education issues. 

Ornato to Receive AHA Lifetime Achievement Award 
The American Heart Association has selected Joseph Ornato, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, as recipient of the 2007 Resuscitation Science Symposium Lifetime Achievement Award for Cardiac Resuscitation Science. Read more about Dr. Ornato's career and award

Alumni News

Save the date for Reunion Weekend 2008: April 11-13, 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 such as obesity, updates on treatments for depression, and research advances in Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. If you have not received a Reunion class letter from your class representative, please contact Lelia Brinegar, Alumni Outreach for the School of Medicine, at Reunion Weekend information and invitations will be mailed in February. 

Two Alums Turned Faculty Receive National Honors 
Ellen M. Palen, M.D., and Mark H. Ryan, M.D., are among a select group of physicians honored by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation for their commitment to education in the field of family medicine. Both physicians received their medical degrees and completed residencies at the School of Medicine and are now family medicine preceptors with the school. The annual awards recognize 15 outstanding community-based family physicians who combine clinical practice with part-time teaching of family medicine. This is the first time the award has gone to two recipients from the same institution. Read more about Dr. Ellen Palen and Dr. Mark Ryan

MCV Alumni Association names 2007 Outstanding Medical Alumnus 
A highly respected researcher whose specialties include geographic medicine and vaccine development, 1967 graduate Myron M. Levine, M.D. traces the interests he pursues today to his years in the MD program. "It was at MCV that I developed an interest in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases," Levine said. "I had also always had a fascination with tropical medicine, and MCV encouraged and supported that interest of mine, which at that time was a bit unusual." Read more about Dr Levine's career and watch video clips from an interview with him. 

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