VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 8 - Number 1 - Winter 2009

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

Spider Bites, Bee Stings and Shark Attacks. Oh My! 
With perpetrators ranging from tiny fire ants to a nine-and-a-half-foot bull shark, Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner, Leah Bush, M.D., recently visited the MCV Campus to introduce medical students to the sometimes deadly encounters that Virginians have had with the animal kingdom. Read more about the disease processes and clues for diagnosis shared by Dr. Bush, who is also an alumna of the medical school's Class of 1984

Students Recall Fear, Fascination of the Anatomy Lab 
An overcast day a week before the Thanksgiving holiday found 48 second-year students gathered to remember and thank those who had donated their bodies to medical science. Often regarded as the first patient a medical student encounters, the cadaver is invaluable in helping medical students develop a 'visual picture' of the body's three-dimensional structure. Read more about how the generosity of those donors had shaped the students' first year of medical school -- sometimes in dramatic ways. 

Research News

Delays and Disparities in Colon Cancer 
"African Americans get more colon cancer and die from it more often than their white counterparts," says Laura A. Siminoff, Ph.D., who chairs the Department of Social and Behavioral. She has been awarded two NCI grants totaling more than $4.25 million that will support her examination of physician response to patients who may have colon cancer as well as how patients respond to their own symptoms. Read more about the studies, including one in which trained actors will visit 110 primary care physicians unannounced and present prediagnosis symptoms of colon cancer. 

$2 Million Grant to Train Researchers and Develop Statistical Tools 
Genetic studies generate such a large amount of data that there is a shortage of individuals qualified to analyze it. Michael Neale, Ph.D., professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Human and Molecular Genetics, has landed an NIH education grant that will tap into the university's substance abuse research spanning multiple departments. Read more about his approach to uncovering complex genetic and environmental pathways that lead to serious substance abuse and addiction. 

Genetic Mechanism Promotes Metastasis in Human Cancer Cells 
Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, has reported how a gene interacts with an important signaling protein to promote metastasis in human melanoma cells, a discovery that could one day lead to the development of the next generation of anti-metastatic drugs for melanoma and other cancers. Read more about the findings that were published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Clinical News

Researchers Downplay Targeted MRSA Screening 
Three medical school faculty are downplaying the value of mandatory universal nasal screening of patients for MRSA that have been mandated by some states. Writing in the November issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the team argues that "hospitals get more bang for their buck with evidence-based infection control prevention." Read more about the researchers' suggestion that hospitals facing multiple bacteria with broad resistance should have the goal of reducing the overall burden of infections.

Pauley Heart Center is First to Use Intracardiac Ultrasound 
Traditionally, ultrasound imaging of the heart is done outside the chest with a probe and requires a large, heavy machine that cannot be moved easily. Now, the VCU Pauley Heart Center is the first in the U.S. to use a new type of intracardiac ultrasound that produces enhanced imaging of the heart, allowing cardiac electrophysiologists to better diagnose and treat atrial fibrillation. Read more about the ultrasound technique that cardiology professor Kenneth Ellenbogen, M.D., says "gives us spectacular images ... and helps us do an even better job of ablating atrial fibrillation." 

Alumni News McCue Award Honors Woman Cardiologist of the Year 
Cedars-Sinai's Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., a nationally recognized authority on preventive cardiology and women's heart health, has taken the top honor as the inaugural McCue Woman Cardiologist of the Year, presented by the VCU Pauley Heart Center. The award has been 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 or learn more about the McCue Award

Med School Goes on the Road 
Next stop: Alums and Friends in Florida's Delray Beach area! Go online to give us your latest contact information and let us know if you can attend the upcoming gathering on Thursday, Jan. 22.

Class Years Ending in '4s and '9s - Save the date for Reunion 2009! 
Reunion Weekend 2009 will be held April 24-26. Start the weekend early at the medical school's day-long CME course on Friday, April 24, where you can earn up to 6.75 credit hours. The Reunion celebration will begin on Friday night with a reception on the Egyptian Building Plaza, and activities will continue on Saturday with tours of campus and class events. Complete Reunion information will be mailed in February and posted on the MCV Alumni Association website. Meanwhile, review a detailed CME course brochure.

School News

Ornato Elected to Institute of Medicine 
Election to the Institute of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Learn more about Chief of Emergency Medicine Joseph Ornato, M.D., who is among the 65 new members and five foreign associates who are the latest to be elected to the IOM. 

Historic Markers dedicated on the MCV Campus 
In October, VCU unveiled historic markers commemorating the history of the St. Philip School of Nursing and the birthplace of cardiac transplantation. The cardiac transplantation marker honors the pioneering basic, clinical and translational research in the medical school that laid the foundation for successful cardiac transplantation. Pictures and video are available online. 

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 may transfer up to $100,000 per year in both 2008 and 2009 directly from your IRA to the MCV Foundation. While you cannot claim a charitable deduction for the IRA gifts, you will not pay income tax on the amount. The provision does include some limitations, so be sure to contact your tax professional or IRA administrator if you are considering a gift. If you would like more information about your options, please contact 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.

13th Annual Virginia Liver Symposium and Update in Gastroenterology 
Feb. 21, 2009
Richmond Marriott Hotel

The program is designed for physicians and midlevel medical providers who treat patients with liver and gastrointestinal disorders. 

17th Annual Pathways to Leadership Conference
March 20, 2009 
Kontos Medical Sciences & Egyptian Buildings on the MCV Campus

The Women in Science, Dentistry & Medicine's annual leadership conference offers community practitioners as well as faculty and students a keynote address on negotiation skills as well as seven workshops designed to promote professional development.

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

Distinguished faculty from epilepsy centers and neurophysiology laboratories across the country have been invited to the 37th annual commemoration of Hans Berger's birthday to hear practical information in applying state-of-the-art electrodiagnostic testing in the clinical management of patients with epilepsy and related disorders. 

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.

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Before Winter Break, the first-year students were tested on their anatomical knowledge. Now test yours! Which of the terms below is NOT an anatomical structure?

a) frenulum linguae
b) Pisiform
c) umbra
d) torus tubarius
e) sustentaculum tali

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Check out the upcoming CME offerings from the medical school's Office of Continuing Professional Development & Evaluation Studies including conferences.

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