VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 1 - Number 2 - Fall 2002

With a new school year getting underway, there are many campus happenings to report. We hope that you'll enjoy these quick highlights. Please forward this newsletter to friends who might like to learn more about the School of Medicine! In this issue...

Student News
First-Year Class Arrives on Campus

The 184 incoming medical students were welcomed to campus with an annual rite of passage, the White Coat Ceremony. As part of orientation activities, the students were cloaked, one-by-one, in their first white coats -- the traditional symbol of their new field. This year's largest-ever class also -- with 93 women -- boasts the second highest percentage of women in its history. At an average age of 23.8 years, this is also one of the youngest classes in recent memory.See pictures from the White Coat Ceremony.

Egyptian Building Renovated

The first permanent home of the medical school, the Egyptian Building housed both classes and patients in 1845. Recent renovations to the building's interior have allowed the first-year class to once again gather for lectures in its auditorium and in upstairs rooms for small-group teaching. Considered one of the United States' finest examples of neo-Egyptian architecture, the structure is the oldest university building in the country still used for its original purpose.See pictures of the Egyptian Building through the years

Research News
Massey Cancer Center Renews Its NCI Designation

The Massey Cancer Center has successfully renewed its distinction as an NCI-designated cancer research center. As one of approximately 60 cancer centers in the U.S. to earn this recognition, Massey's designation - good for the maximum five years - means that the organization will receive a $9.3 million grant that will help to support Massey's research infrastructure. Read more

Researchers Identify Gene with Schizophrenia Tie

This summer, an international team of researchers identified a gene located in the middle of the short arm of Chromosome 6 that appears to be strongly associated with schizophrenia and related mental disorders. Led by School of Medicine Professor Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., co-director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, the international team analyzed the genetics of 270 Irish families. Schizophrenia is a complex disease that up to now has frustrated researchers' attempts to identify the genes responsible for the illness. To read more or watch Dr. Kendler discussing the study, click here. (The video can be viewed with RealOne Player plug-in.) 

A New Use for Viagra

Viagra has a new and potentially important use - heart protection. The discovery by Rakesh C. Kukreja, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and Eric Lipman Chair in cardiology, is particularly noteworthy because Viagra generally is not recommended or prescribed now to men with many types of heart problems. Dr. Kukreja began looking at Viagra early this year as part of his on-going research into "preconditioning," which is a way to protect the heart muscle from serious future damage by subjecting it to very brief periods of deprivation of blood flow. To read more or watch Dr. Kukreja discussing the study, click here. (The video can be viewed with RealOne Player plug-in.) 

Working to Develop a Vaccine to Treat Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bug-borne illness that, if not caught early, can have serious consequences for the hundreds of thousands of people infected every year. With two NIH grants totaling $3.6 million, Richard T. Marconi, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology, is one of only a dozen researchers in the world working to develop a vaccine and a more accurate test so doctors can treat the disease before serious health problems develop. "The bacteria can change its identity until it's no longer recognized by the immune system, which allows the cycle to continue," Dr. Marconi says. To read more or watch Dr. Marconi discussing the study, click here. (The video can be viewed with RealOne Player plug-in.)

Higher Ed Bond Bill Will Support Medical School Research Capacity

On Nov. 5, Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for a general obligation bond referendum that will provide $846 million in bond funds for higher education in the commonwealth. A vital issue for the School of Medicine, the passage of this referendum will provide almost $77 million for critically important projects around VCU, including $10 million toward an addition to the Massey Cancer Center that would provide state-of-the-art clinical research labs, $22.5 million toward the construction of a Medical Sciences Building that would house instructional and research space, and $7.9 million toward needed Sanger Hall renovations. Read more

Clinical News
Vetrovec to Take Helm of Association of University Cardiologists

George Vetrovec, M.D., professor of internal medicine and chief of cardiology, is president-elect of the Association of University Cardiologists. He will serve as president in 2003. The AUC is an organization of active academic cardiologists chosen for significant success in their careers including research, teaching and clinical activities.

Infectious Disease Expert Accepts State Post

This summer, Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner announced the appointment of Lisa G. Kaplowitz, M.D., M.S.H.A., as Virginia Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Preparedness and Response. She assumed her new duties Aug. 5. Kaplowitz was a familiar face on the medical campus, serving as founding director of the HIV/AIDS Center since 1993 in addition to her role as associate professor in internal medicine. Gov. Warner said that Kaplowitz's appointment is "a crucial step" in the state health department's efforts to deal with bioterrorism threats. Read more.

Alumni News
Mark Your Calendars for Reunion

Alumni from class years ending in '3s and '8s should mark their calendars for Reunion Weekend - April 25-27. Plan to come back to campus, see old friends and make new ones! Detailed Reunion information will be sent this fall. 

Romano Appointed to VCU Board

Michelle A. Romano, M.D., a 1984 graduate of the medical school, has been appointed by Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner to the VCU Board of Visitors. An assistant clinical professor in the medical school's Department of Family Practice since 1991, Dr. Romano is in private practice in family medicine in Northern Virginia. A current member of the Medical School Advisory Council, she also served on the School of Medicine's Alumni Board from 1989 to 1992.Read more about Dr. Romano. 

O'Bannon Appointed to VCU Health System Board

John M. O'Bannon III, M.D., a 1973 graduate of the medical school, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the VCU Health System. Representing the 73rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2001, Dr. O'Bannon is a partner in Neurological Associates, a leading Richmond medical practice. A recipient of the Caravati Service Award from the MCV Alumni Association, he has also served as chairman of the Medical School Advisory Council. Read more about Dr. O'Bannon.

First-time Alumni Update Course - Nov. 1, 2002

Please join the Medical School Advisory Council, your fellow alumni, and faculty from the MCV Campus for our inaugural alumni update course. At the request of our alumni wishing for more opportunities to obtain CME credits, we have designed a one day program that is meant to cover the latest issues in a broad range of fields. Whether you are a physician in active practice or a retired alumnus who wishes to stay current, you will find an opportunity to learn, to interact, and to connect with the medical school. Please join us for an exciting marathon of medical topics - running shoes are optional! Click here for more information on the day's agenda: To request an invitation, please call the Office of Alumni and Development at (804) 828-4800 or (800) 332-8813, or send an email to Pam Vaughan. Space is limited.

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  Egyptian Building


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