VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 2 - Number 2 - Summer 2003

We hope that you'll enjoy these quick highlights from Campus. Please
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School of Medicine!    In this issue...

Student News

Convocation 2003
On May 17, the 164 graduates of the Class of 2003 recited the Oath of Hippocrates and joined the ranks of the medical profession. The graduates responded enthusiastically to this year's convocation speaker, Dr. Stephen C. Yang, who commented on current issues in medicine and encouraged graduates to consider how they will order their priorities as they enter their residencies. Dr. Yang, a 1984 medicine alum who also completed a cardiothoracic surgical fellowship here in 1994, is Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

Graduating Medical Students Visit African Leprosy Hospital
A quartet of medical students rounded out their final semester with a visit to an African leprosy hospital, far from the lecture halls and modern labs of the School of Medicine. All fourth-year medical students may take advantage of elective time to explore different aspects of medicine - an option that these students exercised by spending two weeks at Uganda's St. Francis Leprosy Hospital. "I was surprised to discover that pretty much everyone in Uganda gets malaria. It is like getting the flu or a cold in the U.S.," said student Ashley Jones. Read more about the students' experience. 

1000th Family Practice Physician Graduates
When 40 diplomas were handed out last month to residents in the Department of Family Practice, the medical school marked the graduation of its 1,000th family practice physician. The milestone has been achieved by only four other family practice departments in the U.S. The Class of 2003 is the 30th to graduate from the department and includes residents from the school's six family practice residency programs throughout Virginia. Read more about the milestone. 

Research News

Vitamin D Compound May Enhance Radiation Treatment for Cancer
Researchers have found that a form of Vitamin D given before low-dose radiation to treat breast cancer significantly enhanced the ability of irradiation to kill malignant cells without damaging healthy tissue. The study, published in the May edition of Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, also suggests that combining the Vitamin D compound and low-dose radiation results in continued death of breast cancer cells for a week after treatment and may inhibit recurrence. Researchers used breast cancer cell cultures to test the effect. Read more about the Vitamin D study. 

Mega Doses of Blood-Clotting Drug Shown Safe
Researchers have determined that a single dose of the blood-clotting drug, NovoSeven, at a concentration nearly four times that recommended by the manufacturer, appears to be a very effective way to stop severe bleeding quickly without increasing a patient's risk of life-threatening thrombosis. The finding, reported in the May 2 issue of the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis, offers new guidance on using the correct dosage of the drug that increasingly is being used in trauma and other life-saving surgeries to stop severe bleeding. Read more about the blood-clotting study. 

Illicit Drug of Choice is Personal: Genetics, Home Life Have Little Impact
Researchers have long documented that drug abuse runs in families, but genetics and the home environment appear to have little impact on a person's choice of drug, according to researchers. They concluded that genetic factors and family environment had an impact on a person's predisposition to use and abuse a wide range of illicit substances. But other environmental factors, such as easy access to a specific drug, appeared to determine which specific illicit drug or drugs were used. Read more about the study findings.

Clinical News

Infectious Disease Experts Write SARS Guidelines
Immediate isolation of patients in private, negative pressure rooms and protection of health care workers with gloves, gowns, masks and eye coverings are important first steps in managing the spread of the SARS infection, according to a new set of guidelines developed by infectious disease experts in the School of Medicine. The recommendations, which appear in the May 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, offer a checklist for clinicians who suspect that a patient may have SARS. Read more about the guidelines. 

Virtual Colonography Uses CT to Scan for Polyps
Doctors can now use animated computer images rather than internal scopes to screen patients for colorectal polyps. The technique, called virtual colonography, uses a computer program to transform a standard CT scan of the colon into a three-dimensional, high-resolution image that doctors can "fly through" on a computer screen. VCU is currently participating in an NIH funded, two-year clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of virtual colonography screening to other techniques. More. 

Leadership Changes at VCU Health System's MCV Hospitals
Upon Dr. Hermes Kontos' retirement on July 1, 2003, Dr. Sheldon Retchin will assume the posts of chief executive officer of the VCU Health System and VCU vice president for health sciences. Dr. Retchin, whose career with the university spans 21 years, has served as VCUHS senior executive vice president and chief operating officer since 2000. Earlier this month, Mr. John F. Duval joined the VCU Health System in the role of the Chief Executive Officer of MCV Hospitals. Mr. Duval brings impressive credentials and experience from his previous position as Chief Operating Officer of the University Medical Center at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, a post he held for the past six years. Read more about the careers of Drs. Kontos and Retchin. 

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming CME offerings 
The 25th Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference will be held July 25-27, 2003, in Virginia Beach. Offering up to 13.0 hours in AMA category 1 credit and Type 1 or Type 2 CME credits required by the Virginia Board of Medicine, the course is designed for physicians and other health care professionals who deliver primary care to children and adolescents. Each half-day program is devoted to one of the following subject areas: emergency medicine, primary care, and developmental pediatrics. Learn more about this and other CME offerings that are available through the medical school's Office of Continuing Medical Education

Back by Popular Demand - The Second Annual Alumni Update Course 
Because of the positive response to last year's inaugural course, the day-long CME marathon will return this fall, on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Education Complex. Save the date and plan to join the Medical School Advisory Council, fellow alumni and School of Medicine faculty for a full-day program covering the latest issues across a broad range of fields. Details will be available later this summer on the OCME Website listed above. 

Alumni News

Dr. Neifeld to Head Surgery
Surgical oncologist and educator James P. Neifeld, M.D., has been appointed as Stuart McGuire Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery. A medical school alumnus, Dr. Neifeld joined the faculty in 1978 and was appointed vice-chair of surgery in April 2002. Read more about Dr. Neifeld. 

Dr. Fulcher to Head Radiology
Ann S. Fulcher, M.D., who took over as chair of radiology in February, aims to grow the department by focusing on high technology areas as well as faculty recruitment and retention. A 1987 alum of the medical school, Dr. Fulcher also completed her residency training at MCV Hospitals in 1991. Read more aboutDr. Fulcher. 

Infectious Disease Expert Publishes New Textbook
Dr. Richard P. Wenzel, William Branch Porter Professor and Chair of Internal Medicine, has revised his seminal textbook on hospital-acquired infections. The completely revised Fourth Edition of "Prevention and Control of Nosocomial Infections" is a comprehensive guide to the prevention and control of hospital-acquired infections, which affect about 3.5 million patients annually. Concerns about infection control in the era of bioterror, Mad Cow Disease in Europe and new devices used in U.S. hospitals are discussed in detail. Read more about the new text. 

Two Alums Honored at Reunion Weekend '03 
In April, more than 1,200 alumni and their families from the five MCV Campus schools returned to Richmond. Amidst the dinners, picnics, and antique appraising, the medical school honored two of its own for their remarkable careers in medicine. Dr. Harold W. Kimmerling, M'53, received the 2003 Outstanding Medical Alumnus Award for distinguished contributions to health care at Friday night's all class dinner. The next night, at the Grand Alumni dinner for those who graduated in 1954 and earlier, Dr. Chai Chang Choi, M'35, was saluted for his Life-Long Distinguished Service to the Healing Arts. Read more about Dr. Kimmerling and Dr. Choi

Dr. Colenda Named Medicine Dean at Texas A&M System
Earlier this year, Dr. Christopher Colenda, M'77, was named Dean of the College of Medicine at the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. In addition to earning his medical degree in Richmond, Dr. Colenda also served on faculty in the medical school early in his career. Read more about Dr. Colenda

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