VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 7 - Number 2 - Spring 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

Match Day! 
The School of Medicine experienced an unprecedented Match Day this year. Over the past five years, the percentage of our students who match prior to the scramble has steadily increased from 82%. This year, we exceeded even the national average, with 96% of our students matching to a program of their choice. We also had an unusually high number of students who matched into the most competitive residencies and who will train at prestigious institutions across the country. Many factors have encouraged this progress including a four-year comprehensive career planning curriculum that was recently recognized by an LCME accreditation team as a strength of our school. See pictures from Match Day and a list of students’ residency destinations

¿Se Habla Español? 
With America’s Spanish-speaking population on the increase, physicians may soon find that language skills are as important as clinical skills. For her classmates whose Spanish is a little rusty – or non-existent – second-year student Esther Johnston has created a friendly, low-stress environment where they can learn and practice. Click here to learn more about the Spanish Table, watch a video of students practicing their Spanish while taking vital signs, and listen to Esther’s suggestions of phrases that are useful in the clinic. 

Headed to the Olympic Trials 

Fourth-year medical student Cheryl Anderson has qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in Boston on April 20. She qualified by running a 2:42.53 in the 2007 Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, her first-ever marathon. The College of William and Mary track and cross-country star has been accepted into Yale University's pediatric residency program.

Research News

Genetic factors may influence common fears 
As we move from childhood to young adulthood, the genes that influence our common fears of rats or the dark change considerably over time rather than staying static. "The genome is a dynamic place," said Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D. "Evolution has likely shaped our genomes to adapt to changing developmental situations. For example, what an 8-year-old child should be afraid of is not the same as that of a 20-year-old young adult. Our genome reflects that difference." Read more about the research, published earlier this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry. 

Critical Injury and Illness Research Group Lands $3.5 Million in Grants 
The Office of Naval Research awarded $3.5 million in four grants to VCURES for research using the blood substitute Oxycyte in studies of decompression sickness, embolisms, traumatic brain injury and blast injuries. Read more about these VCURES grants that are the latest in approximately $35 million in research funding over an eight-year period with a myriad of applications in areas as diverse as traumatic brain injury, the military, homeland security and emergency medicine. 

Sickle Cell Pain Far More Common and Severe than Previously Thought 
"We were surprised that a third of the patients said they were in pain nearly every day," said Wally R. Smith, M.D. Most patients manage even severe sickle cell pain at home rather than go to an emergency room or hospital, according to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Read more about the report that could lead to changes in the measurement and management of pain in patients with sickle cell disease

Clinical News

Lower Survival Rate for In-Hospital Cardiac Arrests at Night, on Weekends
Patients who have an in-hospital cardiac arrest at night or on the weekend have a substantially lower rate of survival to discharge than hospitalized patients who experience a cardiac arrest during the day or on weekdays. Lead author Mary Ann Peberdy, M.D., says the detection and treatment of cardiac arrests may be less effective at night because of patient, hospital, staffing and response factors. Read more about the nationwide study that involved more than 500 hospitals and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Asking About Smoking Status when Checking Vitals Increases Advice to Quit 
Even offering simple advice to quit could result in more patients kicking the habit, according to Family Medicine's Stephen Rothemich, M.D. "Our findings add weight to arguments that increasing the delivery of this more effective counseling requires redesigning medical practices and health systems, including strategies like linking practices with telephone quit lines," he said. Read more about the smoking study that was published in the Annals of Family Medicine. 

NEW REVIEW: Metformin for the Treatment of PCOS 
A review published in The New England Journal of Medicine offers improved treatment guidelines for women with polycystic ovary syndrome, the leading cause of infertility in American women. "Over the past 10 years, the long-term treatment of PCOS has changed considerably with appreciation of the disorder's association with insulin resistance and substantial long-term metabolic risks," said author John Nestler, M.D. Read more about the treatment guidelines

Alumni News

Reunion Weekend Recap 
Alumni from all MCV Campus schools returned to Richmond earlier this month to celebrate Reunion milestones. More than 300 medical alumni participated in campus tours, class dinners and a host of other activities. In addition, classes participating in the newly instituted tradition of Reunion Class Giving raised $165,799 for scholarships, which the Dean matched dollar-for-for dollar for more than $330,000! See pictures from Reunion Weekend

Each year at Reunion, three alumni are honored by the medical school for their contributions and accomplishments. Read more about Jock Wheeler of the Class of 1958 who received the Caravati Service Award, Richard Dean of the Class of 1968 who received the Outstanding Medical Alumnus Award, andRobert Moreland who earned his doctorate in Physiology and Biophysics in 1981 and was honored as the Outstanding Alumnus from the Basic Health Sciences. 

Class Years ending in '4s and '9s - Save the date for 2009! 
Reunion Weekend 2009 will be held April 24-26. If you would like to assist in planning your class activities, please contact Lelia Brinegar, Alumni Outreach for the School of Medicine, at!

Med School Goes on the Road 
Dean of Medicine Dr. Jerry Strauss recently hosted receptions for alumni and friends in Philadelphia and North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Take a look at photos from the North Carolina and Philly events. 

Attention San Antonio Texans! Go online to give us your latest contact information so that we can send you invitations for an upcoming alumni gathering in November. 

Alum Named Senior Associate Dean 
Isaac K. “Ike” Wood has been appointed Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs in the School of Medicine, effective July 1. His career on campus has spanned 30 years, beginning when he matriculated into medical school here. A member of the Class of 1982, the creative and lauded educator has served for the past three years as the medical school’s Associate Dean of Student Affairs. He has received the School of Medicine's top educational awards including the Faculty Teaching Award and the Educational Innovation Award. His projects have included creating a virtual psychosis laboratory so students may experience the debilitating effects of severe mental illness as well as Project HEART, a nationally recognized program for helping students maintain humanism and altruism. One of Dr. Wood’s first charges will be to lead the process of designing a new curriculum and develop the programming for the new School of Medicine Building. 

State Legislators to Consider New Facility for Teaching and Training 
Though the Virginia's General Assembly session has closed, legislators are expected to announce capital outlay decisions next week, including a new building for the School of Medicine. VCU has proposed creating a state-of-the-art training hub for medical students, residents, physicians and other healthcare providers, which would allow class size to be expanded up to 250 students. If the General Assembly approves a bond package to finance this and other capital projects, state funding could be available by July 1, 2008. You can learn more about plans for a new School of Medicine Building at

Gov. Kaine Recognizes Virginia’s Outstanding Scientists for 2008 
Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., internationally renowned researcher and professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been honored by the Commonwealth for her discovery of a potent lipid mediator, which she demonstrated to have important roles in cancer, inflammation and allergy. Her contributions have opened new avenues for drug development to fight these diseases. Read more about Dr. Spiegel’s accomplishments. 

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

Third Annual Central Virginia Spine Symposium 
Friday, April 25, 2008 
Greater Richmond Convention Center 

Back pain affects nearly 80 percent of all American adults at some point in their lifetime. Featuring a distinguished group of spinal care experts, the symposium will provide physicians and other health care professionals with information about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for chronic low back pain.

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. 

2nd Annual Controversies and Updates in the Management of 
Prostate Cancer
September 13, 2008 
Jefferson Hotel in Richmond 

Designed for physicians and other health care professionals, this conference’s plenary sessions and case discussions will cover the latest issues and updates in the management of prostate cancer in the areas of surgery, radiation therapy, systematic therapies, imaging and the economics of prostate cancer. 

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