VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 10 - Number 2 - Spring 2011

We have email addresses for less than half of our medical school's 10,000 alumni, so to help keep your classmates connected, please forward this issue of SOM eNews!

Medical School Receives One of the Largest Gifts in University's History 
On April 28, VCU officials and Gov. Bob McDonnell announced a $25 million donation to the School of Medicine by Jim and Fran McGlothlin. In recognition of the couple's longtime support, the medical education building now under construction will be named in their honor. See photos and video and learn more about the gift announcement.

Student News

Match Day! 
Match Day brought outstanding results for the fourth-year students. Of note, 95 percent matched prior to the Scramble, a figure that is once again above the national average. The primary care specialties drew 63 students and an additional 58 matched into particularly competitive specialties. Find out which students are headed to a residency near you, see pictures, watch video and get all the stats via this year's online coverage of Match Day.

PharmTox Postdoc Draws National Attention 
Laura Wise, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. The program provides support for the most promising young scientists conducting either basic or clinical neurobiological research. Wise will use the award to study sex differences in stress-related disorders and the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system.

In Other Student News 
Last summer we told you about Richard Hubbard who's established a non-profit organization to help fatherless children in Bangladesh. Now his work has drawn the attention of the American Medical Association. Other students have also been winning accolades. HOMBRE's first-year medical students were feted for their work in Honduras, and six students were awarded scholarships for their contribution to the arts.

Research News

NIH National Cardiovascular Research Network 
Supported by a nearly $9.6 million, five-year grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the research network includes the University of Louisville, Johns Hopkins University and Emory University. Rakesh C. Kukreja, Ph.D., leads VCU's portion of the project that will conduct preclinical evaluation of cardioprotective therapies, with the goal of translating the basic laboratory research into clinical therapies for heart attack patients

Researcher Studies Ways to Restore the Sense of Smell 
Life without your sense of smell or taste is tough to imagine. Although it's rare to experience a loss of smell or taste, it can result from head trauma, viral infection, sinus disease, neurological diseases, medications or aging. Physiology's Richard Costanzo, Ph.D., examines ways to improve the outcome following nerve and brain injury. Learn more about his recently published findings or read coverage of his work in a New York Times article.

Estate Gift Funds Research of Junior Faculty Members 
A bequest from Lavinia Blick has boosted the research of junior faculty members. The inaugural 2010 recipients include four from the medical school, with research ranging from the molecular development of cancer to a disorder that significantly increases a woman's risk of preterm labor and of acquiring HIV. Read more about the bequest and its impact.

Clinical News

Artificial Heart Patients Push Technology and Hospital Boundaries 
At first glance, these backpack-toting pedestrians look and move pretty much like anyone else. Get closer, and the rhythmic sound coming from the backpack may be your first clue that these patients have total artificial hearts. For the patient, the portable driver means the chance to recover at home until a donor heart becomes available. Read more and watch video about the artificial heart program that has evolved into the most prolific in the country. 

Too Many Choices? 
A Massey Cancer Center study suggests that when patients are presented more than one colorectal cancer screening option, there is a greater chance of confusion and a greater chance of neglecting screening recommendations. "It's important that patients have choices," said Resa Jones, Ph.D., who led the study. "But we have to be sure those choices are understood so that they don't overwhelm the patient and become barriers to proper screening and care." Read more about the study findings

Explaining Preeclampsia's Major Clinical Symptoms 
A significant increase of an enzyme in the blood vessels of pregnant women with preeclampsia may explain some of the symptoms associated with the condition, including hypertension, swelling and protein in the urine. "Normally you think of neutrophils as a first line of defense against infection in a wound," Scott Walsh, Ph.D., told the Richmond Times Dispatch. "What was so different about what we found in women with preeclampsia and we also found in obese individuals is that neutrophils are infiltrating the (blood vessels) even though there is no infection." Learn more about the study or read news coverage of the findings.

Alumni News

Reunion Giving Hits a New High 
More than 215 MD alumni returned to campus to celebrate Reunion, where they heard that a record-setting $2.2 million in Reunion-year gifts and pledges had been raised for student scholarships and the medical education building now under construction. If you've not yet made your Reunion gift, it's not too late to be recognized with your classmates in our report of donors to be published next fall. You can go online to make your gift now.

Another weekend highlight was recognizing alumni achievements: the Class of 1961's John Bower received the Caravati Service Award; the Class of 1966's Don Poretz received the Outstanding Medical Alumnus Award; and the Class of 1953's Fred Given was honored with the Alumni Association's Hodges-Kay Service Award. Read more about their achievements by clicking on their names. 

See pictures from Reunion 2011 and mark your calendars if your graduation year:
ends in a 2 or 7 :: Reunion Weekend April 20-22, 2012
ends in a 3 or 8 :: Reunion Weekend April 26-28, 2013 

Alumni in the News 
Did you know that in the run-up to Sudan's historic referendum, the Class of 2006's Sally Hanson spent three months delivering babies and providing emergency obstetric care with Doctors Without Borders? That the Class of 1977's Tom Loughran was inducted into VCU Athletics Hall of Fame in honor of his longtime service to the university's sports teams? Or that the Class of 1979's John Butterworth has been named the Department of Anesthesiology's next chair? 

Learn what your classmates have been up to without waiting for the latest issue of Scarab to arrive. Read more Class Notes, now available online. Or submit your update now

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 can make tax-free gifts of up to $100,000 directly from your IRA to the MCV Foundation until the end of 2011. You can get more information about your options from Tom Holland, Associate Dean for Development at (800) 332-8813, (804) 828-3800 or

VCU Upgraded to 'Research University, Very High Research Activity' 
The Carnegie Foundation has elevated VCU to "Very High Research Activity" status, which combined with its "Community Engaged" designation makes VCU just one of 28 public universities in the country with academic medical centers to achieve both distinctions. Read more about the Carnegie designations

Faculty in the News 
Did you know Ken Kendler, M.D., has a new book out that provides an overview for the non-specialist of the relationship between genes and environments? That Joel Silverman has been appointed to the American College of Psychiatrists' Board of Regents? That Bob Balster has been named one of just 13 Jefferson Science Fellows who advise the Secretary of State and others at the U.S. Department of State about complex scientific issues and their potential impact on U.S. foreign policy? 

CME Opportunities 
For additional information and to register for the courses below, visit or call (804) 828-3640 or (800) 413-2872.

2011 Otolaryngology for the Non-Otolaryngologist Symposium
May 14, 2011

This course was designed to provide primary care practitioners with the latest scientific and clinical information on the diagnosis and management of a variety of common ailments relating to the ears, nose, throat and related structures of the head and neck.

39th Annual Hans Berger Symposium
May 23-24, 2011
MCV Campus' Hermes A. Kontos Medical Sciences Building

Distinguished faculty from epilepsy centers and neurophysiology laboratories from across the country will offer 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. 

33rd Annual Peds at the Beach -- Pediatric Primary Care Conference
July 22-24, 2011 
Virginia Beach

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. 

Practical Frontiers in Primary Care Conference 
June 11, 2011 

Distinguished faculty from the School of Medicine with various clinical backgrounds will feature a broad range of contemporary topics in primary care with the latest practical information designed to enhance patient care. 

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Construction Progress
Read about and watch progress on the new medical education building via time lapse photography and a real-time video feed 

Mark your calendars for futureReunion Weekends 
April 20-22, 2012
For Class years 
ending in a 2 or 7

April 26-28, 2013
For Class Years 
ending in a 3 or 8 

Annual Fund dollars now go 
100% to support of scholarships! You can give online at the
school's eGiving page

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

Past issues of SOM
eNews are online.

For More Information: 

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MCV Foundation 
VCU Medical Center