VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 7 - Number 3 - Summer 2008

We hope that you'll enjoy these quick highlights from the MCV Campus. 

Student News

On a beautiful Richmond afternoon, 181 medical students celebrated the completion of their M.D. studies. They'd come from states as distant as Alaska and California, and are now headed to prestigious residency training sites from coast to coast. Listen and watch an audio slideshow featuring Dr. Jerry Strauss' comments on the last class to be "Messmer-ized," Bella Gabice encouraging her classmates to remember the proud tradition in which they trained, and Dr. Jim Messmer's convocation address. You can also see a photo gallery from the ceremony or review a list of residency destinations.

2008 Grads 
If you didn't get a chance to give Nancy Jackson your forwarding mailing address before you left campus, please go online to update your contact information! 

MCV Campus SGA Hosts Community Health Fair 
Hundreds of community members came out for the MCV Campus Student Government Association's first community health fair in April. Nearly 250 student volunteers were on hand to offer free health services, including blood pressure checks, cholesterol and diabetes screenings and dental services. See pictures from the health fair

Research News

PET Scans Significantly Impact Treatment Decisions in Cancer Care 
A study led by Internal Medicine's Bruce Hillner, M.D., found that clinicians changed their intended treatment for cancer patients in 36.5 percent of cases and avoided biopsy in approximately 70 percent of cases that were scheduled to undergo biopsy prior to PET. Read more about the study that collected data on approximately 23,000 patients at 1,178 US medical centers. 

Antibiotic Could Reduce Neuronal Cell Death in Brain 
Human and Molecular Genetics' Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., recently reported on the mechanism of action of ceftriaxone, a third-generation antibiotic with neuroprotective properties. Read more about findings that suggest that this antibiotic or a similar drug could serve as a potential therapy against neurodegenerative disease caused by a build-up of glutamate, an amino acid that is important in nerve transmission. 

Combining Two Anti-Cancer Agents May Help Fight Resistant CML 
Gleevec has proven a highly effective anti-cancer agent for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia. However, patients eventually become resistant to the drug. In pre-clinical studies, the Massey Cancer Center's Steven Grant, M.D., has found that combining two new agents leads to a dramatic induction of programmed cell death in CML cells, including those resistant to Gleevec. Read more about the article that was pre-published as a First Edition Paper in Blood

Clinical News

The Role of Chemotherapy at the End of Life 
About 15 to 20 percent of cancer patients nationwide with incurable cancers receive chemotherapy within 14 days of their death. In a JAMA case study, the Thomas Palliative Care Program's Thomas J. Smith, M.D., and Sarah E. Harrington, M.D., discuss a number of factors to take into account when considering administering less chemotherapy at the end of life. Read about the case study

DOD Recommends Compound that Stops Severe Bleeding in Minutes 
In June, the Department of Defense endorsed WoundStat, a lightweight, granular, dressing compound that quickly stems high-pressure bleeding in moderate to severe wounds. It's first time that all branches of the military have come to consensus regarding a product for treating injuries involving severe bleeding. Read more about WoundStat

Pain Relief for Osteoporosis Patients with Low Back Pain 
An X-ray guided injection of synthetic bone cement into fractured pelvic bones may provide rapid and safe pain relief to osteoporosis patients with low back pain. With 52 patients, the multi-center pilot study represents the largest prospective trial of sacroplasty for osteoporosis sacral insufficiency fractures. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation's Michael DePalma, M.D., led the VCU team's evaluation of the efficacy and safety of the technique. Read more about the back pain findings

Alumni News

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

Who's Gone on to Greatness? 
Each year at Reunion, awards are given to alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers and through their service to the MCV Alumni Association. Learn how to nominate a classmate for the Outstanding Medical Alumnus, the Caravati or the Outstanding Basic Health Sciences Alumnus Awards. 

Med School Goes on the Road 
Attention: San Antonio Texas and Charlottesville Virginia! Dean Jerry Strauss will host a reception in Charlottesville on Sept. 25 and in San Antonio on Nov. 2. If you call these cities home, go online to give us your latest contact information so that we can include you on the invitation list. 

The San Antonio gathering coincides with the annual AAMC meeting, so if you'll be in attendance there, please let us know so that we can include you in the party. 

Are You On Facebook?
If you're part of the popular social-networking site, consider yourself poked! Join the Medical College of Virginia (VCU) School of Medicine Alumni & Friends to keep track of upcoming events and share your advice on what kinds of activities you want from your alumni association! 

Alum Appointed Senior Associate Dean 
Dr. Isaac K. "Ike" Wood of the Class of 1982 has been appointed senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs. One of his first charges will be to lead the process of designing a new curriculum and developing programming for the new School of Medicine building. Read more about Dr. Wood's contributions that include creating a virtual psychosis laboratory and the nationally recognized Project HEART. Dr. Wood succeeds Jim Messmer, M.D, who guided the medical education program for 16 years. Read more about Dr. Messmer's accomplishments

Legislators Approve Funding for New Teaching and Training Facility 
At a special legislative session in April, the General Assembly approved a capital outlay bond bill which includes $58.0 million for the 12-story School of Medicine building that is central to our ambitious plan to expand the medical student body, incorporate simulation equipment into the core of instruction, and expand medical research. An additional $12.0 million for equipment will be funded at a later date. 

Partnership with Inova 
Two dozen students spend the third and fourth years of their MD program at Inova Fairfax Hospital. By the end of this year, those students will be walking the halls of the new Claude Moore Health Education and Research Center. Now nearing completion, the four-story, $25 million building provides state-of-the-art space dedicated for medical education, clinical training and research. Read more about the building

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

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

7th Annual Alumni Update Course
April 24, 2009
Richmond, Va
Again this year, Reunion Weekend will kickoff with Friday's day-long CME course designed to update you on a broad variety of topics. Nationally recognized faculty from the School of Medicine and up to 6.75 credit hours combine to create a valuable update for all alumni. Plan to start Reunion Weekend early, or even make a special trip to Richmond - the course is open to all alumni, including those not celebrating a Reunion year. 

Pioneer in Heart Transplantation Dies 
Richard R. Lower, M.D., who pioneered the techniques for transplanting a human heart and performed the nation's ninth transplant, died May 17 at his home in Twin Bridges, Mont. The surgeon who had headed Cardiothoracic Surgery for 20 years was 78. Read more about Dr. Lower's outstanding contributions to medicine and watch "A Matter of Heart," a program that aired on Richmond's public television station. Testaments to his career also appeared in the NY TimesStyle Weekly, and the Richmond Times Dispatch

Internationally Renowned Researcher Dr. Billy Martin Dies 
Internationally renowned for his research in understanding addiction and drugs of abuse and how they affect the brain, Billy R. Martin, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, died June 8 in Richmond. He was 65. In the days following his death, the Richmond Times-Dispatch's guest book was flooded with notes of condolence from all over the world. To add your own, you can visit the guest book. Read more about his accomplishments on the VCU Web site or at the Times Dispatch

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On The Road!
Charlottesville Virginia 
Sept. 25 

San Antonio Texas 
Nov. 2

Want to come?
Go online to be sure we have 
your latest contact information

The Skull & Bones was

a) A monthly newspaper
c) A great place to get onion
rings and a milkshake
d) An electronic newsletter
e) All of the above


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 conference.

Past issues of SOM eNews are online.

For More Information: 

MCV Alumni Association 
MCV Foundation