VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 10 - Number 3 - Summer 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!

Student News

Class of 2011 Graduates 
Its members traveled to Ghana, the Peruvian Amazon and rural Haiti to deliver medical care; coordinated with the YWCA and the VCU emergency department to advise patients who've experienced domestic violence; served on the national licensing committee for U.S. medical schools; went to Bangladesh during monsoon season; and volunteered as a Guatemalan midwife, in an Ecuadorian children's hospital and locally at CrossOver. Check out coverage of the hooding ceremony for photos and video or to review the list of where students are headed for residency.

Students Discover Global Health 
This summer, dozens of medical students will put their newly acquired medical knowledge to use in remote villages around the globe. They are travelling as part of a few student-organized relief trips that will take them to Ghana, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras. Family Medicine and Population Health's Steve Crossman, M.D., told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that when these students "finish their training they are more likely to be doctors who go out into underserved communities in the United States to practice medicine." Read more about the international relief trips

Medical Students Learn from the Richmond Community 
Improving the health of the community can take more than expert diagnosis and the right prescription. Physicians also need first-hand interaction that will help them recognize the special health problems of medically underserved communities. Read more about a new program that helped medical students connect with community members.

Research News

Discoveries in Mitochondria Open New Field of Cancer Research 
"In diseases such as cancer, epigenetic control is lost," says microbiology and immunology's Shirley M. Taylor, Ph.D., referring to the process that controls which genes get expressed in a cell's nucleus. "Genes that should be switched on are switched off and vice versa, leading to uncontrolled growth." It's interesting to know that Taylor's work in epigenetics traces back to her graduate studies, when her own research helped establish the field. Read more about her latest findings that indicate errors in gene expression could be unfolding in mitochondria, possibly contributing to loss of mitochondrial function typical of cancer. 

Deafness Reorganizes Brain's Sensory Inputs, not Behavioral Function 
According to new research, the part of the brain that uses hearing to determine sound location is reorganized in deaf animals to locate visual targets. These findings propose a new theory for cross-modal plasticity: loss of one sensory modality is substituted by another while maintaining the original function of the brain region. Read more about the study led by anatomy and neurobiology's Alex Meredith, Ph.D. 

New Biomarker Predicts Breast Cancer Relapse 
Researchers have discovered a new biomarker related to the body's immune system that can predict a breast cancer patients' risk of cancer recurrence. This breakthrough may lead to new genetic testing that further personalizes breast cancer care. Read more about the study that was led by microbiology and immunology's Masoud Manjili, D.V.M., Ph.D. 

Clinical News

Oncologists Hold Key to Cancer Costs 
The cost of cancer care is threatening to bankrupt our healthcare system. In a peer-reviewed article written for the The New England Journal of Medicine, Massey Cancer Center researchers Bruce E. Hillner, M.D., and Thomas Smith, M.D., argue that doctors can maintain and improve the quality of care, while at the same time saving on health care costs. Read more about therecommendations that would redefine current oncology practice. 

Preventing Preeclampsia with Nutrition Bars 
Food bars containing the amino acid L-arginine and antioxidants have been found to reduce the incidence of preeclampsia. Dean of the medical school, Jerry Strauss, M.D., Ph.D., worked with a team of researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico to test a nutritional supplement in pregnant women at high risk of developing the highly risky condition that can lead to mother and baby fatalities. Read more about the simple and inexpensive intervention that could be readily applied to resource-limited settings. 

Treating Depressed Mothers Helps Kids 
Children of depressed mothers are prone to developing emotional problems, but how much of that risk comes from genetics or environment is hard to tease apart. New findings from Psychiatry's Aradhana Bela Sood, M.D., show that when a mother's depression is effectively treated, her child's problem behaviors and symptoms decrease. Read more about the study that suggests not only do environmental circumstances play a large role in children's emotional well-being, but also that treating mothers helps kids too

Construction Progress :: a New Medical Education Building 
Have you seen the progress on the new medical education building? You can check out architectural renderings, floor plans and a time-lapse video of the construction site. Explore the building or see still photos of the construction.

Five-Year, $1-million renewal for Humphrey Fellowship Program 
The Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies' has earned a renewal of a grant supporting the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program that brings substance abuse professionals from developing countries to Richmond. Since the program got its start five years ago, 37 mid-career professionals from around the world have participated. Read more about Munir Ahmed, M.D., a 19-year veteran of the substance abuse field who's now making a difference in his home country of Bangladesh.

Faculty in the News 
Did you know housestaff alum and now assistant dean Alan Dow was one of just five faculty across the U.S. named to the first class of Macy Scholars? Massey's Brian Cassel will use his Fulbright award to travel to London to measure the economic impact of end-of-life care in the US and the UK. Housestaff alum and now Radiology vice chair Mary Ann Turner received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Gastrointestinal Radiologists. 

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

Pain Management & Spine Symposium 
October 15-16, 2011 

Symposium faculty will review the nature of chronic pain, the causes of treatment failure, and strategies for overcoming treatment failure. The symposium is planned for primary care physicians, anesthesiologists, physiatrists, neurologists, pain specialists, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physicians in training, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other health care professionals who diagnose and/or treat chronic pain.

17th Annual VCU Sports Medicine Update in Primary Care Conference
December 2-4, 2011
Williamsburg, VA 

An intensive update of sports medicine topics that will be of specific interest to physicians in primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine, sports medicine, physician assistants, athletic trainers, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals. Hands on workshops in physical examination skills and joint injections are a signature feature of this event. Registration information will be available in mid-August.

10th Annual Alumni Update Course 
April 21, 2012 
MCV Campus

The one-day program will cover the latest in a broad range of fields. The course coincides with Reunion Weekend, but is open to all alumni. Earn up to 6.75 credit hours, covering diverse topics in psychiatry, pediatrics and heart health. Registration information will be available in the fall.

Alumni News

Med School Goes on the Road 
Denver-area alumni should mark their calendars for Sunday Nov. 6, 2011 when the medical school will host a reception at Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar. Held in conjunction with the AAMC's annual meeting, faculty and staff will be on hand with the latest news from the MCV Campus. If you don't live in Denver but will attend the AAMC meeting, let Jodi Smith, director of alumni engagement, know you'll be in town.

Go online to give us your latest contact information to be sure that you'll get an invitation to future events in your area. 

Alumni in the News 
Did you know that the Class of 2001's Krishna Kishor was honored as the Outstanding Young Ophthalmologist by the Florida Society of Ophthalmology? The Class of 1969's Tony Sakowski received the Visionary Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The Class of 1971's Patch Adams returned to campus to speak to first and second-year medical students at the Second Annual Pediatric Spring Conference.

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

Reunion Weekend 2012 :: April 20-22, 2012 
Mark your calendar if your graduation year ends in a 2 or a 7! As part of the weekend's festivities, Alumni Awards will be presented to graduates with distinguished contributions to their field and to the school. Tell us if you have a classmate who should be honored next year. Preference is given to alumni nominees who are celebrating a Reunion year.

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

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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: 

School of Medicine 
MCV Alumni Association 
MCV Foundation 
VCU Medical Center