VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 14 - Number 3 - Summer 2015

We have email addresses for only about half of our medical school’s 15,000 alumni, so to help keep your classmates connected, please forward this issue of SOM eNews!

Student News

Welcome Class of 2019!
From the White Coat Ceremony, to the official class photo, to their first vital signs workshop, the 216 incoming students got a whirlwind welcome to the world of white coats. We've got coverage of the week as well as a photo gallery.

A family legacy
One of the first-year students is Christopher Le, the fifth of five siblings to enroll in the medical school over the past decade. His family's story begins on the humid jungle floor of South Vietnam where his father darted through the brush in the summer of 1975, striving toward freedom, education and an escape from the quickly enclosing communist regime. It was the beginning of a harrowing pursuit of a better life. Forty years later, he fought to hold back tears as his youngest son walked across the stage to receive his white coat.

Research News

International collaboration IDs risk genes for clinical depression 
Published as an advanced online publication in the journal Nature, the study's findings offer the potential to discover new treatments or assess people's genetic vulnerability for inheriting the disease. You can read more and listen in as psychiatry's Ken Kendler, M.D., describes the international study that, for the first time, has identified specific genetic clues to the underlying etiology of clinical depression

Researchers find link between cancer gene and obesity
Researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have discovered that a gene known to cause cancer may also play a role in determining if someone becomes obese.Read more about the recent discoveries that suggest the gene could be controlled with certain therapies to prevent or reverse obesity and obesity-related cancers.

Clinical News

Examining Medicaid in light of the medical home model
A new study shows the majority of Medicaid beneficiaries feel the medical care they receive is patient-centered, accessible and well-coordinated between primary care providers and specialists. Healthcare Policy and Research's Peter Cunningham, Ph.D., examined the prevalence of five aspects of the patient-centered medical home model from the perspective of Medicaid patients.

VCU Medical Center ranked No. 1 in Virginia
In U.S. News & World Report's newest Best Hospitals rankings, the medical center was named best in the state. In addition, it ranks in the top 50 in the country for orthopedics, nephrology, cardiology and heart surgery. 

School News

Valadka returns to head Department of Neurosurgery 
In August, Alex Valadka, M.D., succeeded founding neurosurgery chair Harold F. Young, M.D. Valadka completed his neurosurgery residency training on the MCV Campus in 1993. He's been investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, including a $33.7-million Department of Defense research consortium on mild traumatic brain injury. He's active on the national front including as consultant to the commissioner of Major League Baseball for mild TBI. You can read more about Valadka's career and Young's pioneering contributions in aMessage from the Dean.

Faculty making news
PM&R chair David Cifu, M.D., spoke to the NY Times and ESPN about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and The Atlantic queried internal medicine chair John Nestler, M.D., about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Anatomy's Babette Fuss, Ph.D., serves as president of the American Society for Neurochemistry.Neurology's Jack Pellock, M.D., was honored with the Epilepsy Foundation's 2015 Champion of Epilepsy Award, and Cardiology's Ken Ellenbogen, M.D., received the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Heart Rhythm Society.

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

6th Annual VCU Pain Management Symposium
October 16-18, 2015
Richmond, VA
Whether chronic pain is a side effect or the primary problem, all aspects of the patient's life can be affected. A comprehensive assessment and understanding of pain is crucial to the development of a successful treatment plan. This symposium is planned for physicians and other healthcare providers who diagnose, manage and treat pain.

Practical Frontiers in Primary Care
October 24, 2015
Richmond, VA
The conference includes a broad range of contemporary clinical topics in primary care with the latest practical information for physicians, nurse practitioners and other primary care providers.

21st Annual VCU Sports Medicine Update in Primary Care
December 4-6, 2015 
Williamsburg, VA

An intensive update of topics of specific interest to physicians in primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine, sports medicine and osteopathic medicine. The update includes faculty panels along with optional skills workshops. Other healthcare professionals are welcome to attend.

14th Annual Alumni Update Course
April 15, 2016
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.

38th Annual Pediatric Primary Care Conference: "Peds at the Beach"
July 15-17, 2016
Virginia Beach, VA

Info available in the new year.

Richmond CME for Docs 
4th Wednesday of each month, 6 - 8 p.m.
Bon Secours Heart Institute, 7001 Forest Avenue, Richmond

A collaboration between Bon Secours Medical Group and the VCU Office of Continuing Medical Education has resulted in a relevant, evidence-based CME series. The monthly lectures are aimed at helping physicians to improve and enjoy the practice of medicine. Offered at no charge to participants, the lectures are open to physicians and physician extenders.

Alumni News

Reunion Weekend 2016 - April 15-17
We're looking forward to welcoming back MD alumni whose graduation year ends in a '1 or '6. Activities kick off with Friday evening's Class Parties. There's also a Mini Med School, campus tours, a CME course, a golf outing with students and many opportunities to reconnect with classmates. If you have questions, please contact Jodi T. Smith at or (804) 628-2248.

Attention Alumni in Lynchburg and Baltimore! 
Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss, M.D., Ph.D., will host a pair of receptions for medical school alumni this fall.

  • In Lynchburg on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at the Boonsboro Country Club.
  • In Baltimore on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, at the Center Club. The reception coincides with the AAMC annual meeting but all alumni in the area will receive invitations.

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 making news
A pair of alumni speakers were on hand to greet the incoming students: theClass of 99's Richard Bennett gave the keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony, and the Class of 79's Rebecca Bigoney spoke with them about the ethical issues physicians must grapple with. Biochemistry's Patrick Stover is president of the American Society for Nutrition, Genetics alumnus Thomas Hartheads ADA's research center and housestaff alumnus Cornelius McKown "Mac" Dyke has been named associate dean for the Southeast (Fargo) Campus at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

School of Medicine eNews is prepared by the School of Medicine's Alumni and Development Office. All alumni and friends for whom we have e-mail addresses will receive School of Medicine eNews unless they unsubscribe; you can do so by sending an e-mail to If this newsletter was forwarded to you by a colleague and you would like to subscribe to future issues, please send an e-mail to We use collected e-mail addresses only to send our own information to you; we do not rent or sell e-mail addresses to anyone.

  Egyptian Building


You are receiving this newsletter because of your affiliation with the medical school.

Update Your Contact Info 

Mark your calendars for

Reunion Weekend 2016
April 15-17, 2016
For Class Years 
ending in a '6 or '1. 

Reunion Weekend 2017
April 7-9, 2017
For Class Years 
ending in a '7 or '2. 

Reunion Weekend 2018
April 20-22, 2018
For Class Years 
ending in a '8 or '3. 

In the Annual Fund, gifts of all 
sizes combine to create 
medical student scholarships
that will be awarded next fall. 
You can make your gift online.

Travel with VCU Alumni and discover fascinating places around the world while enjoying exclusive perks.


Check out the upcoming offerings from the medical school's Continuing Medical Education conferences. 

Take a look at the most recent issue of the medical school's magazine 12th & Marshall. 

Class Notes
Share your news in a future issue of 12th & Marshall. 
Go online to tell us the latest. 

Past issues of SOM
eNews are online.

We're interested in your comments on this communication. Please email
us your thoughts. 

For More Information: 

School of Medicine 
MCV Alumni Association 
MCV Foundation 
VCU Medical Center