VCU's Medical College Of Virginia
School Of Medicine News

Volume 10 - Number 1 - Winter 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

Second Reynolds Foundation grant will expand geriatrics training 
A $1-million, four-year grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation will create new opportunities for students to work in interdisciplinary teams caring for geriatric patients. The project culminates with a year-four capstone practicum that will use a unique virtual classroom where students from different MCV Campus schools work together to solve an evolving case. Read more about this concept for interdisciplinary care, sometimes referred to as the "medical home" model.

M4s look forward to Match Day in March 
Despite increasing competition for residency positions, our fourth-year students continue to excel. This year's graduating class has set a school record for their performance on the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge with a median score of 236. This compares to a national median of 231 among U.S. students who successfully matched to residencies in 2009. Among our students who have received scores to-date, 26% received a 250 or better. We look forward to similarly impressive results on Match Day.

Alumni needed to guide students at April 15's Career Fair 
Would you like to represent your specialty and speak with current medical students who are interested in discussing career choices? Last year, over 200 medical students consulted with physicians from 18 specialties to learn more about the unique attributes of each discipline and the residency application process. The Career Fair is hosted by the MCVAA Medical Division Board and the School of Medicine Student Affairs Office. If you are interested in participating in the April 15 Career Fair from 1-3 p.m., please contact Anna Wood: or 804.828.3901. 

Research News

Knowledge of genetic cancer risks often dies with patients 
If you were dying from cancer, would you consider genetic testing? A Massey Cancer Center study showed that most terminally ill cancer patients who were eligible for genetic testing never received it, despite its potential to save a relative's life. Current genetic tests often fail to identify certain genetic markers for cancer, and clinicians are increasingly recognizing the value of beginning genetic assessment with a person who has cancer. Read more in a VCU News release or in New York Times' coverage of the study. 

Expert to shape donor consent process for national biobank 
A National Institutes of Health project to understand genetic variation and its relationship to disease will establish a tissue bank for eventual biological studies. Social and Behavioral Sciences Chair Laura Siminoff, Ph.D., has been tapped to develop a consent process that maximizes the biobank's diversity and is sensitive to the cultural and ethical requirements of biobank donors. Read more about the ethics of consent.

Drug combination shrinks tumors in vivo 
The impotence drug Viagra, in combination with the powerful anti-cancer drug doxorubicin, alleviates doxorubicin's characteristic long-term damage to the heart even while enhancing its anti-tumor efficacy in prostate cancer. Read more about the new study from Rakesh Kukreja, M.D.

Clinical News

Can contact precautions interfere with patient care? 
A New York Times column asks what impact extensive gowning, gloving and masking can have on a patient's recovery. The column references research from Internal Medicine's Gonzalo M. Bearman, M.D., M.P.H., that offers hope for "less restrictive but equally efficacious precautions." Read the NY Times column

Pump up the volume 
Although cochlear implants have been around for nearly 30 years, the technology continues to improve. The VCU Medical Center is one of a few sites in the nation participating in a study on hybrid implants that allow patients to keep what natural hearing they still have, while the implant electronically stimulates only the frequencies that have lost hearing. Read about a Centreville husband and wife who both received cochlear implants.

New Peds ER is first joint project between VCU Medical Center and Children's Hospital 
"It is a privilege to serve the children of the greater Richmond area, and these children and their families deserve to receive care in a facility of this caliber," said the Class of 1989's Robin Foster, who is director of the pediatric emergency department. Read more about the $4.2 million pediatric emergency room that is part of VCU Medical Center's Level 1 trauma center or take a video tour with Dr. Foster.

VCU among top producers of Fulbright Scholars 
Anesthesiology's Michael Steve Czekajlo, M.D., Ph.D., is one of VCU's six Fulbright Scholars - that puts the university in a tie for third among US research institutions for most Fulbright Scholars produced during the 2010-11 academic year. Czekajlo headed to Poland to teach about medical simulation. Read more about the university's half dozen Fulbright Scholars.

Dick Wenzel turns his infectious disease expertise to writing fiction 
The former chair of internal medicine has used his career to fight infectious disease. But when his wife challenged him, "If you really want to influence people, you've got to do it with fiction," he decided to pen his first novel. In the medical thriller "Labyrinth of Terror," a British secret agent, an American epidemiologist and a microbiology professor team up to fight a bioterror attack. Read Style Weekly's report on his new novel in Love, Terror, Germs: Physician Pens Medical Thriller, or check out for reader reviews.

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

9th Annual Alumni Update Course 
April 16, 2011 
MCV Campus' Larrick Center

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 topics as diverse as robotics, pediatrics and prostate cancer.

5th Annual Virginia Liver Symposium and Update in Gastroenterology
April 2, 2011
Richmond Marriott Hotel, Richmond, VA 

Distinguished faculty who treat patients with liver and gastrointestinal disorders will offer physicians and mid-level medical providers information on new treatments and share clinical topics to enhance their knowledge in this field of medicine

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. 

Alumni News

Register now for Reunion Weekend 2011: April 15-17, 2011 
Classes ending in '6s and '1s will reunite, revisit campus and make new memories. Reunion Weekend kicks off with Friday evening's Class Parties and culminates with a reception that will bring you back to campus - on the Egyptian Building Plaza! You can register online!

Reunion Weekend is one part of VCU's Alumni Month. Learn more about the month's activities

Med School Goes on the Road 
Check out the photo galleries from alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, NC. Maybe you'll recognize a classmate or two!

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 1961's Read McGehee has regularly travelled to Haiti for four decades? Or why the Class of 2008's Brandon Cox chose to practice medicine in rural Virginia? Or that Housestaff alum Thomas Tracy has been named president-elect of the New England Surgical Society? 

Learn what other 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. 

What do you think of the alumni magazine? 
The Scarab magazine staff invites you to take a few minutes to respond to a readership survey. Whether you skim feature stories, flip through class notes or read each issue from cover to cover, your input is extremely important as they plan an update of the magazine's design. 

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

New insurance partnership offers special rates to all alumni 
The Alumni Association has selected Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company to provide a special alumni insurance program for auto, home and powersports, such as boats, motorcycles and RVs. Alumni can receive special discounts by contacting Nationwide directly and mentioning the discount for VCU/ MCV alumni or by accessing a direct quote via the link on the alumni association website.

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  Egyptian Building


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

Update Your Contact Info and provide the Alumni and Development Office with your latest news via our online 
update form. 

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