“To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” – gift suggestions from Oren Arnold

Dear Colleagues-Friends:

The closing of one year and beginning of another is always a time for reflection. At our medical school, we have much to be grateful for and much to celebrate over a year of impressive accomplishments. As I close out what is almost my first full year of serving as your dean, I would like to reflect on some of your impressive contributions.

The school’s long legacy is the foundation for today’s momentum. We can point to some well-known firsts that continue to give us reason to celebrate. The Massey Cancer Center was the state’s first center to earn National Cancer Institute designation. It was renewed for the 42nd year in July 2017 because Massey continues to make important advances – like being the first in the world to successfully implant a bio-absorbable, internal radiation device known as CivaSheet to treat early stage pancreatic cancer.

This month, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first organ transplant in Virginia, a kidney transplant conducted by Dr. David Hume from one identical twin to another. Today, the VCU Hume-Lee Transplant Center is the longest-running clinical transplant center in the country and performed its 5,000th surgery in May. They’re still “first in second chances”!

In 1918, MCV opened its doors to women, and Mary Baughman was among the first to walk through. She became widely known for her advocacy for women’s rights and paved the way for other women – like the 372 who are on faculty in the medical school today and like Marsha Rappley, M.D., who set a first for VCU in serving as chair of the board of directors for the Association of American Medical Colleges over this past year. Also this year, we marked 25 years for WISDM, the faculty organization that seeks to further the professional goals of women physicians, scientists and dentists, including alumnae Susan DiGiovanni, M’84, H’87, F’89, and Betsy Ripley, M’86, H’89, F’92, who was the latest in many peers to be selected for a national fellowship for leaders in academic medicine.

Our Class of 2017 was the first to graduate under our team-based patient-centered curriculum and was the first to complete all four years in the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center. On the national medical licensing exams, they delivered remarkable scores and produced outstanding results on Match Day: 99 percent matched to a residency training program – many to one of their top choices – in the largest and most competitive residency match ever. I was especially pleased to see nearly three dozen students match to VCU Health for all or part of their residency. They are training in an environment recognized as exemplary earlier this year with the Baldwin award – a highly coveted national honor that we received in recognition of the professionalism of our residents and our health system’s excellence in care, quality and training.

One of the best evidences of a medical school’s success is in the lives of its graduates and trainees – some of whom continue to work side by side with us here on campus. You’ll be as proud as we are to know Colleen Kraft, M’86, H’89, will soon become president of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Jack Ende, M’73, leads the American College of Physicians; Katherine Dec, H’93, is president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine; Alex Valadka, H’93, is president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons; and Darryl Kaelin, H’95, was elected president of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. And we’ve got a current student following in their footsteps: M.D.-Ph.D. student Audra Iness will take the helm of the American Physician Scientist Association in the spring.

We also congratulate other award winners who include: Arun Sanyal, H’90, honored by the American Liver Foundation with its 2017 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award; Bruce Rubin, M.D., M.Engr., M.B.A., recipient of the Prix Galien Award for Best Collaboration with Academia Leading to a Breakthrough Solution; and Aradhana Bela Sood, M.D., M.S.H.A., honored at the American India Foundation’s Virginia Chapter for her service with the juvenile justice system and career in child and adolescent mental health. We also salute neurosurgeon Harold F. Young, M.D., who was honored by the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for serving as an example to us all in his care of patients and their families.

While these are just a few of high-profile positions that made the headlines in 2017, there are so many other things that you all have achieved, and we sincerely thank each and every one of you. We take immense pride in knowing the varied and vital ways you are making a difference in your communities and fields every day. These past accomplishments and aspirations for the future are why faculty, residents, students and staff choose to join us and contribute to the powerful impact of our medical school.

My wife Leonie and I will enjoy our first holiday season among the Richmond community. We are most grateful for the warm welcome during 2017, and we look forward to a busy and productive 2018.

I know you share our excitement for what’s to come.

As 2017 draws to a close, please take the opportunity in this holiday season to enjoy time with your family and friends. All your hard work and dedication throughout the year is much appreciated.

Happy holidays to you and yours,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System