Dear colleagues-friends,

We thank each and every one of you who make up our amazing faculty and staff for your stellar leadership, courage and compassion, as well as your remarkable ingenuity and professionalism during this most difficult time.

As was highlighted yesterday during our School of Medicine (SOM) virtual town hall, which included more than 430 colleagues, here are just a few examples of how your collective efforts and ingenuity are advancing our SOM missions. A summary of the information presented during the town hall is forthcoming. Thanks also to our presenters: Dr. Betsy Ripley, Dr. Chris Woleben, Dr. Brian Aboff, Dr. Michael Grotewiel, Dr. Michael Donnenberg, Ms. Sung-Hee Jeu and Dr. Amelia Grover, as well as to Dr. Anita Navarro and Ms. Amber Logan for moderating.

We’re improvising, collaborating and pivoting to continue to educate our learners and wider community.

  • Our SOM faculty have shifted quickly to move our medical education and graduate school courses online, ensuring the delivery of uninterrupted and essential training.
  • Medical students are celebrating milestones virtually and attending class remotely.
  • Graduate students also are defending dissertations through virtual platforms.
  • One in four of our newest doctors will soon continue to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia in residency positions with the remainder going to other top institutions across the country. They will make us very proud as they shortly join the battle against this pandemic.
  • Our faculty are providing continuing education outreach to regional community physicians and building our community’s knowledge and competencies related to COVID-19 management.
  • Our subject-matter experts are guiding and supporting local, regional and national media, societies and professional organizations, as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia legislature regarding COVID-19 clinical and research needs and progress.

We’re committed to sustaining our leadership role through flexibility and rapid adaption of our research.

  • We are tapping into the ingenuity of our entire community to develop novel solutions by collaborating across schools and colleges and engaging with our VCU Health Innovation Consortium.
  • Our researchers have swiftly joined worldwide efforts to find effective treatments for COVID-19, including serving as a key site for two clinical trials of remdesivir. This has been a huge effort by many, and enrollment in these trials is going exceptionally well.
  • We have established a clinical trials committee to spearhead and streamline our administrative support, and we have several other novel COVID-19-related clinical trials in various stages of development.
  • Our administrative teams and our IRB have been remarkably swift and flexible in their support of research and necessary modifications, while also protecting the integrity and alignment with federal regulatory requirements.
  • We have practiced remarkable social distancing within our basic science laboratories while still maintaining key operations, including our vital animal facilities.
  • Our leaders continue to mentor and support our graduate students, our M.D.-Ph.D. students and their research.

We’re unwavering in our commitment to patients.

  • Our faculty, fellows and residents are on the front lines of this health crisis and have shown remarkable clinical acumen and compassion toward our COVID-19 patients. They also continue to provide uninterrupted, high-quality care to all those who need us.
  • Our faculty have developed multiple clinical innovations, including in-house COVID-19 testing capabilities, UV sterilization of used N95 masks and remarkably swift and effective migration to telehealth for patients.
  • Even in the face of COVID-19, it is noteworthy that we also continue to meet our commitment to the Commonwealth as a provider of trauma care, high-complexity organ transplantation and the Commonwealth’s only burn center, in addition to all of the other exemplary care you provide.

We’re giving - and receiving - acts of kindness.

  • Medical student volunteers have created a roster to babysit the children of our residents.
  • Our Simulation Center donated 1,800 single-use droplet masks, more than 15,000 gloves and 300 paper gowns and shoe covers to the health system.
  • Our on-campus blood drives have been tremendously successful. As more are scheduled, please consider donating through the American Red Cross.
  • You are also supporting each other through our wellness activities and initiatives, as well as providing other types of donation and support to enable our missions.

This is not an exhaustive list of all your accomplishments, although it sure is an awesome one!

It was just over a century ago that our faculty and trainees were called upon to care for the victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Virginia. Today, you again are answering the call as we marshal our energy and ingenuity to combat this virus and write a new and compelling chapter in the legacy of our great medical school.

With great admiration and gratitude,

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