Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Throughout this past year, we have faced many challenges, particularly those among us who have lost family members, friends or colleagues to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even amidst the sadness, grief and anxiety, we have continued to step up for our learners, patients and community. We have learned how to deliver clinical care and clinical training, employing telehealth and other – sometimes serendipitous – improvements. We have begun to confront long-standing health inequities and are working to rid our community of discrimination and racial divides. We have learned the power of human resilience and have recommitted ourselves to supporting the mental health and wellness of clinicians.

Although there will continue to be challenges and opportunities in the weeks and months to come, there is value in taking time to reflect on this unusual year. In the pages of the latest issue of our alumni magazine 12th and Marshall, you will find reason for gratitude and inspiration from the remarkable accomplishments of our faculty, students and alumni, including:

  • A cover illustration that celebrates the Class of 2024, our first-year students who arrived on campus in the midst of a pandemic, undeterred in their quest to improve health for all.
  • A look at how the School of Medicine adjusted its curriculum for medical students over the past year.
  • A feature on how we’re using equity scholarships to propel pipeline programs to the next level.
  • A profile of Health Behavior and Policy Department Chair Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., a leader in the field of health disparities.
  • A tribute to a pair of alumnae, separated by 53 years but equally committed to eliminating barriers to delivering equitable care.
  • A story about how the tragic loss of alumna Lorna Breen, M’99, has inspired awareness and legislation surrounding mental health services for clinicians.
  • A feature on the Alcohol Research Center, one of just 20 in the U.S. that is federally funded, whose work has led to major advances toward understanding the genetic components of alcohol-related disorders.

We invite you to flip through the winter issue in its entirety at

As we plan for better days ahead, we’d like to express our gratitude for how our School of Medicine faculty, staff, students and alumni community have risen to the challenges of the past year. We greatly appreciate our School of Medicine alumni and Med-Health Development team for all of the energy and hard work that went into bringing these stories of resilience and hope to our attention through this stellar issue of our alumni magazine.

With greatest respect and gratitude,

Pter F. Buckley, M.D.; Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Executive vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System