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VCU School of Medicine

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Chancellor Asa Rice Scholarship

Welcome to Chancellor Asa Rice Scholarship

Chancellor’s gift

The Class of 1998’s
Elizabeth Rice Martin.

Because of a little boy’s medical mysteries, Elizabeth Rice Martin, M’98, is a better physician than she ever could have imagined and students at her alma mater are becoming more aware of a potentially life-altering infection in labor known as chorioamnionitis.

Martin had just completed medical school on the MCV Campus and was in obstetric and gynecological training when her nephew, Chancellor Asa Rice, was born. Soon after birth, he began having seizures. After years of questions with no clear answers, multiple complications, severe handicaps and serious procedures, young Chancellor died just weeks before being accepted into a funding program to help him and his family cope with lifelong medical bills. He was only 10.

As she helped her brother and his wife compile the paperwork necessary for her nephew’s acceptance into the fund, Martin discovered that her sister-in-law had developed an infection during labor with Chancellor. Piece-by-piece, she helped put the puzzle of his birth and his life together and learned that her nephew did not have the genetic condition known as Usher syndrome as had been thought over the years. He had suffered a severe birth injury and neonatal stroke as a result of his mother’s undocumented infection and his delayed delivery.

“Chancellor’s experience completely influences how I deliver babies,” Martin, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Roanoke, Va., said. “I spread awareness every time I get the chance. I’m constantly educating people about chorioamnionitis and how important it is to take note of a mother’s fever and to act quickly.”

Ideally, fevers in expectant mothers are identified and documented early, and, in cases of chorioamnionitis, antibiotics are immediately administered and babies are delivered as quickly as possible. Though Chancellor’s birth didn’t follow that model, his family is grateful for the opportunity to help others through a scholarship they created as a lasting tribute to the little boy who loved to be outdoors.

Elizabeth Rice Martin’s nephew Chancellor
with his parents.

“Chancellor was always smiling. He was a vibrant little boy who had a lot of difficulty communicating because he was deaf, blind and brain-injured,” Martin remembers. “Because of him, I have been able to educate people. I can help keep his memory alive and educate practitioners by virtue of what I do for a living.”

The Chancellor Asa Rice Scholarship was established with gifts totaling nearly $30,000 and will be awarded to a medical student with academic merit, financial need and a desire to specialize in pediatrics, obstetrics, neurology or radiology.

“My brother and sister-in-law – our entire family – we’re all very excited about the scholarship,” Martin said. “It’s nice that something so good can come out of something so tragic.”

This was Chancellor’s gift.