Issuu on Google+

A PUBLICATION Medical Alumni Affairs Office of Advancement University Box 571253 Washington, DC 20057-1253

NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 3901 WASHINGTON, DC

GEORGETOWN MEDICINE

GEORGETOWN MEDICINE

FOR

ALUMNI

AND

FRIENDS

OF

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL

OF

MEDICINE

WINTER 2012

GEORGETOWN MEDICINE W I N T E R

2 0 1 2

Exploring the Brain’s Remarkable Capacity to Repair Itself In This Issue ■

Georgetown Launches Historic Capital Campaign The GEMS Program Turns 35


Fr om t h e EV P

Georgetown Medicine

Dear Alumni and Friends, Welcome to the Winter 2012 issue of Georgetown Medicine. I hope the new year finds you and your loved ones happy, healthy and off to a prosperous beginning. You may notice a slightly different look with this issue of the magazine. Georgetown University recently reviewed and updated its visual identity guidelines in an effort to create a unified feel throughout our various departments, schools and colleges. These standards were used to inform the redesign of Georgetown Medicine and give this publication a look and feel that is distinctly Georgetown. Overhauling these guidelines across such a large university is a tall order—each of these entities has its own audience and distinct voice— yet when all parts of the university reference common visual cues, audiences easily recognize Georgetown as the originator of all communications. In another illustration of a partnership with Main Campus, this issue’s cover story explores the world of neural plasticity—the brain’s ability to repair itself and recover function after injury. Working to improve recovery for patients who have suffered from stroke or other neural trauma is intensely interdisciplinary, and it is this collaborative mindset that will continue to be vital for translating discoveries into meaningful care for patients. I invite you to learn about Georgetown University Medical Center’s plans to establish the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, which will unite faculty conducting research in disparate areas to develop and refine groundbreaking approaches to restore cognitive, sensory and motor function. Georgetown has also joined George Mason University in launching “George Squared,” an academic collaboration in biomedical education between George Mason University and Georgetown University. This partnership allows both institutions to help meet the growing demand for biomedical scientists and health care industry specialists for the next two decades. 2012 marks the 35th anniversary of the Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies (GEMS) Program, the university’s one-year post-baccalaureate experience for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. I invite you to read about the students currently enrolled in the program and the dedicated faculty who make this program the phenomenal success it is today. Lastly, in October, Georgetown launched its most ambitious capital campaign in history, For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown. In the pages that follow, we take an in-depth look at the events that were a part of our historic launch weekend, the strategic goals for the Main Campus and Medical Center and ways you can support this campaign. Please take a moment to visit campaign.georgetown.edu for newsworthy updates and upcoming campaign-related regional events. With kindest regards,

Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D. Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine

Page 2

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

Editor Andrea Smiley Design Director Robin Lazarus-Berlin, Lazarus Design Contributing Writers Savannah Briscoe Patricia Chaney Victoria Churchville Jennifer Hong Renee Twombly University Photographer Phil Humnicky Printing ColorCraft of Virginia

Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D. Dean for Medical Education Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., MACP, FAAP (W’86) Georgetown Medicine is published two times a year for alumni of the School of Medicine. Please address all correspondence and address changes to: Editor, Georgetown Medicine, Office of Advancement, P.O. Box 571253, Washington, DC 20057-1253. Georgetown University does not discriminate in its programs, activities or employment practices on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age or disability. The university’s compliance program under these statutes and regulations is supervised by Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president for institutional diversity and equity. She may be reached in Room G-10, Darnall Hall, or at (202) 687-4798. For the most up-to-date information about events, what’s happening at Georgetown, and what’s new with alumni, go to Georgetown Alumni Online, Georgetown’s online alumni community, at alumni.georgetown.edu © 2012 Georgetown University Medical Center All rights reserved.


Georgetown Medicine

Fr om t h e D e a n

Dear Alumni and Friends, Welcome to the latest issue of Georgetown Medicine. There are many things to be excited about in 2012, and we are eager to provide a glimpse of what’s new on the Hilltop. Beginning with this issue of the magazine, you will notice a new look. We have worked carefully to define the design direction for this publication to be in line with Georgetown’s visual identity guidelines. We hope you will find that these changes have improved readability and redefined the overall feel of this publication to give it a clear Georgetown voice and look. This year, we mark a milestone for the Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies (GEMS) Program. Since 1977, 590 students have enrolled, including 31 students in 2011. As the program turns 35, we reflect on its beginnings and learn how it continues to provide opportunities for disadvantaged students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. In another milestone, the School of Nursing & Health Studies has launched the Georgetown’s first-ever online degree program, Nursing@Georgetown. Using highly interactive Web 2.0 technology, this master’s program engages students and faculty in a personalized, seminar-style learning environment that leverages one-to-one interaction to promote camaraderie and collaboration. In October 2011, Georgetown launched For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown, our most ambitious capital campaign to date. As the horizons of human knowledge extend ever outward and our world faces unprecedented and ever more complex problems, Georgetown University Medical Center must respond to remain relevant and competitive. The distinct challenge for our medical center is to respond in a way that reflects our Catholic and Jesuit tradition and values. For this $1.5 billion campaign, GUMC is focused on four areas that will advance our strategic goals and define the mission of Georgetown medicine for the future. You can read more about these priorities on pages 34-43. We invite alumni, parents and friends to join us in building on the momentum we have achieved to shape the next generation of health care providers and physician-scientists.

With kindest regards,

Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., MACP, FAAP Dean for Medical Education

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 3


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

Top: A bird’s-eye view of the campus as the summer sun sets. Above: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales begins his address on sustainable agriculture as a part of The Future of Food conference during his May 4 visit to campus. Right: A view from inside the cupola, atop the Med-Dent Building.

Page 4

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


© 2011 Herman Farrer/Georgetown Univ.

Left: Former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker at “Clinton-Gore Economics: Understanding the Lessons of the 1990s,” a symposium hosted by the William J. Clinton Foundation at Georgetown. Watch a video of the event at www.georgetown. edu/webcast/clinton-gore-economics.html. Below: Philip L. Calcagno (M’43, H’88), professor emeritus and founder of the Department of Pediatrics (seen here with Dean Stephen Ray Mitchell), was one of two School of Medicine faculty members who received the prestigious Founders’ Day Award. Herbert B. Herscowitz, professor of microbiology and immunology and senior associate dean for academic affairs, was also honored. Bottom: Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center-sponsored participants march on the mall in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 5


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

GUMC Celebrates Transformative Power of Philanthropy Ensemble science—high-performance, interdisciplinary research by cross-functional scientific teams—is rapidly becoming the new face of medicine, according to a panel of distinguished experts assembled to commemorate the largest gift in the history of Georgetown. The symposium, “Ensemble Science: The Future of Biomedical Research at Georgetown,” honored the legacy of Harry and Virginia Toulmin, whose $87 million gift to the university has established an endowment that is expected to transform Georgetown University Medical Center’s ability to conduct medical research. Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine, believes the Toulmin gift will transform GUMC’s capacity to conduct medical research.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia moderated the event, which took place in May at the Gonda Theatre. “President DeGioia often describes his personal definition of Georgetown’s mission as ‘provid[ing] a place where extraordinarily talented people can come together to do their very best work,” said Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine while introducing panel members, including Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc., dean for research; Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, Ph.D., professor of oncology; David Hartley, Ph.D., MPH, director, Division of Integrated Biodefense; Edward B. Healton, M.D., MPH, chair, Department of Neurology and Joseph G. Verbalis, M.D., professor of medicine. Clarke, a world-renowned breast cancer researcher, told the audience he has spent his career identifying patterns of why drugs work—or stop working—and emphasizing to biostatisticians, mathematicians and biomedical researchers the importance of “understanding the same language.” “Major advancements won’t be made by lone scientists but by teams—that is the very nature of ensemble science,” Clarke continued, also noting that “students quite frequently teach their professors. Education is where the future of all science lies.”

A Vision for Interdisciplinary Collaborations Federoff, who took the medical center leadership position in 2007, has long pushed physicians and scientists to pool their knowledge and resources across disciplinary lines and work together to create a high-performance, interdisciplinary research environment. He calls this approach “ensemble science,” a fitting term, since the concept calls to mind the music an ensemble of musicians can create. Scientists and physicians at Georgetown, too, have long collaborated, taking the moreheads-are-better-than-one approach to medical discoveries. But in 2006, the National Institutes of Health began formal codification of the approach by creating a well-funded and ambitious national consortium of universities and hospitals bent on overhauling—for the first time in more than 50 years—the way that science and clinical research are conducted and translated into treatments for patients in the United States. The Toulmin gift coincided with the medical center’s receipt of a prestigious $38.2 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) to establish the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Panel member Verbalis is co-director of the center with Howard University College of Medicine’s associate dean for clinical and translational research, Tom Mellman, M.D. The center also includes Washington’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the MedStar Health Research Institute and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Page 6

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


“The CTSA personifies ensemble science,” Verbalis told the audience. “We may seem like strange bedfellows, but we can do more as a team. What physician-scientists like me take from the lab into the clinic and back [is that] once you understand the disease process, you translate it into a treatment for humans.”

“Major advancements

Teams of physicians and scientists from an array of disciplines are more likely than those “siloed” inside highly specialized areas of expertise to galvanize much-needed advances in health care to better serve the public, Verbalis said. It was biochemists—not cardiologists— who developed cholesterol-reducing drugs that effectively pioneered a new era in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, he noted.

lone scientists but by

But neither group could have accomplished this without the other’s contribution, underscoring the power of collaboration between basic science and clinical medicine. To creatively pool resources, strengthen teams and engage myriad disciplines to work in unison for the greatest good is the very essence of ensemble science, which promises to be an enduring legacy of the Toulmins’ generosity.

won’t be made by

teams—that is the very nature of ensemble science.” —Robert Clarke, Ph.D, D.Sc.

Healton said this continuing struggle to cross-pollinate research and clinical care, science and medicine has existed for quite some time.

A distinguished panel of GUMC’s research scientists and physicians discussed “Ensemble Science: The Future of Biomedical Research at Georgetown” in May at the Gonda Theatre on campus. Pictured, left to right, Georgetown President John DeGioia; Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, Ph.D.; Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc.; David Hartley, Ph.D., MPH; Edward B. Healton, M.D., MPH; and Joseph G. Verbalis, M.D.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 7


News Briefs

Attendees of a dinner gather in Riggs Library to celebrate the generosity of Harry and Virginia Toulmin.

Georgetown Medicine

When DeGioia asked Healton of the importance of philanthropy in bridging the distance between the promise and the reality of what modern science can achieve, he said, “Philanthropy is just critical to closing that gap. It has never been more important.” Panelists agreed that ensemble science supported by gifts like the Toulmins’ will save lives for generations to come. The Toulmin gift is the largest gift received by Georgetown University to date. A dinner to celebrate the couple and their creation of the Warwick Evans and Mary Mason Washington Evans Medical Research Endowment followed the panel discussion. ■

Page 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Toulmin Family History

Georgetown Medical Milestones

Largest Gift Ever Begins with Medical School Founding In 1852, Warwick Evans became the first graduate of the Georgetown University School of Medicine. The school—then the medical department of Georgetown College—was less than a year old, and Evans and his three classmates had learned their profession in modest rooms lit with candles and oil lamps. Just over 100 years later, in 1965, Harry Toulmin Jr., the grandson of Warwick Evans, created a trust, then valued at $1.2 million, in honor of his grandfather. Toulmin’s widow, Virginia, stewarded the trust into an $87 million endowment, destined for medical research at Georgetown. In 2011, almost 160 years after Warwick Evans graduated, Georgetown received the trust and fulfilled Harry Toulmin’s dream of the Warwick Evans and Mary Mason Washington Evans Medical Research Endowment. The gift—the largest in Georgetown history—will transform the Medical Center’s capacity to conduct medical research that will improve lives. ■

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 9


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

Music and Minds Meld to Advance Neuroscience by Victoria Churchville

Uplifting music and the powerful promise of medical breakthroughs came together at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as members of the Georgetown University Medical Center community gathered at the inaugural Music for the Mind event to support biomedical research for neuroscience and neurogenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. More than 220 attendees gathered for an evening of festive cocktails, “brain food” and music backed by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). Music sensations Tito Puente Jr. and Jon Secada and NSO Pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch performed at the evening concert. Mark Shriver, honorary co-chair of the inaugural Music for the Mind event, recounts his family’s experiences of dealing with such neurodegenerative conditions as Alzheimer’s.

Beyond the attendees’ evident enjoyment of the event, serious discussions took place on how best to advance the biomedical research enterprise to combat the most puzzling and hardest-to-cure non-cancer diseases. The number of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and traumatic brain injury is increasing at a rapid rate in the United States, and experts project that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s will more than double from roughly 6 million today to more than 14 million by 2050. Parkinson’s affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States, and stroke claims victims of all ages, with more than 700,000 strokes occurring annually. These neurologic disorders can cause great suffering before eventual death, and solutions that can only be realized through intensified biomedical research are desperately needed. This year’s Music for the Mind was the first of what is slated to become an annual event to support promising young Georgetown investigators searching for treatments and cures for neurologic diseases and disorders. Proceeds of this and future events will be directed to a Young Investigators Fund to support their work. Francine and Mel Levinson served as co-chairs for the event with Mark and Jeanne Shriver as honorary co-chairs. Mark Shriver spoke movingly of his father, Sargent Shriver, and his battle with Alzheimer’s, and Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D, executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine, also spoke. “Neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injuries and stroke often attack the core of what makes us human: our ability to think, talk and remember,” he said. “These diseases impact our senses—our connections to the world—they cripple, paralyze, cause excruciating pain—and they kill.” Federoff also warned of the so-called “Silver Tsunami”: “As the nation’s population ages, we could experience a socioeconomic crisis because the risk for Alzheimer’s rises steeply with age and this will result in the tripling of the number of patients over the next 30 years.” But Federoff stressed hopeful signs of progress at GUMC and in the brilliant young minds that can propel research to an even deeper level. “Innovative science and cutting-edge novel therapies will make strides in conquering these diseases,” he said. Perhaps even more promising is the work of GUMC’s young investigators, he emphasized: “They challenge our conventional ways and drive the integration of new technology in our research.”

Page 1 0

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Above: Event co-chairs Francine and Mel Levinson, center, are flanked by performers Tito Puente Jr. and Jon Secada. At far right is Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D. Left: Fernando Pagan, M.D., associate professor of Neurology, and co-director of the Movement Disorders Program, second from left, poses with the evening’s performers.

Among these promising researchers highlighted during this year’s event was Mark Burns, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience, who is investigating the link between Alzheimer’s and traumatic brain injury, as brain injury can quadruple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Hyang-Sook Hoe, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience, is studying the normal function of the protein APP, which plays a key role in Alzheimer’s. It is important for scientists to understand precisely what goes wrong with this protein to devise therapies to treat the disease. Charbel Elhajj Moussa, M.B., Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience, is examining the similarities among neurodegenerative diseases to see whether a therapy that increases the brain’s capacity to dispose of amyloid beta—fragments found clumped together in plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients—can reverse the process of dementia. With cocktails, dinner and introductions completed, guests enjoyed an energizing two hours of music peppered with the Latin beat of Puente, the sensational solo songs of Secada and the glorious orchestration of Hamlisch and the NSO Pops. ■

Support Neuroscience at GUMC For more information about joining the 2012 Music for the Mind committee or taking a tour of a research lab, call 202-687-3709 or email medcenteradvancement@ georgetown.edu.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 11


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

Martin Y. Iguchi is known as an innovative educator and a leader in public health.

“I thank the Georgetown

Martin Y. Iguchi Named New NHS Dean

community for inviting

Martin Y. Iguchi, Ph.D., became the new dean of Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies on July 1.

me to join this prestigious institution and look forward to the challenges ahead.” —Martin Y. Iguchi, Ph.D.

Prior to coming to Georgetown, he was chair of the School of Public Health’s community health sciences department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Iguchi was also on the faculty at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and co-directed the Barriers to Care Program Area at the UCLA AIDS Institute. “Martin is a well-respected leader in public and community health,” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said. “He is an innovative educator and has extensive expertise in developing and directing community-based drug abuse treatment and prevention programs.” DeGioia also said he is deeply grateful to Julie DeLoia, Ph.D, interim dean, for “her outstanding service and leadership to the School of Nursing & Health Studies.” Iguchi is a former director of the RAND Corp. Drug Policy Research Center. He is widely published and has held editorial roles with a number of scholarly journals. “I am honored to be joining the School of Nursing & Health Studies,” Iguchi said. “I will continue to ensure that NHS students play a part in providing answers to some of the most pressing issues of our time, whether it be as innovative leaders in nursing or as pioneers in addressing issues of health disparities, global health or health reform and the evolving role of the nursing workforce. “I am certain that NHS students, who uniquely embody the Jesuit tradition of service to others, will pass on their values to new generations of health care leaders who understand the importance of social justice,” he added. “I thank the Georgetown community for inviting me to join this prestigious institution and look forward to the challenges ahead.” The recipient of a master’s degree and Ph.D in experimental psychology from Boston University, Iguchi is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a former elected member of its board of professional affairs. He also serves as a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Center Grant Research Review Committee (NIDA) and co-chair of NIDA’s Asian and Pacific Islander Work Group. ■

Page 1 2

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Universities Partner to Launch Biomedical Graduate Degree Program Georgetown and George Mason universities have teamed up in an academic collaboration, dubbed George Squared, to create a new special master’s program in biomedical sciences. During a ceremony at Riggs Library in April, a memorandum of understanding was signed by John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University; Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine at Georgetown; Alan G. Merten, president of George Mason; and Vikas Chandhoke, dean of the College of Science at George Mason. The signing ceremony was the official launch of the new special master’s program in biomedical sciences. This 34-credit graduate degree brings together the expertise of Georgetown’s special master’s program and the potential of George Mason’s growing Prince William campus, dedicated solely to the biomedical sciences. George Squared allows both institutions to help meet the growing demand for biomedical scientists and health care industry specialists for the next two decades. The latest collaboration builds on the joint Advanced Biomedical Sciences Certificate Program between the two institutions that was launched in fall 2010. “Our first year with the certificate program was a success, and we’re looking forward to a banner second year,” said Federoff. Courses for the new special master’s program will take place at the Prince William Campus; the classes will be taught by faculty from both Georgetown and George Mason. “The collaboration with George Mason responds to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ call for specialists in Hoping to serve as a model for other universities, Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D, and Vikas biomedical sciences—together we have Chandhoke, dean of the College of Science at George Mason University, sign a memorandum of served 52 students through the certificate understanding. program,” said DeGioia. “These students have contributed to local hospitals and medical facilities, and this program will only continue to evolve as long as we have our partnership with George Mason.” Merten acknowledged the growing demand in the biomedical sciences and said the special master’s program will be a model for future universities. “I look forward to the next level of education,” Merten said. ■

For more information about George Squared, visit georgesquared.georgetown. edu

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 13


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

GUMC Congratulates Class of 2011 On May 20, the inaugural Graduate School Diploma Distribution Ceremony for the graduate programs of the Georgetown University Medical Center and the School of Nursing & Health Studies took place with an estimated 700 people in attendance as 125 graduates of the master’s of science programs in the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization and NHS received their diplomas. The graduate programs ceremony was hosted by Robert Clarke, Ph.D., D.Sc., dean for research, and Julie DeLoia, Ph.D., then-interim dean of NHS. Kyle Taylor (G’11), who earned his master’s degree in health systems administration at NHS, gave the student address. “We all came to Georgetown with our own experiences and our own knowledge,” he said. “That diversity, when shared, allowed us to reach higher heights while still forming meaningful new friendships.” On May 22, 194 students from the Georgetown University School of Medicine received their medical degrees. Barbara Alving, M.D. (M’72), director at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Research Resources, served as the Class of 2011’s keynote speaker. “The medical degree can be considered as your official passport that gives you permission and the responsibility to connect at the most profound levels with individuals, who as patients reveal their fears and hopes in confronting illnesses,” she told students. Alving acknowledged several students in the audience, one of whom was Brendan Higgins (M’11), a Marine stationed in Iraq for nearly a year. Higgins saw the despair among the seriously injured and knew he wanted to help make a difference. “I joined so I could give back to my country,” he said. “Once my tour was over, I returned to the United States and started my journey at Georgetown.” Higgins was able to attend Students from the Class of 2011 eagerly await receiving their degrees.

Page 1 4

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


To watch a video of Barbara Alving (M’72) delivering the Class of 2011’s keynote speech, visit: www.georgetown.edu/video/ 1242670589564.html

Georgetown with financial aid and help from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Alving also applauded the graduates for reaching out on a global front and noted that more than 40 percent of them served in rotations of at least six-to-eight weeks in 27 countries. “The word ‘physician,’ ‘doctor’ and simply ‘doc’ is universally understood and conveys hope and passion,” she said. Alving encouraged the students to look at new technologies—in America and other countries—to live by the Georgetown Jesuit tradition of cura personalis and to love and take care of themselves and their families. ■ Howard Federoff and Barbara Alving (M’72) were on hand to address this year’s graduating students.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 15


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

GUMC Honors Pharmacogenomics Expert During Third Annual Convocation Despite having been in existence for more than half a century, in some ways, the field of pharmacogenomics remains in its infancy.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia congratulates Arno G. Motulsky during GUMC’s third annual convocation. Motulsky received the Cura Personalis Award for his outstanding contributions to pharmacogenomics.

Pharmacogenomics, which explores the way genes influence one’s response to drug therapies, is still years away from providing consistently reliable personalized therapies. During the March 15 colloquium to mark Georgetown University Medical Center’s third annual convocation, a panel of experts discussed how far the field has come—yielding tremendous information to facilitate personalized medicine—and how much work is still needed. Arno G. Motulsky, M.D., D.Sc., professor emeritus of medicine and genome sciences at the University of Washington, is known as one of the founders of the field. He believes that genetic breakthroughs such as the discovery of the use of imatinib (Gleevec) for chronic myelogenous leukemia are few and far between due to the multifactorial and highly complex nature of many diseases. “There was hope that there would be many more Gleevecs. Unfortunately, we are not very good yet at fully defining the environment that a person lives in,” he said. Motulsky, who was awarded Georgetown University Medical Center’s Cura Personalis Award—bestowed upon a health professional who has made outstanding contributions to human health guided by compassion and service—was joined on the panel by Michael Pishvaian, M.D., Ph.D., and Arnold L. Potosky, Ph.D., both of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Joseph G. Verbalis, M.D., professor of medicine. Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine, moderated the event. During the afternoon awards ceremony, Federoff welcomed the assembly with a review of medical center achievements, including the renewal of the Georgetown Lombardi

Page 1 6

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Comprehensive Cancer Center’s National Cancer Institute-designated “comprehensive” status under the leadership of Louis M. Weiner, M.D., and the awarding of a $38.2 million Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA), an effort led by Verbalis. In his remarks, President John J. DeGioia framed the celebration of GUMC’s unique and outstanding achievements in research, education and service in the context of the central aspects of the Jesuit traditions embodied in two phrases, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam inque hominum salutem, and cura personalis (“for the greater glory of God and betterment of humankind” and “care of the whole person”). “In our tradition, we are always asked to look for the ‘more.’ What more can we do? What more can we be?” he said. Perhaps the most important idea that infuses Georgetown’s medical center community, he said, is cura personalis, which reflects “the holistic approach we aspire to bring to every aspect of our teaching and learning—across all of our campuses.”

“An excellent doctor must be both scientific and holistic.” —Arno G. Motulsky, M.D., D.Sc.

In his keynote address, Motulsky also noted the importance of cura personalis and how this philosophy has influenced his career as a physician. “An excellent doctor must be both scientific and holistic,” he said. “I would like to think that my interest in pharmacogenetics, with its emphasis on a unique genetic make-up and practice of personalized medicine, fits well with the spirit of cura personalis.” ■

Recognizing Outstanding Achievements Other awards given to faculty members and students during GUMC’s convocation for their outstanding achievements in research, education, and service:

For Outstanding Achievement in Research GUMC Leadership in Research Award Lucile Adams-Campbell, Ph.D. Department of Oncology GUMC Research Recognition Award Aykut Üren, M.D. Department of Oncology Offie Soldin, Ph.D. Department of Oncology GUMC Outstanding Service Award Judith Baigis, Ph.D., RN, FAAN Department of Nursing

Michael D. Lumpkin, Ph.D. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology Jean-Gilles Tchabo, M.D. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Student Achievement, School of Medicine Margaret Gatti, M.D. (M’11) Student Achievement, Biomedical Graduate Research Organization

The Kaiser Permanente Award Each year a group of professors previously honored with the Kaiser Permanente Award select two new members to receive the teaching award and $1,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Foundation. The 2011 honorees are:

For Outstanding Achievement in Education

Jean Wrathall, Ph.D. Department of Neuroscience

The Magis Society of Master Teachers honors physicians and biomedical scientists dedicated to the care of others and society. Magis is Latin for “the more,” representing the Jesuit concept of striving ever higher. The 2011 Magis honorees are:

Carlo Tornatore, M.D. Department of Neurology

Yvonne M. Hernandez, Ph.D. Department of Pharmacology

Zhihuan Jennifer Huang, Ph.D. Department of International Health

Princy N. Kumar, M.D. Department of Medicine

Alex Theos, Ph.D. Department of Human Science

Jason Michael Warfel, Ph.D. (G’10) Department of Microbiology Julie Simmerman Lowe, Ph.D. (G’10) Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology Hannah Hathaway (G’12) Department of Pharmacology Peter Alexandrov (G’10, M’14) Student Achievement, School of Nursing & Health Studies Philip Morris (G’11) Department of Health Systems Administration

Faculty Achievement, School of Nursing & Health Studies

Karen Jose (G’11) Department of Health Systems Administration Deanna Jenkins (G’13) Department of Health Systems Administration

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 17


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

Match Day Marks Emotional Rite of Passage for Medical Students For most, March 17 is filled with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and festivities, but for Georgetown School of Medicine students, the third Thursday in March is Match Day, a day they’ve been working toward for a very long time. This is the day to find out where they will spend the next four to seven years of their medical residency training; similar ceremonies are held simultaneously at medical schools around the country. Donned in “Kiss Me, I Matched” T-shirts and St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia, 200 Georgetown students—alongside their friends and families—gathered on the medical center campus to unseal the envelopes that would determine their fate and their futures as doctors.

Students applied for programs through-

“Many of you are going to need long underwear and may have an ice rink in your back yard,” joked Dean for Medical Education Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., as shrieks of laughter and excitement filled the standing-room-only auditorium. “Many of you are going north.”

out the United States,

Georgetown students applied for programs throughout the United States, ranging in specialties from internal medicine to anesthesiology.

ranging in specialties

“This is such a remarkable day,” said Margaret Gatti, a fourth-year medical student. “I’m getting anxious for noon.”

from internal medicine to anesthesiology.

For students like Gatti, this day represents the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. And today, the wait was finally over. When the clock struck 12, Mitchell instructed the students to open their envelopes. One by one, students erupted into celebration, hugging and congratulating one another on jobs well done. Gatti, who was recognized by Georgetown University Medical Center for outstanding student achievement, matched at her top choice: Georgetown. Gatti and nearly 40 percent of her peers will enter primary care this year, Georgetown’s highest percentage to enter primary care to date. “This is going to be a very exciting time,” she said. “Today is a day for celebration.” Mitchell agreed: “Congratulations, you all have jobs!” At the conclusion of the ceremony, students and their families enjoyed a luncheon hosted by the Office of Medical Alumni Programs and the Georgetown University Alumni Association. ■

Dean Steven Ray Mitchell celebrates Match Day 2011 with students in front of the Med-Dent Building.

Page 1 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


“This is going to be a very exciting time. Today is a day for celebration.” —Margaret Gatti, fourth-year medical student

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 19


News Briefs

Georgetown Medicine

Online Master’s in Nursing Begins When Janelle Shank (G’12) sent in her deposit to Georgetown she became the first student to enroll in the university’s firstever online degree program. Shank, a full-time nurse in a Level 1 trauma unit near Phoenix, Ariz., says her lifelong interest in nursing prompted her to apply to the School of Nursing & Health Studies’ new online master’s program. “My interest in nursing began at a young age and was largely influenced by my grandmother, who was a nurse–and still is at age 76,” Shank explains.

High Praise Although going back to school while working full time hasn’t been easy, Shank has high praise for Georgetown’s faculty and staff, who she says guided her through the application process. “Everyone from the admissions counselors to student and tech support to the professors and the staff at Georgetown has been so helpful,” said Shank. “Everyone is committed to making this program a success for the student.”

A Personal Touch Shank noted that one of her favorite aspects of Georgetown’s program is the “face-to-face” sessions, in which she and other students meet with their classmates and professors virtually. These sessions allow all the students to simultaneously see and speak with one another and their professors using their own computers. While she originally feared an online program would include “endless discussion boards to post, irrelevant readings to sift through and impersonal instructors” she found the program to be “very personal largely because of the small class sizes and the opportunity to connect with the professors each week.” A screen shot of the home page for Georgetown’s new online nursing master’s program.

Jeanne Matthews, Ph.D., R.N., who chairs the Department of Nursing, said NHS launched the online initiative to “extend our school’s mission nationally and make an even greater impact on health and health care.” Approximately 50 students are now enrolled in the program.

“Through dynamic technology, we’ve been able to foster a strong relationship between students and faculty members, as well as among the student body itself,” Matthews added. “It’s been great to watch our longstanding campus-based programs thrive in this new medium.”

Influencing Health Care Shank considered moving to the East Coast to pursue a master’s degree but found that the program at Georgetown gave her the opportunity to earn a high-quality degree while continuing her career path. “I love working with the health care team and in patient care, but I also love science and increasing my knowledge,” Shank said. “I realized if I want to have more influence on patient care I should increase my education.” For more about the program and its initiatives, visit online.nursing.georgetown.edu.

Page 2 0

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Georgetown Medicine

P h i l a n t h r op y

Former Washington Redskin Jeff Bostic (second from right, with other tournament participants) was among the original founders of Swing Fore the Cure.

Annual Golf Tournament Supports Breast Cancer Research at Lombardi It all started with four friends on a golf course. Walter Andrews, Jeff Bostic, Tim Healy and Kevin McNerney were discussing the fact that two of their wives, Nancy Andrews and Ann McNerney, were undergoing treatment for breast cancer at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. They wanted to do something meaningful, something with the potential to help their loved ones as well as future generations of patients with breast cancer. Fueled by this desire to make a difference, they created the Swing Fore the Cure golf tournament in 1999, with proceeds directed to organizations and institutions with the capacity to affect serious change in the lives of patients. As the only National Cancer Institutedesignated comprehensive cancer center in the Washington area, Lombardi was an ideal fit.

Working toward a Cure Now, 13 years later, the group has donated close to $1 million to Lombardi with no signs of slowing down. In 2009, two additional events were created: Pour Fore the Cure, a guest bartending event, and Toss Fore the Cure, a beanbag toss tournament. Funds from both events benefit breast cancer research. In 2010, the American Cancer Society estimated that among U.S. women, there would be 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer, a statistic the founders are committed to eliminating. “It is exciting to have the partnership with Lombardi for the past 13 years and to see the impact our funding has on research. It is motivational to know together, we are making a difference,” says Healy, who works closely with Claudine Isaacs, M.D., associate professor and director of Lombardi’s Clinical Breast Cancer Program.

“We see the results” Along with the original founders, Mark Decker Jr. joined the group when his wife, Stephanie Decker, was treated at Lombardi for breast cancer. Sadly, Stephanie passed away in 2008, but he remains involved with the fundraising efforts for all three events. “There’s a high multiplier effect to our dollars at Lombardi, and we really like that dynamic,” says Decker. “We know where the money’s going; we see the results. That’s powerful, and that’s what donors want to hear.” ■

This year’s tournament took place at the Westfields Golf Club in Clifton, Va., on Oct. 10. For information about future events or to sign up to be a volunteer, visit swingforethecure.org or email contact@swingforethe cure.org.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 21


P h i l a n t h r op y

Georgetown Medicine

Lifelong Friend of Georgetown Leaves Enduring Legacy Donald Waldorf, M.D., can’t seem to say enough good things about Georgetown. And although neither Waldorf nor his late wife, Geraldine, were Georgetown graduates, the impact they’ve made as donors has helped advance the university’s mission of providing a world-class academic environment that fosters a lifetime of leadership and service. “I have a special relationship with the university. In fact, Phyllis Magrab is one of our family’s closest friends,” says Waldorf, a New York-based dermatologist. Magrab, professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Child and Human Development, is a leader in the field of pediatric psychology and known for her tireless work to address health disparities. “Phyllis is like extended family to us,” Waldorf says of their friendship. “I don’t know where she gets the energy. She’s a great mother, grandmother and friend. She’s incredible.”

The establishment of this chair “is intrinsically aligned with the Jesuit values of social justice of this institution.” —Phyllis R. Magrab

Geraldine Waldorf was an active volunteer with, and longtime supporter of the center, serving as chair of the center’s Advisory Board in the late ’90s. Under her leadership, a campaign was launched that funded an endowed chair for the director of the center.

A Chance to Make a Lasting Impact Geraldine Waldorf was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007. As the disease continued to progress, she became determined to leave her mark at Georgetown and established an endowment fund to support the work of the chairholder. Sadly, Geraldine passed away in early 2009; however, her husband recognized the incredible potential to help underserved populations that could be realized by continuing to support the chair’s work. “After Geraldine died, the center became very important to me, and everyone [at Georgetown] has been so nice to us over the years that I made the decision to double the money,” Waldorf says. Daughter Heidi Waldorf, M.D., also a dermatologist, has contributed to the fund as well. In February 2010, Magrab became the inaugural holder of the chair bearing her name. The establishment of the Phyllis R. Magrab Endowed Chair represents an important milestone for the university, Magrab believes: “First and foremost, it is intrinsically aligned with the Jesuit values of social justice of this institution. It gives voice to those whose voices have been muted—an academic voice through scholarship, advocacy and leadership.”

Helping the World’s Most Vulnerable

Donald Waldorf’s late wife, Geraldine (left), shown with President John J.DeGioia and Phyllis Magrab, was an active volunteer with and longtime supporter of the Center for Child and Human Development.

Page 2 2

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

Waldorf notes that Georgetown has been “extremely appreciative” and says he is excited about the range of initiatives that have been supported because of their gift. One such initiative, the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, is a public-private partnership designed to advance opportunities for Afghan


women and girls in the areas of literacy and education, entrepreneurship, political leadership and health care. Magrab is vice-chair of the council. Waldorf says, “The problems are so immense that whatever we can do, we will do.” As a donor, he appreciates the “hands-on” approach to giving at Georgetown. “I really feel that at Georgetown, my gift is being used for a specific cause. And I feel very comfortable with that.” ■

Joseph Timpone Honored with Endowed Scholarship On June 17, Michael Palko, M.D. (M’85), hosted a party at Riggs Library to announce the establishment of an endowed scholarship for School of Medicine students named in honor of his classmate, friend and current faculty member, Joseph Gerald Timpone Jr., M.D. (M’85). Palko has given the funds to establish this scholarship. “Joe has excelled in research, teaching and patient care—the trifecta,” Palko told the audience. “But what I think is the major contribution Joe has made to the Georgetown community is his position as a role model for others. He’s an inspiration to all who he comes in contact with.” Indeed, several faculty members from the Department of Medicine were on hand to show their support, including department Chair Bruce Luxon, M.D.; Bob Holman, M.D.; Eileen Moore, M.D.; Mike Adams, M.D., and Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., dean for medical education. Mitchell spoke of how this scholarship will allow future generations of medical students to attend Georgetown and choose a field of medicine without financial concerns based on potential debt load. “The students here have great potential, great heart, and great clinical skills, but they also have great debt,” Mitchell said. “I am deeply grateful to [Dr. Palko] and many of you in this room who reach out and continue to help.” Surrounded by his family, colleagues, and friends, Timpone was noticeably touched: “I love what I do. M’85 was a wonderful class, and it’s wonderful to continue to be part of Georgetown. This is just beyond what I would have ever expected.” ■

“The major contribution Joe has made to the Georgetown community is his position as a role model for others. He’s an inspiration to all who he comes in contact with.” —Michael Palko, M.D. (M’85)

If you would like to learn more about this scholarship or contribute, please contact Libby Bell, director of development, School of Medicine, 202-687-5428.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 23


Pa r e n t N e w s

Welcome

Georgetown Medicine

Jean and William Davis, M.D., FACP (R’74, W’79, W’89), have found that their involvement with the Medical Parents Council has given them an ‘insider’s perspective’ on their children’s education. They are shown with daughter Stephanie (MS’06, M’11) and son William (C’07, MS’09, M’13) at Stephanie’s wedding.

By serving on the Medical Parents Council for the past four years, we have had the unique opportunity to support the very special student body and faculty of the Georgetown University School of Medicine in a variety of ways. As co-chairs for 2011-12, we are eagerly anticipating another exciting academic year and the prospect of projects to come. We have been associated with the School of Medicine and the university hospital for more than 35 years and feel privileged to continue our involvement on yet another level. Both of our children were born at Georgetown University Hospital. Our daughter, who earned her master’s degree at Georgetown, graduated from the School of Medicine this past May. Our son, a Georgetown University undergraduate and master’s graduate, is currently a third-year student in the School of Medicine. The concept of cura personalis and the commitment to the academic excellence of Georgetown University is part of our family philosophy. At Georgetown, the opportunities for students in the School of Medicine are vast. The tradition of outstanding faculty and staff and the ever-expanding technology presents students with unparalleled educational experiences. The process of learning and growing as future physicians continues to present challenges. The academic workload, the responsibilities of actual patient care, the long hours and the financial burdens can be stressful. Balancing the academic requirements and a healthy personal life can be a daunting task. As Parents Council members, we have chosen to support the learning atmosphere for our students in a variety of ways. Based on student assessment

Page 24

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


and feedback, we help improve study spaces, provide areas for relaxation and casual recreation and enhance the services provided by the university to our medical students. While working closely with the dean of students, the council members offer time, creative ideas, insight and financial assistance to the students. A benefit of Parents Council membership that often goes unmentioned is that we are given a certain “insider’s perspective” into the educational journey of our daughters and sons. We meet their teachers, advisors, mentors, peers and other parents and develop a better understanding of the experiences of our adult children. Parents and students alike have found this to be an important connection at a significant time in a student’s career.

There are many ways for you to support and become involved in the work of the Medical Parents Council. To find out more, contact Kara Ridgway at 202-6876673 or kr372@georgetown. edu.

In broad terms, the goal of the Medical Parents Council this year is to continue the projects that have been initiated and to seek innovative approaches to improve the lives of our students. We encourage more parents to become involved with the Council or other volunteer activities available through the School of Medicine. We are grateful to the ever-supportive faculty and staff and the parents who have already given their time and talent to enrich the learning experience of each student in the School of Medicine.

Thank you, Jean and William Davis

Fourth-Year Gift Funds Allocated to Dahlgren Library As a double Hoya, fourth-year class gift chair Stephanie Wappel (C’07, M’11) felt strongly about giving back to Georgetown. This desire to give prompted her to serve as chair of the committee, an experience Wappel found to be quite rewarding. This year, the majority of the students expressed an interest in allocating the funds to the Dahlgren Memorial Library, a place that students from all four classes in the School of Medicine use for studying, socializing and quiet reflection. Along with a committee of her peers, Wappel was instrumental in working toward their goal of 100 percent class participation. And thanks in part to the committee’s effort to promote the “no gift is too small” philosophy, 98 percent of the class participated. “Our main strategy for overcoming challenges in getting classmates to donate was to focus on the purpose of the gift and the impact it would have on future generations of Georgetown medical students,” said Wappel, who underscored the importance of alumni contributions to the university when asking her classmates to give.

Stephanie Wappel (M’11)

“As an alumnus of Georgetown College, I already had four years of amazing memories and a solid education from Georgetown that prepared me for medical school. So I already felt very passionate about giving back to Georgetown for the valuable educational opportunities and wonderful friendships Georgetown has given me,” she added. Georgetown provided Wappel and other members of the class of 2011 with a solid academic foundation that prepared them for their medical careers. In return, the class of 2011 is hopeful that their class gift will help future generations of medical students create wonderful memories and—hopefully—inspire them to give as well. ■

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 25


E x p l or i n g P l ast i c i t y

Page 26

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

Georgetown Medicine


Exploring Plasticity GUMC Scientists Work to Harness the Brain’s Remarkable Capacity to Heal Itself through Innovative Research and the Creation of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery

parts of the brain can often success-

It was once thought that the adult brain was hardwired, fixed in both function and form, unable to bounce back from traumatic injuries, let alone regain full function. Between birth and

brain—and expect that major cognitive

early childhood, although new neurons do not

functions predominantly controlled by that

grow, the brain possesses a remarkable ability to

hemisphere can be reacquired surprisingly

reorganize such that if there is injury, healthy

well by the remaining healthy hemisphere.

fully take over functions they do not ordinarily control. In young children, one can remove an entire cerebral hemisphere—half the

By Andrea Smiley

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 27


E x p l or i n g P l ast i c i t y

Georgetown Medicine

The scientific community seemed certain that this ability fades in adulthood. But researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center and elsewhere are beginning to understand—and capitalize on— the notion that the adult brain retains impressive powers of neuroplasticity throughout life.

Uniting to Accelerate Research The concept of neuroplasticity itself—the brain’s ability to compensate for damage by at least partly rewiring itself and assigning new tasks to undamaged regions—is not new. Indeed, Karl Lashley discovered in

The notion that adult brains are more adaptable, more capable of reprogramming themselves than was once thought, may seem more at home within the pages of a science fiction novel than in the laboratory, but GUMC researchers and physician-scientists plan to put this concept into practice.

1923 that the brain of an adult rhesus monkey was fairly changeable. Research in the decades since has been ongoing, but few findings have translated into practical treatment applications for human patients. Investigators at GUMC are hoping to change that, capitalizing on the notable strengths in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke rehabilitation rooted here. By conducting studies that combine novel behavioral training research with cutting-edge proteomics and genomics, investigators hope to better understand how to stimulate unprecedented levels of recovery for impaired cognitive and motor functions and

Page 2 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

bring these new methods to the treatment of patients. The notion that adult brains are more adaptable, more capable of reprogramming themselves than was once thought may seem more at home within the pages of a science fiction novel than in the laboratory, but GUMC researchers and physicianscientists plan to put this concept into practice for various brain insults—from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s to injuries resulting from traumatic events such as gunshot wounds. With such broad potential application, the team of scientists required to translate these concepts into meaningful care for patients must be equally vast. Georgetown’s existing assets are spread across a number of departments and schools—including particular strengths in basic and translational neuroscience, ties to Main Campus within the psychology and linguistics departments and connections to unique surrounding resources in the Washington metro area such as the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH)—create a setting optimized for research and discovery. In addition, strategic hiring within the interdisciplinary field of developmental cognitive neuroscience could integrate existing assets and build a group that extends from neurobiology to cognitive science. “The goal is to take our current strengths and coordinate them to create an ensemble atmosphere for research,” says Ed Healton, M.D., director of the NRH’s Research Center. “Basic science faculty studying this concept yet representing different departments could be coordinated.” Healton also chairs the Department of Neurology and is a professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Narrowing in on a Target As is traditional at most universities, faculty are divided into departments based on fields of study—behavioral scientists in psychology departments, computational modelers in computer science departments, cellularmolecular scientists in neuroscience or physiology departments, and so on. Yet dramatic breakthroughs that shed light on how brain development and plasticity


occur at the molecular and cellular levels and how recovery from injury in adults can be made to approximate the more complete recovery seen in children require a focused aim and a concentrated, interdisciplinary approach. The growing and important partnership between Georgetown University and NRH has prompted GUMC to focus its aim on stroke, the leading cause of long-term disability and the third-leading cause of death in the developed world. A prudent selection since—in contrast to many other potential neurologic disease targets—research participants can be selected from a large population of patients at the NRH who are otherwise healthy before and after their stroke, who have experienced acute damage to a previously intact brain and whose damage is highly defined in time and brain area. (See textbox on page 31 for more information on the importance of this collaboration.) Appointments within the Department of Neurology, the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the NRH provide access to a large stroke population, from which the most suitable participants for studies can be selected. Researchers believe approaches used for stroke patients, if successful, could be systematically extended to other neurological disorders. “Stroke is a good model for an initial study of the application of strategies that are derived from work on neuroplasticity,” Healton says. “We have a large patient cohort that is part of the NRH program that focuses on stroke and spinal cord injuries. There’s a lot of work already going on in stroke recovery, so it’s a natural partner.” The need for improved post-stroke recovery options for this patient population is also there: Of the 700,000 Americans who experience a new stroke each year,1 at least 50 percent have motor problems, 30 percent are unable to walk without assistance, and 20 percent have lost much of their ability to produce or comprehend language.2 In the United States alone, there are millions of people disabled by stroke, providing even more rationale for the selection.

1 2

And although there are many institutions investigating mechanisms for improved

“Stroke is a good model for an initial study of the application of strategies that are derived from work on neuroplasticity. We have a large patient cohort that is part of the NRH program that focuses on stroke and spinal cord injuries. There’s a lot of work already going on in stroke recovery, so it’s a natural partner.”

—Ed Healton, M.D.

recovery after stroke, most nationally prominent rehabilitation hospitals with a long traditions of clinical practice are not partnered with a basic or translational science enterprise such as the one at GUMC. Furthermore, most top scientific research programs investigating neural plasticity are not linked to a clinical environment that allows them to meaningfully study recovery in patients, making the collaboration between the NRH and Georgetown unique in its approach. By partnering complementary strengths, this initiative provides a path to accelerate the translation of basic research findings to clinical applications as quickly as possible.

Creating a Center Even with such targeted disease focus, GUMC understands that work to improve

AHA Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, 2011 Update Kelly-Hayes, et al, 2003

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 29


E x p l or i n g P l ast i c i t y

Georgetown Medicine

brain recovery in post-injury stroke patients remains intensely interdisciplinary by nature. It requires not only very strong scientists, but also an environment that encourages the crossing of many traditional academic research boundaries, effective collaboration between basic scientists and rehabilitation clinicians, large patient populations and access to novel imaging technologies.

“Neuroplasticity is not a confining term; it’s a theme that can serve as an umbrella for different kinds of science, which is one of the reasons to create a center: to define the research.”

—Karen N. Gale, Ph.D.

As such, GUMC has proposed the creation of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery to unite faculty conducting research in disparate areas to develop and refine groundbreaking approaches to restore cognitive, sensory and motor function after stroke and other neurologic disorders. (See page 34 for more information about the creation of this center and the medical center’s goals in Georgetown’s $1.5 billion capital campaign, For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown.) “We wanted to pick a theme that resonated with work that is ongoing at Georgetown. We’re building on a foundation of what has taken root already at Georgetown scientifically,” says Karen N. Gale, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology. “Neuroplasticity is not a confining term; it’s a theme that can serve as an umbrella for different kinds of science, which is one of the reasons to create a center—to define the research.” By bringing together all the key scientific

Page 3 0

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

players under one umbrella, Georgetown and NRH will have the capacity to execute their ambitious research agenda that seeks to understand and accelerate recovery in the damaged brain. “Several different disciplines will need to be optimally configured so how they interface with one another can create a fuller understanding of the nature of the problem,” notes Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine. “Then when one is ready to begin to execute novel strategies, such a center ensures you have the right people.” In addition to housing interdisciplinary faculty, the proposed center would include student offices, research labs and core facilities for research, as well as space for meetings, lectures and visiting scholars who will complement the Georgetown faculty. Elissa Newport, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics, is one such researcher who has been taking sabbatical at Georgetown for the past year. Her expertise in language development in children provides crucial insight on how language is relearned in the post-injury stroke setting. “For scientific reasons stroke is a good place to focus, but we’re thinking that the progress you can make on stroke can be applied to many other kinds of neurological disease,” says Newport. “Accelerating research on stroke also puts Georgetown in a position to be true pioneers in the field, since most of the top scientific research programs in the nation on neural plasticity are not yet focused on functional recovery from neurological damage in humans.” Newport also observes that although there are many ingredients already in existence at Georgetown working to move this research forward, some bridges and connections are still needed. “A lot of the cellular and molecular folks are working on mechanisms that are relevant to stroke recovery, and they may seek funding for that work by linking it to a disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, but the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are often the same. A center would allow them to be talking about how their work relates to stroke.”


Georgetown and the National Rehabilitation Hospital: Logical Partners Projected expenses during the start-up phase will require $3 million to $5 million to endow a clinical science director, fund pilot studies and create dedicated laboratory facilities. The creation of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery and the expanded collaboration between Georgetown and the NRH supports the university’s research mission and has the additional benefits of: ■

Accelerating translational science

Training future leaders in rehabilitation medicine

Cementing NRH’s academic reputation

Providing ready access to Georgetown University resources such as basic scientists, equipment and academic appointments

Leveraging existing NRH strengths of clinician-scientists focused on stroke rehabilitation and recovery and an extraordinary patient population

Augmenting Current Treatment Options Indeed, it seems that although a good deal is known about the brain’s ability to adapt, understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow for that adaptation to take place is a large part of what GUMC researchers hope to address within the proposed center. Gathering information from studies seeking to uncover various aspects of neural plasticity—the extent to which a nearby area of the brain takes over function, whether other pathways are brought into play or new connections are formed—allows for new treatments or therapies to be applied directly to patients in an organized manner. Identifying the computational and neurobiological principles that allow the brain to flexibly grow and adapt is an important part of this joint research initiative that will enable clinicians to restore cognitive and motor function after stroke by dramatically enhancing the brain’s natural plasticity and responsiveness to re-training. This joint initiative positions NRH as a national leader in the development of treatment strategies in the post-stroke recovery period and, together with GUMC, positions Georgetown as a pioneer in the basic and translational science of brain repair.

“The ultimate goal is to get these individuals to return to full function. That’s the type of ensemble we see putting together,” Federoff says. The center plans to concentrate on stroke patients with aphasia, a language impairment typically resulting from damage to left-hemisphere cortical and/or subcortical language areas; stroke patients with motor impairments resulting from damage to either left or right-hemisphere cortical and/or subcortical motor areas will also be included. Current treatment options for these patients with post-stroke motor impairment focuses on constraint-induced movement therapy, a form of rehabilitation that improves upper extremity functionality or other nervous system damage by forcing use of the affected limb rather than relying on the unaffected side or body part. But the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery seeks to expand those options and break new ground in this area. “There have been some medications tested in animals that appear to accelerate recovery,” says Healton. “But right now, as a practical application, much of the work revolves around ‘forced-use’ motor activity.” He adds that intensively expanding the

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 31


E x p l or i n g P l ast i c i t y

Georgetown Medicine

range of activity in the affected part of the brain is a crucial element on the path to complete recovery. “If you perform functional imaging on a violinist or pianist, the parts of the brain that control the hand function are overrepresented. Meaning, when you have the person use that part of the body, the part of the brain that normally controls that function lights up in a much broader way.” It is this concept that is thought to be applicable in recovery. “Overuse and intensive training can expand normal function of the brain, but we’re interested in influencing recovery of the damaged brain,” Healton continues. “Based on what we observed in healthy individuals, intensive use of the affected body part appears to be able to stimulate other parts of the brain to take over more function.”

Future treatments, including medication and the ability to manipulate the genes that need to be turned on to control the process of recovery, are also part of what Healton and others view as the next frontier.

Creation of this center allows those theories to be tested. Investigators are also examining ways of incorporating goal-directed, repetitive robotic training as part of the recovery and rehabilitation process for these patients. Robotic devices, Healton explains, provide varying degrees of resistance as a patient conducts a simple motor task. In this example, the patient continues to work and practice in a repetitive manner but uses different amounts of resistance. Another robotic-focused activity uses a treadmill to provide different levels of support depending on the level of weakness a patient is experiencing.

Page 3 2

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

“Our sense is that there will be a lot more sophisticated strategies that will come from the work that we’ll do in understanding the ability of the brain to recover, but these are some of the applications that are being used now,” Healton adds. Alex W. Dromerick, M.D., a leader in the field of stroke and brain injury, is chief of the Neuroscience Research Center, director of stroke research at NRH and professor of rehabilitation medicine and neurology at Georgetown. Much of the proposed research at the center would involve biologic markers of learning and recovery, yet Dromerick believes improved training methods alone are unlikely to yield dramatic changes in recovery of adult patients. He suggests that optimal training paired with biologic interventions will likely be needed to achieve this goal. In the future, researchers are looking to understand the process of neuroplasticity as it unfolds in the brain to discern what is happening in the cellular environment. “If we understand those mechanisms in the normal state and understand how those might be applied in the injured brain again at the gene level, that would be groundbreaking,” Healton says. Future treatments, including medication and the ability to manipulate the genes that need to be turned on to control the process of recovery are also part of what Healton and others view as the next frontier. “Multiple approaches—combining the kinds of things we do now, such as intensive training with these new tactics— will make the biggest impact on recovery,” he adds.

‘Resource-Dependent’ Work Federoff notes, however, that uniting the full orchestration of research in the right way and propelling future advances in the field to improve the lives of patients will be a ‘resource-dependent’ endeavor. Neither traditional funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health nor operating revenue from the university provides support for needs such as creating a physical space or recruiting and endowing leadership positions for the center. Yet bringing catalytic individuals here and creating the physical setting for them to do their work is absolutely vital as GUMC


researchers work to detect, prevent and even cure disorders of the nervous system. By intervening proactively, enhancing plasticity, optimizing brain function and dramatically altering the course of neural deterioration, researchers will have the power to stimulate the brain to recover from damage as well as to preserve and restore cognitive and neurologic function rather than providing only palliative care after a stroke.

“For new investigators, for new ideas, for taking chances with experiments that are going in a direction that may very well lead to important breakthroughs, philanthropic support is just critical.”

—Ed Healton, M.D.

“For new investigators, for new ideas, for taking chances with experiments that are going in a direction that may very well lead to important breakthroughs, philanthropic support is just critical,” Healton says. Understanding plasticity and its vast and as-yet-undiscovered potential applications is central to discerning exactly how the brain works and how a more complete recovery after injury can be realized. It is through this understanding we can learn how to stimulate the capacity of the adult brain to make changes—to learn, to recover from injury or disease and to enhance

skills throughout life. With the support of visionary philanthropists, GUMC will unlock its full potential to overcome these formidable diseases, understand how to stimulate recovery in the adult brain and improve the lives of patients on a global scale. ■

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 33


Ca m pa i g n f or G e or g e t o w n

Page 34

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

Georgetown Medicine


The Jesuit pioneers who founded Georgetown in 1789 had a bold vision: that their institution would be authentically Catholic and Jesuit—dedicated to the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and the betterment of humankind—and distinctly American—open to students of any religion and dedicated to forging leaders for the new nation. Pursuing that vision has led Georgetown to its status today as one of the world’s most distinguished universities. Our mission—to create and communicate knowledge, to provide a place where people can realize their fullest potential, and to make a disproportionate difference in the world—is as relevant today as it was in 1789.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 35


Ca m pa i g n f or G e or g e t o w n

Georgetown Medicine

Yet, as the horizons of human knowledge extend ever outward and our world faces unprecedented and ever more complex problems, Georgetown University Medical Center must respond to remain relevant and competitive. The distinct challenge for GUMC is to respond in a way that reflects our Catholic and Jesuit tradition and values. To that end, for this ambitious $1.5 billion capital campaign, For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown, GUMC is focused on four key areas that will advance our strategic goals and define the mission of Georgetown medicine for the future.

Prepare physician-scientists and medical students to be in the vanguard for the emerging field of systems medicine Pioneer a Systems Medicine Approach. GUMC is transforming the way we educate our students through a rigorous and innovative systems medicine curriculum. This approach shifts the focus from treating disease to preventing it and helps health care providers understand the interplay between genetics and the environment so they can project who is at greatest risk for disease and act preemptively rather than simply reacting to symptoms. We believe personalized, preventive measures and better management of diseases have the power to transform human health and well-being on a global scale. Transform Medical Education. Systems medicine is ushering in a new age in the practice of medicine, and GUMC is leading the way in defining its impact. A fiveyear curriculum reform, recently completed by our School of Medicine, represents bold progress in this direction. Today, we are training the physicians of tomorrow to detect the potential for disease early and work with patients to delay its onset—or prevent it altogether.

Improve access to and quality of health care for all patient populations, especially the medically under-ser ved, both at home and around the world. Create the Center to Reduce Health Disparities. GUMC has launched a Health Disparities Initiative to improve health outcomes for ethnic minority groups and underserved populations. Through a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to reducing inequities in health access and quality of care, the initiative seeks to translate research into knowledge that can be disseminated to and applied in communities in Washington, the United States and around the globe.

Page 36

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Advance scientific understanding in—and ultimately, human health through—biomedical research, particularly in the areas of neuromedicine and cancer Establish the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery. GUMC’s neuroscience community has unique research strengths that can be channeled to revolutionize neurologic rehabilitation. Research on plasticity—the ability of the brain to repair itself and recover function—has revealed a profound capacity for growth and recovery in the adult brain. Using this research to benefit patients is largely untapped yet enormously promising, especially for individuals who have suffered from a stroke or traumatic brain injury and for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. With the support of visionary philanthropists, we can unlock our full potential in neuromedicine. Develop Individualized Therapies. The fundamental prerequisite for progress in systems medicine is the ability to manage complexity. The Georgetown Database of Cancer (G-DOC®) meets that need. G-DOC® collects and analyzes molecular and clinical data in tandem, allowing clinicians to make more informed decisions about patient care. By obtaining all possible information about an individual’s cancer, physicians can more accurately prescribe treatment, resulting in more successful outcomes and fewer side effects.

Advancing our commitment to financial aid for students, enabling Georgetown to attract the nation’s best, to create a diverse community regardless of students’ ability to pay and to make a wide range of career choices a realistic option for our g raduates by containing student borrowing. Fund Scholarships. GUMC is committed to ensuring access and affordability so any accepted student will be able to choose a field of medicine regardless of financial concerns about potential debt load. With increased scholarship support, GUMC will be able to compete for the recruitment of the top talent in the applicant pool. Optimize Learning Environments. As we continue to prepare students to lead in the practice of medicine, we must transform our physical structures to accommodate cutting-edge technology. Through the renovation of the W. Proctor Harvey Amphitheater into a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment, we will enrich our capacity to educate our students. Improving St. Mary’s Hall, home to the School of Nursing & Health Studies, through the creation of several student life spaces for individual study, group work and quiet reflection will benefit every nursing student within the school and facilitate interactive learning. These improvements will enable Georgetown to retain its first-tier status as a place of higher learning in medicine and science.

We believe that personalized, preventive measures and better management of diseases have the power to transform human health and well-being on a global scale.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 37


Ca m pa i g n f or G e or g e t o w n

Georgetown Medicine

White-Gravenor Hall is bathed in white light after Friday night’s campaign lighting ceremony. Above: Campaign Chair William J. Doyle (C’72), President John J. DeGioia, NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning (C’92) and former men’s head basketball coach John R. Thompson Jr. participate in launch festivities.

Page 3 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


HISTORIC GEORGETOWN CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown seeks to raise $1.5 billion for scholarships, faculty recruitment, research and innovation and other priorities to ensure that the university continues its long tradition of excellence and impact in the world. “This campaign embodies the very best of Georgetown,” President John J. DeGioia said during the public kickoff of the campaign in late October. “From our commitment to needblind financial aid, to our emphasis on academic excellence and the ideals of service and social justice, For Generations to Come supports the people, the places and the promise represented in our community and ensures our university’s contributions to vital challenges and issues of today.” As part of a weekend celebration, “Think about It: An Afternoon of Ideas” brought a host of high-profile panelists, including former Secretary of State and current Georgetown professor Madeleine Albright, Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Hoya basketball legend Alonzo Mourning (C’92), to campus to talk about Arab Spring, health disparities, innovation and other topics. Also included as part of the program were Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis (C’77), Paul Tagliabue (C’62), former NFL commissioner and chair of Georgetown’s Board of Directors; head basketball coach John Thompson III; former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (C’93); and Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Panelists addressed such topics as the state of capitalism to eliminating health disparities. (See page 42 for more about this event.) The weekend of activities also included a dramatic lighting of key campus buildings that marked the symbolic launch of the campaign and a Saturday Mass celebrated by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington.

Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and former Arabian Ambassador to the United States, share ideas.

Watch the complete program for “Afternoon of Ideas” at www.georgetown.edu/web cast/afternoon-of-ideas.html

Left: Ted Leonsis (C’77) founder and chairman of Monumental Sports and Entertainment and member of the Board of Directors, spoke on innovation. Right: Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the school of medicine, and Lucile Adams-Campbell, Ph.D., associate director of minority health and disparities, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, discussed health disparities.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 39


Ca m pa i g n f or G e or g e t o w n

To learn more about the campaign, including FAQs and an in-depth overview of priorities, visit campaign.georgetown.edu.

Georgetown Medicine

The campaign, scheduled to end in 2016, already has brought in approximately half of the $1.5 billion goal through leadership gifts during its silent phase. When this campaign has succeeded, every single member of the Georgetown community— students, faculty, alumni, parents, family and friends—will have felt its impact in a direct way. Through scholarship support or working with the renowned faculty we have brought to campus. Through state-of-the-art science classrooms. Through the experience of dynamic new course offerings or contributing to pioneering research. Through improvements large and small to the campus. Through opportunities to engage with mentors, classmates and friends both old and new. All of these are integral to the Georgetown experience. All will be immeasurably enhanced through this campaign. More important, Georgetown will be a stronger institution, one better able to respond to the challenges of our time and uniquely qualified to seize the opportunities that are emerging in a world that is becoming interconnected at breathtaking speed and with unforeseen consequences. Success will depend on the support of our extraordinary alumni and other valued members of the Georgetown community to help us realize the ambitious objectives laid out in this $1.5 billion campaign:

$500

$500

$200

$300

MILLION

MILLION

MILLION

MILLION

for scholarships for qualified undergraduate students regardless of their ability to pay and for scholarships for students in our graduate and professional schools

for faculty and academic excellence, including endowed positions to recruit and retain faculty and investment in research, teaching and innovation

for enhancing the student experience through new facilities, library improvements and support for spiritual programming and sacred spaces

for investment in areas such as interreligious understanding, environmental studies, neurologic disease and transactional law

OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE As we continue to advance our vision of systems medicine, we are aware of the need to advance medical education for future students while honoring past tradition. You can advance GUMC’s mission through endowed and current-use gifts in the following ways:

Page 40

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

Support student scholarships

Provide enhancements to our core facilities

Fund a directorship for the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery

Support the Center to Reduce Health Disparities

Endow a professorship, chair or fellowship


The statute of Georgetown founder John Carroll sits in front of Healy Hall, aglow in blue light. The lighting ceremony was part of a weekend of activities marking the campaign kickoff.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 41


Ca m pa i g n f or G e or g e t o w n

Georgetown Medicine

STUDENTS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SUBMIT QUESTIONS ONLINE TO PANELISTS PARTICIPATING IN “THINK ABOUT IT: AN AFTERNOON OF IDEAS.” READ THEIR RESPONSES BELOW:

GEORGETOWN STUDENTS ASK HOWARD FEDEROFF… “What is the key to health care equality?” “At the most basic level, we need to make available uniformly high-quality health care access, and there’s an educational component to that. We have the responsibility to provide culturally sensitive information and that after [people] are treated, we have to ensure that they’re part of the health care continuum, so we need a sustainable health care plan. Beginning in K-12, informing wellness and averting disease is part of our education. Most importantly, we ideally have universal knowledge about health care —we need familiarity with learning both how the system works and individual wellness. Otherwise, we have a situation where people—even if everything is available— wouldn’t know how to enter the health care system. We the society should shoulder the burden of spreading knowledge, and we need multiple tailored messages because we live in a diverse society.” Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D. Executive Vice President for Health Sciences, Executive Dean of Georgetown University School of Medicine

What is the key to health care equality?

GEORGETOWN STUDENTS ASK ALONZO MOURNING, COACH JOHN THOMPSON III AND TED LEONSIS…

In college athletics, how do winning and learning correlate?

“In college athletics, how do winning and learning correlate?”

Visit http://guforgenerations. tumblr.com for campaign news, videos, photos and updates.

Page 42

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

“There’s a pretty solid connection between winning and learning. Winning doesn’t happen by itself; there are protocols—we need to follow the plan and see it through to the end. So they go hand in hand. … A person who’s winning is truly committed to making the sacrifice that it takes to win. They’re willing to give of themselves.” Alonzo Mourning (C’92) Founder and Chairman of Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc., Seven-Time NBA All-Star Member of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University “They are not mutually exclusive. We are at an educational institution. We are teachers: We have to teach our team. You don’t have to sacrifice one or the other.” John Thompson III Head Coach of the Georgetown University Men’s Basketball Program “Sports is definitely one of the great metaphors for life. Teams help you get out of the ‘I’ and into the ‘we’ and allow young adults to compete, and in our society and economy, competition is important. Collective success is better than individual success.” Ted Leonsis (C’77) Founder and Chairman of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Member of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University


GEORGETOWN STUDENTS ASK MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, STEPHANIE HERSETH SANDLIN AND KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND … “Who owns the government?” “The voters. The people own the government.” Madeleine Albright Former Secretary of State of the United States, Mortara Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy

“The people do!” Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (C’93, L’97) Principal Attorney at OFW Law, Former Representative from South Dakota

Who owns the government?

“The problem is that the people who contribute are wealthy. Even though 70-80 percent want to tax the wealthy, the Congress isn’t moving on that because they’re being paid off by the wealthy. So you see the problem?” Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Member of the Board of Directors of the Center for American Progress, Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland

GEORGETOWN STUDENTS ASK PRINCE TURKI AND ANTHONY AREND… “Is social media suppressing sovereignty?”

Is social media suppressing sovereignty?

“Not being a social ‘medialist,’ I don’t know if it is. But I know that throughout history, means of communication have always facilitated the people’s interest. Sovereignty is not inviolate; not virgin-like or pure. There are too many intrusions, especially in our times.” Prince Turki al-Faisal Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Former Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States

“No. It depends on your definition of sovereignty. If we are thinking of sovereignty of the people, then it’s being enhanced by social media. If we think that sovereignty only belongs to the state, then it is being both challenged and enhanced. Robert Murray, a good friend of mine, would talk about the Internet and how great social media was, but he would also point out that they’ve fostered hate. …There used to be some sort of ethical code when we grew up. I’ve learned to read smarter … but I worry that the new generation of people don’t see the difference between The New York Times’ posts and some random person’s tweet. Anthony Arend, Ph.D. (F’80) Professor of Government and Foreign Service, Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 43


Th e G EM S P r o g ra m

Georgetown Medicine

The GEMS Program A Generous Helping of Opportunity for Talented Future Physicians

by Victoria Churchville

I

t’s a pleasant July morning in Washington, a brief respite from oppressive heat. From the windows of the second-story classroom in

Georgetown’s iconic Med-Dent Building, leafy tree branches dance against a crystal sky. Inside, lively minds focus on the amazingly quick group repartee, guided by David L. Taylor, M.Ed., assistant dean for student learning. An engaging, accessible instructor who has taught for 21 years at Georgetown, Taylor commands the class with leadership, warmth and humor.

Page 44

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


GEMS students participate in dynamic group work inside the Med-Dent Building.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 45


Th e G EM S P r o g ra m

Georgetown Medicine

Laughs are as common as correct answers as student colleagues, two by two, take turns presenting a complex chemical problem at the white board next to a giant screen. Yet, more daunting than the chemical formulas are the learning land mines buried within the language of the standardized test questions and multiple choice answers. While this testing format may seem familiar to some, that may not be the case for minorities or economically disadvantaged individuals raised without an understanding of how to decode the cadence of elite professional school tests.

“You’ve got to have opportunity, talent and luck to get into medical school. You need a break here or there. GEMS students have significant deficiencies in opportunity and luck, but the talent is there. And they are catching up.”

Welcome to the 2011 Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies (GEMS) program class. Thirty-one college graduates are just three weeks into a journey that will end— hopefully—with acceptances into medical school in May. GEMS is Georgetown School of Medicine’s (SOM) groundbreaking, postbaccalaureate experience, which for three and a half decades has altered lives.

A Glimpse into Another Era

—Donald Knowlan, M.D.

The silhouette of an African-American man with an Afro, aviator glasses, shirt, tie and a white physician’s coat is so outdated, it immediately takes the viewer back to August 1976 when the Georgetown Medical Bulletin ran the image on the cover with the headline “Black Men of Georgetown.” The cover story featured a 10-page question-and-answer article with the Georgetown medical student pictured on the cover. The student provided four SOM officials with some insight on the nature of the barriers to learning and difficulties he encountered while making the transition from his middle-class, urban background to the vastly different world on the Hilltop.

Group work and an interactive teaching environment are integral to the GEMS learning experience.

Page 46

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Dedicated GEMS Faculty

David L. Taylor, M.Ed. (left), and Benjamin R. Walker, Ph.D., discuss the students’ group work.

The GEMS program would not be where it is today without the support of the following faculty members: ■

The senior medical student described how cultural, societal, financial and social differences presented barriers—such as difficulty taking tests and trouble understanding context—to succeeding in medical school. This Q&A and the insights contained within likely served as the impetus for the modernday GEMS program: The very next year, GEMS opened its doors to allow students from less advantaged backgrounds to thrive in medical school, whether at Georgetown or any of the 134 medical schools across the country.

Changing the Face of Medicine GEMS’ outreach efforts target college graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those with degrees in science. Studies suggest these students are likely to succeed in medical school, even with modest academic credentials and without having followed a traditional pre-med path. Especially sought after by GEMS are students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are most likely to embark on a career path that will give them the tools and knowledge to meet the unique medical needs of the nation’s minority, disadvantaged and underserved populations (See textbox on page 48 for more GEMS statistics). “You’ve got to have opportunity, talent and luck to get into medical school. You need a break here or there. GEMS students have significant deficiencies in opportunity and luck, but the talent is there. And they are catching up,” says Donald Knowlan, M.D., who has taught at the SOM for more than 50 years. “Things are different now. The GEMS Program represents what is best and most essential to the mission of medical education.” The GEMS program, which runs from July to May and costs about one-third of a single year of medical school, gives college graduates a chance to take some first-year medical school classes as well as test-and-study-skills courses. Graded and tested just the same as first-year medical students, GEMS students complete rigorous coursework in first-year med-school studies, including cardiopulmonary, gastrointestinal and renal modules.

Adam K. Myers, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology, associate dean and assistant vice president for special graduate programs Shyrl Sistrunk, M.D., associate dean for curriculum & assessment, associate professor, Department of Medicine and GEMS Program senior clinical advisor Sona Vasudevan, Ph.D., research assistant professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular physiology Benjamin R. Walker, Ph.D., senior facilitator, GEMS Joy Phinizy Williams, who has overseen the program since 1979, has enormous respect for all GEMS faculty. Williams is particularly grateful for Myers’ 27 years of service to the program, saying, “Dr. Myers’ loyalty since 1984 is amazing, especially given the GUMC priorities competing for his time, attention and expertise. There is no question that Taylor leads the way [for the modern-day GEMS program], but the others are crucial to our successes.” ■

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 47


Th e G EM S P r o g ra m

Georgetown Medicine

According to the AAMC, Georgetown’s School of Medicine is: ■

The fifth most likely medical school to which an AfricanAmerican applies The 17th most likely medical school to which an AfricanAmerican matriculates The 28th medical school likely to graduate a Hispanic physician

GEMS is competitive: ■

In 2009, 210 students applied; 27 were accepted In 2010, 178 applied; 31 were accepted In 2011, 184 applied; 31 were accepted Seven out of 10 GEMS students who applied to Georgetown School of Medicine from 2005 to 2009 were admitted. ■

David L. Taylor, M.Ed., talks to students briefly before diving into their hands-on, dynamic work.

They also complete graduate classes in biochemistry, clinical pathology and several required electives. In addition to these courses required for academic credit, GEMS students must be actively involved in study groups as well as peer and supplemental instruction.

Diversity in Medicine Matters According to a 2008 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association1, diversity in medical schools is important to help prepare physicians for today’s widely varied populations. “Our study indicates that diversity in medical schools matters,” says lead author Somnath Saha, M.D., MPH, staff physician, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and associate professor of medicine, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine. “Improving the care of minority patients is particularly important right now because access to health care and the quality of care for minorities are grossly unequal compared to that of white patients. As a nation, we need to do whatever we can to reduce these inequalities in health care,” adds Saha. The study, which surveyed 20,000 fourth-year medical students, found that graduating students who had attended more racially and ethnically diverse schools of medicine saw themselves as better equipped to interact with a mixed patient pool than those from more homogenous schools. About 7 percent of the nation’s 77,722 medical students are African-American and about 8 percent are Hispanic, according to 2010 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, an organization that represents 132 medical schools. White students make up nearly 61 percent while Asians account for almost 22 percent. Native Americans and Alaskan natives, among other traditionally underrepresented groups, comprise 2 percent. 1

Page 4 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

JAMA. 2008 Sep 10;300(10):1135-45. Saha S, Guiton G, Wimmers PF, Wilkerson L.


The Supreme Court has restricted the use of race in admissions, allowing it to be considered only as part of broader education goals. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the only nationally recognized accrediting body for all medical education programs in the United States, urges schools to make “ongoing, systemic and focused efforts,” to target students from demographically diverse backgrounds for acceptance. “Each medical school must have policies and practices to achieve appropriate diversity among its students, faculty, staff and other members of its academic community,” states the committee’s 2009 diversity policy, which calls on individual medical schools to “recognize their collective responsibility for contributing to the diversity of the profession as a whole.” In June, the LCME reaccredited Georgetown University School of Medicine through 2019.

GEMS at Georgetown: A Model for Success From 1977 to 2009, 566 students enrolled in the GEMS program. Of those, only 88 students —or 15 percent—were unsuccessful in completing the postbaccalaureate year. Students who complete the GEMS program are encouraged to apply to Georgetown but are not obliged to do so. But from 2005 to 2009, seven out of every 10 GEMS students succeeded in the program and were admitted to Georgetown. In 2010, 75 former GEMS students were enrolled at SOM and 360 physician graduates of GEMS were in practice or residency training. The program has been successful, but a crucial part of that success comes from an energetic, dedicated leader to oversee the program and ensure it continues to meet needs as times change and medical education evolves. “I think it’s a kind of magic,” says Joy Phinizy Williams, senior associate dean for students and special programs and GEMS program coordinator, who has overseen the program since 1979. “It’s simply giving a little bit more help to students who just need a little more help.” Dean for Medical Education Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., adds, “Jesuit roots and social justice drive this. GEMS ups the ante. They change the way they learn. They learn to teach each other by making it intensely partnership driven. You can’t be a passenger in GEMS.” “The peer tutoring was born in GEMS— now it’s school-wide. GEMS has spread a more nurturing environment to the whole school,” Mitchell continued. As part of the strategic planning initiative, a group of faculty and students will review strategies aimed at recruitment and retention of minority students, faculty and staff within the SOM. In addition, a group of Georgetown students will work with faculty to teach gross anatomy at the University of the District of Columbia for students interested in pursuing health science and medical careers.

Hispanics and blacks are underrepresented in the nation’s medical schools. U.S. Medical Schools by Race

1% Other 7% Black 8% Hispanic 22% Asian 62% White Source: Association of American Medical Colleges

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 49


Th e G EM S P r o g ra m

Georgetown Medicine

GEMS students listen to Terrence Pleasant Jr. as he answers one of the questions posed by Taylor.

Coming Full Circle

“I think it’s a kind of magic. It’s simply giving a little bit more help to students who just need a little more help.” —Joy Phinizy Williams

As for the young medical student on the cover of Georgetown Medical Bulletin? That young man was Reed Tuckson, M.D. (M’77), executive vice president and chair of medical affairs at UnitedHealth Group, who delivered the commencement address to the 99 women and 96 men who graduated from the SOM in May 2010.

“Celebrate your patients who have allowed you access to their intimacies and diseases— the patients who have accepted your diagnoses and enrolled into your clinical trials,” said Tuckson, his close-cropped hair now sprinkled with silver. “Georgetown has prepared you, and you are so lucky to know what to do.” Then, in front of nearly 1,000 family, friends and faculty, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, and Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the school of medicine, presented Tuckson with the doctor of science, honoris causa, in honor of Tuckson’s dedication as a caregiver and his ongoing commitment to reducing health disparities. “Dr. Tuckson has lived his life for others,” said Federoff. “He reflects a strong commitment to health care and provides a positive change in medical care delivery.” Indeed. Since Tuckson generously shared his insights nearly 35 years ago, GEMS has prepared more than 500 young men and women to succeed in medical school. For generations to come, GEMS’ own brand of “magic,” as Dean Williams so aptly called it, is certain to edify future physicians—and their patients. ■

Page 50

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


A Tale of Two GEMS Students

I

n many ways, they are a study in contrasts: He’s tall, she’s tiny. He was born and raised in the District; she was born in the Philippines. Terrence Pleasant Jr.’s single parent is his mother; Maria Lourdes Tiglao’s, her father. He’s 24; she’s a dozen years older. Pleasant went straight through Maine’s Bowdoin College after high school before coming to Georgetown’s Experimental Medicine Studies—or GEMS—in July. Tiglao spent a couple of years in college, then finished her undergraduate degree in psychology while serving more than 11 years in the U.S. Air Force, a tour of duty that included more than three years oversees. While serving in the military, she worked on search and rescue medical teams as a cardiopulmonary critical care specialist.

Two Journeys, One Path Pleasant’s passion for medicine was sparked by the sudden death of his beloved great-grandmother, Mattie Fisher. “I was devastated,” Pleasant recalls, his face clouding. “Medicine, I had thought, was supposed to heal—not take—life. But medicine isn’t perfect.” Later, a job shadowing neurosurgeon Gary C. Dennis, M.D., at Howard University Hospital both restored Pleasant’s faith in the good of medicine and fueled his ambition to study neuroscience. For Tiglao, her desire to become a physician was spurred by her critical care team’s rescue of an 8-year-old boy severely injured by a land mine explosion in Afghanistan. Without the flight to a hospital, the boy would have died. “Our job [was] to take people and bring them to the next echelon of care. Most [were] on ventilators, they were on life support,” says Tiglao. “I saw how powerful medicine can be in bridging gaps and fostering communications.”

A Lifetime of Service For Tiglao, Pleasant and their 29 classmates, GEMS is an educational leg up, an edifying experience that levels the professional playing field and better equips them to thrive in medical school—at Georgetown or elsewhere. Most are already planning on a career that allows them to meaningfully reduce health disparities, taking Georgetown’s core value of service to others to the medically under-served in their home communities.

Terrence Pleasant Jr., left, and Maria Lourdes Tiglao believe GEMS has given them a leg up in their medical education.

That is precisely the sort of commitment the GEMS creators envisioned and long-time faculty members have worked for more than three decades to foster: helping financially, socially or culturally disadvantaged, scientifically talented college graduates to excel in medical school and, hopefully, return to serve as physicians in communities where access to high-quality care is not always readily available. “Regardless of what field of medicine I go into, my desire is to serve not just the under-served but to address and correct health disparities. But what I value and appreciate most is the intellectual prowess of my peers. The power of the peer and the commitment of the faculty is what really drives the program,” says Pleasant. ■

Tiglao adds, “I want to target those left in between: the homeless vets, the under-served vets.”

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 51


C l as s N o t e s

1950s

Georgetown Medicine

Joseph Kelly, (M’59) has produced a video, entitled My Year at Hallett Station, discussing in detail his experiences as a U.S. Navy physician in Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze ’61. It is available online. If interested in viewing it, please contact Dr. Kelly at J2kel@webTV.net for additional info. Captain Lawrence Marinelli (M’56), MC/USN-Ret.,was elected the president of the Southwest Region of the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN) at the annual convention of this organization in New Orleans. Marinelli is a fellow and life member of the Aerospace Medical Association as well as an academician and former selector of the International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine. He is also a past president of the Airlines Medical Directors Association and is currently the chairman of the Awards Committee of this organization.

1970s

Devereux, one of the nation’s premier nonprofit behavioral healthcare organizations, announced the appointment of Marilyn B. Benoit (M’73) to the position of senior vice president of clinical and professional affairs and chief clinical officer. Dr. Benoit, past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was a member of Devereux’s board of trustees from 2003-2011, a member of its executive committee from 2008-2011 and served as chair of its clinical and professional committee until today’s appointment. She also served as the medical and executive director of Devereux’s Washington, D.C.-based children’s behavioral health care program from 1993-1998. J. Jacques Carter (M’79) was the recipient of the 2010 Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Dental Medicine Dean’s Community Service Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Carter was selected for his work with the Community Prostate Screening & Education Program.

1980s 1990s

Lawrence E. Kay (C’79, M’83) has relocated to Madison, Wisc., to assume the position of vice president and chief medical officer for Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., a 113,000member commercial provider-owned health plan affiliated with the Meriter Health System. Eric Vallone (C’90, M’97, R’00) was delighted to be appointed clinical assistant professor of medicine at GUMC. He continues to practice general internal medicine full time in Fairfax, Va. Marc Schermerhorn (M’91) has been named the new chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery within the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Department of Surgery at Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With this appointment, he will also lead one of the three divisions of the Cardiovascular Institute at Beth-Israel as Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. Schermerhorn is an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and currently serves as chief of the Section of Endovascular Surgery and director of clinical research in the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. Gregory A. Buford (M’94) recently published Beauty and the Business, a practice management resource geared for growth and development of the Aesthetic Medicine practice. The book has been received on an international level and will be included as a foundation for an upcoming national training program for both residents and young physicians designed to teach them the fundamentals of the business of medicine. For more information, or to order a copy of the book, please contact Dr. Buford through his website at www.beautybybuford.com or call 303-708-8234. Mark Desmond (M’97) is entering his ninth year as an orthopaedic surgeon practicing in Philadelphia. He is a member of the multidisciplinary Muscle, Bone and Joint Center. Mark lives just outside of the city with his wife, Julie, and their three children; Jack (age 10), Jane (age 6) and Charlie (age 2).

Page 5 2

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


21-37

1,151

interviews

420

196

accepted

enrolled

School of Medicine

Class of 2014

46%

Mary Buss (M’97) completed her fellowships in medical and at the Dana-Farber Institute. Currently, she is an attending in medical oncology at BID, attending on the palliative care consultation service. She frequently sees classmate Robb Friedman, who is a hematologistoncologist who admits to her hospital. Mary has two girls, ages 3 and 5 years, and is busy balancing being a mom, her medical career and digging out from the snow in New England.

MCAT above national acceptance level in all areas

11,549 applicants

54%

male

23.55

3.7

female

age range

average GPA

average age

1990s

Sheron Buckland Marshall (M’97) is an ophthalmologist and partner at Eye Associates of Colorado Springs, specializing in cataract and refractive surgery. She is living in Colorado with her husband, Wyre, a Georgetown Law grad, and their two children. Nicole Paradise Black (M’99) is a clinical assistant professor at University of Florida College of Medicine and was recently appointed program director for the pediatric residency program. She would love to see more Georgetown graduates interview at her program. Nicole and her husband, Erik, have lived in Gainesville for over five years and have two children, a son named Brennan and a daughter named Ryan. Luke Oh (MS’98, M’02) lives in the Boston suburbs with his wife and two daughters, ages 4 and 2. He is currently on staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in the orthopaedics department, and is looking forward to hopefully making it to Reunion 2012.

2000s

Eric Benson (M’02) practices shoulder and elbow surgery at the University of New Mexico in Alburquerque, N.M. He got married this past fall to Clarissa Krinsky, M.D., a forensic pathologist, and has a 5-year-old stepdaughter and a child due in July.

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 53


C l as s N o t e s

Georgetown Medicine

M’81 Raises $100,000 for Endowed Scholarship Fund Sometimes all it takes is a few clicks of the mouse to make a world of difference. Class Chair Vivian Fraga (M’81) has always enjoyed keeping in touch with her former classmates through regular email updates. From professional accomplishments and new additions to families to moves across the country, Fraga and her classmates have always made an effort to stay in touch—and not just during reunion years. So when she learned that seven of her former classmates had passed away, Fraga shared the news in an email. As responses to her message began pouring in, she learned that her classmates wanted to “do something special.”

Thanks to the generosity of the M’81 class members, the Class of 1981 Medical Endowed Scholarship Fund for the School of Medicine is now in existence.

“We decided the best idea was setting up a memorial fund,” she says. Once again, she turned to the computer to begin gathering support to fund an endowment, hoping her classmates would agree to help. “I figured if everybody gives $1,000 [annually] for five years, we’ve got it made. We’d only need 20 people,” Fraga says, referencing the $100,000 requirement for endowment. The response she got was overwhelming: many of her classmates were eager to commit $1,000 for five years—others committed to $250 for five years—and together, they managed to reach the $100,000 mark in cash and commitments.

2000s

“It just really requires a good cause, a good class and having the email addresses,” Fraga says, who admits to spending the summer collecting addresses from her medical school colleagues. Thanks to the powers of high-speed Internet and a class inspired to give, the Class of 1981 Medical Endowed Scholarship Fund for the School of Medicine has been created. During this year’s reunion, an anonymous check enabled the class to reach their goal of $100,000 in cash and commitments; the fund will reach the $100,000 mark in five years. “I think everybody who graduates from medical school thinks that they have the best class, but I know we have the best class,” she adds. “And I couldn’t have done this without them.” ■

In July 2011, Ryan Ramagosa (M’07) moved to Mobile, Ala., to open a dermatology practice called Sunrise Dermatology. He welcomed a son, Burke, last April. Daniel Alyeshmerni (M’09) completed a month of medical work in Bolivia, where he treated patients and consulted with clinic workers to help their medical facilities run more smoothly and efficiently. Daniel says, “Confronting challenges and learning from those I served, my experience in Bolivia taught me that an individual patient’s problems are as large as they seem, for both the patient as an individual and for the community in which he or she lives. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as solutions typically come from the most unexpected places. Communities galvanized towards facing their issues collectively are capable of the most amazing things.” ■

Visit alumni.georgetown.edu for more class notes or to submit your own.

Page 5 4

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Georgetown Medicine

A l u m n i P r of i l e

Alumni Couple Mentor to Remain Inspired By Patricia Chaney

Sometimes you step into a place and know it’s where you belong. No matter where you go in life, a part of you will always be rooted in this place. You gain life experience, education, friendship, family. For Steve Luck and Jenifer Aventuro Luck, this place is Georgetown University School of Medicine. While Steve Luck (G’86, M’90) was a third-year medical student, Jenifer Aventuro (G’89, M’93, R’97) was also at Georgetown, working on her master’s in physiology with plans to go to medical school.

Steve and Jenifer Luck enjoy remaining active in the Georgetown community.

One day, while crossing campus, Jenifer’s friend Janette spotted Steve walking toward them. The introduction was made and the pair hit it off—so much so that the two exchanged marital vows in 1995.

“I had a sense that I was part of

But for the Lucks, their connection to Georgetown is more than simply where they met. They believe this is a “unique and extraordinary” place and feel a great deal of gratitude for the outstanding education they received here.

With my teachers and classmates,

“I had a sense that I was part of something special at Georgetown,” Jenifer says. “With my teachers and classmates, I felt I was part of an exceptional family.”

—Jenifer Aventuro Luck (G’89, M’93,

something special at Georgetown.

I felt I was part of an exceptional family.”

R’97)

But Jenifer says it wasn’t until she began interviewing for residencies and meeting students from other schools that she came to realize how exceptional an experience it truly was: “Georgetown medical students seemed to have had a more positive experience as a whole,” she adds. Steve experienced a similar post-Commencement realization: “During my internship, I appreciated how well-trained I was,” he says. “[As an intern], I was able to complete my rounds and then have breakfast, rather than struggle like some of my colleagues.” Steve is especially grateful for the hands-on experience he gained in medical school. “Rather than only taking electives during the fourth year, we were required to do several acting internships. It was difficult, but in the end it allowed me to get my first choice of residency.” he recalls. But the lure of the beach proved too strong, and despite their fondness for their alma mater, Steve and Jenifer ventured to the West Coast for residencies and internships. A family illness would call Jenifer back to the East Coast, and she completed her residency and

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 55


A l u m n i P r of i l e

Georgetown Medicine

fellowship at Georgetown. The Lucks remain in the Washington, D.C., metro area today.

Sharing Their Experience with Students About five years ago, Steve and a partner began Anesthesia Concepts LLC, which provides anesthesia services to ambulatory surgery centers. He serves as chief medical officer and vice president of development for the group. Jenifer is a pediatric ophthalmologist, working part time for a private practice. Despite such busy lives—and finding ways to strike a balance between work and family life—the Lucks have remained committed to giving back. “If you love what you do, you feel tremendous gratitude toward the institution that made it possible,” Jenifer says. “The alumni office provides so many opportunities to be involved, it was easy to choose.” Steve echoes his wife’s sentiments. “When you love what you do, it’s easy to talk about,” Steve said. “We have learned things along the way about ourselves and our careers, and we want to share those with the students.” He adds that he enjoys learning from the students as well. “The school is focusing on a systems-based medicine approach, which is different from how we were taught. We are learning about this method from the students,” he says.

‘To Share the Joy’ The Lucks first became involved in mentoring activities by sponsoring a student at the White Coat Ceremony about 10 years ago.

“When you love what you do, it’s easy to talk about. We have learned things along the way about ourselves and our careers, and we want to share those with the students.” —Steve Luck (G’86, M’90)

“Every medical student remembers the thrill of slipping into their white coat for the first time,” Jenifer says. “Being part of the ceremony, reciting the Hippocratic oath again, served to remind us of how fortunate we are to have had the careers we’ve had and to have been educated at Georgetown.” The Lucks began inviting their white coat students to their home for a meal, conversation, advice—even a chance to shadow the Lucks at work.

Then Georgetown initiated the Dine with a Doc program, and the Lucks were immediately on board. This mentoring opportunity, organized by the Medical Student Alumni Ambassadors, gives alumni an opportunity to socialize with current medical students in a small-group setting. The Lucks have hosted dinners at their home and have invited students to join them at work as well. “I remember the first time a professor invited me to his home for dinner,” Steve said. “As a medical student, that was very cool. It’s an experience you remember.” As luck would have it, the first white coat student Jenifer sponsored came to the Lucks’ home for dinner, and later visited Jenifer in her office and in the operating room. That student wound up following Jenifer’s path, choosing to specialize in ophthalmology. And although not all students the Lucks welcome into their home are interested in ophthalmology or anesthesiology, the Lucks can offer valuable insights—about working full time, paying off student loans and finding the balance they have reached in their lives—that are applicable to students pursuing any specialty. It’s not only the Lucks who provide inspiration to the students, as Steve shares: “It is inspiring to see young people going into medicine. People complain that practicing

Page 5 6

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


medicine has lost its joy, that it’s more of a business, but it will be what you want it to be. I think that’s why we like to talk to students—to share that joy.” Their passion for mentoring students is evident, but Steve and Jenifer also see the value in being active members of the alumni association. Steve served as class chair for his 20th reunion and is president of the Georgetown Clinical Society, a nonprofit that encourages fellowship and awards a scholarship to a deserving medical school student each year. Society members also engage students in meetings or outings, providing a chance for students to network with other professionals. Jenifer, on the other hand, is assisting from a different perspective. At her 15th reunion, she noticed how many classmates—especially women—had opted out of medical careers. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, approximately 50 percent of medical students today are women. But Jenifer was interested in uncovering a way to address the reasons underlying the high attrition she observed. She brought her concerns to Stephen Ray Mitchell, M.D., dean for medical education. “Other alumnae noticed the attrition rates, but many were reluctant to discuss it,” Jenifer said. “We felt the topic needed to come out of the closet. As scientists, we appreciate hard data rather than anecdotal evidence.”

“Every medical student remembers the thrill of slipping into their white coat for the first time. Being part of the ceremony, reciting the Hippocratic oath again, served to remind us of how fortunate we are to have had the careers we’ve had and to have been educated at Georgetown.” —Jenifer Aventuro Luck

Jenifer and Mitchell decided that a survey was “a good starting point” to begin collecting data. Both male and female medical alumni have been emailed the survey and Jenifer is hoping for a high response rate to begin a conversation on ways the school can retain more graduates in medical careers. She hopes the survey results will provide the basis for a conversation that can begin early with medical students. Jenifer explains that in their first year of medical school, students are committing to financial decisions and career paths that will have long-term effects on their lives. More than just understanding the reasons behind high attrition, it’s important to discuss what comes after graduation at the start of a medical student’s career, she believes. Remaining connected to the university through the students and being able to give back some of what they received continues to be a “great source of satisfaction,” both say. And whether they’re hosting students in their home, attending medical school reunions, or conducting surveys to uncover the reasons behind certain trends seen in medicine, Steve and Jenifer look forward to a continued relationship with Georgetown through mentoring, volunteering and participating in alumni activities. ■

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 57


S t u de n t P r of i l e

Georgetown Medicine

Second-year Medical Student Puts Cura Personalis in Action By Patricia Chaney

When Christian Petrauskis (M’14) learned that second-year medical students have the opportunity to practice the Jesuit principle of cura personalis in developing countries, he jumped at the chance. Prior to beginning medical school, Petrauskis had spent three and a half years working as head of social research at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia, and was eager to reunite with the extraordinary people he met there. The JCTR, guided by faith and the teachings of the Church, engages in research focused on social issues that affect the people of Zambia, such as the high cost of living and the challenge of accessing highquality health care in the region. And although conducting research for the JCTR and advocating for social justice are essential in bringing reform to the people of Zambia, Petrauskis wanted to do more. Christian Petrauskis (M’14) plans to return to Zambia after finishing medical school.

“While I could see that our research on cost of living was being used successfully to guide wages and labor law legislation, I felt a strong urge to get out of the office and participate in some sort of direct service to vulnerable Zambians,” he explained.

A Transformation Unfolds Petrauskis began volunteering at an orphanage, where he served as friend and role model to some of the youngest Zambians affected by and infected with HIV and AIDS. Inspired by his new friends, and as Petrauskis started to consider a career in medicine, he began shadowing two knowledgeable clinical officers at Our Lady’s Hospice. OLH was founded by Irish nuns in the late 1990s to serve cancer patients and terminally ill AIDS patients in and around Kalingalina and Mtendere, two of the poorer compounds in the capital city of Lusaka. The nuns opened the hospice at a time when the HIV infection rate among Zambian adults was nearly 20 percent and life-saving medications were unavailable. OLH served merely as a place for persons infected with AIDS to die in peace and with dignity. Then, in 2004, when the HIV/AIDS antiretroviral therapy arrived in Zambia—a treatment

Page 5 8

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Christian Petrauskis, shown with a member of the hospital staff, feels indebted to the Our Lady’s Hospice for all the invaluable patient and clinical skills he acquired.

that had been widely available in the United States for more than a decade— the hospice witnessed a miraculous change: The emphasis shifted from palliative care to preventing the most critical opportunistic infections.

“While I could see that our research on cost of living was being used successfully to guide wages and labor law legislation, I felt a strong urge to get out of the

Today, the majority—more than 3,000— office and participate in some sort of OLH clients are outpatients enrolled in HIV/AIDS drug treatment, visiting the vulnerable Zambians.” —Christian hospice every few months to collect a new supply of medicine. And for nearly a year and a half, Petrauskis spent his Saturday mornings listening and learning about HIV in Africa from the clinical officers. He witnessed firsthand the transformative effect a single well-run health care facility like OLH can have on individuals and entire communities. He soon returned to the United States but retained a deep connection to OLH.

of direct service to Petrauskis (M’14)

An Unforgettable Experience Unable to forget the phenomenal people he worked with and met, Petrauskis decided to return to Zambia during the summer and volunteer for another six weeks at the hospice— examining patients, monitoring their adherence to treatment and observing their general appearance and health. During rounds inside the wards, he assisted the on-duty clinical officer with blood collection, lab requests and basic medical procedures (e.g., pleurocentesis to drain fluid surrounding the lungs of patients with extrapulmonary tuberculosis). Petrauskis also assisted with the review of serious cases and new admissions. Petrauskis believes he gained much more from his experience there than he gave, not only increasing his knowledge of tropical and infectious diseases and their treatments, but also witnessing incredible human suffering and incredible acts of love and devotion. He saw men diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis show up at the hospice too late and pass away during the night. He witnessed a 23-year-old woman wailing on the ground outside of the hospice after her husband, who was in a coma due to an inflammatory process

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2

I

Page 59


S t u de n t P r of i l e

Georgetown Medicine

in his head, passed away. He watched a 19-year old-girl, in a coma for two months, being cared for compassionately and tirelessly by her mother. And he saw a 21-year-old woman take a third HIV test because she had hoped that the first two had been flawed. Sadly, they were not. Petrauskis recalls her “breaking down in tears as she explained how she used to share a razor with her HIV-positive mother, who cursed God for her status.”

A Passion Continues to Grow

“When I think of cura personalis, I imagine the empowering and humanizing care given by the team of providers at the hospice, a place where the most neglected members of society are warmly welcomed, listened to, encouraged and treated with life-saving care.” —Christian Petrauskis

Petrauskis has great affinity and respect for Our Lady’s Hospice and the work it does: The hospice provides HIV testing, medical treatment, counseling, therapy, pharmacy service, meals and spiritual care to its many patients. In addition, the hospice trains primary caregivers (often family members) to care for their ill loved ones and hosts workshops to teach young people about HIV/AIDS—how to avoid contracting it, caring for family members who have the disease and how to manage the disease should they contract it.

Petrauskis adds that except for drug treatment and basic testing, other services and care require monetary support from private donors and the patients themselves. But current donations and fees from impoverished patients are not sufficient and demand for care is much greater than the supply: Two clinical officers are tasked with assisting more than 3,000 patients. Petrauskis reflects on this state of affairs: “When I think of cura personalis, I imagine the empowering and humanizing care given by the team of providers at the hospice, a place where the most neglected members of society are warmly welcomed, listened to, encouraged and treated with life-saving care.” He adds that he feels indebted to the center’s director, Sister Kay, and the clinical officers, Lubasi and Chilfuya, for teaching him so much about medicine, and for treating a dear friend of his, Annastasia, with patience and kindness during the final days of her life. As he continues to study medicine, Petrauskis is determined to keep assisting the hospice as it delivers care to the most vulnerable, and he remains passionate about the center in Zambia where he learned so much. And as for the future? Petrauskis plans to return to Zambia, to both serve as a doctor and advocate for accessible, quality health care for all, especially the poor. ■

Interested in supporting Our Lady’s Hospice? Please contact Petrauskis at cwp24@georgetown.edu for more information and to learn about opportunities to assist.

Page 60

I

Wi n t e r 2 0 1 2


Georgetown Medicine