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Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2010

The GSO News Medical College of Georgia Graduate Student Organization

GHSU: As a graduate student what does MCG’s name change mean to YOU

Inside this Issue GHSU: MCG’s Name Change


Bundles of Books


SGS and GSO Launch Career Seminar Series


Student: Ahmed El-Awady


Student: Christina Wilson


MCG Student Leadership Institute


Alumni: Kris Dhandapani


Feature Article: Racing to Save Lives




Donations help provide books to needy children Colleen Carey Bundles of Books is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the reading skills of underprivileged children through creating a joy of reading. The principle of this organization has been to provide books for children at Christmas, as an alternative to toys.

Colleen Carey September 15th, 2010 marked a major turning point for the Medical College of Georgia as the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved a request from MCG to change its name to Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU). The rationale behind this name change is based on how the mission of MCG has broadened considerably since its founding as a medical college in 1828. As President Azziz has stated, “our ‘College’ is actually a ‘University’ with a focus not just in medicine but rather ‘Health Sciences’.” By continuing to refer to the institution at which we are enrolled as a ‘College’, Dr. Azziz feels this to be a “disservice in not highlighting the broad scope of our mission and ultimately affects the ability of MCG to be recognized for what it truly is.” Dr. Azziz has also stated that GHSU better defines MCG as what it is-“a comprehensive health sciences university and a modern academic health center.” Furthermore, Dr. Azziz strongly feels that the name change will allow for the university to achieve the national recognition that is deserved with

respect to competitive world rankings and reputation. Dr. Azziz points out that most similar institutions across the country have, at some point, changed their name to better reflect their true stature as health science universities, and MCG is no exception. The question that begs to be answered by many of us students is ‘Why change the name now?’ In communications that have been sent out to the entire MCG community we have been made aware that informal discussions of MCG’s name change have been ongoing for the last decade. MCG has consulted numerous research firms since 2007 to examine both local and nationwide perceptions of MCG. What was ultimately found was that while the local public had strong positive opinions of MCG, they did not consider MCG as a ‘university’. Likewise, more than 80% of those surveyed ‘strongly agreed’ that MCG as a name was associated only with the medical school. Further surveys of alumni and internal audiences showed a strong tie to the ‘Medical College of Georgia’ name and thus the resulting request was made to the board of regents:

…to “Name Change”, pg. 4

…to “Bundles of Books”, pg. 2 The GSO News


...from “Bundles of Books”, pg. 1 This organization, founded by Mr. Chuck LaMarsh in 1996 serves children in both the Augusta, GA area and through Mr. Lamarsh’s son, the Boston, MA area. Last year, approximately 150 children in the Augusta area were served through generous donations from area businesses and individuals who believed in the concept. This year, Bundles of Books is hoping to double this number. Dr. Carol Campbell, a professor here at MCG, and Dr. Kevin Frazier, Vice President of Student Services at MCG, became interested in helping the Bundles of Books organization and recruited a few students to help her in this endeavor. To them, they saw this as an opportunity not only to help out the community, but for individuals in the academic and medical professions to reflect upon the influence that reading has had in getting them to where they are today. Over a 1 week period, collection booths were set up in the library and student center during lunch period-and manned by students from all schools-, donations ranging from spare pocket change to more generous amounts allowed for the total amount raised on campus to be $258.69. This total collected will allow for Bundles of Books to purchase ‘book bundles’ for 18 children with some spare change left over. Although this is the 1st year of MCG’s participation, the positive outcome has provided for the possibility to be involved again in the future and hopefully double, if not further increase, what we as a community can provide to this organization. *Special thanks to Medical Illustration students Julie Coats and Megan

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Gullotto who provided the artwork which was used for on campus promotion purposes. O

SGS and GSO Launch Career Seminar Series Colleen Carey The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) along with the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) has recently launched a new seminar series to provide information on career opportunities, paths and choices to graduate level students. The first installment of this series, “What to look for when searching for a post doctoral fellowship; a perspective from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital”, was presented by Dr. Linda Harris, Associate Director of Academic Programs for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on November 3rd. The turnout of students for this seminar proved to be mostly BIOMED PhD’s, those most likely to pursue a post doctoral position, however attendees ranged from 1st years up to those students getting ready to defend. The session provided by Dr. Harris contained information that was applicable to all students in attendance. The goal that Dr. Harris has in visiting schools to do special seminars as these is that of post doctoral recruitment and making sure that not only are graduate students aware of the opportunities available at St. Jude, but also to help students to prepare to begin a post doctoral position search wherever they may be interested. Dr. Harris’ presentation began with an overview of the facility and area

surrounding St. Jude, which is located in Memphis, and then segued into a more general set of steps to take when searching for a post doctoral fellowship. These steps are outlined briefly here: 1) Choose an institution that is a place where you would want to work, i.e. ability for translational research to be directly applied, array of research areas, 2) Choose a mentor carefully, someone who not only are you compatible with but that also has your bet interests at heart, 3) Choose a project that is interesting to you but that also allows for you to continue to learn new skills and techniques, 4) Choose an institution with laboratory and core facilities that may benefit your research, 5) Select a position while keeping in mind the scientific infrastructure. Be aware of the interactions occurring around you, specifically the abundance of collaborations and continuing education opportunities such as seminar series, 6) determine if the position you are applying for is institutionally supported. That is, are there facilities dedicated to post doctoral fellow affairs? Are good benefits provided to post doctoral fellows? And finally, 7) choose a position in a location that meets the desires that are important to you. Now that you know how to seek out a post doctoral position that is best for you, when should you begin looking for one? Dr. Harris suggests beginning to seek out positions of interest in your last year of thesis work. Interviews should be conducted about 6 months before your defense. With regards to St. Jude, Dr. Harris shared that each year there are about 60-80 post doctoral fellowship openings, so opportunities are available. Furthermore, for those who

…to “Seminar Series”, pg. 7 2

Ahmed El-Awady Namita Hattangady Ahmed El-Awady is a first year student of the Biomedical Sciences, Ph.D. program in Dr. B. Baban’s laboratory

Christina Wilson Namita Hattangady Christina Wilson is a student of Biomedical Sciences, Ph.D. in the program of Neuroscience. She is a fifth year graduate student and a part of the research laboratory of Dr Alvin Terry Jr. in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The objective of Christina’s research is to evaluate a variable prenatal stress model as a valid drug discovery platform for schizophrenia. Christina chose to join the Terry Lab because of her keen interest in neuropsychiatric illnesses and the treatment of associated cognitive deficits. Christina is native to Augusta and chose MCG based upon the wide ranging areas of research as well as having an impressive graduate program. While at

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in the Department of Oral Biology. Ahmed’s research focuses on the periodontal ligament fibroblasts (PDLFs) and their potential role in chronic periodontitis, specifically with regards to the progression of the “inflammatory front” into the deeper tissues. His studies also focus on the cross-talk between PDLFs, in both healthy and diseased states, and immune T cells to elucidate what constitutes protective and destructive host response in periodontitis.

him the time to fully commitment to gaining the necessary scientific knowledge and experience that he aspires to achieve. Ahmed already has two first author publications in the Journal of Periodontology and Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. Outside of school, Ahmed is a family man and enjoys spending his free hours with his wife and son. He also enjoys reading, participating in sports and travel whenever he gets the opportunity.

Ahmed is originally from Cairo, Egypt, where he practiced as a periodontist before joining MCG’s PhD program. His experience in periodontics and research made him realize the significance of translating the clinical needs into research projects. He believes that the graduate program at MCG will allow

In the future, Ahmed wishes to establish a career in academics and hopes to apply his research experience in clinical periodontics while also contributing towards advancement in education in periodontics. The GSO wishes Ahmed all the best for his future endeavors! O

MCG, she has had two first author publications and shares authorship on several additional manuscripts. Christina has been the recipient of many awards while at MCG including: Award for Excellence in Research at the Graduate Research Day 2010, the Pharmacology and Toxicology Graduate Symposium Award and a travel award. Besides her academic achievements, Christina has been actively participating in several student body groups and has held the posts of Vice President of the Graduate Student Organization 200809, Student Government Association representative 2009-10, and Graduate Council Student Representative. She has also been a part of the Society of Neuroscience, and has participated in various community service and local fund raising programs.

Christina’s advice to fellow students is as follows, “Graduate school life is full of ups and downs. Just hang in there- the rewards are worth it.” The GSO wishes Christina the best in all her future endeavors! O

photography by Davies Agyekum

photography by Ahmed El-Awady



Graduate students chosen to participate in the inaugural class of MCG’s Student Leadership Institute

...from “Name Change”, pg. 1 ‘The Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine’ will be renamed as simply ‘The Medical College of Georgia’ and the remaining ‘Schools’ will be renamed as such: ‘College of Allied Health Sciences’, ‘College of Dental Medicine’, ‘College of Graduate Studies’, and ‘College of Nursing’.

Colleen Carey What is it that defines a leader? Ask any one of the graduate students selected to participate in MCG’s Student Leadership Institute (SLI) and it’s likely that each will give you a different answer. Although Webster’s dictionary defines a leader as one who “goes before to guide or show the way; directs some action, opinion or movement; has the authority to precede and direct; is followed by others in conduct”, etc. what is perhaps the main thing that these students have taken away from this course is that there are many myths about leaders/leadership which can alter the definition of a leader that each individual has.

Now that the new naming has been approved and will be implemented on February 1, 2011, there are many changes that students should be aware of, specifically the following: 1) Your MCG email address. Although your current email address will continue to work for a few months after the effective date of the name change, all students will be transitioned to new email addresses. Assistance will be available for notifying all of your contacts of the new email address. For any questions on this matter please do not hesitate to contact Information Technology & Services.

The course was divided into six 1.5 hour sessions consisting of lectures on general leadership concepts followed by presen-

What has been suggested to make your contacts, collaborators, etc. aware of the upcoming name change are the use of new GHSU Marks and Signatures that have been made available. These are available for download at http://www. and questions about using or obtaining these graphics should be directed to ghsutaskforce@ 2) Your diploma. From February 1 onward, graduates will be presented with a newly designed diploma bearing the Georgia Health Sciences University name; however graduates of the classes …tobe“Name of 2011-15 will offeredChange”, the optionpg. 9

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The Student Leadership Institute was developed and directed by Dr. Kevin Frazier, Vice President for Student Services and Development, with the goal of “equipping student leaders with

…to “Leadership”, pg. 7

photography by Dr. Patricia Cameron

What to do until the switch?

tations from various leaders on MCG’s campus. Topics of the sessions included ‘Social and Cultural Issues in Healthcare’, ‘Leadership in Academic Health Sciences Centers’, ‘Legal Issues and Public Relations’, and ‘Professionalism and Social Responsibilities’. Additionally, all students were separated into ‘leadership work teams’ to conceive, plan and present a project that enhances the campus or local community. These projects were then presented in the final session and scored by a panel of judges. All proposals were then shared with the Provost’s staff and other campus leaders, with the top scoring projects being given consideration for start-up funding.

School of Graduate Studies participants in the 2010 Student Leadership Institute along with Dr. Patricia Cameron


ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Kris Dhandapani Colleen Carey Kris Dhandapani, aside from being an MCG Alumni, is a core faculty member in the Department of Neurosurgery. Dr. Dhandapani grew up in Vernon, CT (a suburb of Hartford). He obtained his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Connecticut with a concentration in Physiology and Neurobiology. Dr. Dhandapani then earned his Ph D. from MCG, in Molecular Medicine under Dr. Darrell Brann. Upon completion of his Ph D. in 2003, Dr. Dhan-

dapani remained at MCG in a postdoctoral research associate position in the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics for a year before continuing to a postdoctoral research fellow position with the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Connecticut Health Center. In 2005, Dr. Dhandapani accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery here at the Medical College of Georgia. In 2010 he was awarded Associate Professor. The research in his lab is based in translational neuroscience with two major goals: (1) to elucidate the cellular mechanisms underlying neurovascular injury following hemorrhagic stroke

and traumatic brain injury and (2) to develop novel therapeutic agents which may translate into clinical practice. Particularly, the lab is exploring novel therapeutic approaches to limit the size of blood clots in the brain following intracerebral hemorrhage with an ultimate goal of establishing a clinical trial based on this research within the next several years. When asked about his most rewarding experience at MCG, Dr. Dhandapani stated “Teaching and training students is something I value, so watching my students develop in to productive scientists is very rewarding. I was very fortunate to have outstanding mentors in my own

…to “Dhandapani”, pg. 9

2nd Annual Graduate Student Organization Fall Camping Trip

Hamilton Branch State Park September 10-12, 2010

Collage by Colleen Carey

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Samuel Herberg On September 26, Jason Covar (Technician in Dr. Atherton’s lab) and I participated in the second edition of the ESI Ironman 70.3 Augusta as members of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program ( More than 3,100 professional and age group athletes swam for 1.2 miles in the Savannah River, biked for 56 miles in both Georgia and South Carolina, and finally ran for 13.1 miles right in the heart of our city. But for Jason and I it wasn’t only about racing. Together with all our

Team In Training Georgia teammates including Mayor Copenhaver, we raised over $350,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and thus made a huge contribution to help saving lives one mile at a time. Since its inception in 1988, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program has prepared more than 390,000 people (approximately 40,000 participants annually) to achieve their dream of completing a challenging endurance event, e.g., marathon, half marathon, triathlon, century bicycle ride or hike adventure. And, in that time, participants have raised over $950 million to support

photography by Samuel Herberg

Racing to Save Lives

blood cancer research and patient services. The enormous success of this program has helped make possible advances in blood cancer therapies and

…to “Racing”, pg. 7

Graduate Students ‘Scare up’ some fun Halloween 2010

Collage by Colleen Carey

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and develop in an attempt to reinforce the common goals that each student leader at this university has. Congratulations to the Fall 2010 participants!

...from “Leadership”, pg. 4 the proper leadership tools to help them be more effective in their various roles”. Dr. Frazier also saw this institute as “an opportunity for students to learn from each other and with with/help one another” and he stated that if anything that was taught in this course that helped the students to do this better in any way than this institute has proven its worth.

Fall 2010 Student Leadership Participants and Program Affiliation Davies Agyekum, Biomedical Sciences PhD Colleen Carey, Biomedical Sciences PhD Tehrae Heflin, CNL 2010 Samuel Herberg, Biomedical Sciences PhD Patrick Hosey, CNL 2010 Sandra Inglett, Nursing PhD

When asking some of the graduate students chosen for this institute how this course has made them a better leader, Medical Illustration student Paul Kim states “It [the course] has helped to keep me accountable by reminding me a leader needs to lead by example.” Nursing PhD student Sandra Inglett states that “one of the most valuable experiences for me has been ‘time management’. This class is in addition to all my other responsibilities (i.e. classwork, GRA work, and family) leaving very little extra time to devote to the interview, project and reflective paper. So being forced to manage every minute to accomplish all the tasks has been my most valuable experience. I realize that this is not at the top of the list for being a leader but it is something that every successful leader must be able to do and do well!”

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Paul Kim, Medical Illustration Caroline McKinnon, Nursing PhD

...from “Racing”, pg. 6

Paramita Pati, Biomedical Sciences PhD Katie Spitler, Biomedical Sciences PhD Scott Webster, Biomedical Sciences PhD


...from “Seminar Series”, pg. 2 may be interested in pursuing further research at St. Jude, Dr. Harris did share information about the ‘National Graduate Student Symposium’ that is offered for students who are within 1 year from defending. Each year approximately 40 students nationwide are selected to participate in this symposium.

treatments that have prolonged and enhanced the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer with an important mission: Finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services. O

photography by Samuel Herberg

In summary, this first installment of the Student Leadership Institute served the purpose of not only bringing together student leaders from each of the different schools on campus, but also to provide insight into some of the characteristics that have made these individuals into the leaders that they have become. From those that have participated in this institute it is hoped that the program is continued and allowed to grow

Dr. Harris is available for contact should anyone who was unable to attend the seminar be interested in learning more about the positions available at St. Jude, or opportunities for the National Graduate Student Symposium. Her email is Additionally, if you are looking to get a perspective of what being a post doctoral fellow at St. Jude is like, MCG alum Aisha Walker can also be contacted at aisha.walker@ O



Jinling Yang and Mary Zimmerman.

Moataz Elkasrawy, would like to share with the GSO News community that he recently was awarded the ‘ASBMR 2010 President’s Poster Competition Award’ at the annual meeting of The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research held in Toronto, Canada.

Overall 130 posters were presented at the Summit and 3 out of the 5 total awards were won by MCG people. Congrats to graduate student Moataz Elkasrawy for being awarded the ‘2010 Anthony Shuker Scientific Poster Award’.

Georgia Life Sciences Summit 2010

Southern Translational Education and Research Conference (STaR)

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Date: September 10-11, 2010 To improve human health, scientific discoveries must be translated into practical applications. Such discoveries typically begin at “the bench” with basic research — in which scientists study disease at a molecular or cellular level — then progress to the clinical level, or the patient’s “bedside.” Scientists are increasingly aware that this bench-to-bedside approach to translational research is really a two-way

Translational research has proven to be a powerful process that drives the clinical research engine. However, a stronger research infrastructure could strengthen and accelerate this critical part of the clinical research enterprise. The NIH Roadmap attempts to catalyze translational research in various ways. The overall goal of this conference was to improve translational education and research in the southeast through academic and institutional collaboration. This year, the conference was held here in Augusta at the Augusta Mariott and Hotel Suites and was cosponsored by the Medical College of Georgia as well as the

…to “STaR”, pg. 9

photography by Moataz Elkasawry

The Georgia Life Sciences Summit for 2010, considered to be the preeminent gathering of scientists and industry decision makers for Georgia’s life sciences community was held at AmericasMart in Atlanta Georgia on October 28. This summit serves yearly as ‘an ideal medium to foster relationships for future scientific and business growth and opportunity’. The 2010 theme was that of “Innovation for a Healthier World: Meeting the Challenge” in recognition of the evolving trends surrounding the challenges that face the life sciences today. MCG’s representation at the summit varied from President Azziz serving as a plenary speaker to presentations by numerous faculty and students. Graduate students participated in the poster session which was open to all representatives from Georgia-based academia, research institutes and industry. The Graduate Student News would like to acknowledge the following participants in the 2010 Summit for their prestigious representation of the graduate programs here at MCG: Sara Akeel, Elena Astapova, Lakiea Bailey, Moataz Elkasrawy, Jenna Gallops, Samuel Herberg, Xiaolin Hu, Jae Kim, Folami Lamoke, Laurie Landrum, Lingquian Li, Chintan Patel, Mutsa Seremwe, Jutamas Suwanpradid,

street. Basic scientists provide clinicians with new tools for use in patients and for assessment of their impact, and clinical researchers make novel observations about the nature and progression of disease that often stimulate basic investigations.

Group of students enjoying dinner at the 2010 Georgia Life Sciences Summit in Atlanta, GA


...from “Name Change”, pg. 4 What’s the difference you ask? The Medical College of Georgia diploma is printed in Latin on 18x22 cream stock and the new Georgia Health Sciences University diploma will be printed in English on 18X22 stock of a slightly lighter color. Regardless of whether your diploma reads “Medical College of Georgia” or “Georgia Health Sciences University”, Dr. Azziz reassures us that this document will be a “tremendous source of pride throughout [our] lives”. Should anyone have further questions regarding the name change please visit O

...from “Dhandapani”, pg. 5 career and I now feel lucky to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences with the next generation of scientists. I also take great pride in the achievements and accomplishments of my students and fellows. My students have won a number of regional, national, and international awards, published numerous high impact manuscripts, and obtained their own extramural grants from several funding sources. “ While at MCG as a student, Dr. Dhandapani considered himself a “lab rat” and therefore was not actively involved in any student organizations. Currently, however, Dr. Dhandapani serves as the Presided of the MCG School of Graduate Studies Alumni Association and also serves on the Neuroscience Executive Committee. Outside of MCG Dr. Dhandapani enjoys spending time with his

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wife and 3 children and rooting on the variety of team sports that he is a fan of. Dr. Dhandapani’s advice for current students is that “Each student should find something they are passionate about, set the bar high, and work hard toward this goal everyday.” With regards to specific skills for success, he states “… time management is probably the most important skill that leads to successful careers as a scientist. We all get “down time” throughout the day; however, this time is not always utilized wisely. Use this time to read current journals, follow you own field, write manuscripts, prepare for the next experiments, etc.” Other advice that Dr. Dhandapani offers includes the concept that one can never read enough literature, and the ability to preserve and take constructive criticism. His last bit of advice is to “Work hard, Read Read Read the literature, and publish often.” Dr. Dhandapani also would like students to know that he can be contacted at anytime via email or phone for further advice or other questions they may have. The GSO thanks Dr. Dhandapani for taking time to share with us his story! O

specifcally recognized during the meeting through STAR Graduate Student, Post-Doctoral Fellow and Young Investigator Awards. Medical College of Georgia Students in attendance along with their Principal Investigator are listed below. Congratulations to all for your participation! Hye Hun Choi- Dr. Webb R. David Fessler- Dr. Dhandapani Cody Freeman- Dr. Cashikar Kristy Howell- Dr. Pillai Ahmed Ibrahim- Dr. Liou M.D. King- Dr. Dhandapani Hicham Labazi- Dr. Webb Melissa Laird- Dr. Dhandapani Deepesh Pandey- Dr. Fulton Chintan Patel- Dr. Caldwell Chaitanya Patwardhan- Dr. Chadli Roshini Prakash- Dr. Ergul Jin Qian- Dr. Fulton Frank Spradley- Dr. Jennifer Pollock J. Suwanpradid- Dr. Ruth Caldwell Rui Wang- Dr. Browning Brandi Wynne- Dr. Webb O

...from “STaR”, pg. 8 University of Georgia. The conference included state-of-theart topics in clinical and translational science as well as opportunities for attendees to showcase their research and network to develop regional collaborators. Research and educational opportunities through regional Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA) Institutions were provided. Excellence in clinical and translational science was


Happy Holidays The Graduate Student Organization wishes you and your families a very happy and safe Holiday season See you in 2011!

Contact Information

Newsletter Staff


Chief Editor

Colleen Carey

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Students of MCG GSO

Graduate Student Organization School of Graduate Studies Medical College of Georgia 1120 15th St. CJ 2201 Augusta, GA 30912-1500

Namita Hattangady Paramita Pati


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Samuel Herberg

Layout Design Joshua Bird


December 2010 - GSO Newsletter  

Volume 2, Issue 2

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