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A Fresh Approach Finding Creative Ways to Serve the Community

MCG MeDicine SPRING 2013

MCG Medicine is produced bi-annually by the Georgia Regents University Office of Communications and Marketing with financial support from the Medical College of Georgia at GRU.

Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University

Dean Peter F. Buckley, M.D.


Chief of Staff Jeanette Balotin

14 A Fresh Approach

GRU Senior Vice President, Office of Communications and Marketing David Brond Executive Editor Toni Baker Editor Christine Hurley Deriso Design and Production P.J. Hayes Design Photographer Phil Jones ©2013 Georgia Regents University

Finding Creative Ways to Serve Community > Consolidation Q & A....................................................... 3 > Where the Heart Is.......................................................... 22 Insight into the Family Medicine Center

> Speechless No More....................................................... 30 Radical Surgery Restores Woman’s Voice

> A Capitol Day..................................................................... 32 Medical Student Advocacy Day

> Medical Education: The Next Generation......... 34 Viewpoints: Dr. Paul M. Wallach

> Groundbreaking Ceremony ...................................... 36 J. Harold Harrison, MD Education Commons Building


4 News at a Glance 8 Newsmakers 10 Research Roundup 13 Appointments 26 Faculty Spotlight: Dr. W. Vaughn McCall

42 Alumni Affairs Update MED ICA L C OLL EG E of GE ORG IA

44 Gift Planning 46 Classnotes

MATCH DAY 2013 One-hundred-and-ninety students dressed as ’90s pop-culture characters, participated in the annual festive event, which pairs fourth-year medical students with hospitals where they will train in their chosen specialties.

From the Dean



alumni receptions

This year’s

have been a particular joy for me, especially


next generation of physicians. You will read about students, who in addition to taking on the colossal task of becoming physicians, are taking on the health care and quality-of-life needs of the innercity community. You also will learn more about what inspires our Chair of Psychiatry, Dr. Vaughn McCall. Vaughn spent many childhood hours alongside his father, Dr. William “Bill” McCall, at his Wake Forest, N.C., practice, where he could not help but notice the magic between his father and his patients. You will learn more about how Department of Family Medicine Chair Joseph Hobbs and his great team of physicians took an introspective look and decided they could do a better job for their patients. Already at the forefront of electronic health records, they have made technology work for them and their patients by ensuring the best practices and constantly scrutinizing results. Like those who inspired us to be what we are, I hope you will also be inspired by these and other many fine individuals who comprise your Medical College of Georgia. This year finds us 185 years strong because of them and you. u


Thank you for your support.

Several of you have asked about medical legacy and have also asked why I chose medicine as a profession. It’s instructive for us to think back a bit to the reason we made that decision. Personally, my family was a huge factor: both my parents were doctors, as were several aunts and uncles. My grandfather, Dr. Matt Harris O’ Connor, was Dean of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. I saw my family’s legacy as an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives and my own. Certainly for me, it was a terrific choice. Serving as Dean of your medical school is, accordingly, an immense privilege and joy for me and my family. In this issue of MCG Medicine, you will learn more about what’s inspiring the

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as I feel I am getting to know you better.

From the President RICARDO AZZIZ, MD, MPH, MBA

What does



look like as it unfolds?

Does it look neat, tidy, staid and predictable? Of course not. Those adjectives don’t describe progress; they describe the status quo. Progress, on the other hand, is dynamic, fluid, bold and energetic. The process is sometimes messy, occasionally jolting and often surprising—yet eminently worthwhile. For the past few months, we members of the Georgia Regents University community have been the planners, designers, architects and construction workers of one of the most gleaming examples of progress in the history of higher education: consolidating two esteemed universities and creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Countless housekeeping decisions have characterized this undertaking—decisions related to nomenclature, accreditation, organization and myriad related details. This groundwork, of course, has been vital—but the real work, the real challenge, the real fun begins now. Now that the soil has been cultivated, our work begins in earnest: excellence in teaching, research and service. I am confident that our collective investment in the future of Georgia Regents University will be tremendous—a higher-quality university for our community, a greater portfolio of offerings for our students and added collaborative opportunities for our faculty and staff, all built on the stellar foundation of the universities that came together to make this happen. In essence, by 2030, we will have a great university. That is the power of our consolidation. That is progress. As representatives of the senior-most component of our new university—the internationally renowned Medical College of Georgia—we need your help to tell others about this new and dynamic research university. Please spread the word that we are celebrating our proud and distinguished history to pave the way for an even brighter future. We are witnessing progress in the making. We are creating it. u

Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medicine and Medical Humanities; President, Georgia Regents University; CEO, Georgia Regents Health System

This is our story. Thank you for sharing it with the world.

Consolidation Q&A Growth Paves Way for

TOP-50 Academic Health

For more information, visit or


Q: What is the accreditation

status of the newly consolidated university?


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, GRU’s accrediting body, approved the consolidation after reviewing a prospectus describing the consolidated university’s major features. GRU submitted the prospectus to SACS last October. The accrediting body will make a site visit in the fall to ensure the new university is complying with accreditation principles and standards. Prior to the visit, university officials will produce a self-study, or an assessment of the school and its operations.


All May 2013 graduates will receive the official Georgia Regents University diploma, which will include the name of their college, such as Medical College of Georgia, underneath GRU. Graduates who matriculated to Georgia Health Sciences University will have the option of a commemorative diploma from either GHSU or MCG.


The consolidated university’s mission*, approved by the Board of Regents in May 2012, speaks to the institution’s enhanced stature as one of four comprehensive research universities in Georgia with a full complement of undergraduate and graduate offerings.


How will consolidation benefit the Medical College of Georgia?


Will the university’s health sciences agenda change?


With nine colleges, nearly 10,000 students, more than 650 acres of campus, nearly 150 buildings, more than 1,000 fulltime faculty and a $1.4 billion economic impact, every individual segment of campus will benefit from the institution’s vastly increased scope and breadth. In addition to enhanced national and global renown, consolidation will offer countless new benefits in education, multidisciplinary research, campus activities and pipeline opportunities, to cite just a few advantages.

*Mission of Georgia Regents University: To provide leadership and excellence in

teaching, discovery, clinical care and service as a student-centered comprehensive research university and academic health center with a wide range of programs from learning assistance through postdoctoral studies.


Yes, but only for the better. Even before consolidation, steps were underway to significantly increase the class size of both the medical and dental medicine colleges. As the state’s health sciences university housing the nation’s 13th-oldest medical school, GRU already trains one in five Georgia physicians, and the percentage will rise as the class size grows to 300 after the opening of the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons on the main campus. Support for the health sciences mission is clear through the expansion of the main campus in Augusta, growth of medical partner and satellite campuses and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s vision of a hub-andspoke model for health professions, with GRU serving as the hub. u


Consolidation was based on a recommendation in January 2012 by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Consolidation, considered a bold and significant step in vaulting the university to a top-50 academic health center nationwide, became official following approval from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents this past January.


What university name will be on students’ diplomas?

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How does the consolidated university’s mission differ from that of Georgia Health Sciences University?



Why did Georgia Health Sciences University consolidate with Augusta State University?

News at a Glance


Record Applications


Hooding, Graduation Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President of the American Cancer Society, will be the guest speaker of MCG’s Hooding Ceremony May 9 at 2 p.m. at Augusta’s Bell Auditorium. Brawley, Professor of Hematology, Oncology, Medicine and Epidemiology at Emory University, is a global leader in health care disparities research. At the American Cancer Society, he works to advance advocacy efforts and concentrate community cancer control efforts where they will be most impactful. His book, How We do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks about Being Sick in America (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) explores issues such as disparities of care between the rich and the poor and reimbursement-driven health care. Hooding will be followed by GRU’s 2013 commencement ceremony May 10 at 2 p.m. at Augusta’s James Brown Arena. Gov. Nathan Deal will deliver the commencement address. u

For the second consecutive year, a record number of potential students have applied to MCG. Applications are up 18 percent over last year, more than doubling the national average increase of around 7 percent, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. This year, 2,815 people applied for 230 first-year slots at MCG. Last year, 2,384 applied. This year’s increase means that applications are up around 28 percent over the last two years. Additionally, of the 1,445 Georgia residents who applied to any medical school across the country, 1,251, or 87 percent, of them chose to apply to MCG. Those numbers directly reflect the school’s reputation, said MCG Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Paul Wallach. “We are truly Georgia’s medical school. Our students come from all corners of the state. The word is out, far and wide.” This year’s applicants are also more diverse than ever, he said. “We have people who are financially underserved, who are racially diverse, who come from medically underserved regions of the state and who come from a wide array of backgrounds. That is extremely important because we want to have a class and, ultimately a workforce, that looks like the population— from all walks of life.” u

Renée Sharrock, from left, Dr. and Mrs. Leslie wilkes


and dean peter f. buckley

“There are fewer than 100 copies in libraries worldwide.” Renée Sharrock. “This was a landmark publication at the time,” Sharrock said. “Both the size of the publication (26X19 inches) and the detail of the drawings were groundbreaking. The size allowed for the illustrations to be at or near actual size.” The publication has 34 drawings based on autopsies of women who died during various stages of pregnancy, detailing the anatomy and development of the fetus and the woman’s body. The author was a famous anatomist, surgeon

graduating from MCG. “The relationship that our Alumni Affairs Department creates with our alumni makes donations like this possible,” Sharrock said. “We are here to share jewels like this.” The book is on display in the Historical Collections and Archives section of Greenblatt Library on the second floor, but Sharrock asks that you call ahead and make an appointment. For more information on the book or the collection, contact Sharrock at 706-721-3444. u


and obstetrician in 18th Century Great Britain. “This particular edition is in very good condition and has only has a few tears,” Sharrock said. “There are fewer than 100 copies in libraries worldwide.” Wilkes, a retired orthopedic surgeon, began collecting rare books after


GRU’s Greenblatt Library received an almost 240-year-old donation Feb. 18 from Dr. Leslie Wilkes (’65). He presented William Hunter’s historic book Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata [The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures] to the library’s Historical Collections and Archives. The book was published in 1774 and is one of the first medical illustration books that focused on prenatal anatomy, according to Collection Curator

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240-Year-Old Donation


Second-to-None Stroke Care

Hobbs Elected Secretary

The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations has designated Georgia Regents Medical Center an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, making it the only hospital in Georgia and one of just 17 hospitals nationwide to achieve this designation. “This means we provide high-level care for patients with the most severe and challenging types of strokes and cerebrovascular disease, and we help set the national standards in highly specialized stroke care,” said Dr. David Hess, Chair of the Department of Neurology. During a rigorous two-day onsite review, Joint Commission experts examined the medical center’s compliance with Comprehensive Stroke Center standards and requirements, including 24/7 availability of specialized treatments, staff with the unique education and competencies to care for complex stroke patients and advanced imaging capabilities. Last year, Georgia Regents Medical Center opened one of two new interventional radiology suites, becoming the first hospital in Georgia equipped with VasoCT imaging. This technology produces clear, threedimensional pictures of the arteries and veins in the brain and neck that allow the hospital’s neurosurgery team to better pinpoint and open blockages. In addition, having two interventional suites means the hospital may treat more than one complex patient at a time, another Comprehensive Stroke Center requirement. Surveyors also looked at post-hospital care coordination for patients and patient-centered stroke research efforts. Areas of stroke research at GRU include studying how leg compressions, stem cell therapy and insulin administration affect stroke recovery. u

Dr. Joseph Hobbs, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, has been elected Secretary of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine. Hobbs will serve a two-year term. He is serving his second term on the association’s Board of Directors and has been a member since 1998. He also has served as the association’s representative to the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s Family Medicine Curriculum Advisory Committee. Hobbs is an MCG graduate, the college’s Senior Associate Dean for Primary Care and Community Affairs and holds the J.W. Tollison, M.D. Distinguished Chair. Last year, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Pisacano Leadership Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of the American Board of Family Medicine. He served as a member of the American Board of Family Medicine Board of Directors from 2003-08 and of its Executive Committee from 2006-08. He has also served as Treasurer and Chair of the Examination and Audit and Finance Committees. Hobbs received the 2010 President’s Award from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Hobbs is a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians Educational Foundation. He also is a member of the Board of Editors for the Health Monitor Network, which provides health maintenance and disease management and prevention information for patients. He is Project Director on three Health Resources and Services Administration/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grants to train family medicine physicians. u

< hess and the new angiography suite

Back Pain Guidelines

Dr. R. Clinton Webb, Chair of Physiology, has been appointed to a fiveyear term on the editorial board of the new Journal of African Association of Physiological Sciences. The international journal, which will be published for the first time this year, is the official publication of the association, an International Union of Physiological Sciences-affiliated organization. Webb’s other editorial board memberships include Hypertension, Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Vascular Pharmacology, Current Hypertension Reviews, Current Cardiology Reviews, Therapeutic Advances in Cardiovascular Diseases and World Journal of Pharmacology. Webb is a Past Chair of the American Heart Association’s Council for High Blood Pressure Research and a member of the council’s Leadership, Awards and Scientific Sessions Committees. He is a member of the AHA’s Scientific Sessions Program and Council Operations Committees, Ethnicity and Gender Working Group and International Mentoring Program.  Webb is a Past President of the Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology and a member of the American Society of Hypertension Program Committee and Society for Women’s Health Research Isis Cardiovascular Network. Webb, a Regents’ Professor who holds the Herbert S. Kupperman Chair in Cardiovascular Disease, received the 2009 Distinguished Basic Research Award from the GRU Research Institute. u



Oops, we goofed! An article in the spring 2011 edition of MCG Medicine cited MCG alumni who have served as President of the Medical Association of Georgia.

Legacy of

LE AD ER SH IP faculty and administrators A look at some of our alumni, s to medicine and their leadership contribution

Dr. Ralph A. Tillman (’57), President from 1996-97, was inadvertently omitted. Tillman, who retired from obstetrics/gynecology in 1996 after practicing family practice and obstetrics/gynecology in Pearson, Ga., and the Atlanta area for almost 40 years, is also a former Secretary and Speaker of the House of the association. MCG Medicine regrets the omission. u


While scientific evidence suggests that less is typically more when it comes to diagnosing and treating lowback pain, the number of expensive imaging exams and surgeries continues to rise, researchers say. More than 25 percent of American adults report at least one episode of acute low-back pain in the past three months and the annual total price tag is about $100 billion, according to a study in an issue of the \ focusing on health care reform. “For the great majority of patients, you watch them closely for a month, use conservative measures and they tend to do a lot better at significantly less cost,” said Dr. Scott E. Forseen, an MCG neuroradiologist and the study’s corresponding author. “Studies also show that once you seek imaging, such as a magnetic resonance study, you are more likely to also seek some type of surgical intervention.” In fact, rates of back surgery in the United States are about 40 percent higher than in other developed countries. Forseen and co-author Dr. Amanda S. Corey, a neuroradiologist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, compiled a set of easily accessible diagnosis and treatment guidelines based on the overwhelming evidence that hightech images and back surgeries don’t improve outcomes for most patients. u


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Webb Appointed to Journal Board

News makers Dr. T. Andrew Albritton, Associate Dean for Curriculum and Professor of Medicine, has received the Laureate Award from the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians, acknowledging excellence in medical care, education, research and/or service.


Dr. Cargill H. Alleyne Jr., who holds the Marshall Allen Distinguished Chair in the Department of Neurosurgery, has published a children’s book, Ned’s Head (Create Space, 2012), a rhyming story that offers a whimsical but scientifically accurate journey through the brain. Ned’s Head received an honorable mention at the 2012 Fall Royal Dragonfly Book Awards and is available on Dr. Catalina Bazacliu, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, received a Young Investigator Award from the Southern Society for Pediatric Research for research linking heart dysfunction to early-life stress.

Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, Chief of Neonatology, has received the Southern Society for Pediatric Research Founder’s Award, honoring his research and contributions to the society. Bhatia, who directs the MCG Fellowship Program in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, also has been named an Honorary Fellow by the Philippine Pediatric Society of Newborn Medicine, a subspecialty society of the Philippine Pediatric Society. Dr. Stephen Black, a cell and molecular physiologist in the Vascular Biology Center and Scientific Director of GRU’s Cardiovascular Discovery Institute, has been elected to the Council of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine. He also will Chair the Fundraising/ Sponsorship Committee. Dr. Reid B. Blackwelder, who completed his family medicine residency at MCG as Chief Resident, has been named President-Elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley has received the 2012 Cancro Academic Leadership Award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


Dr. Adviye Ergul, Professor of Physiology, will co-chair the American Heart Association’s Brain 3 Review Panel. The panel reviews grant applications on topics such as the blood-brain barrier, brain immunology and inflammation, Dr. A. Kenneth Fuller, a Thomasville, Ga., psychiatrist and a 1982 MCG graduate, has been selected the 2012 Outstanding Clinical Faculty Member for the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior. Dr. Ryan A. Harris, a clinical exercise physiologist in the Institute for Public and Preventive Health, has been named to the editorial boards of the journals Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and Journal of Sports Sciences. Dr. Bennett S. Greenspan, Professor of Radiology, has received the 2013 President’s Award for outstanding contributions and meritorious service to the American College of Nuclear Medicine.


Dr. David M. Pollock, founding Chief of the Section of Experimental Medicine, has been elected President- Elect of the American Physiological Society. Dr. James V. Rawson, Chair of the Department of Radiology, has been appointed to a three-year term on the editorial board of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Dr. Alvin V. Terry Jr., Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has been named a Regents’ Professor by the University System of Georgia. Regents’ Professorships are awarded to outstanding faculty members of Georgia’s four research universities. Dr. Roger Vega, retired Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Section of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology, has received the 2012 Georgia Department of Public Health’s Treating Children with Special Health Care Needs Award.

Dr. Deborah Young-Hyman, Professor of Pediatrics, is Co-Editor of the first reference text covering the major psychosocial issues of diabetes, Psychosocial Care for People with Diabetes. u


Dr. Bernard L. Maria, Chair of Pediatrics and PediatricianIn-Chief of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, has been appointed Chief Medical Officer for the newly incorporated Pediatric Health Improvement Coalition, a first-in-thenation network of children’s hospitals and pediatric providers.

Dr. David Terris, Chair and Porubsky Distinguished Professor of Otolaryngology, has received the American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. R. Clinton Webb, Chair of Physiology, has received the 2012 International Society of Hypertension AstraZeneca Award and the American Physiological Society Carl J. Wiggers Award for his scientific contributions to hypertension treatment and cardiovascular research.

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Dr. Ronald Lewis, sexual medicine expert, has received the 2012 Special Service Award from the International Society for Sexual Medicine.

Dr. Shaoyong Su, genetic epidemiologist, received the 2013 Scott Grundy Fellowship Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research.


Dr. Abdullah Kutlar, Director of the Sickle Cell Center, has been appointed to the American Society of Hematology Scientific Committee on Red Cell Biology.

Research roundup



Sickle Cell Cure?

Georgia Regents Health System has joined a national trial to determine the safety and efficacy of bone marrow transplants in curing sickle cell disease in patients ages 16-40. Georgia Regents Health System also is establishing a permanent transplant program for sickle cell patients. “We want to be able to offer the option of cure to our patients who struggle the most with this chronic disease,” said Dr. Jeremy Mark A. Pantin, an MCG hematologist/ oncologist. “You want to take away patients’ suffering and help them have a longer and healthier life.” Pantin is a principal investigator on the pilot study developed by Dr. Lakshmanan Krishnamurti at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. They will enroll 15 patients nationally and two or three patients at Georgia Regents Health System, which follows about 1,500 sickle cell patients. For a transplant, patients’ bone marrow—which produces the red blood cells that carry oxygen, white blood cells critical to an immune response and platelets that enable clotting—is wiped out and replaced with donor marrow. The rationale is that the new red cells won’t take on the characteristic sickle shape that wreaks havoc throughout the bodies of sickle cell patients. The 12-center study requires a careful selection of patients balancing disease risks with risks of the procedure. The latter include graft versus host disease, a major cause of death in the first year after transplant in which the newly acquired immune system attacks organs and tissues. However, a transplant can effectively cure sickle cell disease, which is characterized by debilitating pain crises, an increased stroke risk and an average life expectancy in the mid-40s. Patients most affected will be enrolled in the study. “Selection is critical,” Pantin said. “You have to balance the patients’ complications and reduced life expectancy with the promise of being cured of the disease, but not without some risk,” Pantin said. Bone marrow transplants are not considered standard therapy for sickle cell disease, but clinical trials indicate they work best in children, who have less-developed immune systems. However, the researchers believe that with careful selection, adults also will benefit. u

For more information about the study, contact Leigh Wells at 706-721-2171.

“My hope is this is going to have a major, major impact on survival of babies,” Black said. About half the babies born with heart defects have excessive, continuous high pressure on their lungs from misdirected blood flow. Early surgery can prevent full-blown pulmonary vascular disease, but scientists are finding more subtle disruptions in the signaling inside blood vessels walls that can be problematic—even deadly—up to 72 hours after surgery. The good news is the changes are reversible


New Role for Carnitine

and that carnitine speeds recovery and can even prevent the damage in a lamb model of these human heart defects, according to studies published in the journal Pediatric Research. Normally, most blood flow bypasses the lungs in utero when the placenta provides blood and oxygen for the baby. Baby’s first breaths expand the lungs and blood vessels, activating a process inside the lining of vessels that enables them to accommodate the initial blood surge, then reduce pressure quickly, dramatically and permanently. This natural transition doesn’t occur when heart defects misdirect blood flow. “It’s kind of like a chronic fetal-to-newborn transition,” said Black, the study’s corresponding author. Lungs get pounded with about three times the normal flow and, even when surgeries are done as early as possible to repair the defect, correct blood flow and protect the lungs, the 20 percent death rates from acute pulmonary hypertension have remained unchanged for a decade. Left unchecked, the barrage thickens blood vessels, impairing the ability of endothelial cells to produce nitric oxide, a major dilator of blood vessels. To make bad matters worse, the precursor to nitric oxide instead makes more peroxynitrite, prompting endothelial cells to grow and thickening blood vessels. Black was also corresponding author of a recent study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that showed peroxynitrite does this by turning on the cell survival protein kinase Akt1. The new study indicates that even without fixing the heart defect, high daily doses of carnitine in the first four weeks of life can prevent endothelial dysfunction. In fact, the laboratory lambs’ ability to make nitric oxide is preserved even without the benefit of heart surgery and the responses to the chemical activity that enables blood vessel dilation is normalized, Black said. Black’s study co-author, Dr. Jeffrey Fineman, is pursuing additional funding to resolve questions such as the optimal dosage and timing for giving carnitine. Fineman, a whole-animal physiologist and physician at the University of California, San Francisco, developed the model, a lamb whose four-chambered heart is very similar to that of humans. In utero surgery misdirects too much blood to the lungs to create the defect in the lambs. u


A common nutritional supplement may be part of the magic in improving the survival rates of babies born with heart defects, researchers report. Carnitine, a compound that helps transport fat inside the cell powerhouse where it can be used for energy production, is currently used for purposes ranging from weight loss to chest pain. New research shows it appears to normalize the blood vessel dysfunction that can accompany congenital heart defects and linger even after corrective surgery, said Dr. Stephen M. Black, a cell and molecular physiologist in the MCG Vascular Biology Center.

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A new study will help determine if an antibiotic is a partial antidote for the poisonous effect of blood on the brain following a hemorrhagic stroke, researchers say. They want to know if minocycline, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, can reduce high rates of disability from this comparatively rare stroke type characterized by spontaneous bleeds into the brain, said Dr. Jeffrey A. Switzer, an MCG stroke specialist. “We hope that, given early, minocycline can help reduce the damage of a type of stroke for which there is currently no proven

RESEARCH therapy,” Switzer said. He is principal investigator on an American Heart Association-funded trial enrolling 24 patients over two years, half of whom will get minocycline. Dr. David Hess, Chair of the MCG Department of Neurology, and Dr. Susan C. Fagan, Assistant Dean of the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, have shown minocycline is safe and potentially effective at combating some collateral damage of the more common clot-based strokes. In a follow-up analysis, minocycline also appeared to reduce the inflammation that follows the initial stroke as well as levels of matrix metalloproteinases, or MMPs, a family of enzymes that destroys the basement membrane of blood vessels, making rupture more likely. Elevated levels of MMPs and inflammatory cells have been found in the blood of both kinds of stroke patients, and high levels correlate with poor outcomes. Minocycline also is known as a powerful collector of iron, a vital blood component that helps transport oxygen inside blood


Antibiotic Antidote

vessels but poisons brain tissue upon direct contact. Switzer hopes minocycline will reduce levels of all three in hemorrhagic stroke, reducing bleeding and the size and impact of the stroke. Nearly 40 percent of hemorrhagic strokes increase in size during the first 24 hours. Most of the growth occurs within the first few hours, so timely intervention could reduce brain tissue loss, he said. In fact, if minocycline proves safe in hemorrhagic strokes, the researchers believe the best place to give it would be in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Minocycline may be able to expand the window during which the clot buster, tPA, can be given to ischemic stroke patients. “If we could give something in the field before we can confirm the type of stroke—because we know it’s safe for both—that would be a novel strategy to help patients,” said Switzer. For the study, they will use computerized tomography to confirm a hemorrhagic stroke, then get baseline assessments of blood levels of agents of interest, such as MMPs, as well as the patient’s cognitive and physical abilities before giving the first dose of minocycline intravenously. Subsequent doses will be given orally, if the patient can swallow, over the next four days. Measures of outcomes and biomarkers will be reassessed at 24 hours, seven days or at time of hospital discharge and again at 90 days post-stroke. They hope that decreasing blood levels of MMPs will serve as an indicator of how well the therapy works. u

For more information, contact Clinical Research Assistant Brian Close at 706-721-2675.


Dr. Ian M. Heger, formerly Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Dr. Sandra C. Mobley, formerly Director of the Perinatal Center at Georgia Regents Health System and Project Director of the Enterprise Community Healthy Start Initiative, has been named Campus Assistant Dean for Curriculum for MCG’s Southwest Campus. Mobley works with Associate Dean Dr. C. Granville Simmons to enhance community support for the campus, based at Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany. She earned her undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing from GRU and joined the MCG faculty in 1997. Dr. Sylvia Smith, formerly GRU Interim Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and CoDirector of the Vision Discovery Institute, has been named Chair of the MCG Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy. Smith, a faculty member in the department for more than 20 years, will maintain co-leadership of the Vision Discovery Institute with MCG Ophthalmology Chair Julian Nussbaum. Smith, a retinal cell biologist and Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, researches retinal function, particularly in diabetes. u

Discoveries in Progress


Dr. Neal L. Weintraub, Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, has been recruited to hold the Herbert S. Kupperman Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Science in the Department of Medicine. Weintraub, a cardiologist, physician-scientist and biotech entrepreneur, also has been named Associate Director of the MCG Vascular Biology Center. He joins the faculty in May to help enhance the translation of basic science discoveries to better treat cardiovascular disease. He researches genes related to obesity.

in Hollywood, Fla., has been named Chief of the Section of Pediatric Neurosurgery. His research interests include bike and football helmet safety, the developmental impact of brain surgery on children and repair of premature skull fusion and arterial venous malformations.

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Dr. Michael P. Diamond has joined MCG as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean of Research. He will also serve as GRU’s inaugural Vice President for Clinical and Translational Sciences. Diamond served as University Executive Director of Clinical and Translational Research at Wayne State University and Assistant Dean for Clinical and Translational Research for its School of Medicine. His research interests include polycystic ovary syndrome, unexplained fertility, uterine fibroids and osteoporosis. He helped design the first two agents for reducing postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions. Diamond is a past President of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and the Society of Reproductive Surgeons.

David Fulton has been named Director of the MCG Vascular Biology Center. Fulton, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, has served since 2011 as Interim Director of the center, which focuses on cellular and integrated mechanisms underlying blood vessel and cardiovascular function in normal and disease states. He plans to recruit researchers in areas such as lung biology and metabolism, increase faculty participation in national activities, develop a cardiovascular research facility that enhances collaboration and expand training of future scientists. Fulton came to MCG in 2001 from Yale University, where he completed postdoctoral training in pharmacology followed by a year as a research associate. He earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology from New York Medical College.


Dr. Paul Browne has joined MCG as Chief of the Section of MaternalFetal Medicine. Formerly Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he researches obesity in pregnancy, environmental determinants of diabetes in youth, fibroid-related pregnancy complications, periodontal-related pregnancy complications and online web conferencing for rural health consultation. He is the founder and former President of an Atlanta private practice, Atlanta Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Browne is a Past President of the Southeastern Obstetrical & Gynecological Society and received a U.S. and European patent for a new way to monitor labor.


AApproach Fresh


or first-year medical student Sara Intner, it’s about a sense of community. For third-year pediatric resident Jordan Weitzner, it’s about encouraging parents and their children to address serious health concerns. For fourth-year M.D./Ph.D. student Brett Heimlich, it’s an extension of his faith. For students and residents in the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, service is about many things. But one thing unifies them all: their desire to serve mankind. In fact, MCG officials say altruism is top of mind when they are deciding which students will fill 230 first-year seats each August. “Our applicants continue to represent a cadre of young people who are interested in giving back to mankind,” says Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Paul Wallach. “At their core, they really are interested in caring for other people.”






“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Medical Students Topple Boundaries to Serve Community

Helping Those Who Can’t Help Themselves



A middle-aged black woman waits outside the St. Vincent De Paul Health Center at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday, a full half hour before the free clinic’s doors will even open. Her barking cough and disappearing voice won’t keep her at home on this bitterly cold February evening. Despite near freezing temperatures, there she is, sitting in her camp chair, shivering in a jacket and covered in a blanket, waiting patiently for 7 p.m. As young

Medical students treat patient at St. Vincent de Paul

Health Center

students walk by in white jackets, she asks them for a cup of water to soothe her sore throat while she waits. For her, and countless others, the clinic is their only access to medical care. Inside, Intner, one of tonight’s clinic coordinators, is opening rooms and readying the clinic for the

estimated 10-15 patients who could come through the clinic’s doors tonight. The late hours—the clinic is open from 7 to 9 p.m., hours after her full day of classes is over—do not deter her. What brings her here tonight, her desire to help others, she says, is just part of life. “As an undergrad, if you could call service a hobby, I guess that was mine,” Intner says. While attending the University of Georgia, she placed a premium on giving back. She spent several spring breaks volunteering with a program called Alternative Spring Break, now called Impact, that saw her traveling across the country to work with Habitat for Humanity as well as children’s and environmental awareness projects. During the year, the group organized service projects at its home base in Athens, Ga. Not much changed when she became a medical student. At least once a month, Intner volunteers as a clinic coordinator at St. Vincent. Sure, she could be studying in a quiet library or catching up on sleep—as a first-year medical student, there is plenty of need for both. Instead, on this Monday, she is joined by four or five classmates— all here as volunteers. As a group, they open the clinic and make it run smoothly through the night, bringing patients back to rooms, taking vitals and medical histories and assisting with physical exams. “Without them, I don’t think we would be open,” says Clinic Coordinator Jenny Viera, St. Vincent’s only paid employee. Each Monday night the clinic is staffed by MCG students, residents and faculty. The MCG Department of Family Medicine has worked with St. Vincent for several years to provide health care to the area’s medically underserved. In addition to the Monday night Homeless Clinic, they also offer after-hour clinics to meet the special needs of women, Asians and Latinos.





Medical students come there for real-world experience, and there is plenty. But there is more than that, Intner says. “Volunteering there is very eye-opening. As a medical student, it would be easy to sit in a library or a classroom all day and think that all Augusta is is medical school. But working here reminds us that there’s more out there and instills a sense that this is a community.” On this night, in addition to the woman who was waiting when they opened the doors, medical cases range from a homeless man with a toe fungus he can’t kick because he can’t keep his feet dry, to a young hypertensive male in for a regular check-up. The crowd is light, probably because of the cold. “This clinic, I feel, gives [volunteers] the chance to gain real-world experience,” Viera says. “This is how the world operates. There is always going to be a need for health care for those who can’t afford it.”

Just a few miles away, one of Augusta’s oldest and most medically underserved neighborhoods is not just a place to volunteer for MCG students. For some of them, it’s home. Medical students’ involvement in the Harrisburg neighborhood came from less-than-auspicious beginnings. “I got lost there around 10:30 at night one of my first nights in Augusta, and I was scared, rolling through stop signs, the whole bit,” says Laura Harrison, an M.D./Ph.D. student who helped spearhead students’ involvement in the neighborhood. But daylight gave Harrison a different lens to look through, and she quickly realized she could help. While at a Richmond County Medical Society meeting, she heard a presentation about local charity clinics. One of those was the Harrisburg Family Medicine Clinic, which was affiliated with a small Methodist church—St. Luke— in the impoverished neighborhood. Looking for a church to call home while she completed her eight years of school in Augusta, she visited St. Luke and was impressed by its community involvement. “They wanted to be good neighbors,” she says. And Harrison had connections to other people who wanted the same thing. Among them—her classmate, Brett Heimlich.

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At Home in Harrisburg


Harrison and Heimlich joined St. Luke and quickly found plenty of ways to dig in and help. Someone in the neighborhood was in the hospital? The students visited. Someone needed a walker? They found one. In fact, Heimlich and several of his classmates moved into house several blocks from the church in summer 2010. “To live alongside one another and take part in the same community, we thought, would be the best platform for real service and as a result, genuine transformation,” Heimlich says. “I think that the call to serve rings clear in light of what Jesus taught while he was on earth.”

Student involvement in Harrisburg has grown over the years to include a Monday-night youth mentoring program, classes on faith and finances, volunteering at Harrisburg Family Health Care and, this fall, the





The Veggie Truck provides healthy food choices, including locally grown produce, to residents of the inner city, where unhealthy options are cheaper and easy to find, Heimlich says. The mobile idea worked for a while, but students relaunched the truck as a farmer’s market at St. Luke in March. The truck, the classes, the mentoring— they’re all part of simply trying to make life better for the residents of Harrisburg, says Heimlich, whose efforts garnered him the American Medical Association Foundation’s 2013 Leadership Award. “Harrisburg and St. Luke kind of created a community for us. It was that community feeling that really made things feel like home,” he says. “That, for me, fundamentally changed Augusta. I want other people to have this experience. I want them to realize that by digging in and serving, they can make this foreign place feel like home.”

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Veggie Truck.


Fighting a Community Epidemic As he takes a bite of roasted butternut squash covered with spices, 10-year-old Derrick Hatcher wrinkles his nose, expecting the golden-colored mush to taste “nasty.” Instead, his eyes perk upward and he shows a toothy grin. “It was actually really good,” Derrick says. The same reaction happens over and over as he tries a lean pork loin with Asian dressing, zucchini and squash and fresh strawberries. Fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t necessarily staples in Derrick’s diet. At 280 pounds, Derrick is clinically obese. His younger siblings, 8-yearold Dylan and 6-year-old Derrianna, could be on the same trajectory. But third-year pediatric resident Jordan Weitzner and his mentor, pediatric gastroenterologist Katrina Nguyen, want to change their paths. Derrick, his siblings and his mother, Annie Doe, are part of the inaugural 12-week

Pediatric Obesity Intervention Program designed by Weitzner and Nguyen. “We started this program as a response to the lack of things available to families to target obesity in our area,” Weitzner says. Doe agrees. “I knew we had to do something and I had been looking for programs to help near home (in Waynesboro), but everything was either aimed at adults or wasn’t affordable,” she says. “When I found this and found Dr. Nguyen, it was like angels sent from above.” Participants receive free exercise classes weekly at the Salvation Army Kroc Center; lessons on cooking healthy meals from Kitchen 1454 Owner and Chef Edward Mendoza; meetings with dietitians; and an extra dose of motivation. Wildtree, a healthy food company, and Kroger provided grocery items and condiments for the cooking

classes, and dietary interns from GRU and University Hospital provided information on nutrition. “We teach them to exercise as a family and provide a simple way to prepare healthy foods,” Nguyen says. Fast-forward 12 weeks: Derrick and other class participants have made significant progress. “Kids have reported that exercise isn’t a chore anymore, but instead is an opportunity for their family to do something fun together,” Nguyen says. “Children that could barely walk a block at the start of the program were able to walk about a mile by the end of the program. We think those are all great signs that we are slowly making a difference.” Derrick is down to around 235 pounds, his mom says, and he still enjoys healthy snacking and exercising. “It was like a light bulb went off in Derrick’s head,” Doe says.

Nigel George gives vision tests to schoolchildren



GRU/UGA Medical Partnership student

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership students give back to the Athens area through several community service projects. Some of the initiatives are short-term, such as coordinating water stations at Community Connection of Northeast Georgia’s 10K fundraiser or demonstrating exercise and eating healthy at the Clarke County Mentor Winter Carnival. But most of the student projects leave a larger footprint.  Ongoing initiatives include a studentrun clinic at Mercy Health Center, teddy-bear clinics and physicals for local schoolchildren, information booths at Dawgtoberfest and health fairs with GRU College of Nursing students.


“He realized that it wasn’t just about me hounding him about eating better and exercising. The kids and I are always talking about how much fun all of this was.” That was the aim, Nguyen and Weitzner say. “We hope these are lessons they take with them—like how to prepare healthy alternatives to their favorite snacks and meals and how exercise can be fun,” Nguyen says. “We get to push children and families out of their comfort zones to address their health concerns,” Weitzner adds. “They seem to have fun in the process and I am proud to be a part of it.” u

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Meanwhile, Over in Athens. . . .



the Heart Is

Family Medicine Center Gives Patients a Place to Call Home

Patient-centered medical homes got their start nearly a half century ago, trying to help pediatricians optimally get children and their parents through the maze of immunizations, checkups and midnight fevers, says Dr. Joseph Hobbs, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Primary Care and Community Affairs. Much like actual real estate, medical homes are finding a powerful second wind in the unhealthy reality of an aging, often obese and inactive population; record numbers of individuals living with one or more chronic disease; and a health care system that disproportionately stresses treatment rather than prevention. These medical homes are using technology, objective data and good doctors to renovate a time-honored system that isn’t working so well. Hobbs decided the Family Medicine Center at Georgia Regents Health System needed a little process renovation a few years back. In 2010, it became the first academic health center-based practice in Georgia to be recognized as a medical home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and today is seeking renewal of the group’s highest level of recognition.




it sounds like smart doctoring, it is. If it sounds like common sense and the future, it definitely is. It’s also a lesson in the true value of home.



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in a sense, we lulled ourselves >into “I think, a belief that if we see you as an


individual patient, in that 20- or 30-minute encounter, we will do everything we are supposed to do for you to take care of your problems and make sure medical surveillance is appropriately done,” Hobbs says. When they decided to take on the arduous task of reviewing old medical records, practices like his large group of 25 physicians didn’t like what they found. “We did not have a collective system to target some of our weak points as a clinical practice. In fact, we did not realize many of the weaknesses that existed in our collective practices.” They simply couldn’t answer these kinds of important questions: Is every diabetic assessed at least twice a year for A1C levels, which indicate average blood glucose control for the past three to four months, as the American Diabetes Association recommends? Does that low-risk but aging female patient get a regular mammogram? Is the 30-something male who really doesn’t need an annual checkup getting the preventive attention he does need? Despite the best intentions and efforts, too often the answer appeared to be no. The MCG practice was in good company; office-based researchers looking at many top-notch medical practices were finding inconsistent, often incomplete care that surprised the doctors giving it. “We did not have the tools to make it work,” Hobbs says. A critical tool is an electronic health record, which MCG Family Medicine has had for nearly 20 years, but is just now evolving into a user-friendly system that can store and analyze readable information and really help doctors do their job. As he sits down with a patient, Hobbs not only can access information instantly about lab results and past medical history, an automatic template shows up to ensure he collects all the information he needs during that encounter. It also ensures that he documents information in a manner consistent with his colleagues that will lend itself to later analysis. “My process of seeing this patient is standardized by the health record,” Hobbs says. He can also analyze himself. If he has 100 patients with hypertension, for example, he can easily compare how they are doing, what he is doing for

them and what they are doing for themselves to identify his own personal best practice. The family medicine doctors then sit down as a group monthly to look at their approaches and outcomes in major maladies. Regional groups are springing up that enable even broader comparisons. To maximize impact, the MCG physicians are tailoring templates for those major maladies, such as diabetes and coronary artery disease, that will help further refine care. “If the patient develops diabetes, the template morphs so now, right in front of me, are all my reminders for diabetes,” Hobbs says. “If we later look and find our hemoglobin A1C test rates are 50 percent of what they should be, we have to go back, ask why and initiate other clinical interventions.” Age-specific checklists also are in the works. “We’ve gotten over it,” Hobbs says of any concerns that a machine is telling them how to practice medicine. They are also “over” a single physician treating a certain condition a certain way because it has worked for him. “The fact that an individual patient is doing well doesn’t even mean he is on the best available therapy for that condition,” Hobbs notes. It’s just hard to find fault with evidence-based approaches, which the construct of a medical home readily provides. “I sit on top of a practice of 25 intelligent but independent doctors who think the way they think. I needed a construct that took all that brilliance and made it work together because we can provide a better product if we do it together, as opposed to the product we were providing individually.” The breakneck evolution of best practices makes sharing the most current standards all the more important. “The belief is patients will receive better care at a lower cost,” adds Beverly Bella, Department Manager for Family Medicine. “It’s about using electronic medical records to automate certain triggers in health maintenance. It’s about using a more formulaic approach, but in a good way.”

Components of a Patient-Centered Medical Home 1. Enhance access and continuity 2. Identify and manage patient populations 3. Plan and manage care

For patients, it can also mean avoiding unnecessary trips to the doctor while having unprecedented care and access, approaches that are absolutely in keeping with the patient- and family-centered care concepts that have characterized the institution for two decades. One reason is that physicians aren’t the only ones using computers. The Family Medicine Center has a secure patient portal, called Webview, that enables patients to access their medical information, refill a prescription, even electronically communicate with their doctor. Portal availability, now a requirement of a medical home, helps patients get more involved in their care and

enables them to ask questions they may not need or even want to ask their doctor in person, says Dr. Carla Duffie, Practice Site Manager for the Family Medicine Center at Georgia Regents Health System. After a recent enrollment drive, 10 percent of the center’s some 13,000 patients are signed up. The goal is to have every patient with computer access and interest registered and other options identified for those who don’t. It’s like completing a jigsaw puzzle to get a whole picture of the patients, Duffie says of the evolving medical home. While not expressly mandated by health care reform, the medical home concept is very much a part

of those industry dynamics with similar philosophies about prevention and access, she says. It’s also key to preparing residents and students to provide contemporary care. “The belief is that patients will get better care at a lower cost,” Duffie says. In fact, the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act authorizes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to establish Accountable Care Organizations that seek provider services based on the type of objective results about patient outcomes and costs that a medical home can provide. It also makes for a happier home. “As a practice, we have become more cohesive,” Duffie says. u


6. Measure and improve performance


5. Track and coordinate care

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4. Provide self-care support and community resources



He liked the pungent astringent smell. In fact, 6-year-old W. Vaughn McCall asked regularly to immerse himself in the familiar aroma of his father’s medical practice. The family lived in Winston-Salem, N.C., where the summertime smell of tobacco was also strong, when McCall would take his cartoon anatomy books along to the office of Dr. William “Bill” McCall. Before the son dissected his first frog in school, his father had taken him to Bowman Gray (now Wake Forest) School of Medicine’s anatomy department where he could examine body parts in jars. “I was intrigued,” says McCall. No doubt the sights and smells were interesting, but the thing McCall really studied was his father. His father’s patients would often show up at the McCall family home with a big sack of green beans from their summer garden. Over his father’s 40-year practice, this patient-doctor devotion never faltered. The internist and self-made allergist definitely had some kind of magic. “It must have been important stuff,” the young McCall surmised.


Faculty spotlight

of Magic Chair Follows in Father’s Footsteps to Connect with Patients

Dr. Bill McCall with nurses Violet Stonestreet (left)

The Fast Lane

Still, there was much to make a father proud. McCall excelled academically with relatively little effort in high school and as he followed his father’s footsteps to Duke University. He majored in history, which he also loved, while also taking pre-med courses. Genetics showed its hand again as the A’s came in science and B’s in his major, then later when his parents showed up in Durham with an already open letter and the great news that he’d been accepted to medical school at Duke. In medical school he made a C on his first biochemistry test. However, McCall quickly recovered, figuring out how to better balance life in a super-fast educational lane. “I just liked the craziness of it all, the intensity of it. Dials were turned up to 10 all the time,” says McCall. Life in this fast lane led to an unexpected lane change that, for the first time, put a little distance between his and his father’s otherwise parallel courses.


Life was really good. His mother Drane made sure that home was also a place McCall wanted to be, that supper was always on the table when the family – including younger brother Edgar – gathered to rehash the day’s events. Sunday lunch was typically shared with the grandparents, who lived nearby. Also nearby was Dawn, the woman McCall would one day marry. She too was growing up the child of a physician. Her dad would cut his medical training short, opting to work as a general practitioner for a while to ensure supper was also always on their table, before returning years later to complete training as a psychiatrist. The McCall family had a strong faith, both in a higher power and in each other. In fact, Vaughn McCall says that the forgiving and kind human father he was blessed to have made it easier to understand a more heavenly one. “I have often felt I was advantaged that way, and I feel bad for people who don’t have that,” he says. His father’s “understanding” included getting past a few run-ins his son had with the local law as well as his significant string of girlfriends. In fact, McCall’s wife would later say he dated everybody but her, and McCall still smiles about her accurate observation.


Supper on the Table

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and Suzie Holland

“Intellectual Endowment”

A Deadly Trifecta

McCall got distracted, fascinated really, by the brain. Before he ever saw his first patient, neuroanatomy and neurochemistry classes gave McCall a glimpse of what we do and don’t know about the organ that Merriam-Webster describes as “intellectual endowment.” Indeed, and maybe it wasn’t so much of a departure, because one of the things he liked most about his father’s work was the relationships. “Now, these were not psychiatric relationships exactly but, just the same, you could tell there was an intensity in the transaction, and psychiatry is all about that,” says McCall, acknowledging the important front-line role many physicians play in their patients’ mental wellbeing. While his forgiving father never said much about his choice, McCall says that his dear mother, who he lost four years ago, never could quite could bring herself to introduce him as a psychiatrist. Drane McCall preferred to call her eldest son a “sleep doctor,” an emerging area of focus in the extensive clinical and research work that began with his residency at Duke University Medical Center.

The trifecta of depression, insomnia and suicide came to him as painful, separate pieces as he made his own way in his chosen specialty. Sleep disorders were going through their own metamorphosis as sleep apnea exploded along with American waistlines in the ’70s and ’80s and sleep centers became a lucrative venture. But it was insomnia that captivated McCall. “For a lot of psychiatric diagnoses, there is a drive toward vigilance and watchfulness. For example, if you are a paranoid schizophrenic and you really do believe that people are trying to kill you, then you better not sleep. You better be on the lookout. By the same token, if you have an anxiety disorder or a depression disorder, there is often this feeling

At a Glance > Chair, MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior > Former Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Wake Forest University Health Sciences > Funded since 1995 National Institute of Mental Health > Examiner, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology > Editor, Journal of ECT > Former President, Association of Convulsive Therapy > Former Director, Board of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine > Board certified in general psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry and sleep medicine


Dr. W. Vaughn McCall

Making Music While Dr. William “Bill” McCall played the violin in the local symphony, son Dr. W. Vaughn McCall preferred playing bass guitar in the rock group, the Pedestrians*. He is looking to make some new musical connections in Augusta. *


McCall likes hearing patients’ stories, then helping them dissect what’s killing the canary and how they may be contributing. Links between insomnia and depression can play out in patients who are spending half their days in bed because they feel sad. “They just want to go to bed, turn the lights out and pull the cover over their heads,” he says. But too much time under the covers feeds insomnia and possibly more. Suicidal thoughts may get fed as well, particularly when the vicious cycle yields a hopelessness of ever getting another good night’s sleep. “What’s the use, I can’t even sleep,” McCall says, of the thoughts that plague patients. “You have no relief.” In fact, one of McCall’s most recent studies, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, reaffirmed that insomnia as well as nightmares are risk factors for suicide because of this sense of hopelessness. He recently launched a three-site study, which includes alma mater Duke as well as the University of Wisconsin, exploring whether a sleeping pill can help reduce the risk. If a pill sounds like an obvious solution, consider that sleeping pills are a common method for committing suicide and that the new prescription sleep aids list suicidal thoughts as a possible side effect. “Is it going to make you more or less suicidal? It’s not clear,” says McCall, which is why study coordinators are keeping close tabs on both the study participants and how many drugs they get at one time. In fact, he almost always pauses before getting out a prescription pad. Even as he prescribes the drugs to those who clearly need it, he’s saying that if they really want to get well, patients also need to work with him to find and correct what they can. Still, there are times when he gives drugs first and talks later, such as in the case of patients too badly broken by depression to do their part of what he calls this psychological work.

No doubt, timing is important. Last summer, McCall decided it was time for him to make some changes. His residency had led to a faculty appointment at Duke, until making his way back home to Winston-Salem and Wake Forest in 1991 as an Assistant Professor. By 2003, he was Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. McCall loved Wake Forest and being at home, but things were changing. “Psychiatry has this term called multiple determinants,” he says, and his list was growing. Like his father before him, McCall had made sure that his boys—Will, James and Jack—were raised in a home where the family always gathered for supper, and that, mostly anyway, grandparents were in close proximity. By last year, his youngest son, Jack, had left the nest for Furman University. His widowed father had married Carolyn, a wonderful woman the family had known for years. Workwise, he was primed and ready for a change. He knew and respected Dr. Peter F. Buckley, who had chaired the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior for a decade before being named Dean of the Medical College of Georgia. He knew about the opportunities for a department that was poised for growth. He started his new job as MCG Chair in July. While the first sack of green beans has not yet been delivered in Augusta, it already smells like home. u SPR I N G 2013

Empowering His Patients

Timing is Everything


of apprehension, that the world is not a safe place, of being on edge that robs people of sleep.” “Sleep is a very fragile thing that is easily busted,” he says, even for some without a diagnosable psychiatric condition. And it’s an indicator, a sort of canary in the coal mines, of what is going on in an individual’s life.

Speechless No More BY DENISE PARRISH


GRU Specialists Restore Young Woman’s Voice

After four years of being unable to speak, Nicole Reed is now shouting on the sidelines at her son’s football games, thanks to Georgia Regents Medical Center. Reed spent several months in the intensive care unit of a Macon, Ga., hospital following a near-fatal 2008 car accident. Unfortunately, the breathing tube that kept her alive permanently damaged her windpipe. “It was horrible. I had a traumatic brain injury and was partially paralyzed for a little while. Then, on top of that, I had a tracheotomy and I couldn’t talk anymore. I was devastated, but at the same time, I knew I was lucky to be alive,” says the 27-year-old from Milledgeville, Ga. Reed’s family quickly learned to read her lips and became proficient texters. “I was glad to have one of those unlimited plans, or else my phone bill would have been sky high,” she says. After extensive rehabilitation, Reed was eventually back on her feet again—but still speechless. “I was determined to get up and walk, and I did. So, I figured I’d do what I could to get my voice back, too.” But several years of futile doctor’s visits left her frustrated. “It got to where I was going through the phone book and calling every ear, nose and throat doctor listed and asking, ‘Do you know anything about tracheotomies?’ ” Finally, one of the ENTs she spoke to recommended that she visit Dr. Gregory Postma, Director of the Georgia

Regents Voice and Swallowing Disorders Center. “Dr. Postma gave me more hope in two visits than I had heard in several years,” Reed recalls. “He said my trachea was really messed up, but that I was too young to have to live like that. He promised that his team would do everything they could.” Dr. Paul Weinberger, GRU Assistant Professor

and Director of Research in the Department of Otolaryngology, took the lead on Reed’s case. Since several other reconstructive options had failed, Weinberger decided to apply some new techniques he’d learned in London at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. “He explained the procedure and said there was only a 50-50 chance it would work,” Reed says. “But I figured, ‘What do I have to lose?’ So I decided to go for it.” Weinberger and Postma performed a series of surgeries last summer to rebuild Reed’s trachea.

nicole reed

While the technique has been used in London, Weinberger may be the first to perform this particular kind of trachea reconstruction in the United States.


Even through the fog of anesthesia, Reed remembers waking up from surgery and hearing the doctors talking about removing the tracheostomy tube that for years had compensated for her damaged trachea. “Then I woke up and felt my neck, and it was gone. I was so glad,” she says. But what came next was the ultimate surprise. “Sound came out. I was, like, ‘Oh, wow! I can talk. Oh, wow!’” “I got pretty emotional,” Weinberger admits. “She was finally able to talk and smell for the first time in four years. It was very humbling to see God work in her life this way, and for me to be a part in that work. She’s really happy, and I couldn’t be happier for her.” Weinberger and Postma have had to tweak her airway a few times, but Reed hopes she will be back to her old self soon. “I’ll admit that day I woke up after the wreck and learned I couldn’t talk, I cried. It just broke my heart. I love to talk. I’m a very social person. But God had a plan for me, and it included speaking again,” she says. The former softball standout says she may start coaching at her local recreation department, something she had signed up to do just before the wreck. She’s pursuing a cosmetology degree at Central Georgia Technical College, where she’s already earned a business administration degree since the accident. Reed said she hopes her story will inspire others in similar situations. “This surgery,” she says, “can change your life.” u

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“As far as I know, no one else here is doing this exact technique. Reed’s airway reconstruction was done entirely using her own cells and materials,” he says.


“We took a small part of her rib cartilage and implanted it in one of the muscles of her neck so it could establish its own blood supply,” says Weinberger. “After about six weeks, we then went in and removed the scar tissue that had replaced her windpipe.” The next step would have been to pull up the rest of the trachea and re-attach it, according to Weinberger. “But someone else had already tried that, and it failed, and there was not enough tissue left to do that again. So we rebuilt a new trachea using the carved rib and muscle flap, and kept it open with a skin graft from her thigh.”

About 30 MCG students visited the Georgia Capitol Feb. 5 for the inaugural Medical Student Advocacy Day.

A Capitol Day Students toured the Capitol, sat in on addresses and met with legislators and Gov. Nathan Deal. Also, Dr. Bruce LeClair, an MCG family medicine physician, volunteered as Doctor of the Day in the Capitol’s Medical Aid Station. The Doctor of the Day is a program of the Medical Association of Georgia. “This day enabled our students to get an upclose perspective on our state’s leaders and legislative process as it gave state leaders the opportunity to meet some of the best ambassadors for our state, our medical college and our university,” said Dean Peter F. Buckley, who accompanied the group. “We believe this experience will strengthen our students’ innate skills of leadership as well as their interest in


and commitment to their community.” u




Dr. Ruth-Marie “Rhee” Fincher, Professor Emeritus and MCG’s inaugural Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, has received the 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges’ Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. The AAMC established the Flexner award in 1958 to recognize extraordinary individual contributions to medical schools and to the medical education community as a whole. Over three decades Fincher, who retired from MCG in May 2012, worked to link medical education with the rigors of science, one of Flexner’s most important tenets. “The Flexner Award is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for medical education and Rhee is truly the quintessential rock star of medical education,” said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley. “Her knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to our profession and its future are unparalleled. Through her dedication and persistent efforts, undergraduate medical education is now a legitimate career choice for faculty with a passion for teaching medical students and educational scholarship has been redefined and recognized across the nation. We simply could not be more proud of her and proud for our medical school and university for this distinct honor.” Fincher helped direct the education of more than 5,000 MCG students who have given her more than 20 teaching awards. Fincher also launched a distributed model of medical education in which MCG students learn alongside physicians across the state, enabling growth of the medical school class to help alleviate Georgia’s significant physician shortage. Early in her career as MCG’s Internal Medicine Clerkship Director, Fincher cofounded the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine and the Alliance for Clinical Education to promote excellence in clinical education and create a nationally recognized career development track for faculty to focus on medical education. At the former, she started and ran for 20 years a training program for faculty new to the clerkship role. “There has been no single figure in American medical education who has done more to define and nurture the roles of the clerkship director as an essential leader in student education,” said Dr. Louis N. Pangaro, Past President of both groups. In a 25-year volunteer role, Fincher began as an author and reviewer of test questions for assessing medical students’ clinical skills through the National Board of Medical Examiners and ultimately was named to the group’s Executive Board. “The changes in the examination programs during her leadership that support the medical education and licensure communities have had enormous effects on medical education and the expectations of competencies for doctors entering practice,” said Dr. Donald E. Melnick, President. Fincher has served the AAMC in many capacities. She has been highly engaged with its Group on Educational Affairs for 20 years, which she chaired from 1997-98. “Dr. Fincher brought the concept of scholarship to educating medical students, and infused it with rigor and never let the topic slip from the agenda of the GEA,” said M. Brownell Anderson, Senior Academic Officer of International Programs at National Board of Medical Examiners and former GEA program leader. Fincher has been a member of the AAMC Board of Directors since 2011 and has participated in 12 accreditation site visits on behalf of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education over the last decade. Fincher is a 1976 graduate of Emory University School of Medicine. She earned bachelor’s degrees in biology from Colby College and in medical sciences degree from Dartmouth Medical School. She is the first Georgia and first female recipient of the Flexner Award. Read more about Fincher at u

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Fincher Receives AAMC Flexner Award


Medical Education: DR. PAUL M. WALLACH Professor of Medicine and


Vice Dean for Academic Affairs

SUBMISSIONS: MCG Medicine welcomes letters to the editor and submissions to the Viewpoints column. Typed essays (approximately 750 words) on health care issues should be submitted to: Christine Hurley Deriso, Editor GRU, AD-1108 Augusta, GA 30912 706-721-2124

Does this scenario— using a handheld device to ascertain internal bleeding—sound like science fiction or medical reality? Thirty years ago, who would have imagined the current usage of diagnostic imaging, molecular genetics or even minimally invasive surgery? What does the future hold for the practice of medicine 30 years hence? What are the implications for medical education? Given the imprecision of predicting the future, I nevertheless find it safe to make the following predictions: Medical practice will be different. Medical research will continue to advance our ability to improve health and quality of life while reducing the burden of disease, disability and suffering. Technology will play an even greater role. Health care teams will be very important. Patients will have access to even more information about their health and medical concerns. Medical knowledge continues to expand at an exponential rate, and that expansion will continue into the future. As a result, it has already become impossible to teach the sum total of medical knowledge. Not only is the corpus of knowledge too great, but it changes rapidly.

Dr. Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise, places a small handheld device in front of an injured crewmember. “Severe internal bleeding,” Crusher reports. “She will need urgent surgery.”

Technology will continue to play an expanding role in health care. We should equip our graduates with the ability to engage and evaluate technology as it is introduced. We must never forget that patients are at the center of all we do. Patient-centered care must be role-modeled during medical school, and students must learn effective communication skills. Caring and humanism should never be lost from medical care. We need to admit students to medical school who have aptitude in these areas so that they will have engaging and productive careers, while embracing a lifetime of learning, all the while providing outstanding care for their patients and communities. At MCG, the future is bright. Our students care deeply about becoming the very best doctors, and our faculty are deeply committed to our students and their future. u

If Dr. Crusher were to hold her tricorder in front of our school, it would report that we have a healthy educational program with a bright future. We are moving ahead, warp factor 9.


In response, medical education must focus on teaching lifelong learning skills. The physician must be able to evaluate personal gaps in knowledge and be able to identify effective approaches to filling those gaps to provide the best patient care. As a result, pedagogical approaches in medical school should mirror those that will be used afterward, and students should gain an understanding of how they learn, so that they can practice and master the approaches that will support a lifetime of learning. Today, medical knowledge and diagnostic information is more readily available at the bedside using handheld computer devices linked to expansive databases. Accessibility of information will continue to grow. While most medical students are far more tech-savvy than the generation that preceded them, they need formal education in accessing, evaluating and applying the best evidence available to treat their patients. With extensive access to information, memorizing isolated medical facts will be less important in the future. Medical students will need a greater understanding of clinical reasoning and how to think through evaluative data, make choices for diagnostic testing and consider therapeutic options. Dr. Jerome Groopmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book, How Doctors Think (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2007), emphasizes the potential for diagnostic errors in certain clinical circumstances. The ability to think, reason, understand the implications

of diagnoses and apply the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preferences will remain a core physician competency. As a result, we need to enhance education in clinical reasoning as we move into a more complex future. Grounding in foundational science will remain an important aspect of medical education. While we should continue shifting from memorization to understanding concepts and their application, it is this strong emphasis on foundations that will enable physicians to decode much of what they will read in the future. The foundational sciences will expand beyond the traditional six (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology and pharmacology) to include communication skills, quality, safety, health care economics, public health and others. Physicians are practicing in a more complex health care system, yet education about the system has lagged. The future of medical education must include information about the health care system, a linkage to public health, information about the cost of care and approaches to providing high-quality, cost-effective care. Physicians no longer practice medicine solo, but rather are part of a complex health care team. We must educate medical students about the team, its members and how best to work within this team for the sake of excellent patient care.


The Next Generation

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J. Harold Harrison, M.D.

Education Commons

Groundbreaking Honors ‘Larger-than-Life’ Alumnus


Characterizing himself throughout his life as a country boy done good, Dr. J. Harold Harrison never forgot his roots. But he sowed seeds for the future as well— both literally and figuratively. After the 1948 Medical College of Georgia alumnus retired from a 50-year career as a vascular surgeon characterized by pioneering advances in repairing and replacing diseased arteries, he returned to his rural roots by embarking on a second career as a cattle farmer in Bartow, Ga. And while he was at it, Harrison ensured that the fruits of his labor would reap rewards for generations to come. “His legacy is that those who follow will have the same opportunities he did,” Harrison’s stepson, Scott Fitzgerald, said during the Nov. 28 groundbreaking ceremony of the J. Harold

Harrison, M.D. Education Commons. The facility, scheduled to open by fall 2014 adjacent to the new College of Dental Medicine building, honors Harrison, who died June 2, based on a $10 million leadership gift from him and his wife, Sue W. Harrison. “His gift will help young minds and bring about good,” his friend, Loran Smith, said during the standing-room-only groundbreaking ceremony. “We would not be here today if he was not imbued with the motivation to make life better through medicine.” President Ricardo Azziz concurred. “Harold Harrison was a true friend and a true visionary who recognized his gift would change the shape of health care in Georgia,” he said, citing the importance of the building in increasing the class sizes of MCG and the College of Dental Medicine


the state continues to make in this great community. We know this university will continue to be elevated in a national platform.” The Augusta community will benefit from the investment for years to come, he said. “We want to continue to make strategic investments in Augusta because we know what it means. I look forward to the exciting things that are going to happen in this great city.” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver agreed. “This represents what can happen when people dream big and are willing to work together to make something happen,” he said. “We are once again at a transitional moment for the city of Augusta and I am so excited to see the shape of things to come.”

MCG Dean Peter Buckley shared his excitement about what the new facility will mean for the university’s students. “The enthusiasm you see here today is infectious,” said Buckley, who along with College of Dental Medicine Dean Connie Drisko was flanked by dozens of medical and dental students clad in their white coats. “People in Georgia are interested in signing on here for their training. We appreciate all the efforts that have gone into our future, and we will deliver on that promise.” Drisko particularly lauded the future-oriented mindset of those who planned the building. “One of the toughest things was to envision not what health care will look like tomorrow, but 30, 40, even 50 years from now,” she said. “Interprofessional education, or


Dr. J. Harold Harrison shortly before his death with wife Sue


to meet the workforce needs of the state. The 172,000-square-foot building will include ample classroom space for both colleges, two 300-seat auditoriums, an interprofessional simulation center and much more. The total construction cost is $76.5 million. The state of Georgia is providing $42 million in bond funding, and the university raised the additional $34.5 million through private philanthropy, including an $8 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, which supports charitable, scientific and educational activities. Donor support has never been more important than it is now, said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “The Harrisons epitomize the kind of community concern and support that we’re looking to in the years ahead. What we’re here to do today is recognize another milestone for this university and its future development, but even more so for the future development of the state of Georgia.” The importance of the building in accelerating the growth of GRU and ensuring its national prominence, particularly after consolidation this January, has not gone unnoticed by key constituents, the speakers said. “This is a special day,” said Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “What it really culminates is the investment

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IPE, will become the norm on this campus, thanks to this building.” Student representatives at the ceremony shared their gratitude for this investment not only in their educations, but the educations of many generations of health care providers to come. “With the new building, our faculty and students now have the ability to compete on a national level,” said MCG Class of 2015 President Lael Reinstatler, noting that classroom space is currently dispersed all over campus. “Of all the things that we are thankful for most, finally having a home is what matters most.” But for all of the talk of a hightech facility, the prevailing mood at the groundbreaking reflected Harrison’s legacy of down-to-earth

altruism. “Away from the operating room,” Smith said, “I find it uplifting that he loved being down on the farm. His work included surgery and corn on the cob, both done by his own hands.” Smith counseled the audience to follow Harrison’s lead of keen appreciation for the simple things in life. “Don’t fret about life’s great rewards; enjoy its small delights. To me, that sums up Harold.” MCG Foundation President and CEO James B. Osborne, describing Harrison as exceedingly modest yet “larger than life,” said, “This building will be a lasting tribute to an extraordinary man.” Nothing could be more fitting, Osborne noted, than to tangibly express Harrison’s stalwart support

of his beloved alma mater. “I remember him saying, ‘I am so proud of MCG because they took a country boy and made a doctor out of him.” Fitzgerald, whose tribute to his stepfather included lavish praise for the role of his mother, Sue, said Harrison was a man “of conviction and tremendous heart. He never pretended to be something he wasn’t. He was one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known and was very comfortable in his own skin.” He was also perhaps the world’s most dogged Georgia Bulldogs fan. “I wish he was here to watch [the Bulldogs’ next game],” Fitzgerald said. “But then again, he has a much better view.” u

Even though study environments have changed dramatically, today’s students share much in common with those who walked the halls of MCG 20, 30 and 40 years ago. For that reason, classes that sponsor a learning community will have an opportunity to leave a message, a nugget of wisdom, for this and future generations. Their individual messages will be typeset and placed in the learning community their class sponsors. It will be read by a countless number of eager students—those looking ahead at their own medical careers who, in a moment of disquiet

The comfortable spaces, complete with sofas, study alcoves and a kitchenette, will offer a relaxing, yet focused, environment that promotes and encourages interaction. The décor will suggest a café-like experience, a setting that has become common in retail stores and has migrated to higher education.

or challenge, may find just the right message that helps them stay the course, that helps them realize that others have walked in their shoes and have persevered. Strong voices from the past encouraging strong minds of the present. u

For more information about the MCG Class Initiative, contact Scott Henson, 706-721-4416 or 1-800-869-1113. Scholarship Assistance Scholarships are being provided for up to 20 MCG students who opt to spend their clinically intensive third and fourth years of medical school living and learning in Southwest Georgia. “We believe these scholarships will be an additional incentive to our students to focus on the most medically underserved area of our state during their education and, hopefully, in their future practice,” said Dr. Linda Boyd, MCG Associate Dean for Regional Campus Coordination. The scholarships reflect the Admission Committee’s priority to recruit more students from rural areas, Boyd said. MCG officials opted to focus scholarships on Southwest Georgia because the entire region is considered medically underserved and has some of the lowest overall health indicators in the state and nation, Boyd said. The $4,000 one-time scholarship will be available for thirdyear students who start at the Southwest Campus in July. The scholarships are funded through the MCG Office of the Dean. Other funding sources are being pursued so scholarships also will be available for fourth-year students, Boyd said. The Southwest Campus, based at Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany, was established in 2005 as MCG’s first regional clinical campus in support of the public medical school’s mission to provide more physicians for the state. In 2010, the campus received residential status that enables up to 20 students to remain in the region for their third and fourth years. Currently there are 15 and 14 students, respectively. u


was a man of great vision, character and generosity. Because of his transformational gift to his alma mater, the Harrison name will be featured prominently on the Education Commons Building, beckoning future generations of students to follow his example. Other proud MCG alumni have come forward and asked to be a part of making a difference in the lives of today’s students as well. In fact, in a show of solidarity, several have indicated that their entire graduating class would like to play a part in supporting the building—to join the tremendous legacy of Harrison and his family. So we have identified an

opportunity for MCG alumni to get involved—and to get involved in a meaningful way. What better fit for a class gift than a study area where students will congregate and spend long sessions together—talking about their lectures and labs, running ideas by each other and forming bonds that will last a lifetime. Just such a space exists in the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons. The 13 rooms, formally known as learning communities, are a new educational model that has been resoundingly endorsed by medical educators.


Dr. J. Harold Harrison

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Other Naming Opportunities One of the most rewarding things about working in an academic health center is recognizing the generosity of our many supporters. And the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons building offers us many opportunities to do just that. Having the building named for a man of such outstanding character has encouraged others to step forward with their own gifts. In fact, we have raised $24 million of our $34.5 philanthropic goal. In addition to the gift by Dr. Harold Harrison and his wife, Sue, another future-forward alum has invested significantly by naming one of the small auditoriums. Two other MCG alums have endorsed the progressive concept of the Learning Communities by naming them, while two others have secured Small Group Rooms. All of these spaces are integral to the education of our future physicians. And just as important to the students are the informal gathering spaces where they can relax and socialize. So, recognizing the value of students interacting outside of the classroom, an Augusta businessman stepped forward to name the patio/porch area.


Gross Anatomy Lab $5 million Located in the Carl T. Sanders Research and Education Building, the Gross Anatomy Lab continues to play an integral role in health care education. This space must be renovated and expanded to accommodate growing class sizes and to offer a high-impact learning environment.

Commons Corridor $1 million Serving as the gateway to the building, the Commons Corridor will be a high-traffic area welcoming students from all disciplines. This space will serve as a natural gathering point, promoting an atmosphere of collegiality.

Large Auditoria (2) $1 million These 300-seat classrooms will be highly utilized by students for classroom learning purposes and will host campuswide forums and conferences.

Small Auditoria (2); 1 available $500,000 Both 150-seat classrooms will also be highly utilized for smaller classes. They, too, will be available for campuswide usage.

Student Lounge for Dental Students $250,000 The student lounge will enable busy students to relax between classes and labs and interact with fellow students in a comfortable and relaxing environment.

Learning Communities (13); 10 available $100,000 Small enclaves of student-centered learning communities will promote crossfertilization of ideas and robust study and discussion among students. These spaces are designed to accommodate long study sessions.


For more information, contact Ralph Alee at 706-721-7191 or 1-800-869-1113.

Administrative Suite Conference Room $100,000 An administrative conference room will serve as an essential meeting space for internal and external audiences and will be highly utilized.

Donor Wall $100,000 An important feature of the building will be a highly visible donor wall that honors visionaries who supported the future of health care through their generous donations to the building. Offering a naming opportunity for this display demonstrates good stewardship of the many gifts received.

Small-Group Rooms (13) 11 available $25,000 Group rooms are a natural and convenient gathering space for students to study and exchange ideas. Designed to promote individual and groupstudy sessions, these rooms will enable students to study without having to leave the building.

From the Alumni Association President ranging from wealth management to starting

President of the Medical College of Georgia

a private practice. The association was also an

Alumni Association for the past year. First and

exhibitor at the Medical Association of Georgia’s

foremost, I would like to thank you, my fellow

House of Delegates and helped sponsor a

alumni, for your support and dedication during

continuing education course during the weekend.

this year of change and growth at our alma mater.

Though many things have changed at MCG, one

the Alumni Association and reconnect with fellow

thing has not: the Alumni Association’s mission to

alumni is through attending our regional receptions.

partner with you, our alumni, to continue to grow

This year the Alumni Association hosted receptions

our medical college and our university.

in Atlanta, Augusta, Gainesville, Macon, Savannah

and Valdosta. These events are a great way to

to connect with alumni from across the state

personally connect with MCG and hear updates on

through various Alumni Association programs and

the college first-hand from Dean Peter Buckley and

events. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know

other faculty members. We cap off this year at the

each and every one of you, and I value and respect

annual Alumni Weekend celebration at the end of

the passion you have for the Medical College of

April, where alumni gather to reconnect with old


friends at events such as the President’s Cookout,

the MCG Alumni Association Banquet, the Alumni

welcome the class of 2012 to the MCG alumni

Weekend Signature Event and class reunions.

family at the Hooding Ceremony in May. There

was a great energy in the room as these students

I would like to thank the Alumni Affairs staff,

celebrated the end of their journey as medical

the Board of Directors and university leadership

students and began their first moments as alumni

for their outstanding support. I look forward to

of MCG.

seeing growth in our alumni base and increased

engagement under the leadership of the Alumni

The association has made it a priority to support

As my tenure as President comes to an end,

and mentor medical students. One way we did

Association’s new President, Dr. Samuel Richwine

this is by welcoming first-year medical students

(’77), who will be installed during Alumni Weekend

from both the Augusta and Athens campuses at

this month.

the Freshman Brunch. We also hosted programs

such as the “Dinner with 12 Strangers” in Savannah,

MCG as we move forward in support of our alma

supported the annual Raft Debate and expanded

mater as it strives toward continuing its legacy of

our HOST program that supports students traveling

excellence in medical education. u

It has been a true honor to serve the alumni of

for residency interviews. This year, the program grew to more than 85 volunteers hosting nearly 35 students. The Alumni Association was also actively involved in Family Day and the White Coat Ceremony, where notes of encouragement from alumni were placed in the pocket of each medical student’s white coat. This was a very special moment for these students.

The Alumni Association also strives to keep

alumni engaged throughout their entire career. This year we had the privilege to host educational seminars for our medical residents on topics



One of my first duties as President was to

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During the past year, I have had the opportunity

One of the most effective ways to partner with



t has been a tremendous honor to serve as

Alumni Affairs update SCOTT HENSON Senior Director of Alumni Affairs






Myriad MCG activities have unfolded in the past six months, including regional alumni receptions in Savannah, Gainesville and Macon; the Alumni Association’s sponsorship of a Georgia House of Delegates meeting; the Board of Regents’ final approval of consolidation; and the groundwork for GRU’s upcoming Alumni Weekend. Next come hooding and commencement. Where has the time gone? This also marked the second year of the MCG Alumni Association’s role as a sponsor and exhibitor at the Medical Association of Georgia House of Delegates’ Annual Meeting in Savannah—a great move and a natural partnership, considering the large number of MAG members (including several past Presidents, Immediate Past President Dan DeLoach, current President Sandra Reed and incoming President Scott Bohlke) who are MCG alumni. How gratifying that MCG has such a proud record of producing not just wonderful physicians but great leaders in national, state and local organizations. Our MAG involvement also offers a great opportunity to provide one-stop outreach to our alumni. I thank everyone involved in making the second year of our HOST (Help Ours Students Travel) program such a success. Ninety alumni signed up to host the 35 students who took advantage of the program. Dr. Sam Richwine (’77) from Gainesville, Ga., will serve as the Alumni Association’s 2013-14 President. Dr. Richwine has been a very active board member and is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association. Dr. Betty Wray (’60), a board member and former Secretary-Treasurer, will serve as President-Elect. Dr. Buffi Boyd (’99), an active board member and host of the Dinner with 12 Strangers event in Savannah, will serve as First Vice President. Dr. Mason Thompson (‘73) will serves as Secretary/Treasurer. We hope you can join us for Alumni Weekend April 26-29. The weekend is packed full of good opportunities to reminisce with former classmates and a great way to see what’s new on campus. I would like to thank each of you for your tremendous support of the MCG Alumni Association. u

Friday, April 26 9:15 a.m. Campus Tour Departs from Alumni Center

NOON History of the Health Sciences, third in lecture series Robert B. Greenblatt, M.D. Library

5:30 p.m. MCG Dean’s Reception Legends Club

6:30 p.m. MCG Alumni Association Banquet Legends Club

Saturday, April 27 8:30 a.m. Golf outing River Club Golf Course

9:30 a.m. Campus Tour Departs from Alumni Center

noon President’s Cookout D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre

noon to 2 p.m. Mad Potter’s Sale D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre

6 p.m. Signature Event featuring Bob and Lee Woodruff Imperial Theater

7:30 p.m. MCG Reunion Dinners various locations

9:30 p.m. Alumni After Hours Partridge Inn Veranda

a Note

from a Grateful Scholarship Recipient

I was a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Virginia when I received a phone call telling me that I was the recipient of an MCG alumni scholarship. This opportunity made Sunday, April 28 the decision easy to return to Georgia to begin my medical 10:30 a.m. education. At MCG, I was taught by a dedicated faculty 11:30 a.m. both in the basic sciences and clinical rotations. MCGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s educational environment provided me with an excellent 1 p.m. foundation for the rest of my training. I was well-prepared and on equal footing with other incoming residents for my orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh. After completing a sports medicine fellowship, I returned home to Columbus, Ga., and started practice. Now that I have been in practice for several years, I truly realize what a generous gift the Alumni Association gave me. I received a great education without incurring the high cost associated with other medical schools. I became a part of a large network of physicians in the state of Georgia and beyond with significant connections to MCG. Some of my closest friends today were my classmates in Augusta. The Alumni Association provides many opportunities for graduates to continue their relationship with the medical college. My wife Karin and I, both graduates of the class of 2002, have recently donated to the MCG alumni association scholarship fund so that deserving incoming students may receive the same great educational experience. Alumni Association Memorial Service Alumni Center

Emeritus Club Luncheon Alumni Center

Dr. Champ Baker, III, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;02



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Baseball Jaguars vs. UNC Pembroke $5, Jaguar Field, Christenberry Fieldhouse

Gift planning


Dean’s Scholarship Fund

“As an MCG alumna, it is a privilege to be able to provide scholarship support to aspiring physicians. It is important to me that my alma mater continues to attract and educate the best and brightest students. Providing scholarship support, through the Dean’s Scholarship Fund, contributes to MCG’s recruitment and retention efforts. –Dr. Patricia Davis (’77)


For more information, contact Scott Henson at 706-721-4416 or 1-800-869-1113.

The university and its medical school have a number of top fundraising priorities including the J. Harold Harrison, M.D., Education Commons as well as construction of a new GRU Cancer Center. Raising funds to support scholarships is a terrific complement to the university’s ongoing initiative to enhance excellence. That is why Dean Peter F. Buckley has established a Dean’s Scholarship Fund to expand scholarship support at the Medical College of Georgia. Over the years, many MCG alums have recognized the importance of scholarship support and have contributed generously. And the students who receive these much-needed stipends are greatly appreciative. But the needs have far outpaced the resources. The average debt load of a graduating MCG student is over $100,000. Dean Buckley has been working closely with the Office of Advancement to increase the number and amount of scholarships for incoming MCG students— students who are incredibly bright and motivated but who don’t always have the financial means to pursue their dream of a quality medical education. “We want to ensure that the strongest candidates come to MCG and, when they graduate, leave with a terrific education, a love for their alma mater and as little debt as possible,” the Dean said. “We know this helps our students, but it also helps our state produce and retain the best physicians, which ultimately benefits us all.” Students recognize the quality of an MCG education, as reflected in the fact that over the past two years, applications have increased by 28 percent, far exceeding the national two-year increase of 10 percent. Indeed, over 80 percent of all Georgia residents who apply to a medical college include MCG in their application process. But those whose first choice is MCG often enroll elsewhere because of a more attractive scholarship package. MCG alumni and friends are being asked to support the Dean’s Scholarship Fund. More importantly, you are being asked to invest in the future of medical education and care for citizens of the state of Georgia and beyond. “The institution has a number of important funding priorities, including the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons and the Cancer Center,” Buckley said. “Raising funds to support scholarships is also important to the future success of MCG.” u

From the Senior Vice President, Office of Advancement

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Your support helps do more of what matters.




Last year, we received a $10 million gift from Dr. J. Harold Harrison, a renowned vascular surgeon and a 1948 MCG graduate, and his wife Sue to help construct an educational facility that will provide much-needed classroom space for our medical and dental students—in addition to housing a simulation center that will enhance the educational experience of many students on our health sciences campus. It is not every day that we receive a gift of this magnitude. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Harrisons’ gift was the second largest by an individual to a charitable organization in Georgia during 2012. We’ve articulated a big vision, and that vision is attracting big support. But our future—the future of this university—is being built on gifts both large and small: the transformational gift from Dr. and Mrs. Harrison . . . a $2 million donation from General James Culver, M.D. and wife Jean to name the Vision Discovery Institute . . . class giving that leverages our alums’ pride as graduates of the nation’s 13tholdest college of medicine . . . individual gifts to the MCG Dean’s Scholarship Fund or one of our many endowments . . . a piggy bank full of loose change donated by a child to help a child receiving care at our children’s hospital. Transformational gifts capture attention, but every gift matters . . . gifts of money and time. As President Ricardo Azziz notes, we are witnessing progress in the making. Indeed, we are creating it. And we are doing that through your continued support and your continued engagement. MCG, the oldest of Georgia Regents University’s nine colleges, is doing great things: educating the next generation of physician leaders, conducting lifesaving and life-enhancing research, offering everything from frontline wellness care to complex care for the sickest adults and children. u

Class notes Dr. Howard M. Maziar (’72), Atlanta, served as President of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association from 2011-12. The association represents more than 650 Georgia psychiatrists and is affiliated with the American Psychiatric Association. Maziar completed his psychiatric residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He completed the Medical Association of Georgia’s Physicians Leadership Academy in 2008 and serves on the Board of Directors of the Physicians Institute for Excellence in Medicine. He serves on the Medical Association of Georgia’s Council on Legislation and the Electronic Healthcare Committee. He is the Georgia Psychiatric Physician Association’s representative to the MAG House of Delegates and the American Psychiatric Association’s Assembly. He and wife Patty have two adult children.

Dr. Lane Price (’74) is Medical Director at Wilson Hospice House in Albany, Ga., and serves on the Dougherty County School Board.


Dr. Frank Farmer (’76) served as Surgeon General/Secretary of Health for the state of Florida until his retirement in 2012. He also has served as President of the Florida Medical Association and Chairman of the Florida Board of Medicine. He served as a bioterrorism consultant in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a Colonel. Dr. Dean Burke (’81), Bainbridge, Ga., has been appointed to the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce by Gov. Nathan Dea. Burke practices gynecology and is on the medical staff of Bainbridge Memorial Hospital. Previously, he served as a hospital board member and Chief of Staff. He previously served on the Georgia Medical Care Foundation and presently serves on the Bainbridge City Council. The author of The Millionaire Nurse, a financialplanning guide for nurses, he and wife Thea have two grown children. Dr. J. Steven Johnson (’83) and several former classmates are commercially marketing their invention, Sunsect, the world’s only combination sunscreen/ DEET repellent that is water-applicable. The product was developed from original research conducted in cooperation with the U.S. military and Walter Reed Army Institute for Research and was published in Lancet. Since then, the military has used

it extensively with high satisfaction ratings and decreased arthropod-borne illnesses. Their related product, Iguana Sunscreen, targets military use in insect-infested areas. For more information about their company, Iguana, LLC, visit

Dr. Douglas J. Pearce (’85) has been appointed Chief of Cardiac Services at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Mark Williams (’86) is Surgeon in Chief for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. In this newly created position, he represents surgical interests and participates in the hospital’s strategic planning. He also serves on the UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists Board’s Executive Committee. Williams, a pediatric urologist, performs more than 13,000 surgeries a year. He also serves as Associate Professor in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Charleston Cone (’90) is Medical Director of Pathways Home Health & Hospice in Sunnyvale, Calif. He is board certified in internal medicine and hospice/ palliative medicine. Dr. William S. Bohlke (’92), President of the Medical Association of Georgia, has been honored by the Diabetes Recognition Program for providing quality care to his diabetes patients. The recognition, which is valid for three years, is based on performance that meets the program’s key diabetes care measures, which lessen the risk of complications such as heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations. Dr. Michelle Berrey (’93) has been named Chief Medical Officer of Chimerix Inc., a biotechnology company developing orally available antiviral therapeutics. Berrey previously served as Chief Medical Officer at Pharmassett Inc., which developed nucleotide analogs to treat hepatitis C from 1997 until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences Inc. in 2012. Her experience includes the design, early development, medical governance, clinical strategy and product life cycle management of antiviral products. She also previously served as Vice President of Viral Diseases, Clinical Pharmacology & Discovery Medicine at GlaxoSmithKline, where she oversaw early development of compounds to treat HIV, hepatitis viruses

and hepatic fibrosis. She earned a master’s degree in public health from Emory University and completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Dr. Douglas Lundy (’93) of Resurgens Orthopaedics in Canton, Ga., is included in Atlanta Magazine’s 2012 list of top doctors. He completed his residency at Georgia Baptist Medical Center and is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He was a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2010. Dr. Colin Aliff (’97) completed his residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine and recently became Medical Director of the Washington County Regional Medicine Center Emergency Department in Sandersville, Ga. He previously served as an investigator with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and as an attending physician in the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center Emergency Department. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Natalie Burger (’00) has been named a partner in the Texas Fertility Center. She is board-certified in obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive endocrinology/infertility. Burger specializes in diagnosing and treating infertility, focusing on recurrent pregnancy loss, in vitro fertilization, complicated endoscopic surgery, PCS and ovulation induction with intrauterine insemination. She was recently named a Super Doctor by the Great American Small Business Club, indicating her peers believe her to be in the top 5 percent of practicing doctors in the Austin area. Dr. John C. Keel (’01) has joined the medical staff of New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. His clinical interests include spine disorders, musculoskeletal and sports medicine, neuromuscular disorders, rehabilitation and disability. He is an instructor in orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and previously served in the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Orthopedics. He completed an internship and residency at Emory University School of Medicine and a fellowship in pain management at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Class notes

at age 102. Watson practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 64 years at University Hospital, serving as Chief of Obstetrics for 63 years and delivering over 15,000 babies. He taught hundreds of medical students and residents at MCG and received GRU’s 2011 Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. University’s Women’s Center is named in his honor. In bestowing the honor, GRU President Ricardo Azziz noted, “It is fitting that we recognize Dr. Watson for his decades of sustained, outstanding accomplishments. His contributions have improved the lives of scores of patients and families, and his leadership and impact are widely acknowledged.” Watson, a native of Trenton, S.C., was at his death the oldest living alumnus of the Citadel, where he graduated in 1931. After graduation, he farmed, coached football and served as principal of Edgefield High School in Edgefield, S.C., while raising money for medical school. After earning his medical degree, he served in the U.S. Army and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospital. In 1980, he was named a Clinical Professor Emeritus at MCG, where he “single-handedly taught the junior year classes in obstetrics and gynecology for a number of years. At times, it was only through his interest that the department was able to maintain a student elective and a residency rotation at Univesity Hospital,” according to a letter from Dr. William A. Scoggin, then-Professor and Chair of the MCG Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Watson was named a North Augusta Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and received an honorary doctorate from Clemson University. He received the Order of the Palmetto from then-South Carolina Gov. David Beasley and an MCG Distinguished Alumnus Award. He performed physicals for the local football team for over 65 years. He was a longtime member and usher at Grace United Methodist Church. Survivors include five children, 17 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

Dr. H. Calvin Jackson (’45), 91, died March 31 at his residence in Manchester, Ga. Jackson completed an internship at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta and served in the U.S. ArmyAir Force as a medical officer at two U.S. Air Force hospitals

July 10 at age 83. After graduating as valedictorian from Attapulgus High School in 1945, he earned a degree at Georgia Southern College and taught science at Chattahoochee High School before entering the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in 1950. He also served in the Korean Conflict with the 2nd Infantry and received the Combat Medical Badge and a Bronze Star. After earning his medical degree, he studied psychiatry at Tulane University and family systems theory at Georgetown University. He practiced psychiatry in Tallahassee, Fla., from 1967-93, then became certified in chelation therapy. He retired from that practice in 1998. He chaired the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry. Survivors include wife Patricia Jones Jackson, two children and eight grandchildren.

Dr. William Coppedge Collins (’62) died Feb. 25 at age 75. At MCG, he was President of his medical fraternity, Phi Rho Sigma, and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. Following medical school, he completed an internship at Floyd Hospital in Rome, Ga., military service in the U.S. Air Force, an orthopedic residency at Georgia Baptist and Scottish Rite hospitals and a hand surgery fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. He opened his orthopedic practice, Northside Orthopedic Clinic, in Sandy Springs, Ga., in 1970, becoming board certified in 1972. He was a former President of the Medical Association of Georgia, Georgia Orthopedic Society, MCG Alumni Association, Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation and Southern Orthopedic Association, which he co-founded. He was also heavily involved in the formation and growth of MAG Mutual Insurance Co., now one of the largest medical professional liability insurers in the country. His longtime service on the company’s Board of Directors inspired his decision to earn his MBA from Kennesaw State University in 1998 at age 61. Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Jan Williams Collins, two children and six grandchildren. Dr. Philip Fredrick James Macon (’66) died Jan. 1 at age 72 in Lancaster, Calif. Macon, the only son of H.L. Macon and Susan V. Tucker, is survived by his wife of 26 years, Mary Jo Macon; children Susan Gibson, Nan Morris, E. Kirk Macon and Richard Macon; and five grandchildren.

Dr. Benjamin E. Nicholson, lead physician at the Edgefield Medical Clinic in Edgefield S.C. and Clinical Professor in the MCG Department of Family Medicine since 1984, died in December. Nicholson, a longtime volunteer student educator, helped develop the department’s decentralized Family Medicine Clerkship. His practice is the department’s only teaching site outside of Georgia. Nicholson was a 1961 graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina.  u


Dr. Walter Gamewell (Curly) Watson (’43) died Oct. 24

Dr. Royce Van Jackson (’58), Crawfordville, Fla., died

SPR I N G 2013

Navy doctor who landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy during the D-Day invasion of World War II, died Sept. 27 in Greensboro, Ga. Parker, a Waycross, Ga., native, was a member of the Sixth Naval Beach Battalion. He received the French Legion of Honor medal in 2011. He practiced in Greensboro and was a founding doctor at the Minnie G. Boswell Hospital, where he later served as Chief of Staff for 25 years. “He knew every country dirt road like the back of his hand. Beloved and esteemed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, he was a hero to his community,” his obituary read. Survivors include his wife, daughter, son eight grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren.

from 1946-48, achieving the rank of Captain. He was a charter Fellow and life member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, a life member of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, a life member of the Medical Association of Georgia and past President of the Meriwether-Harris-Talbot County Medical Society. (Please note that Jackson’s class year was erroneously listed as 1941 in the summer 2012 edition of GHSU Today. We regret the error.)



Dr. Joseph Lee Parker Jr. (’42), the last surviving

Remembering Papa



Editor’s note: Alan NeSmith, publisher of The Northeast Georgian, submitted this essay shortly after the Nov. 23, 2012 death of his father-in-law, Dr. William J. “Bill” Hammond (’76).

A small blackboard rests in an easel on our kitchen counter. Its message changes occasionally. Recently, while washing my hands, I noticed a new one: “Even in the valley, God is good.” Life will escape all of our bodies at some point. Families face the reality daily. So what will people tell your grandchildren about you when you’re gone? Holding a son in each arm on the day my father-in-law died, I asked myself that question: What will people say about me, about you, when we’re gone? Tears fell, but they couldn’t wash away the pain. Our sons’ Papa Doc had gone to Heaven, but each of them was too young to really understand. My pledge to our boys was to never stop telling the stories of the man who loved them dearly. Who was Papa Doc? Well, he was a man as tough as a railroad spike, a man whose passion was medicine, whose love was his family, whose God was always number one. He enjoyed playing golf, reading, baseball, high school football and Notre Dame. He lived by the motto, “Always do the right thing.” This unusual man, Dr. Bill Hammond, better known as Doc, fell ill in January 2006. He was treating a patient in the ICU of Dorminy Medical Center in Fitzgerald, Ga., when he crumpled to the floor in pain. It was then he admitted himself to the hospital. His doctors thought it was a gall bladder problem. The gall bladder was removed. But the pain persisted. An endoscopic ultrasound at the Medical University of South Carolina revealed the problem: pancreatic cancer. Doctors gave him 90 days to live. Doc dug in. “I may go down,” he said, “but I will go down fighting like Stonewall Jackson.” He did just that. You see, Doc had unfinished business on earth. He still had a son

in high school; he had three older children. He wanted at least one of them to get married and give him a grandchild. He also wanted to go back to practicing medicine. It took six years, but his goals were accomplished. William, our older son and his first grandchild, was born on his 61st birthday. He stood in two of his sons’ weddings. Lighter-knot tough, Doc survived five major surgeries. One, called the Whipple, lasted 13 hours. He went into surgery weighing 150 pounds and was rolled out weighing 138. They removed 12 pounds of his organs, but were unable to remove his tumor. In the almost seven years of battle, he endured 36 radiation treatments, more than 375 chemo treatments, more than 40 broken bones, five blood clots in his lungs, more than 60 procedures and a liver abscess that came with a fever of 107. He wore a feeding tube for two months, went blind for four months, had six bouts of pneumonia and

two of acute respiratory distress syndrome. Half a lung was removed. He lost the use of his left leg for two months. Doc was blessed with remission in 2009 and went back to practicing medicine Sept. 6, 2011. The last time I went into his office, I watched him roll himself down the hall in a wheelchair to treat patients. The heavy dose of steroids he took to overcome ARDS had weakened his back, causing it to break 10 times. But he would stand up, grit his teeth, walk into the room and greet each patient with a smile. The last seven years of battle defined him as a true warrior, a man of great faith. He preached and firmly believed one should “never give up.” He never did. Drying my hands, I thought about Papa Doc’s genes in our boys. And I smiled. A piece of him and his stories live on. “Even in the valley, God is good.” u

The author, Alan Nesmith (son of Board of Regents Chair William “Dink” A. Nesmith Jr.) and wife Heather (back row from left) with family, including the late Dr. Bill Hammond (seated).


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