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ATHENS ADVOCATE A Quarterly Publication of the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership


Volume 3 | Number 1 | Fall 2013

Medical Partnership wins the AAMC Shining Star award


Letter from the Campus Dean


s highlighted in this issue of the Athens Advocate, the success of the Medical Partnership has been about people – the students, the community, faculty, and volunteers – and collaboration. The Community Health Program spearheaded by Dr. Laurel Murrow and recognized by the AAMC Shining Star Award exemplifies the collaboration of the Athens community with the Medical Partnership. Through this program, the students learn essentials of community health and, in return, execute projects that advance the missions of the agencies with whom they have been privileged to work. Volunteers such as Dr. Lonnie Herzog with his colleagues Mr. Young and Dr. Wells, provide unique insights to how collaborations of the personal physician supporting an individual patient may lead to the opportunity to connect scientific discovery with cutting edge therapy. There is no better way to learn medicine than through the patient’s story, especially told by the patient and his physician. Student success is dependent on not only an individual’s determination and hard work but the influence, role modeling, and mentoring of physicians such as Dr. Farris Johnson, Dr. Stephen Barry, and Dr. Jonathan Murrow. Learning to care comes from formal education as described by Joseph Vinson but also by receiving the care and support by faculty as described by Dr. Richardson. The developing professional confronts many challenges. The demonstration of the desire to continue the value of caring was evident on the faces of the members of the Boys and Girls Club at the Healthy Halloween event. Enjoy reading about the current activities of the Medical Partnership, including the beginnings of graduate medical education, and about some of the people who are responsible for its success.


Volume 3 | Number 1 | Fall 2013

Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia have partnered to create a four-year medical education program in Athens to help alleviate a statewide shortage of physicians that threatens the health of Georgians. The Athens Advocate is published quarterly for alumni, friends, and the medical community of Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia.

Barbara L. Schuster, M.D., GRU/UGA Medical Partnership Campus Dean 706-713-2186 PUBLISHER

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership EDITOR

Alison Bracewell McCullick, M.P.A. EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS

Andrea Horsman & Chris Gustin DESIGN

Jennifer Stowe, M.S. Barbara L. Schuster, M.D. Campus Dean GRU/UGA Medical Partnership


Andrew Tucker & Dot Paul


Student Summer Experience – 4 Adjusting to Academic Challenges in Med School – 5 Community Service – 6 ACGME Site Visit – 7 AAMC Shining Star Award – 8 Cover Story The Residency Hunt – 10 Distinguished EMS Award & Pancreatic Cancer Lecture – 12


Faculty Research – 13


New Faculty – 14


n 2009, Georgia Regents University and the University of Georgia formed an educational partnership to address the critical shortage of physicians in the state of Georgia. Next spring, the first class of students who entered the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership in 2010 will graduate, having completed a four-year curriculum in Athens. As we look forward to celebrating that major milestone with the Class of 2014, we hope you will enjoy this issue of The Athens Advocate as it highlights the teaching, research, and service of the Medical Partnership faculty and students during the late summer and fall of 2013. In particular, we would like to congratulate Campus Dean Barbara Schuster, Assistant Professor Laurel Murrow, and the faculty and students for receiving one of the AAMC Shining Star awards, which is featured on pages 8 and 9.

In This Issue... WEBSITE

Faculty & Student Kudos – 15

Articles may be reprinted with permission from the editor.

Medical Partnership Tailgate – back cover •

Copyright © 2013 by the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without permission from the editor.

The GRU/UGA Medical Partnership is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.

Peter Buckley, M.D. Dean, MCG

Libby Morris, Ph.D. Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost



GRU PRESIDENT Ricardo Azziz, M.D. GRU-MCG DEAN Peter Buckley, M.D.


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The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


Humanities in Medicine: Summer Discussions of Bioethics and the Meaning of Pain By Joseph Vinson


ike most medical students, I wanted to use my last free summer to see, do, learn, grow, work hard, relax, and enjoy myself all at the same time. But unlike most medical students, I studied the humanities rather than the natural sciences, and I traveled to New England instead of the developing world. At the Summer Institute of Yale’s Center for Bioethics, I joined a diverse group of students from all over the world (physicians, Ph.D candidates, law students, medical students, and undergraduates from a variety of disciplines) in morning lectures and afternoon group seminars to discuss everything one could imagine regarding the field of bioethics. I took seminars on Religion and Bioethics, Neuroethics, and Philosophy of Ethics, to name a few. I attended lectures on more well-known topics such as abortion, genetic enhancement, and physician-assisted suicide, and also on less well-known things like artistic portrayals of illness, population control, and Native American bioethics. We also participated in debates and took day trips to the Hastings Center and the Connecticut Hospice. Throughout the program, each of us worked on an original research project and presented the papers at a mini-conference at the end of the summer. I decided to study two things: the meaning of pain and the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza. More specifically, I examined where they intersect (i.e., what Spinoza said about the meaning of pain and the implications of his ideas). For Spinoza, pain is an experience which represents a diminishing of one’s power of being, one’s


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

power of acting, and which can, at least in part, be overcome by transferring the power from the external, seemingly contingent pain to the conscious self through realizing the necessity of pain and its place in the perfect order of nature. Let me ask you: what does it mean to conceive of suffering “sub specie aeternatatis” – under a species of eternity – and does such a conception have any value or clinical relevance? You can be the judge, and you will have to read my paper to find out my response (spoiler alert: I think it has some value). Other than taking a delightful detour down early modern philosophy lane, while at the same time expanding my knowledge of bioethics tremendously, I also grew in my conviction of the importance of educating physicians in

the humanities either before, during, or after medical school (and maybe all three). If Voltaire was right in saying “judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers,” then perhaps we should be skilled investigators of the human condition and not just human diseases. To be sure, medical education is already a behemoth in its current form, but it would be nice to see more incentivizing of pursuing the human science foundations of our biological science edifices. I believe the Medical Partnership excels in this area, and I hope that other programs follow its lead. Finally, I hope more students will have the opportunity to grow as I did this summer by furthering their studies in the humanities.

Adjusting to the Academic Challenges in Medical School By W. Scott Richardson, M.D.


his August, our fourth class of 40 students entered their first year here at the Medical Partnership. They come from good schools, are well prepared and very talented, and they have achieved success in all their prior academic pursuits. Yet just like each class before them, they are learning they must adjust to the academic and professional challenges of medical school. What makes the experiences of learning and studying in medical school so different from their prior experiences? Here are twelve factors to consider:


The volume of knowledge to be mastered in each week of school is enormous. For most students, the volume is much more than they learned in college, even in their toughest courses.


The complexity and intrinsic difficulty of the knowledge is also great, as the subjects pick up where their advanced courses left off. Most students are excited to learn this material, but it is still challenging.


They are expected to connect the knowledge across subjects into coherent explanations. Since human structures and functions are linked together, students are expected to learn them together. This integration across subjects is unfamiliar to most entering students.


at left: Joseph is pictured here at the Beinecke Library at Yale, one of the world’s largest libraries devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts. Joseph Vinson is a secondyear medical student. He is a graduate of Toccoa Falls College and is from Dallas, Georgia.

They are expected to make their learning cumulative across weeks and courses. Understanding the biology of human health and disease and the foundations of doctoring requires the retention and integration of knowledge across time. For many students, this may be their first real experience with this expectation.


They are expected to apply what they learn to authentic clinical cases, both in our case-based small group learning and elsewhere. This requires not only learning the knowledge itself, the “what,” but also learning the “how” and “when” to apply what they’ve learned to patients’

situations. Most students are excited to learn this, but it can still be challenging.


They are expected to engage in a wide variety of learning activities, ranging from the more familiar large group or laboratory session to the less familiar team-based learning, small group learning, and service learning activities. For many students, this may be their first experience with such a wide range of formats.


They are expected to engage in active and interactive learning nearly every day of every week. While this style of learning is more effective, it can also be more demanding of students’ attention and their abilities to think and learn “on their feet.”


They are expected to work and learn in teams, such as in case-based small group learning, anatomy lab, and community health projects. Learning this way is also very effective, yet most students are relatively unfamiliar with this approach.


They undergo frequent assessments, including weekly quizzes, laboratory practical tests, module final examinations, and assessments of their clinical skills. For most students, these occur much more frequently than in their prior experience. As students mature and their motivations to learn move from mostly externallyfocused, such as by grades, to become mostly internally-focused, such as the professional goal of excellence in caring for patients, they come to recognize these assessments help them gauge their learning progress toward their goals.


They may no longer be the “best student” in the class. For many students, this may be their first experience being in a whole class full of people just like them – talented, knowledgeable, hard-working high achievers. Yet as they collaborate with, rather than compete against, their peers, and as they mature, most students come to value their colleagues and develop appropriate confidence in their ability to contribute to the team.


They are expected to develop their identities as professionals. Most students are excited to put on the white coat, both literally and figuratively, but for most this is their first experience with this degree of professional responsibility and all of its implications.


As part of their professional responsibility, they are expected to seek help when they need it. Many students have had little prior need to ask for academic help, so they may feel anxious or ashamed in doing so. Also, they may be unfamiliar with a school that offers as much help to them as they have available at the Partnership. In the face of these challenges, our experience here at the Partnership is that while every student must adjust, nearly all rise to the occasion and adapt successfully. There are many people to help, including their small group facilitators, their large group presenters, their faculty advisors, and their upper class mentors. In addition, the Student Affairs office checks with each student regularly to see how they are negotiating these adjustments. The Curriculum office also meets with many students for counseling on topics such as study skills and test-taking strategies. Both offices collaborate to monitor students’ academic and professional progress and proactively reach out to students who may need help. The Student Affairs office can also facilitate referrals for additional outside help, if needed. Here at the Partnership, we take this partnership with students very seriously – we want every student to succeed in meeting the academic and professional challenges of medical school.

W. Scott Richardson, MD is the Campus Associate Dean for Curriculum at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


Community Service

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership & St Mary’s Hospital undergo ACGME site visit for new residency program


n a major step toward developing Athens’ first medical residency program, Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s Health Care System’s Internal Medicine Program underwent a site visit on Wednesday, Oct. 23, by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The site survey occurred at St. Mary’s Hospital, the Major Participating Site for the new Internal Medicine program.

Halloween Community Service Project by Joey Krakowiak


orty-five kids weaving through cones on broomsticks, tossing homemade ghosts in buckets, and decorating pumpkins sounds more like a playground than a medical school campus. That was the scene on October 29th at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership. We invited the children at the local Boys and Girls Club to the Health Sciences Campus where the kids would have a chance to enjoy a safe space to trick-or-treat and have fun. Many of the kids served at the Boys and Girls Club may not have had the opportunity to enjoy a safe trick-or-treat experience so the Class of 2016 Student Government Organization coordinated the very first Safe Trick-or-Treat event at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership. In preparation for the kids’ arrival, we transformed our small group rooms where we normally discuss medical cases and practice our clinical skills into fun and spooky Halloween-style carnival attractions. Decked out in spider webs, colored lights, and Halloween-themed music, we prepared six different stations including a Bone Room, a Creepy Room, a Healthy Snack Room, an Art Room, and two outdoor activity stations. Working in collaboration with a few UGA programs and clubs enabled us


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

to provide six stations for the event. The UGA Student Dietetics Association provided the volunteers and materials for the Healthy Snack Room. The UGA Exercise is Medicine Club provided the volunteers and materials for the Ghost Toss outdoor activity, and a group of UGA Department of Kinesiology students organized the outdoor physical activity. First and second year medical students along with our partners from the various UGA programs and a few faculty and staff members disguised as Superman, a Mad Scientist, Shrek, and an assortment of other characters awaited the Boys and Girls Club bus for the fun to begin. When the bus arrived and the kids piled out, we could see the excitement on their faces with expectation already trying to guess what each medical student was masquerading as while they were being split into groups. Pairs of medical students led their own small group of children rotating through each station, collecting treats along the way. In the Bone Room, Aaron Purser (M1) and Amelita Woodruff (M1) surprised the kids as they sprang to life from their play-dead act, and then showed the kids model bones of a human skeleton. Aaron and Amelita guided the kids

through putting the human skeleton together while teaching them a few bone names. From there, the kids entered a dim room lit by glow sticks and welcomed by Grace Yaguchi (M2) with face painted like a skull who led them to feel inside mystery boxes of eyeballs (peeled grapes), witches fingernails (pistachio shells), dried tongues (dried apricots), and worms (cooked noodles). Finally, the kids were surprised to find the live hand of Ruth Lewit (M2) as she hid under the table of the last box. After that thrilling experience, the kids were rewarded with fishing for treats behind a wall where Sallie McSwain (M2) and Natalie Swavely (M2) hid, attaching and tugging on the fishing lines. The kids were too smart to realize someone was back there and couldn’t stop peeking behind the curtain saying, “Hey! There are girls back there!” In the hallways between rooms, the kids were greeted by Shrek (Dr. Steyer) and given autographs by “Katy Perry” (Andrea Horsman), as the kids proclaimed her to be. Then they were taught how to make a healthy snack with apple slices, peanut butter, and almond slivers made to look like a creepy mouth with the help of the Student Dietetics Association. After that,

The ACGME site survey assessed compliance with all applicable policies and procedures for residency training in Internal Medicine. Plans call for 10 Internal Medicine residents to begin their graduate medical education (GME) at St. Mary’s in July 2015, with the program growing to as many as 30 residents by 2017. Final word on accreditation of the program is expected in spring 2014 when the ACGME will review the report filed by the ACGME site surveyor and all other materials related to the application.

Kalie Deutsch (M2) and Sara Whyte (M2) helped the kids decorate their own mini pumpkins and make sand art in the Art Room to take home. Outside, the kids made their own ghosts out of foam balls and tissue paper, and then squared off in a Ghost Toss led by the Exercise is Medicine Club. Finally, the Kinesiology students organized a range of activities from a mummy run to a dizzy broomstick race that the kids loved. After each group rotated through the stations, the kids were rounded up to head back home, but not before they gave their group leaders big hugs and

Residency is the final step of a physician’s formal education. It takes place in teaching hospitals, which create programs that allow residents to practice medicine under the supervision and instruction of fully licensed physicians. “All the hard work of many individuals is making the Internal Medicine program a reality for St. Mary’s, the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership and the Athens community,” said Bruce F. Middendorf, M.D., St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer and director of the system’s GME program. “The ACGME site visit brings us one step closer to accreditation of the Internal Medicine Program,” said Michelle A. Nuss, M.D., Campus Associate Dean for GME at the Medical Partnership and the Designated Institutional Official for the GME program. “This is a pivotal moment in our effort to advance medical education in the Athens area. Initial feedback from the surveyor was very

gave us all a heartfelt “Thank you!” Later that day, the Director of Operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Athens, Derrick Floyd, who helped chaperon the kids sent an email saying, “The kids had so much fun... We would love to come back so let us know. Thanks for reaching out to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Athens; our kids will always remember this event. For one kid, it was his first field trip. He has never been on one with his school or anyone.” I want to thank everyone who helped make this event a success in addition

encouraging, and we are confident the program will begin on schedule. ” Charlie Upchurch, chair of St. Mary’s Health Care System Board of Directors, noted that the residency program demonstrates the commitment of both institutions to taking a collaborative approach toward remedying Georgia’s physician shortage, especially in the specialty of primary care. “Studies show that about 70 percent of physicians choose to practice in the communities where they complete their residency,” he said. “This program will enable St. Mary’s to attract and retain more quality physicians to serve the greater Athens area. We are excited to be moving forward with the Medical Partnership as we work to make quality health care more accessible to our community for decades to come.”

to those mentioned above: Alison McCullick, Tina Duong, David Cazares, Matt Lustig, Mike Lou, Palmer Feibelman, Jonathan Swanson, Reed Otten, Joseph Vinson, Shannon O’Brien, Ryan Lam, and Will Galvin. We hope that future classes will continue to host this event for many years to come. Everyone involved had a blast!

Joey Krakowiak is a second-year medical student. He is a graduate of Emory University and is from Powder Springs, Georgia.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


Cover Story

“A key component of the program’s success arises from the strong relationships with community agencies established each year.”

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership awarded AAMC Shining Star T

he Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership Community Health program received one of the Shining Star Awards presented by the Group on Regional Medical Campuses at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ annual meeting in Philadelphia on Nov. 1. The Shining Star Awards highlight outstanding contributions to medical education on regional medical campuses. Directed by Dr. Laurel Murrow, the Community Health program at the Medical Partnership received the Star of Community Achievement Award. Developed in part to teach the precepts of community health through service learning, the program also contributes to the social mission of a partnership medical campus situated on the campus of the state of Georgia’s land-grant university. The Community Health program develops teams that consist of eight medical students working with two faculty coaches and a community supervisor. Throughout the first year of medical studies, teams are linked with a community agency to learn about the population the agency serves and how the agency’s mission fits within the needs of the greater


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

community. In collaboration with a community supervisor and the agency, the students develop and execute a project that benefits the agency and their clientele. “In this true process of service-learning, students begin to understand the complex nature of health problems affecting the local area while delivering much needed services to specific populations,” said Dr. Barbara L. Schuster, GRU/ UGA Medical Partnership Campus Dean. “Service learning has always been core to medical education and designing a community health curriculum with its anchor of working as partners with community agencies facilitates active learning while giving back.” “A key component of the program’s success arises from the strong relationships with community agencies established each year,” said Murrow, assistant professor and clinical educator at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership. “The Community Health Program serves as an innovative means for the Medical Partnership to achieve its social mission through community collaboration.” “The Community Health program helps these future

physicians immerse themselves in the community where they live and learn and begin to take a leadership role in addressing health issues such as obesity and depression that affect essentially all of us,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, Dean of the Medical College of Georgia at GRU. “We congratulate our students and faculty and thank the AAMC for its recognition of this service-approach to medical education. This award is also an endorsement of the success of our Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership as well as how the partnership has been enthusiastically embraced by the Athens community.” “The Community Health Program demonstrates how exceptional students guided by distinguished faculty can have a transformative impact on our state,” said interim UGA Provost Libby V. Morris. “I congratulate the students, faculty and administration of the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership on this well-deserved honor.” Past and present community partners and the issues they chose to focus on include: AIDS Athens (poor graduation rates among children of HIV/AIDS patients); Athens Community Council on Aging (polypharmacy, depression,

and diabetes management in seniors); Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (obesity among city workers); Athens Nurses Clinic (smoking, depression, diabetes, and hypertension among uninsured patients); Athens YMCA (cardiovascular disease in patrons); Casa de Amistad (obesity in Latinos); Early Head Start/Head Start (asthma, physical inactivity, and well-child visits for disadvantaged children); Nuci’s Space (depression and access to care for musicians); and University Health Center (sleep deprivation, iron deficiency anemia, human papilloma virus, and disability services for university students).

Above left: Medical student Lum Frundi is shown discussing medications with a local senior citizen during her Community Health work with the Athens Community Council on Aging. Above right: Amy Martin, Erik Hansen, Lisa Lima, Breana Berry and Anna Bunker are seen working at their local Community Health partner, the Athens Nurses Clinic. The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


THE RESIDENCY HUNT: A big chapter in the lives of young doctors by Alicia Smith | Reprinted with permission by Georgia Health News | published on October 23, 2013


wo years ago, a typical Wednesday night found Aaron Goodwin in a cramped room at the Mercy Health Clinic, helping a doctor bandage a wound on a diabetic patient’s foot. Today, he’s staying late at Athens Regional Medical Center, puzzling over an image on a computer screen. What’s captivating his attention is an X-ray showing pulmonary edema, extra fluid that can cause the lungs to fail. Earlier this month, Goodwin, 29, was in front of another computer screen, pushing “send’’ on an online application that will shape his future. Goodwin, a fourth-year medical student at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership, has just completed a four-week elective with the Athens Regional Cardiology Group. Now he’s looking ahead to his residency, the advanced training program that brings a med school graduate into the everyday world of doctoring. Over the next few months, thousands of fourth-year medical students will ap10

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

ply to residency programs across the United States. On average, each of them sends 10 to 20 applications — hoping to find the post-graduate training of their dreams. Goodwin, an Athens native, is focusing on internal medicine programs in the Southeast. His goal is to become an internist who specializes in gastroenterology. The first step in that direction is building a strong residency application, one that will make him stand out amid a legion of other applicants. He crafts it to showcase his hospital experience, such as the work he’s done at Athens Regional, as well as the community outreach work he did at Mercy.

Electronic Residency Application Service. But because most programs have only 15 or 20 slots to fill, directors must turn away far more hopefuls than they accept. Students who don’t find a match can join the NRMP’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program to obtain an unfilled residency position. Finding the right residency is a vital moment in every doctor’s life. Residencies help determine everything from where doctors live and what they learn to how they practice and whom they treat.

This year, about 96 percent of the nation’s 29,171 residency slots were filled, according to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Databook. This was the largest match in NRMP history.

Medical students prepare for their eventual residencies in different ways. Goodwin, for instance, worked at Mercy Clinic. While that does not guarantee a shot at his ideal residency program, Goodwin says he found the community clinic work invaluable in getting him ready for life as a physician.

On average, program directors receive about 2,000 applications, letters of recommendations, medical school transcripts and other documents through the

“I don’t know if having something like that on your resumé gives you a particular edge over someone else . . . but I think more than anything, it gives you

experience. It helps shape your ability to interact in a good way with people of all different backgrounds. So from that I think there is a sort of intangible benefit that comes from it,” Goodwin said.

Working with the community Dr. Michelle Nuss, herself an internist, agreed. During her own residency, Nuss worked at a free clinic in Morgantown, West Virginia. Before joining the medical partnership in Athens, she spent a decade heading the internal medicine residency program at West Virginia University. Students who have done more than just rotate through the hospital wards stand out in her mind when she reviews applications. Student-run clinics that give future doctors the chance to interact with patients during their first and second years of med school, such as those associated with the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership, help

them develop solid residency applications, Nuss said. “I think engaging with the partners around Athens has been exceptionally important for the students’ success,” Nuss said. Good doctors help their communities, she added, “and I think starting earlier in their career and showing them that pathway as first-year medical students just kind of builds that groundwork for later in life.” Each fall, as part of a community health curriculum, first-year students investigate health problems that are important for clients served by Athens-area health or social service agencies. They do research and summarize what is known about the issue, analyze public health data, and interview patients, clients and other stakeholders. This year, the Medical Partnership has teamed up with the Athens Community Council on Aging, AIDS Athens, Casa de Amistad, the YMCA, and the University of Georgia Health Center.

Next semester, students will start working with these agencies on community issues. The goals will include encouraging diabetes management, raising graduation rates among low-income youths, reducing obesity, and preventing heart attacks and strokes. Above left: Aaron Goodwin studies an image at Athens Regional Medical Center. Above right: Goodwin is seen rounding with fellow student Breana Berry and St. Mary’s hospitalist physician, Dr. Stephen Berry. Alicia Smith is a second-year graduate

student in the Health and Medical Journalism program at UGA. She is particularly interested in writing about the current state of the mental health system and the stigma attached to patients who have been diagnosed. - See more at: http://www. residency-hunt-big-chapter-lives-youngdoctors

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


Faculty Research

Athens physician receives Georgia EMS Distinguished Service Award Reprinted with permission from the Athens Banner-Herald


arris T. Johnson, Jr., MD, an Athens physician also serving as the Medical Director with Oglethorpe County EMS, has been awarded the prestigious Dr. Zeb L. Burrell, Jr., MD. Distinguished Service Award for the outstanding contributions he has made toward the enhancement of pre-hospital emergency medical care in the state of Georgia. Johnson, a Family Practitioner Physician for almost three decades, is one of the longest-serving Regional EMS Medical Directors in Region 10, serving from 1990 until 1998 and has volunteered for over 20 years to be the EMS Medical Director for Oglethorpe County. He has been an active member of the Northeast Georgia EMS Council since 1987, serving on the Facilities / Trauma Committee, the Education and Training Committee, and is currently Vice-Chair. He also served two terms on the State Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School and serving in the Air Force as a Flight Surgeon, Dr. Johnson returned to his home in Athens to work as an Emergency Department Physician prior to transitioning into his current position as a Primary Care Physician. During the 1980’s, Dr. Johnson assisted the State Office of EMS with Training by presenting medical information that was videotaped and distributed throughout Georgia for Paramedics to be recertified. He also taught in Georgia’s first PreHospital Trauma Life Support Course, which was held in Athens. In 1999, the Northeast Georgia EMS Council honored him with the Region’s EMS Special Achievement Award. Johnson faithfully serves his community, where he volunteers as the Medical Director for a non-profit Health Care Clinic and as the Team Physician for one of the local high schools. He frequently is a guest speaker on various medical topics to schools, churches, civic groups, and the local Diabetes Association meetings. He is also a member of the

Area Council on Aging and the Georgia Cancer Care Foundation. The Distinguished Service Award, presented during the State EMS Banquet at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, was named after Dr. Zeb L. Burrell, Jr. of Elberton, considered the Father of EMS in Georgia, who volunteered his time with EMS in the Northeast Georgia area for almost forty years.

Farris T. Johnson, Jr., MD, is an Assistant Professor teaching in the Essentials of Clinical Medicine course at the GRU/UGA Medical Partnership.

Pancreatic Cancer Discussion For the third year, a generous supporter has funded a lecture series that brings together GRU/UGA Medical Partnership students with UGA Honors students to discuss topics of interest with an expert in a particular healthcare field. Kicking off this year’s lecture series, students were able to consider pancreatic cancer from three different perspectives: that of a physician, a patient, and a researcher. Dr. Lonnie Herzog, an Atlantabased internist, first diagnosed Mr. Howard Young with pancreatic cancer approximately 12-years ago. Their journey together demonstrated the special relationship that can develop in 12

GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

the doctor/patient relationship. During his first bout with cancer, Mr. Young had the opportunity to work with preeminent researchers in the field of pancreatic cancer. He helped connect Dr. Lance Wells, a professor and researcher at UGA and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scientist, with organizations that had access to human tissue that could allow Dr. Wells to work towards identifying biological processes that have become dysregulated. “Research presentations and personal stories of the same disease typically feel so distant from each other,” M2 student Sallie McSwain stated. “This presentation, however, demonstrated

that a single patient could set something amazing into motion and help change the field of research. Mr. Young’s spirit in the face of adversity is not something you see every day. The presentation is something I will never forget.”

Study could help bring relief for arterial disease By Toni Baker

MCG Communications Director


or millions of Americans, simply walking to the mailbox can cause unbearable leg pain as muscles scream for more blood and oxygen. It’s called peripheral arterial disease and, ironically, one of the best ways to alleviate it is by regularly walking to the point of pain. However, researchers hope a noninvasive measure of oxygen levels in leg muscles will put patients on the road to improvement without the severe discomfort. The idea is to push to the point of often intolerable pain then rest so the blood requirements of the muscles decrease, said Dr. Jonathan Murrow, cardiologist and faculty member with the Georgia Regents University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership in Athens. “It’s been shown that if you do this over and over again three times a week for an hour per session, that by the end of 12 weeks you will be able to walk twice as far as you did when you started,” said Murrow, who also is a partner in the Athens Cardiology Group. “However, if you just tell somebody to do that, many simply won’t.” He’s principal investigator on a new American Heart Association-funded study to determine if a sophisticated light sensor that distinguishes which red blood cells are carrying oxygen and which aren’t can also signal when

patients have pushed far enough before pain hits. “We want to find a better way to use exercise as medicine for these patients,” said Murrow, who is working with colleagues at UGA and Emory University to directly compare results from the old and new approaches in about 100 patients. “We want to help them continue to enjoy what they like to do. If that’s going grocery shopping without a motorized cart, that is what we want them to do.” They also want to understand more about why their approach does-or doesn’t-help, so over the 12-week course they will measure blood levels of progenitor cells as well as vascular endothelial growth factor that can aid growth of new blood vessels with exercise. New vessels don’t cure the disease but typically give patients greater pain-free exercise tolerance. They also are looking at the function and number of mitochondria, a sort of cell powerhouse that converts oxygen into cell fuel. “Mitochondrial function is not normal in people who have arterial disease, and we want to know if it gets better with a training program,” Murrow said. “We know arterial disease is a problem with the supply, and we are trying to see whether increasing the number of working mitochondria in the muscle helps improve the supply-demand mismatch,” he said.

If the new light measure method works, the scientists want to determine if it can be used easily in a physician’s office without all the research support. They’d also like to develop an app that could work anywhere. Methods using the light sensor were developed by Kevin K. McCully, a physiologist in UGA’s kinesiology department, to measure oxygen levels in the exercising muscles as well as the number of working mitochondria. It’s similar to the red glowing pulse oximeter placed on hospital patients’ fingertips to measure oxygen saturation, but McCully’s system uses more powerful spectroscopy light that can permeate denser tissue such as a leg muscle. About 8 million Americans have peripheral arterial disease, also known as PAD, according to the American Heart Association. It shares risk factors with other major cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, including diabetes, smoking, age, inactivity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Surgical and pharmacological treatments produce mixed results and have side effects, Murrow said. Study participants will be doing their thrice-weekly routines at Athens Regional Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center or UGA’s Aging and Physical Performance Laboratory. For more information about the study, call Murrow’s practice at 706-475-1700.

The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


New Adminstration & Clinical Faculty Julie S. Martin, MD Dr. Julie Martin is the Site Clerkship Director and Assistant Professor for Pediatrics. She is also a co-facilitator for small group learning. Dr. Martin attended the University of Georgia for her undergraduate studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She attended the Medical College of Georgia for medical school followed by a residency in Pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Martin furthered her medical training by completing a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Martin’s interest in infectious diseases was sparked by working with her father, a family physician, during her childhood growing up in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She is fluent in Spanish, which has been a great asset in practicing medicine in Georgia, North Carolina, and New York. Dr. Martin’s ongoing research is involved in developing a novel diagnostic assay for Ascaris lumbricoides.

Emmanuel Ngu, PhD Originally from Cameroon, Dr. Emmanuel Ngu is a graduate of Weber State University, with a major in Chemistry. Dr. Ngu received his PhD in Pharmacology from Loma Linda University followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroscience at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Prior to joining us, Dr. Ngu taught Pharmacology and Neuroscience at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Ngu joins the Medical Partnership as an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and is currently a second-year Basic Science faculty member and small group facilitator.

Karen Prasse, MD Dr. Karen Prasse joins our adminstration as the Interim Campus Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Prior to joining our campus, Dr. Prasse worked with students at the UGA University Health Center. Dr. Prasse is a graduate of the Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. She completed her residency in family medicine at the Medical Center of Central Georgia.

James V. Shanni, MD Dr. James Shanni joins the Medical Partnership as an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine. He will be working primarily with the ECM Community Health course. Dr. Shanni is a native Georgian with an undergraduate degree in Biology from Georgia State University. He attended the Medical College of Georgia for medical school and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. Shanni is a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians and is currently an Emergency Department Physician at Athens Clarke Emergency Specialists, LLP.


GRU/UGA Medical Partnership

Faculty & Student Kudos We would like to congratulate the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society inductees from the Class of 2014, representing the Medical Student AOA membership from the Athens Campus. Membership into AOA is selected from students in the class whose academic performance places them in the top 25% and who have made significant contributions to their class and the community. Only 16% of the class may be inducted. All AOA members, including faculty, community physicians, and students, are invited to participate in the selection process. The Class of 2014 is outstanding and the decisions were difficult. Inducted Spring 2013: Paul Baker; Eric Hansen; and Dylan Lovin Selected Fall 2013: Justin Brooten; Chelsea Chandler; Peter Karempelis; and Nitya Nair M2 Jane Chung presented her summer research project at the 100th annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons. Thomas Serena, M.D., FACS, who worked with her, was in attendance and noted that she was one of only 39 students selected from across the globe to participate in the ACS student program. Jane’s research considered whether elevated bacterial protease levels were an accurate assessment of bioburden in chronic wounds. Thom Gaddy, PhD and Amy Medlock, PhD were awarded the 2013 Outstanding Poster Presentation Award at the annual meeting of the International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE) held in St. Andrews, Scotland. Their poster was entitled “Just-in-Time Teaching: Using an Active Learning Pedagogy to Study Concepts in Cell Biology”. As recipients of the award, the poster presenters were invited to submit a manuscript describing their work to Medical Science Educator.

Congratulations to M2 Thuy Van (Tina) Duong who was awarded first place in the student poster competition at the fall meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. Tina’s summer research focused on understanding the high obesity rates among patients and the low program referral and participation rates at Mercy Health Center, as well as how best to structure an obesity prevention initiative. Tina’s poster will now be entered in the national ACP student poster competition. The Colquitt County Hospital Authority recently awarded its annual Trustee Scholarship to Clay Hartley, who is a native of Moultrie, Georgia. Each year the Hospital Authority recognizes a student pursuing a medical career who exemplifies outstanding academic skills and a commitment to helping others. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Clay attended the Medical Partnership for his first two years and returned to the Moultrie area in July to begin his clinical rotations at the Southwest Clinical Campus in Albany. Faculty members Thom Gaddy, PhD, Amy Medlock, PhD, and Mike Russell, PhD were awarded the 2013 Outstanding Poster Award at the Southern Group on Educational Affairs (SGEA) meeting in Savannah, GA. Their poster, “Interdisciplinary Teaching: Integrating Medical Science Education using Interactive, Team-Taught Sessions” was evaluated as part of the Medical Education Scholarship Award (MESA) program and the authors were rated highly for presentation skills, content, and design of the poster. (poster seen below)

Congratulations to M2 Charlene Lo for being inducted into Palladia, UGA’s Women’s Leadership Society. Palladia inducts approximately 12 women each fall and has an extensive network of alumni, including administrators at the University of Georgia and prominent female leaders across the state. The ATHENS ADVOCATE — Fall 2013 Issue


Athens Advocate Fall 2013  

Fall 2013

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