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Grady partnership.

The Strategic Planning Office and I continue to work on a plan to enhance our activities with Grady Hospital and the Emory Medical Care Foundation. Five subcommittees have examined key areas related to our Grady programs -- faculty, clinical services, teaching, research, and Grady relations. These subcommittees have submitted findings and recommendations, which are being compiled to develop a final plan. I expect to receive a final report from the SOM Steering Committee this spring, and I will share the results with you in an upcoming Dean's Letter.

Morehouse School of Medicine is also developing a strategic plan to enhance patient care and support their academic mission at Grady. As a separate initiative, the SOM and Morehouse held a joint retreat last fall to identify areas of collaboration and formed joint subcommittees to focus on specific issues in research, clinical services, financial operations, information technology, teaching, and medical staff issues. The subcommittees are developing recommendations and implementation steps to address these issues in partnership with Grady.

Practice makes perfect

Dr. Alan Otsuki, assistant dean for medical education, is organizing a standardized patient pilot program for early April. Sixteen M4 students will take part in the program, which is gaining acceptance among US medical schools as a valuable education and evaluation tool. Each student will work on four different cases involving "patients" portrayed by actors and other nonmedical individuals. Students will be videotaped as they take the patient's history and perform a physical exam. They will also write up their findings, diagnosis, and treatment. An important goal of this process is to help students improve their patient interaction skills. Each student will be evaluated by a faculty member, who will be present during the physical exam, and by the patient, who will critique the student's communication skills. If the pilot is successful, standardized patients could be used to expose students to ethical dilemmas and difficult clinical situations.

Dr. Otsuki has also developed a new elective for spring that has proved to be a popular choice with M2 students. "Medicine: A Business Perspective" covers different issues related to the business of medicine -- managed care, the legal aspects of medical practice, marketing and branding, working with biotech companies to develop research ideas, medical finance and office management, leadership and negotiation, and information technology. Drs. Jim Zaidan (Anesthesiology) and Gary Bernstein, 86M, an Atlanta surgeon, are helping teach the course. "Medicine: A Business Perspective" and the standardized patient pilot represent new ways to strengthen the practice of medicine as recommended by the strategic plan for teaching.

Uncommon generosity. Two recent gifts to the SOM are being used to endow chairs in plastic surgery and neurology. Last year, the SOM received a $1.5 million gift from the estate of Dr. William Hamm to create the William G. Hamm Chair in Plastic Surgery. Dr. Hamm helped develop the skin graft and became Georgia's first plastic surgeon when he moved to Atlanta in the the mid-1930s. He came to specialize in helping children with cleft lips and palates and was associated with the SOM for more than 60 years as a clinical professor of surgery. Dr. Hamm was 96 when he died in 1998.

Another $1.5 million gift from the family of the late A. Worley Brown, former CEO of Rock-Tenn Corporation, will endow a chair in the Department of Neurology for Parkinson's disease research. His family also donated $500,000 to renovate the A. Worley Brown Family Parkinson's Disease Clinical Research Unit at Wesley Woods Center. Both contributions are the lead gifts for an endowment program to raise money for research, service, and education in neurology, specifically Parkinson's and other movement disorders.

For the year thus far, the SOM has received approximately $12.6 million in gifts and pledges. Recent gifts and commitments include the following:
  • An anonymous gift of $3 million to help fund a new Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • $2.5 million from the Lanier Family Foundation for Parkinson's research
  • $482,000 from the estate of Nelle Harris for cancer research
  • $250,000 from the Waldo W. Ranson Trust for an endowed scholarship fund
  • $156,500 from James Ready for the Aaberg Fellowship Endowment
  • a $500,000 commitment from Eugene and Nelda Wright for Alzheimer's disease research
  • a $350,000 commitment from the Frances Hollis Brain Foundation for Parkinson's research
  • a major commitment from Dr. Lucia Gomez, 60M, for medical student scholarships
  • a commitment of at least $125,000 from Frank and Susan Lane for an endowment in plastic surgery to help children with facial deformities.


Kudos for research.

The Department of Urology is about to receive a $2.5 million grant from the US Department of Defense to establish the Emory University Prostate Cancer Research Center. Drs. Fray Marshall and John Petros will co-direct this comprehensive center, involving researchers from different departments who will study the causes of prostate cancer, determine its genetic basis, and eventually design new treatments based on this knowledge.

The Metropolitan Life Foundation has honored Emory geneticist Doug Wallace with its highest award for Medical Research in Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Wallace is one of three winners chosen for their pioneering efforts to understand the causes of this disorder. The foundation awarded him a grant of $200,000 for continued support of Alzheimer's disease research and a $50,000 personal prize.

Sad farewell

Dr. Alan Stoudemire, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, died on February 2 after a long battle with cancer. A faculty member since 1983, Dr. Stoudemire was devoted to the education of medical students in the fundamental concepts of psychiatry and often received accolades from them. Among his accomplishments was a program he led on ethics and care in older adults and the dying. Although he was ill, Dr. Stoudemire showed remarkable courage and spirit and continued his scholarly efforts. He was lead editor on the second edition of Psychiatric Care of the Medical Patient (Oxford University Press, 1999), regarded as the international standard reference source on this topic. It includes 28 new chapters.

Core labs revisited. We continue to enhance the effectiveness of our core facilities in support of the research strategic plan. Here's a refresher on the services that some of these important facilities provide for SOM scientists. We'll update you on other core facilities at a later date.

  • Directed by Dr. Jan Pohl, the Microchemical Core Facility provides peptide and oligonucleotide synthesis and purifications, micro-purifications of novel proteins and peptides, and protein sequence and amino acid analysis. State-of-the-art equipment includes automated protein sequencers and mass spectrometers that can analyze biopolymers at the femtomole level of sensitivity. Services may be ordered via the web at http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/WCC/MCF/.
  • The Emory Neurology Microscopy Core Laboratory provides investigators at Emory and other institutions with instrumentation and expertise for biological transmission electron microscopy and various forms of light microscopy. The facility is widely known for its strength in immuno-electron microscopy. For more information, contact core supervisor Hong Yi at 727-8692 or hyi@emory.edu.
  • The Transgenic Mouse Core Facility offers a full range of services for production of both transgenic and gene-targeted mice. Directed by Dr. David Martin, the core also offers auxiliary services such as DNA analysis and provision of reagents for gene-targeting constructs. Services and rates are listed on the web at http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/MED/RESEARCH/TMC/.
  • Directed by Dr. Giri Polavarapu, the Emory DNA Sequencing Core Facility provides services for high-throughput genomics research, including automated DNA sequencing, primer walking, gene chip microarray expression technology, and bioinformatic mining for high-throughput molecular analysis. Based at the VA Medical Center, this facility has state-of-the-art instrumentation, including three PE Applied Biosystems 377 automated sequencers, instrumentation for Affymetrix gene chip technology, and three workstations for studying data from microarray expression systems analysis. This facility has fie pick-up and drop-off sites to provide user-friendly and rapid turnaround service. Locations are the Rollins Research Center (Room 2159), the Microchemical Core Facility at the Winship Cancer Institute (1365B Clifton Road), the Woodruff Memorial Building (Room 7004), the Physiology Building (ground floor, just below the staircase), and the Emory VA/DNA Core Facility at the VAMC (Room 5A 112). For more information, go to http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/MED/RESEARCH/DNA/.
  • The Microscopy Core Facility, directed by Dr. Skip Melsen in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, offers a transmission electron microscope and a laser scanning confocal microscope. Training and/or expert operator support are provided for this instrumentation. Technical assistance for preparing electron microscope samples is available at http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/MED/RESEARCH/MIC/.


Correction

The February Dean's Letter reported that Dr. Sheryl Heron (Emergency Medicine) had received continued fellowship support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. That funding actually went to Dr. Sheryl Henderson (Pediatrics).

Thomas J. Lawley, MD








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