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Vaccine breakthrough

Led by Dr. Harriet Robinson, researchers at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center and the Emory Vaccine Center have developed a multiprotein vaccine that successfully prevents AIDS in monkeys infected with an HIV analogue seven months after vaccination. A simple, three-inoculation regimen, this vaccine offers the most promising candidate yet for human trials. The vaccine primes the immune system's "memory" and provokes a strong immune response, achieving better protection than any other HIV vaccine to date. Results of this study were published in the journal Science. The HIV version of the vaccine will move to clinical trials in humans in 2002. According to Dr. Rafi Ahmed, "Dr. Robinson's exciting results represent a major turning point in our quest for an AIDS vaccine. She has provided proof that a vaccine can prevent the development of AIDS." We applaud this achievement and look forward to the success of this exciting breakthrough.

Gifts and grants

The Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has committed $25 million to the Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering, which will be renamed the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. The gift will provide funds to support a department chair, faculty chairs at Georgia Tech and Emory, laboratories, graduate fellowships, undergraduate clinical education, and the Coulter Endowment for Translational/Clinical Research. "Our faculty and staff are honored to have been recognized by a foundation that bears the name of such an esteemed pioneer in the field of medical innovation," says Dr. Don Giddens, "and we are inspired by the legacy of his entrepreneurial spirit."

Dr. John Petros is the principal investigator of a $2.5 million grant from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command for its Prostate Cancer Research Program. Dr. Petros will lead several teams of clinicians and researchers to build a comprehensive, multidisciplinary center to study the cause of prostate cancer and its behavior with the goal of developing new treatments.

Dr. Henry Edelhauser and colleagues have received a $1.5 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI). This five-year grant will support several areas of multidisciplinary research throughout the Emory campus. Most important, it marks 20 consecutive years of NEI funding for the Eye Center.

Fondly remembered

Dr. Dorothy "Dottie" Brinsfield, friend and colleague, died on March 15 of pancreatic cancer. In a career spanning four decades, she pioneered pediatric cardiology and completed the first fellowship in the field at Emory. The school's first William Patterson Timmie Professor of Pediatrics, she directed the Division of Pediatric Cardiology, and, through hard work and perseverance, laid the groundwork for the world class program we have today. She served as Executive Associate Dean for Student Affairs from 1975 o 1991, retired from teaching and practice in 1993, and profoundly influenced both the students and colleagues with whom she came into contact during her tenure. She will be missed by all of us in the SOM, by countless alumni and colleagues around the world, and by the many families she touched through her clinical practice.

AOA induction

The Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society induction ceremony was held March 13, and we were pleased to have former SOM Dean Jeffrey Houpt address the record crowd on hand to honor these individuals. Students inducted as seniors and juniors in 2000 were named in a previous Dean's Letter. Juniors newly elected are: Beau Bruce, Betsey Chambers, Eric Handley, Joseph Johnson, Lacey Moore, and Rachel Nisbet. Also honored were Amanda Davis, Zoe Larned, and Craig Mansour as house staff; Dr. Gene Branum and Dr. Mahlon DeLong as faculty; and Dr. Richard Bagby and Dr. Stefan Tigges as SOM alumni.

Finding a match

On March 22, our M4s learned where they will complete their residency training. Of the 108 students graduating, 100 participated in the match. Of those, 94% matched, with 68% matching with their 1st choice, 86% matching with the 1st or 2nd choice, 93% matching with their top three choices, and 96% matching their top four choices. In addition, 32% will remain in Emory affiliated residency training programs, and 46% have chosen primary care specialities. Congratulations to our accomplished students and the dedicated faculty who educate them.

Students of note

M3 Chirag Parikh was awarded $12,000 from the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation, and, coupled with funding from the Emory Eye Center, will take a year off from medical school to conduct research in Dr. Henry Edelhauser's lab. The grant is awarded to gifted students to stimulate their interest in a career in eye research. Congratulations to Mr. Parikh.

Two M4s, Gregory Smith and Danh Ngo, will spend April in Ghana on a telemedicine elective. Organized by Drs. Henry Baffoe-Bonnie and Srini Mukundan, the students will use a digital camera to send images of x-rays, CT scans, and pathologic slides of interesting cases by e-mail to volunteer faculty, who will offer their medical opinions.

New director named

Dr. Marilane Bond was named the Director of Graduate Medical Education (GME) in the SOM, effective April 2. She has served as the Administrative Director for Continuing Medical Education and brings outstanding credentials to this new position with many years of experience, a doctorate in higher education administration, and an MBA. Dr. Bond will work with Dr. James Zaidan, recently named Associate Dean for GME. Please join me in congratulating her.

Building update

As I look out of the WHSCAB and watch the ever-changing facade of the Whitehead Research Building, I am pleased by the progress I see. With more than eight months to the completion date, we are on target and on budget. The exterior of the building will be finished soon, and installation of the signature red tile roof will begin in April. Following graduation, work on the plaza will begin, and, over the summer, we will start planning our move to this wonderful facility.

We are also making excellent progress on the Winship Cancer Institute Building. The Board of Trustees recently increased our budget to allow for much-needed additional space. The building will begin to grow out of the ground by August, and we plan to see our first patients in July 2003.

Cooperating with the VA

The Veterins Affairs Administration is seeking to assert, in the broadest possible sense, intellectual property ownership rights over inventions developed by faculty who have dual appointments at the VA. To foster continued scientific cooperation between universities and VA hospitals, I am working on behalf of the Association of American Medical Colleges to represent the best interests of medical centers across the country. The Atlanta VAMC has been extremely cooperative in helping us resolve this issue. I will keep you posted on our progress.

Emory at Grady

Many of you have received your copy of the special edition of The Dean's Letter outlining the "Long-range Plan for Emory at Grady," distributed via interoffice mail in March. You can also visit http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/MOMENTUM/DeansLetter/ for an electronic version.

Grant deadlines

The Southeast Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine is accepting applications to support research related to geriatrics and aging. Two types of grants are available to junior faculty and senior fellows: Trainee Support Grants, with a maximum award of $50,000 per year for research training, and Pilot Research Grants, for up to $20,000 for one year. The application deadline is April 15. For more information, contact Susan Ratliff at 728-6317 or sratlif@emory.edu.

The Emory Medical Care Foundation Research Committee will accept EMCF Research Grant applications until May 1. Please visit http://www.emory.edu/WHSC/MED/RESEARCH/INFORMATION/emcf.html for guidelines or contact: Shelle Bryant at 727-3753.

Doc Hollywood

Medical and undergraduate students have teamed up to create a musical adaptation of Dr. Neil Shulman's Doc Hollywood, with music and lyrics by M4 Joshua Tarkan. They will perform one night only, April 30, at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points (404 521-1786). Proceeds will benefit Worldplay, Inc.

Thomas J. Lawley, MD








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