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Student scientists shine

Five M2 students received top honors during the 47th Annual Medical Student Research Day on January 23. These students made history along with their fellow classmates by setting a record for the highest participation ever (50% of the class) in the Medical Student Research Program. Behind each student is a dedicated faculty mentor who shares in the excitement of scientific discovery. Students who took home prizes that day included Christine Ragusa, recipient of the Helen Miller Award for the most outstanding and meritorious short-term research project. Dana Rodgers received the Dean's Award for exceptional research accomplishment. The Judge's Award for the best poster presentation went to Paul Pruett. In addition, Sidney Hankerson and Alexis Cutchins were named members of the American Federation of Medical Research. Thanks to everyone who made this special day possible, including Dr. Rafi Ahmed, keynote speaker, and the members of the Faculty Committee for Medical Student Research, chaired by Dr. Gerald Shadel.

More student accolades

Congratulations to Bisrat Abraham (M1), Sidney Hankerson (M2), Nicole Mapp (M2), and Handel Robinson (M2), recipients of the Dr. Erich G. Randolph Scholarship for 2002. Dr. Randolph, an oncologist in private practice in Atlanta, completed a residency in internal medicine at Emory and practiced at Crawford Long Hospital. The scholarship bearing his name recognizes academic achievement, community service, and other contributions by students. It also acknowledges their potential as future leaders in the field of medicine through patient care, teaching, and research, as well as nonmedical contributions to society. Each student received a $2,000 scholarship from the Office of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs.

Thinking outside the US box

When you want a different perspective in medicine, try going to a country where you have to diagnose without the technological wizardry we take for granted or treat diseases that are nonexistent or have virtually disappeared from the United States. That's what M2 student Tamajah Gibson experienced during a rotation in Bombay, India, in December. The rotation was made possible by Dr. Vaddadi Rao, Medical Director of Rehabilitation Therapy Services at Grady Hospital, who launched the pilot program in India of Emory's International Rotation: Global Perspectives in Human Care. Ms. Gibson, the second participant in the program, traveled to India with Dr. Rao and his wife, Dr. Meena Rao, a gynecologist-obstetrician, to learn more about maternal and child health and other clinical issues. Ms. Gibson also has been to Ecuador and Ghana and plans to visit Cuba this summer as part of the Student National Medical Association.

New medical core

Dr. Sergey Dikalov has been appointed director of the newly created Free Radicals in Medicine Core in the Department of Medicine's Division of Cardiology. Located in the Woodruff Memorial Research Building, the core promotes interaction among SOM investigators who have an interest in oxidative stress. It offers the necessary equipment and expertise to provide state-of-the-art measurements of reactive oxygen species, particularly using electron spin resonance spectroscopy. Dr. Dikalov received his doctorate in physical chemistry and biochemistry from the Institute of Chemical Kinetics of the Russian Academy of Science. He comes to Emory following a visiting fellowship in the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Chemistry at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Grady project with a "purpose."

Dr. Nadine Kaslow, chief psychologist at Grady Hospital, is spearheading the Nia Project, named after the Kwanzaa term, "Nia," meaning "purpose." Part of a CDC-funded research program, the project aims at proper intervention and group therapy and is one of only a few that link intimate partner violence and suicidal behavior among African-American women. Dr. Kaslow also is involved with the Adolescent Depression Research Project, a study focusing on therapy for girls ages 12 to 16 who have been physically and/or sexually abused. The project provides specialized family counseling, which is an integral part of the girls' treatment.

FDA approves brain pacemaker

The FDA recently approved bilateral deep-brain stimulation for treating patients with advanced Parkinson's disease. In studies conducted at Emory and 17 other locations, this "brain pacemaker" has been shown to relieve the slowness, stiffness, and shaking associated with the debilitating disease. Neurologist Dr. Jerrold Vitek served as principal investigator at Emory.

Key appointments

The Office of Research and Strategic Initiatives welcomes two new members to its staff. Dr. Jackie Fine recently joined the office as Associate Director to facilitate interdepartmental and interdisciplinary programmatic grant applications, core laboratory facilities, and faculty development in research. Mr. Tom Champagne has been appointed as Associate Director to assist faculty, administrators, and research cores with the fiscal management of research activities. He also will work closely with the SOM Office of Business and Finance and the University Office of Grants and Contracts Accounting.

Dr. Erica Frank has been named Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. She will develop innovative curricular programs and guide department faculty and trainees in their professional development.

Dr. Carl D'Orsi has been appointed Director of Breast Cancer Imaging for the Winship Cancer Institute and Professor of Radiology and Professor of Hematology and Oncology in the SOM. Dr. D'Orsi will oversee development of the Breast Cancer Imaging Care and Research Center within the Avon Products Foundation Breast Cancer Research Center at Grady Hospital. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading clinical investigators and authorities on the development of improved mammography. He comes to Emory from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Innovative cancer marker

A study by researchers at Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) and at Johns Hopkins recently published in The Lancet identifies chromosomal imbalances as an accurate marker to predict recurrences of colorectal cancer. Dr. Wei Zhou of the WCI and Dr. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins developed a technique called digital SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism), which accurately measures chromosomal imbalances by directly counting alleles in sample chromosomes. This is the first study to use measurement of chromosomal imbalance to predict which patients are likely to suffer a recurrence of colorectal cancer. Digital SNP helps researchers count each allele in the chromosomal sample, providing an unprecedented degree of accuracy for analysis.

Come hear two great teachers

Two SOM faculty members are participating in Emory's Great Teachers Lecture Series. Dr. Michael Kuhar, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Pharmacology and one of the world's leading neuroscientists in the study of addiction, will discuss "Drug Abuse: The Drive Within" at 7:30 pm on Thursday, February 21, at the Emory Conference Center Hotel. Next month, Dr. Christian Larsen, Carlos and Marguerite Mason Professor of Surgery in Transplantation and Director of the Emory Transplant Center, will lecture on "Rejection, Acceptance, and Tolerance: Progress Toward Islet Transplantation for Diabetes." Dr. Larsen will begin his talk at 7:30 pm on March 7 at the Miller Ward House. Both lectures are free and open to the public. For more details, call 727-6000.

Créme de la créme

While there is no question that our colleagues have made significant advancements in research, teaching, and patient care here at Emory, I am constantly amazed at the contributions they make nationally in their respective fields. Here are some of their latest awards and honors:
  • Dr. Mario DiGirolamo, Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, received the Albert Stunkard Life Achievement Award for Scholarship and Mentorship in Obesity Research at the International Meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in Quebec City, Canada.
  • Dr. Robert Guyton, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was selected as President-Elect of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
  • Dr. Robert Rich, Executive Associate Dean, Research and Strategic Initiatives, was chosen as Editor-in-Chief Designate of the Journal of Immunology. His term begins in January 2003.

Thomas J. Lawley, MD

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