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Physician heal thyself

There's nothing like experience to help one appreciate the true meaning of medicine. During the diploma ceremony on May 13, student speaker David Altman wore a cast decorated with a puppet wearing a mortarboard as he told the class about his recent stint as a patient, in pain and unable to dress himself without assistance. "Never forget you're treating people," said David, who recently sliced his hand cutting an apple. "That's what makes our profession sacred."

The young doctor was among the 103 students at Glenn Memorial who received their MD degrees, including 10 dual-degree recipients (five MD/PhD and five MD/MPH degrees). Dr. Judith Swain, Bloomfield Professor and Chair of Medicine at Stanford, gave the commencement address, urging graduates "to use their time wisely, to form a hypothesis of what they wanted to do, and test it every day." She also suggested that they consider career paths less traveled, such as international medicine, biotechnology, or rural health care.

At the annual dean's reception on the day before commencement, several students received honors. They included Michael Antil (the Evangeline Papageorge Outstanding Student Award), Pierre de Delva (the Dean's Award), Larry Chang (the Bert and Betty Shear Book Award and the Anne Elizabeth and Harper Gaston Service Award, the latter shared with Thomas Wallace), Carlos Alarcon and Mark Clay (the Eldon Bolton Service Award), and Beau Bruce (the Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Science Award). Also, Jamie Bower, Betsey Chambers, Jennifer McDougal, Rachel Nisbet, Kelly Skelton, and Corrie Van Exel received the American Medical Women's Association, Inc. Janet Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation, which is awarded to women medical students around the nation who place in the top 10% of their class.

The students voted Dr. John Louis-Ugbo, Instructor of Cell Biology, as their honorary class member. Medical Alumni Association President Dr. Peggy Duke, 77M, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, presented Dr. Jonas Shulman, Executive Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs, with the Evangeline Papageorge Alumni Teaching Award, marking the second time he has received the honor.

SOM faculty relatives of graduates included Drs. Dara Rastegar (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, daughter Ida) and Rein Saral (Director, The Emory Clinic, daughter Alex).

In the Allied Health ceremony, the SOM awarded 75 master's, three bachelor's, and 17 associate degrees in medical science, and 28 master's degrees in physical therapy. Dr. Donna Shalala, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, addressed graduates and their families.

Roberson appointed as chair

Please join me in congratulating Dr. James Roberson as our new Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics. Dr. Roberson has been a respected member of our faculty since 1982 and has served as Professor and Associate Chairman since 1990. He graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed his postgraduate training at Emory and the Mayo Clinic. I have deep respect for Dr. Roberson's record of leadership and commitment to the SOM, as well as his scholarship and clinical service. I am confident he will be an outstanding leader and look forward to working with him in his new role. Many thanks to our search committee, including Drs. William Wood (Chair), Claudia Adkison (ex officio), Naomi Alazraki, Bruce Baumgartner, Jay Berkelhamer, Angela Caliendo, Carlos del Rio, Sarah DeRossett, Arthur English, Katherine Heilpern, Carl Hug, Richard Nichols, Nelson Oyesiku, Grace Rozycki, Rein Saral, and Mr. Robert Bachman.

Physicians sue residency system

Here's an issue that surfaced recently in The New York Times. Last month, three physicians filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). The plaintiffs, who are basing their case on antitrust grounds, say that the NRMP's policies allow health care facilities to keep salaries low and working hours long. If they win the suit, teaching hospitals may have to substantially change residency training programs and pay substantial damages. The Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers the program and is one of the defendants, has vowed to "challenge this lawsuit with the utmost vigor." Emory is among the huge class of defendants in the suit.

Yerkes goes national

The NIH has designated Yerkes as a National Primate Research Center (NPRC) to recognize its role in and impact on research throughout the world. One of eight federally funded NPRCs, Yerkes receives an NIH base grant awarded at five-year intervals via a competitive renewal process. The base grant now represents a fraction of Yerkes' $36 million in research funding for 2001, which has tripled since 1998 and ranks second behind the SOM. In return for the federal dollars it receives, Yerkes provides optimal research environments for SOM faculty and serves as a resource for collaborators from other institutions. It has nearly 85 affiliate and collaborative faculty from Emory and scientists from 65 research institutions in and outside of the United States.

Helping teens face life's challenges

While I'm always happy to hear that a new initiative has been funded, it is an even greater thrill to hear how the grant has been put to use. Since beginning training sessions four months ago, the Jane Fonda Center has taught youth workers how to counsel pregnant adolescents, helped to develop an Atlanta-based doula program (training neighborhood women to coach pregnant teens), and sponsored training for residential care staff who work with adolescent mothers. Open for more than a year, the Jane Fonda Center has partnered in the development of three health-focused community technology centers that provide teens with information on reducing risks and making healthy transitions to adulthood. Additionally, the Fonda Center has worked with the Henry Grady Foundation to renovate facilities at Grady and enhance teen reproductive health services. Now 30 years old, Grady's teen reproductive health program provides family planning services to 1,800 school-age adolescents each year.

The Center is funded by a gift from Miss Fonda, who provided an initial $2 million that also established the Marion Howard Chair in Adolescent Reproductive Health in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Miss Fonda has provided additional funds to expand programs and support the Center. Dr. Marion Howard holds the chair and leads the Center, which is located on the Briarcliff Campus. As Dr. Howard explains, "Our goal is to advance scientific knowledge, both locally and globally, about infancy, childhood, and adolescence and disseminate new information and strategies for reducing risks and growing up healthy."

Worldly resource

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) lists five SOM faculty members among the world's most highly cited scientific researchers. Drs. Mahlon DeLong (Neurology), Michael Kuhar (Pharmacology), Kenneth Minneman (Pharmacology), Bruce Wainer (Pathology), and Allan Levey (Neurology) are included in This new research resource chronicles the publication and achievement records of preeminent researchers. ISI identified and evaluated approximately 19 million articles or source records by 24,000 authors between 1981 and 1999 to determine the most highly cited researchers in their respective disciplines. Drs. DeLong, Kuhar, Levey, and Wainer are included in the neuroscience category, which lists 110 scientists in 185 countries. Dr. Minneman is among the 108 scientists in the pharmacology category.

Clinic targets Hispanic patients

Grady Hospital has a new facility dedicated to caring for the growing number of Spanish-speaking patients. The International Clinic opened in April to help eliminate the language, cultural, and health care barriers that many Hispanic patients face. Dr. Inginia Genao, Director of Multicultural Affairs at Grady, who helped develop the Clinic, estimates that 70% of her patients speak Spanish. "My hope is that by decreasing the language barrier alone, the number of patients will increase dramatically to the point where we will move out of the medical clinic and into a different site," she says.

The Clinic serves patients 18 and older on the first Tuesday morning of each month, as well as Tuesday and Thursday afternoons every week. Staffing includes Dr. Genao, Dr. Stacy Higgins, and six medical residents, all of whom are bilingual. Plans include recruiting a bilingual nurse and staff to help run the Clinic, which is patterned after the Pediatric Latino Clinic at Boston Medical Center.

A generous bequest

The Emory Eye Center has received more than $3 million from the estate of Stanley Whitaker and his wife, Myrna Newell Whitaker. A longtime newspaper man and former resident of Atlanta, Mr. Whitaker made the gift through a living trust to foster research and treatment of eye disease. During his career, Mr. Whitaker served around the country as an executive with United Press International and was best known in Atlanta for buying the Marietta Daily Journal in 1948. After retiring in the mid-1950s, Mr. Whitaker became a media broker for the Blackburn Company, a firm that sold newspapers and radio and television stations. He was 100 years old when he died at his Florida home in 1999. This generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Whitaker will greatly assist our faculty as they continue their leadership in uncovering answers to complex eye diseases and developing innovative treatments for care.

Thomas J. Lawley, MD

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