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Inside genetics

The Dean's Letter periodically highlights departments that have expanded or undergone many changes in recent years. The Department of Human Genetics has clarified its vision under Dr. Steve Warren, who was named Chairman in January 2001. "Our team's goal is to become one of the top 10 departments in human and mammalian genetics in the country," he says. During the past two years, the department has:
  • Expanded its faculty from 5 in 2001 to 23 in 2003, including 9 new tenure-track faculty.
  • Increased federal research funding nearly 170%, from $2.2 million in FY00 to $6 million in FY03.
  • Published two papers in the journal Cell identifying the specific genes in the brain affected by the lack of the protein FMRP, which is absent in individuals with fragile X syndrome. This breakthrough, achieved by using DNA microarray technology, should provide new targets for drug therapy.
  • Opened new laboratory and administrative space in the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building in November 2001. Also opened a new Center for Medical Genomics with advanced robotics for high-throughput DNA extraction and genotyping.
  • Helped form a strategic alliance in 2002 with deCODE genetics, an Icelandic genomics company that uses unique genealogy data to identify the role genes play in common diseases.
  • Moved the Division of Medical Genetics (formerly part of Pediatrics) into the department in 2002. The division provides adult and pediatric consultation and management of genetic disease throughout metro Atlanta and much of the state. It operates three state-of-the-art diagnostic laboratories dealing with cytogenetics, metabolic diseases, and molecular diagnostics. The department is fully accredited for specialty training in clinical genetics and all American Board of Medical Genetics subspecialties.
  • Recruited Dr. David Ledbetter, Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics at The University of Chicago, as the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Human Genetics and Chief of the Division of Medical Genetics.
  • Established the Emory Down Syndrome Clinic to provide clinical services to patients with Down syndrome and to augment the NIH-funded National Down Syndrome Project, directed by Dr. Stephanie Sherman, Professor of Human Genetics.
  • Received approval from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to establish the joint Emory/Baylor National Fragile X Center, one of three inaugural centers in the country.

Top medical minds

Thirty-one students, faculty, and alumni were inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in March. Here are this year's M4 student honorees: John Abbott, Meena Agarwal, Whitney Brown, John Davies, Mariya Fishman, Susan Goldberg, Keith Hall, Ben Jessie, Todd Lancaster, Oren Levy, Jennifer Nash, Jaime Noonan, Kristina Price, Jason Reingold, Marla Sammer, Lindsey Sharp, Ron Shiloh, Danny Sims, Ian Stine, and Renee Young. From the M3 class were Lee Burnett, Jennifer Campbell, Stacey Freedman, Jon McConathy, and Paul Pruett. House staff honorees were Drs. Alberto Fernandez and Dr. Vinod Thourani. Drs. Thomas Aaberg Sr. (Ophthalmology) and Grace Rozycki (Surgery) were faculty honorees, and Drs. Joseph Miller Jr. and Robert Campbell were alumni honorees. Dr. William Foege, Distinguished Presidential Professor in the Rollins School of Public Health, gave the keynote address. Formerly the Director of the CDC, Dr. Foege now lives in Seattle, where he has served as Senior Advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Onward and upward

On March 20, there was no happier place to be than the WHSCAB Plaza, where our M4 students learned where they will complete their residency training. This year, 107 of our 111 graduates participated in the National Residency Match Program. Additionally, two students received military appointments, and two students will complete a research year. The Emory Affiliated Hospital Training Programs snagged 44 students (compared to 26 in 2002). Forty-eight students selected primary care specialties. Of those, 24 chose internal medicine, and 12 chose pediatrics. The most popular medical specialties were radiology/diagnostic (7), anesthesiology (6), surgery (6), neurology (5), orthopaedic surgery (5), and psychiatry (5). The M4s matched with outstanding residencies in 28 states plus the District of Columbia, with 46 students remaining in Georgia. Congratulations to our students as they take on exciting new challenges during the next phase of their medical careers!

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Commencement is set for May 12. The main ceremony begins at 8 am on the Quadrangle. Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney will address the graduates, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, will receive an honorary degree. The SOM Diploma Ceremony follows at 9:45 am in Glenn Memorial Auditorium. Our keynote speaker is Dr. Haile Debas, Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs at the University of California-San Francisco. On May 11, the Dean's Reception for graduates and their families is from 3 to 5 pm on the WHSCAB Plaza. Please join us!

In praise of journal editors

In addition to their immense workloads, many of our colleagues edit national and international journals right here at Emory. "It's time we recognize them for their dedication," says Dr. Claudia Adkison, Executive Associate Dean for Administration and Faculty Affairs. Here's a list of these colleagues along with their titles, journal names, editorial office locations, circulations (if available), audiences, and a few comments about their journals:
  • Dr. Arthur English (Cell Biology); Editor-in-Chief; Cell, Tissues and Organs-in vivo, in vitro; Emory office, but published in Switzerland; biologists, physicians, and other scientists. "The journal was first published in 1945 under the name Acta Anatomica. We changed the name in 1999 to reflect a great emphasis on emerging fields such as tissue engineering, artificial organs, in vitro systems, transplantation biology, and computational neuroscience."
  • Dr. Michael Johns (Health Sciences); Editor-in-Chief; The Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; published by the American Medical Association in Chicago; 12,200 subscribers; otolaryngologists. "It is the leading otolaryngology journal, with information for physicians and scientists concerned with diseases of the head and neck."
  • Dr. Steven Levy (Psychiatry); Editor-Elect (10-year term begins January 2004); Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association; Emory office; 5,200 subscribers; psychotherapists and other mental health professionals. "The journal has the largest readership and is the most prestigious among psycholanalytic journals."
  • Dr. Charles Nemeroff (Psychiatry); Editor in Chief; Neuropsychopharmacology; office in Nashville; American College of Neuropsychopharmacology members, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists. "It is the sixth highest-ranked journal out of 81 psychiatry journals."
  • Drs. John Nickerson, Jeffrey Boatright, and Robert Church, Senior Editors, and Dr. Stephen Cristol, Editor (Ophthalmology); Molecular Vision (web-based); "virtual" office. "We believe our journal is the first online bioscience journal," says Dr. Nickerson. "Mol Vis has an impact factor higher than any other vision research journal. Our purpose is to publish primary scientific articles and the occasional review article quickly and at no expense to the author or the reader."
  • Dr. Robert Rich (Research and Strategic Initiatives); Editor-in-Chief; The Journal of Immunology; office in Bethesda, Maryland; 7,700 subscribers; American Association of Immunology members and other immunologists worldwide. "Dr. Jeremy Boss (Microbiology/Immunology) is one of my nine national deputy editors. It is the largest immunology journal and the 13th most cited biomedical journal of the 5,700 biomedical journals in the world."
  • Dr. Richard Rothenberg (Family and Preventive Medicine); Editor-in-Chief; Annals of Epidemiology; office at the Grady campus; 800 to 900 subscribers; American College of Epidemiology members, epidemiologists, health workers, and methodologists. "The Annals is the official publication of the American College of Epidemiology. It is in its 13th year of publication."
  • Dr. Jeff Sands (Medicine); Editor-in-Chief; The American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology; Emory office; circulation 2,250; renal physiologists and nephrologists. "The American Journal of Physiology is more than 100 years old. The journal split into subspecialties in the 1970s."
  • Barney Stern (Neurology); Editor; The Neurologist; Emory office, circulation 4,500; neurologists. "The journal's major focus is to publish high-quality, comprehensive reviews of interest to neurologists. I am the founding editor and was instrumental in developing the concept for the journal, which is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins."
  • Dr. Doyle Stulting (Ophthalmology); Editor-in-Chief; Cornea; office at Emory Vision Correction Center; circulation 1,850; cornea specialists, ophthalmologists, and other health professionals. "It is the only peer-reviewed specialty journal for publication of articles related to corneal disease, external ocular disease, and corneal surgery. It includes articles related to refractive surgery, contact lenses, ocular surface diseases, and corneal transplantation."
  • Dr. George Waring III (Ophthalmology); Editor-in-Chief; Journal of Refractive Surgery; circulation 2,200; International Society of Refractive Surgery members, vision scientists, and other health professionals. "It is the only peer-reviewed journal devoted to refractive surgery."
  • Dr. Stephen Warren (Human Genetics); Editor-in-Chief; The American Journal of Human Genetics, Emory office; 8,000 subscribers; American Society of Human Genetics members, professional human and medical geneticists with both MDs and PhDs, genetic counselors, and nurses. "The journal is the oldest and most highly respected human/medical genetics journal in the world. We were the first with online access in the field, and virtually all human and medical geneticists subscribe."

Thomas J. Lawley, MD

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