The SOM graduation ceremony was a particularly joyous event this
year, as faculty, students, and several generations of students'
family members stepped from a beautiful spring day outside to fill
Glenn Memorial's pews. Commencement speaker Dr. James Gavin, an Emory
Graduate School alumnus (Biochemistry) and President of Morehouse
School of Medicine, encouraged graduates to emphasize prevention and
public health more than preceding generations. Apparently, many
students already are heeding this message, with a record nine out of
110 graduates receiving dual MD/MPH degrees. Four received dual
MD/PhDs, including one in Biomedical Engineering.
One of the event's highlights was when the Class of 2004
marched into the ceremony with eight alumni from the Class of 1954 in
honor of the SOM's 150th anniversary. These distinguished alumni's
medical careers together span longer than our history: Drs. Charles
Adams, Duane Blair, Joe Bussey, Robert Kirkland, Charlton Mabry,
David Morgan, Al Smith, and Coleman Taylor.
The M4 class distinguished itself by selecting two recipients
of the student Evangeline Papageorge Award, Paul Pruett and Amy
Whigham, for their contributions to the betterment of the class over
the past four years. Graduate Tamajah Gibson received the Bolton
Service Award, and Jonathan McConathy received the Outstanding
Achievement in Basic Science Award at the preceding day's Dean's
Reception. Graduates also surprised faculty by choosing two honorary
class members this year instead of one: Drs. Joel Felner
(Medicine/Cardiology and Associate Dean for Clinical Education) and
Whit Sewell (Pathology & Laboratory Medicine) shared the recognition
that each had received several times individually in previous years.
Two faculty members at the May ceremony looked on proudly as
their children became MDs. These faculty children include Kate
Koplan, daughter of Jeff (Medicine and VP for Academic Health
Affairs) and Carol (Adjunct, Rollins School of Public Health) Koplan
and John Symbas, son of Peter Symbas (Cardiothoracic Surgery).
At the University's main ceremony earlier that morning, Mr.
James Williams, Chair of the Woodruff Health Sciences Board from 1983
to 2003, received an honorary doctorate. Also at this ceremony, the
SOM awarded 12 associate's, two bachelor's, and 81 master's degrees
in medical science as well as 48 doctoral degrees in physical therapy.
Dr. Nanette Wenger, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology,
was honored with the University's Emory Williams Teaching Award as well
as the Medical Alumni Association's Evangeline Papageorge Teaching
Award at commencement. These are just two of a long list of honors
she has received during her four-and-a-half decades at Emory.
Also, Dr. Whit Sewell was a Triple Crown winner. In addition to being
tapped as an honorary member of the graduating class, students named
him as the top teacher of a preclinical course and named Pathology
(the course that Dr. Sewell directs) as their favorite preclinical
Hospitalists and general internists are highly effective teachers on
hospital wards, say findings from a SOM study, written by Dr. Sunil
Kripalani, Assistant Professor of Medicine, and published in the
Journal of General Internal Medicine (January 2004).
Hospitalists primarily focus on the care of hospitalized patients.
Dr. Mark Williams, Associate Professor of Medicine, established the
country's first hospitalist program at a public teaching hospital
(Grady Hospital, of course) in 1998. Since that time, Emory's
Hospital Medicine Unit has grown to include another 35 hospitalists
at six hospitals in the Atlanta area. "With the rapid growth of
hospital medicine and the increasing demand from academic medical
centers to have hospitalists serve as teaching faculty in the
hospital, we felt it was important to compare the effectiveness of
their teaching skills on the general medicine wards," said Dr.
The study analyzed results from Clinical Tutor Evaluations completed
by 423 medical students and residents over one year. Results showed
that students and residents valued faculty who were enthusiastic
teachers, practiced evidence-based medicine, were involved with
inpatient care, and developed a good rapport with patients and other
team members. These characteristics were most often noted for
hospitalists and general medicine attending physicians and may
explain the higher ratings they received on the quantitative Clinical
Tutor Evaluation. Included in the comparison were a variety of
subspecialists who supervised general medicine ward teams.
A new Grady curriculum created by Dr. Tammie Quest, Assistant Professor
of Emergency Medicine, is helping residents develop the special
skills they need when a patient suddenly dies. The residents enhance
their interpersonal and communication skills with the help of
standardized patients who are local, professionally trained actors
taking the role of bereaved family members. It is one of the few
programs of its kind in the country and has become part of Emory's
emergency medicine curriculum.
Once a year, Dr. Quest gives a one-hour lecture on death
disclosure at Grady. Afterward, residents form small groups with the
actors, or "standardized survivors" as they are known, who portray
different scenarios. By interacting with survivors, Dr. Quest notes,
"Residents can learn empathic behaviors and statements that help
deliver this very difficult news in an honest and direct manner,
while still caring for the emotional and psychological needs of the
The new NIH rankings are out. The SOM is 23rd in the nation for NIH
research awards totaling $158 million in 2003. This is an increase of
$15 million (10%) compared with 2002, when we ranked two spots higher
at 21st. SOM departments in the top 20 for NIH research funding in
2003 are: Emergency Medicine (2), Microbiology & Immunology (2),
Rehabilitation Medicine (7), Neurology (9), Pathology (11), Urology
(13), Dermatology (15), Pharmacology (15), Physiology (15), Surgery
(16), Neurosurgery (17), and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences (18).
"The two-position decrease in ranking from 2002 is entirely a
reflection of one-year construction awards (of more than $100 million
each) for BSL4 (Biosafety Level 4) biocontainment facilities to two
schools (Boston University and University of Texas Medical Branch),"
says Dr. Robert Rich, Executive Associate Dean for Research and
Strategic Initiatives. "Overall we gained a bit on those schools
immediately above and below us in the rankings. With new research
facilities coming into full utilization, I am looking for continued
advances in 2004 and 2005. I remain optimistic regarding our progress
into the 'research elite.' "
The NIH also ranked our research funding for pre- and
postdoctoral fellowship training. For 2003, the SOM was 5th for
individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowships. Emory
has ranked 10th to 12th among 121 medical institutions for the past
Credit for this achievement goes to the Office of
Postdoctoral Education, directed by Dr. Susan Rich, who credits
others in return. "Congratulations to the postdocs and faculty
advisers who contributed to this outstanding accomplishment and to
the approximately 50 postdocs (and their advisers) who were awarded
other individual fellowships from nonfederal funding agencies," says
Dr. Rich. Her office helps recruit and retain postdocs, sponsors
educational activities, develops consistent policies, and helps
faculty obtain training grants and other funding.
The March issue of The Scientist, an international magazine that
reports on scientific news and events and research trends, ranked
Emory 8th in the world for the number of publications about
pharmacology and toxicology that have appeared over the past 10
years. This is quite a feather in the cap for the SOM's Department of
Pharmacology, chaired by Dr. Ray Dingledine. The only other American university on
the list was Vanderbilt.
If you've wondered what has happened to refractive surgery at Emory,
wonder no longer. Emory Laser Vision is now open. Actually, it has
reopened at our Perimeter Clinic under a different name and new,
totally academic ownership--Emory's. Headed by Dr. Doyle Stulting,
Professor of Ophthalmology, the new center offers the latest laser
wave technology and the expertise of Drs. Stulting, Diane Song, John
Kim, and Bradley Randleman, all cornea specialists.
"Emory Laser Vision offers the most sophisticated technology,
giving patients the potential for better quality vision than they
have ever experienced," says Dr. Stulting. "I am excited to have
superior technology in a state-of-the-art facility staffed by an
experienced, dedicated surgical team." In 1994, Dr. Stulting was
among the physicians approved by the FDA to perform LASIK (laser
in-situ keratomileusis) with the excimer laser. It was the first time
the FDA allowed individual physicians to sponsor a clinical trial for
a refractive surgical device.
Look for the moving vans at the new Yerkes Neuroscience Research
Building, where researchers and staff are relocating this month. The
$27 million building is 92,000 square feet and has laboratory and
animal housing space. Part of the building housing a cyclotron, a
particle accelerator used for PET imaging, will be fully constructed
by September. The building dedication is October 28.
The Department of Pediatrics can wave goodbye to their
cramped quarters when the $40 million pediatrics building opens in
September. According to Charlie Andrews, Associate VP for Health
Sciences Space Planning, "The project, which is Emory funded, is
moving along rapidly. It is approximately 80% complete and is
currently under budget." Located at 2015 Uppergate Road, the building
will have 148,000 square feet of space with a vivarium on the lowest
level. The entry level will have clinical space with 30 exam rooms.
Half of the second floor will house department administration and the
other half will have laboratory space. The third, fourth, and fifth
floors also will have lab space. Once Pediatrics moves out of its old
main building, the space will be turned over to Children's Healthcare
for hospital expansion at Egleston.
M3 student Hilary Fairbrother is one of 55 students, residents, and
physicians recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA)
Foundation as emerging national leaders in medicine. Hilary is active
in the AMA as chair of the Emory AMA/Medical Association of Georgia
chapter and as the Georgia State Officer-at-Large. She also
campaigned for child advocacy during the 2004 state legislative
Thomas J. Lawley, MD