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Leading the pack

Each year, I like to honor SOM faculty who are among the best teachers in their respective fields. Seven faculty members have been identified by a special committee as top teachers: Douglas Ander (Emergency Medicine), Howard Frumkin Occupational Health/Medicine), Randy Hall (Pharmacology), Joshy Jacob (Microbiology and Immunology), David Lloyd (Pediatrics), Bhagirath Majmudar (Pathology), and Nancy Newman (Neurology/Ophthalmology). These recipients of the 2004 Dean's Teaching Awards will be honored at a reception to be announced soon. Thank you, teachers, for your dedication to quality education and your enthusiasm as mentors to our students.

Planning for education building begins

Emory's Board of Trustees has granted approval to move forward with planning a new medical education building. The SOM is working with an architectural and engineering firm, S/L/A/M Collaborative, to define the scope and cost of the project. Current plans call for the Anatomy & Physiology Buildings to be renovated and a new building constructed to replace the Connector between the A&P Buildings. Come December, the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Board will review funding and S/L/A/M's findings for the project. Final plans for design, construction, and financing must be approved by the WHSC Board and the University's Board of Trustees.

Emory tops again!

US News & World Report has named Emory University Hospital 8th in the nation for heart and heart surgery. This is the 14th time the magazine has included Emory in its top hospitals issue. Emory's programs in ophthalmology (17), psychiatry (18), kidney disease (21), geriatrics (27), urology (40), and gynecology (40) also were included among the nation's elite.

In the same issue, our outstanding pathology program was highlighted in a special feature recognizing services that are not included in its annual rankings. Drs. Tristram Parslow, Sharon Weiss, and James Ritchie were among those featured in the article.

Legacy for a dear friend

At a special recognition reception this summer, the Department of Medicine announced the creation of the Dr. Paul W. Seavey Chair in Internal Medicine to honor the Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, who served Emory for more than three decades.

"I have had a lot of honors in my career," says Dr. Seavey, "but the chair is my greatest honor. Hopefully, it will help attract scholarly faculty, and the endowment will live on in perpetuity." Although the chair's recipient has yet to be named, the endowment is a fitting tribute to this remarkable physician.

Dr. Seavey is a leader, a mentor, a superb clinician, and a constant example," remarks former colleague Dr. Dave Roberts, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine. "He is the physician we would all want for ourselves and for our family members. He has been, and still is, a fierce champion of top-quality, contemplative, and thoroughly comprehensive care."

Gifts and pledge commitments of approximately $1.5 million from the Rollins family (individual, corporate, and foundation entities), T. Marshall Hahn Jr., John Lupton, J. William Robinson, Marian Gilligan, the UPS Foundation, the Nelson Family Foundation, Delos Yancey Jr., the State Mutual Insurance Company, George Wallis, W. Paul Fambro, and others helped make this chair possible.

Catching the science bug early

It's never too early to begin planning a future in science and medicine. To give minority youth incentive and opportunity to consider this path, Dr. Robert Lee, Associate Dean for Multicultural Medical Student Affairs, directs the Summer Science Discovery Camp for students in grades 8-12 and the Summer Science Academy for high school juniors and seniors. The Discovery Camp offered six, weeklong sessions this summer. More than 500 students have enrolled in the camp since its inception in 1995. "We are beginning to see the fruits of our labor," says Dr. Lee. "Penny Goodman, now a sophomore at Mt. Holyoke College, attended the program in high school and came back as a counselor/teacher this summer. After she graduates from college, she tells me she would like to enter the SOM."

The Science Academy offered two summer sessions in June (three weeks) and in July (two weeks). Up to 15 students may enroll in each camp or academy session. "Pfizer Inc. provided us with a $5,000 student support grant for 'scholarships,'" reports Dr. Lee. "They also sent 15 scientists who taught one day a week in the programs." In addition to Ms. Goodman, M2 students Humphrey Lam, Lauren Hall, and Yemi Odunusi served as counselor/teachers.

Students in the Discovery Camp explored anatomy, neurobiology, genetics, cell biology, and human disease and learned how to make and present scientific posters and how to apply for college. Science Academy students received additional instruction in these areas as well as in physiology, chemistry, and physics. Both groups also tagged along with house staff at Grady Hospital and received support and guidance from Dr. Kenneth Walker and Mr. Bernard Campbell in the Department of Medicine at Grady. "We believe the many and varied academic and exploratory experiences these students received have advanced and enhanced their knowledge in science and given them a head start on their careers," says Dr. Walker. "We also truly appreciate the students' parents who gave time and resources to provide these opportunities to their children."

Psychiatry faculty member dies in China

We are all shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dr. Xiaohong Wang, Assistant Professor (Psychiatry), in July. Dr. Wang, 47, and his sixth-grade son Jim were killed in a car accident during a family visit to China. His wife, Dr. Xiao Lan Ou, and their older son, John, escaped injury.

Dr. Wang's career was definitely on an upswing. After joining the SOM in 2001, he began a promising research program to examine the role of inflammation in mood disorders development as well as the regulation of the neuroendocrine system. An excellent teacher, Dr. Wang received the psychiatry residents' teaching award in 2003 and advised three postdoctoral research fellows.

"Xiaohong Wang was a model faculty member who was universally liked and respected," says Dr. Charles Nemeroff, Chair of Psychiatry. "This is a tragedy and a shock whose pain will be felt not only by his family but by all of his friends and colleagues here at Emory."

Memorial gifts for the Xiaohong Wang Foundation may be sent to Dr. Andrew Miller, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, 4th Floor, Woodruff Memorial Building.

Aspiring researcher

Tara Collins, a rising M3 student, is a Continued Fellowship for Medical Studies recipient from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Last year, Tara deferred her third year of medical school to conduct research at HHMI through a program acquainting medical students with biomedical research methods and practice.

Animal care and use program makes the grade

The Association for Assessment and Accreditation in Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) has reaccredited the SOM's animal care and use program for the maximum of three years. "I don't think it gets better than this," said Dr. Robert Rich, Executive Associate Dean, Research and Strategic Initiatives, following the site visit earlier this year. "The site visitors were absolutely laudatory regarding the quality and professionalism of our animal care staff from top to bottom. They commented that Emory is the best program they have ever seen."

According to Dr. Mike Huerkamp, Director, Division of Animal Resources, "The division shares this remarkable achievement with the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The extraordinary support from our scientists and administrative, human resources, and facilities management teams has made this accreditation possible." More than 650 universities, companies, and organizations have been accredited by the AAALAC, which promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through a voluntary accreditation process.

Research roundup

Here are some of the latest highlights regarding SOM research:
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published results from Emory's Surgical Management of Arterial Revascularization Trial (SMART), which showed coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery performed on a beating heart without a heart-lung machine is medically beneficial. Patients can recover faster with off-pump coronary artery bypass (OPCAB) than with conventional CABG. It also can be as useful as CABG in restoring blood flow and maintaining revascularization to the heart muscle over time.

    "SMART demonstrates that we are accomplishing the same revascularization as CABG for the patient, while providing a host of other benefits, including less blood loss and less damage to hearts during surgery," reports Dr. John Puskas (Surgery), head of the SMART team. For the study, he used Medtronic's Octopus tissue stabilizer, a device that holds the beating heart's surface tissue nearly stationary as the bypass graft is sutured in place.

  • Radiation Oncology is first in the nation to deliver new ultra-precise radiotherapy treatments using a fully robotic on-board imaging system for tracking tumor locations and positioning patients. Emory clinicians treated the first seven patients in June with image-guided radiation therapy using an imager and linear accelerator from Varian Medical Systems. This technology will help doctors precisely direct radiation to the tumor. "The new treatment will enable us to deliver higher doses to the tumor while reducing the dose to nearby critical structures, which can only translate into better tumor control and few complications," says Dr. Lawrence Davis (Radiation Oncology). The treatment takes only three to five minutes.

Presidential honor

Dr. Arnall Patz, a 1945 SOM alumnus and one of the world's leading ophthalmologists, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony in June. Early in his career, Dr. Patz proved that high levels ofoxygen commonly used to treat premature infants could irreversibly damage the retina and cause blindness. For his efforts, Dr. Patz received the Albert Lasker Medical Award (often called the "American Nobel") in 1956.

Save the date!

Please join me for my 2004 State of the School Address at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, September 28, in the WHSCAB Auditorium.

Thomas J. Lawley, MD
Dean, Emory School of Medicine

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