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Streamlining the IRB Process

A number of changes are in the works regarding our Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) with the goal of creating a more effective and efficient human protections program. Dr. Tanya Sudia-Robinson was recently appointed as Director of the Administrative Office of the Institutional Review Board and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Her office supports the University's five IRB committees and makes sure that Emory research involving human subjects is in full and complete compliance with governing internal and external policies, rules, and regulations. Dr. James Keller continues as Chair of the four medical IRB committees, while Dr. Karen Hegtvedt continues to chair the Social/Behavioral IRB Committee for Emory College. Dr. Sam Speck is Chair of the IACUC.

Because IRBs are under increasingly stringent federal review, Dr. Sudia-Robinson is working to streamline the process, make certain that research protocols are properly reviewed, and ensure that Emory investigators and IRB staff have the training and IRB resources they need to continue conducting cutting-edge research involving human subjects. During the past few months as Interim Director, she made substantial improvements in these areas. Ms. Patti Tuohy was appointed Assistant Director to co-manage the IRB office's six compliance specialists, along with Dr. Sudia-Robinson. Formerly a compliance specialist herself, Ms. Tuohy will implement consistency and standardization among compliance specialists as well as manage training and education programs.

"We conducted an analysis of the IRB and studied our protocols and process," explains Ms. Kristen West, Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Research Compliance for the University. "We identified areas needing improvement, and we have addressed them in accordance with internal and external regulations. Our goals were to achieve consistency and standardization among all compliance specialists and to conduct better training of our compliance specialists and our Emory investigators, all in the most efficient manner possible." A further goal was to speed up the process of review.

Additionally, evaluation of a new computerized submission and tracking process is under way with purchase, initial configuration, and pilot testing to be initiated within approximately six months. The computerized system will create a paperless, web-based process that should speed up submission and processing time and help investigators track their proposals more efficiently.

Memorable match

March 17 was more than St. Patrick's Day. It was Match Day, when members of our 2005 graduating class learned where they will train as residents. Of 107 M4 students, 100 participated in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP), which filled a record-breaking 22,221 positions out of 24,012 positions available nationally. Ten of our students participated in the Military Match, with four receiving active assignments and six deferring and becoming part of the NRMP. Three of our M4s deferred residency.

Forty-four students chose primary care specialties, including internal medicine (24), pediatrics (11), family practice (6), and gynecology/obstetrics (2). Other popular residencies include general surgery (7), orthopaedic surgery (7), anesthesiology (6), psychiatry (5), and radiology/diagnostic (5). Thirty-five of our students will spend all or part of their residencies in Georgia and will train at Emory for their first and/or second year. The rest will enter residencies in 23 other states. Good luck to these graduates as they pursue their new endeavors. I am very pleased with the high caliber of this year's graduating class.

In memoriam

Our sympathies go to the family of Dr. Tami Fisk, who died of cancer in Colorado. She moved there late last year to be with her family. Dr. Fisk was Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and worked at the TravelWell Clinic at Emory Crawford Long Hospital. She was only 39. "Tami was very engaged in global health issues, especially in Asia," said Dr. David Stephens, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases. "One of her most recent projects was in Thailand in association with the CDC." Donations designated for the Global Health Fund in Dr. Fisk's name may be sent to the Health Sciences Development and Alumni Relations office.

We also are saddened by the death of Dr. Thomas Fulmer, 79, formerly the Chief of Psychiatry at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He died of complications of Parkinson's disease. A veteran of World War II, Dr. Fulmer was a pioneer in the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Contributions may be made to the Military Family Network, 1000 Bridge Street, Suite D, 2nd Floor, Hampton, VA 23669.

Tsunami relief from Emory

The SOM has rallied to help tsunami victims, providing a generous outpouring of sympathy and support to colleagues and others who were affected by the disaster. Dr. Michael Saenger, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of General Medicine at Grady, provided critical help to the relief efforts in southeastern Asia. Earlier this year, he traveled to Sri Lanka with 13 other trained volunteers from the Presbyterian Church in America. During their two-week journey, these physicians, nurses, and counselors, as well as an engineer and a camp cook, set up a temporary clinic to provide medical and mental health care and a caring presence. They lived in the middle of one refugee camp of fishermen and their families.

"There's always more to the story than just the disaster at hand," comments Dr. Saenger. "Many of these gentle people lost family members, and all lost homes and livelihoods, including their boats and nets. The wear from years of civil war and lost opportunities is quite evident. We hope for a better future for these people and that others now will step up to help them build their new community."

Student research leaders

Every year, our medical students have a chance to showcase their research skills at Medical Student Research Day. This year's event in January was the 50th year the event has been hosted by the SOM. The event's top research awards went to M2 students. Jackie Marcus received the Helen Miller Award of $300 for her short-term research project and presentation, "Prevalence of Wandering in an Alzheimer's Disease Population." Brandon Fornwaldt received the Judge's Award of $250 for his research presentation, "Resynchronization and Strain Recovery Following Reimplantation of Anomalous Coronary Artery: A Tissue Doppler and 3-D Echocardiographic Study." Andrew Murphy received the Dean's Award for his short-term project and talk, "Photolytic Degradation and Signal Transduction in DU145 Human Prostate Cancer Cells Using a GFP-FKHR Model System." Dr. Michael Kuhar, Professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at Yerkes, was the event's keynote speaker. Congratulations to these exemplary students!

Get ready for Commencement

Mark your calendar for Commencement, which is Monday, May 16, at 8 am on the Quadrangle. Journalist and author Tom Brokaw will deliver the keynote address. You will enjoy hearing our own Dr. Jonas Shulman, Executive Associate Dean, speak at the SOM Diploma Ceremony, which is at 9:45 am in Glenn Memorial Auditorium, immediately following the main ceremony.

Pre-Commencement activities include the Senior Banquet for students graduating with MD, MD/PhD, MD/MPH, and MD/MBA degrees on Thursday, May 12, at 7 pm at the Fox Theater and the Dean's Reception on Sunday, May 15, from 3 to 5 pm on the WHSCAB Plaza.

Same name, new location

Graphic Design, Video, and Presentation Services, the graphic design unit of the SOM, is now located on the Emory Briarcliff Campus, Building A, Room 204-S. Staffed by Jane Russell and Alex Derienko, Graphic Design is a full-service operation that can assist you with flyers, posters, photo scans and enhancements, videos, brochures, booklets, illustrations, and more. To learn more about what Graphic Design has to offer, call 727-5665. There is plenty of space for visitor parking in front of Building A, the campus' main building. Or you can ride Shuttle A, which serves the Briarcliff campus.

Good news on tort reform

In February, Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the tort reform bill into law. This has been our No. 1 legislative objective for several years. The bill provides a $350,000 cap for doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities for pain and suffering. Emergency department physicians receive some protection unless they commit gross negligence. The bill does not provide a cap for economic damages (lost wages). The elements of pain and suffering and speculative economic damages have contributed to ever-increasing health care costs. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me educate legislators about the urgency of this necessary reform.

Emory gold medalists

Dr. Kay Vydareny (Radiology) received the 2005 Gold Medal from the American College of Radiology at the society's annual meeting in early April. She was recognized for her outstanding contributions to her field. This is not the first time Dr. Vydareny has received a gold medal--she has one from the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS).

In May, Dr. William Casarella (Radiology) will receive a 2005 Gold Medal for Distinguished Service from the ARRS. He is one of three recipients who will receive this award, the society's highest honor.

Emory's own legend

Georgia Rep. Johnny Issakson recently named Dr. Sharon Weiss (Pathology) as a Georgia Local Legend. The award goes to women who show commitment, originality, innovation, and creativity in medicine.

In addition, Dr. Weiss was one of 28 Local Legends recognized at the American Medical Women's Association's annual meeting. She joins a host of distinguished women previously honored, including Dr. Nanette Wenger (Medicine/Cardiology) and Dr. Flavia Mercado (Pediatrics). All are profiled in a special National Library of Medicine exhibit titled, "Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians." If you can't go to the Washington, DC, exhibit, you can view their profiles at

Teaching sound byte

"A good lecturer is a good story teller," says Dr. Joshy Jacob, Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, and 2004 Dean's Teaching Award recipient. "So all you have to do is to keep the story simple and use many illustrations. A touch of humor does not hurt your life's work."

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

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