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New-century medicine

Our dream of a new medical education building to prepare future physicians for ever-changing, new-century medicine is finally coming true. Major renovations on the Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) Buildings and preparations to replace the A&P Connector are well under way, reports Charlie Andrews, Associate Vice President for Space Planning.

First on the schedule for our new medical education facility is building a temporary gross anatomy lab in the basement of the Anatomy Building. Also, beginning June 30, "SOM lectures will be relocated temporarily to other lecture halls and classrooms on campus for the next two academic years," Mr. Andrews says.

In September, workers will demolish the A&P Connector to make way for a new Hall of Medicine that will connect to the A&P Buildings. During construction and renovation, large classes will take place mainly in the Whitehead Biomedical Research Building and WHSCAB auditoriums. Construction and renovation should be completed by April 2007, and faculty and students will move in by July 2007. With the addition of much-needed space, the Class of 2011 can have up to 130 students, and there will be room to add another 20 or more students in the distant future. The planned student increase will help fill a gap projected by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which has asked medical schools around the country to increase enrollment by about 15% to prevent a shortage of physicians by 2015.

The new five-story facility will be eye-catching -- including an airy, light-filled atrium -- yet practical to support the innovative curriculum concurrently under development. The $55 million building will provide 162,000 square feet of state-of-the-art teaching space, with three amphitheaters that hold 160 students each, four seminar rooms designed for 40 students each, 18 classrooms for small-group sessions of up to 20 students each, and 16 exam rooms with simulators for teaching clinical skills. Faculty will use a new simulation laboratory suite to create varied teaching scenarios, allowing medical students to interact with "patients" portrayed by actors.

Another new feature will be a dissection lab with 26 tables for groups of six students. Each table will have a computer monitor showing magnetic resonance images and other views of what they are dissecting. New fresh tissue facilities will provide students with a more realistic experience for study and clinical faculty with a convenient way to develop and practice new procedures. The Emory Simulation, Training, and Robotics (ESTAR) Center, with its space-age simulators, computers, and robotics for teaching keyhole surgery, also will be housed in the new facility.

Faculty, staff, and students will enjoy the spacious new student lounges, support and study space, food services, and wireless Internet capabilities. (The building will be the first wireless facility on campus). "Eighty-one percent of the new space will be dedicated to students," says Mr. Andrews. "That's an increase of almost 300% over our existing structures." That is wonderful news for our "nomad" students, who will no longer have to roam in search of a place to study.

New curriculum strategy

Plans to create a new medical education curriculum are progressing steadily. The Curriculum Strategic Planning Steering Committee, chaired by Dr. Stephen Warren, Chair, Department of Human Genetics, and Dr. Carlos del Rio, Professor of Medicine, has met for the past several months and formed subcommittees that meet regularly. The subcommittees comprise 32 students and 100 faculty members who are exploring new educational concepts. We have received many ideas from national curriculum experts, including Drs. Michael Whitcomb (AAMC), David Irby (University of California at San Francisco), Steve Smith (Brown University), and Emil Petrusa (Duke University). Committee members will present a final report to the Dean's Office on August 1.

"As we progress further with this process, we will continue to be interested in ideas from faculty and students," says Dr. Jonas Shulman, Senior Adviser to the Dean for Curriculum Development. "We also will be having some general open meetings to discuss potential curriculum changes as our thoughts become more definite."

AOA chapter honors

One hundred students, faculty, alumni, and local physicians gathered this spring at an annual banquet to honor new members of Emory's Beta Chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society. The audience was treated to a fabulous keynote address by Dr. Jay Keystone, Professor of Travel Medicine at the University of Toronto. "He reminded all of us about the heartwarming personal and professional journey we take during our careers in medicine," says Dr. Katherine Heilpern, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, and Beta Chapter Councillor. "The new AOA inductees are wonderful examples of attention to professionalism and high scholarly achievement. We applaud both their accomplishments and their promise."

Honorees from the senior class include Andrew Adams, Camille Almond, James Bartz, Nick Cost, Mark Garrett, John Heflin, Shannon Kahn, Mihir Kamdar, Adam Lowry, Amy Nash, Bill O'Donnell, Jessica Ohr, Michelle Pennie, Brie Poindexter, Carrye Rudolph, Kyle Rusthoven, Kelly Schlendorf, Megan Stuebner, and Cliff Willimon. Honorees from the junior class are Jackie Garonzik, Michael Hasselle, Jason Hadley, Matt Sherwood, and Dustin Smith. House staff Drs. John House, Joshua Larned, and Jason Prystowsky, faculty members Drs. Susie Buchter (Pediatrics) and Suephy Chen (Dermatology), and alumnus Dr. William Warren IV, 79M, also were inducted. In addition, chapter Vice President Adam Lowry received the AOA National Medical Student Service Project Award for establishing the Atlanta Sickle Cell Program, which provides SOM student mentors for local children who have the disease.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences' own legend

It is not every day an octogenarian receives major NIH funding. In fact, we think it might be a first. An expert in the study of the mechanisms underlying behavior-altering organic brain disease, Dr. Abraham Rosenberg (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences) has received a three-year NIH exploratory grant totaling $495,000, the maximum permissible for this one-time type of grant. The project resulted from his breakthrough discovery that the transition from HIV infection to fulminating neuro-AIDS, which causes neuropsychiatric problems, parallels opportunistic infections from pathogens that produce an enzyme called sialidase. This enzyme removes the protective barrier on both the surface of the HIV and the immune cells, which allows the virus to enter the immune cell and compromise its functionality. As part of the grant, Dr. Rosenberg is developing genetically accurate sialidase inhibitors that can halt AIDS development in HIV-positive women infected simultaneously with the sialidase-producing pathogen, Gardnerella vaginalis, and, in time, in any HIV-positive individual infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae. "If we can keep these patients stable at the infection level," he says, "we can prevent the disease from going forward into AIDS."

Dr. Rosenberg joined the department eight years ago after "retiring" from the Neuropsychiatric and Brain Research Institute at UCLA. After Dr. Rosenberg moved to Decatur to be closer to his family, Department Chair Dr. Charles Nemeroff talked him into joining our faculty. His international expertise and nearly 50 years of experience as a department chair, research division chief, and a member of several NIH scientific review committees are true assets for Emory. And Dr. Rosenberg is a role model who exemplifies the unceasing active engagement of a bright mind and spirit in science and the academy.

Farewell to the Class of 2005

A total of 105 members of the Class of 2005 made the transition from student to alumnus at commencement this year, including 17 dual-degree recipients (seven MD/PhDs, nine MD/MPHs, and one MD/MBA).

The featured speaker was Dr. Jonas Shulman, Senior Adviser for Curriculum Development. Dr. Shulman, who has spent the past 38 years at Emory and has influenced more than 4,000 of our medical graduates, discussed the "profound experience" of learning medicine that had been "etched in the students' souls forever" and advised graduates to embrace their "doubts and incompleteness." Armed with these traits, he said, they would always be ready to learn anew.

Among the students receiving honors were John Heflin (Evangeline Papageorge Award); Vincent Gills, Adam Lowry, and Padmashree Chaudhury (Bolton Service Awards); and Grace Prakalapakorn (Gaston Service Award). James Bartz, Adam Lowry, and Kelly Schlendorf graduated summa cum laude. Faculty honors went to Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar (Papageorge Teaching Award) and Dr. John Louis Ugbo (honorary class member).

State honor

Dr. Arthur Yancey (Emergency Medicine) received Georgia's Distinguished Service Award for Emergency Medical Services/Pre-Hospital Care from the Region III (the metro Atlanta area) EMS Advisory Council. The award honors an individual or organization for outstanding contributions in the development and/or enhancement of pre-hospital emergency medical care delivery.

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

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