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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

January 2018 Archives

January 19, 2018

Appointment of Gordon Smith, M.D. as Chair of Neurology

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Gordon Smith, M.D.

Gordon Smith, M.D.

We are pleased to announce the appointment of A. Gordon Smith, M.D., F.A.A.N., who will serve as the chairman of the Department of Neurology.

With distinguished accomplishments in the missions of teaching, research and clinical care, Dr. Smith’s breadth of experience and national stature will serve him well in his new role. We look forward to his contributions as a leader in the department as well as in support of our broader neuroscience program and in our community.

Dr. Smith has most recently served as professor of neurology and vice chair for research at the University of Utah, where he also is chief of the division of neuromuscular medicine and director of the Jack H. Petajan EMG Laboratory.

Dr. Smith’s research team focuses on peripheral neuropathy in diabetes and obesity. He has a particular interest in biomarker development and novel clinical trial design in peripheral neuropathy, a condition resulting from damage to the peripheral nervous system and causing weakness, numbness and pain.

He has led and participated in numerous clinical trials in neuromuscular disorders as well as in NeuroNEXT, the Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials that is funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Serving on the network’s executive committee, Dr. Smith is principal investigator of the TopCSPN trial, the first large scale randomized trial of a treatment to alter the natural history of cryptogenic sensory peripheral neuropathy, one of the most common neurological disorders.

Dr. Smith serves on the board of directors of the American Academy of Neurology and is chair of its education committee. He is active in the Peripheral Nerve Society, where he is a former member of the board of directors, and currently serves as the secretary on the American Brain Foundation’s board of trustees.

A native of Richmond, Dr. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School. He completed his neurology residency and a neuromuscular fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Our thanks go to the committee, led by Alex Valadka, M.D., to our community partners and leaders, our Neurology team, and to Jean Baumgartner, M.A., in the medical school’s Office of Faculty Affairs, for all their collective work and support in this successful national search.

This was an institutional search, with full support of our university and our health system.

“We are committed to building on our academic strengths, with neurosciences, addictions and mental health being a prominent strategic focus for us,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. It is anticipated that Dr. Smith, in collaboration with other leaders on campus, will recruit new talent to advance our neurosciences, both in research and in clinical specialty services.

“I’m excited by the excellent outcome of this collaborative search for this stellar clinical and academic leader,” said Deborah Davis, CEO of VCU Health System Hospitals and Clinics. “And I deeply appreciate Scott A. Vota, D.O., who dedicatedly served as interim chair of the department over the past four years.”

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Smith to our medical school and “back home” to Richmond with his wife, Emily, and boys, Sam and Ben. Gordon will join our medical school this spring.

Warm regards,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 9, 2018

New Year’s greeting and message from SOM Dean

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

I hope that you and your families enjoyed the holidays and that you were not unduly disrupted by the exceptionally inclement weather that has brought us into 2018.

As I mentioned in my pre-holiday note, we have much to be pleased about from 2017 and to be grateful for. As we begin 2018, it is noteworthy that for the first time ever, the number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools has exceeded the number of men in 2017, with females accounting for 50.7% of matriculants. We should truly celebrate how diverse we have become, not just in gender, but importantly also in race, creed, sexual orientation and ever-more-important in the greater representation of the diversity of our opinions. Diversity without inclusion is a missed opportunity and represents a flawed environment. To that end, we must strive in 2018 for a more diverse and inclusive environment. As 2017 drew to a close, I was heartened by a compelling NYT article by Tom Brokaw, celebrating how diverse and inclusive our healthcare and training environment really is. You can read this powerful article online.

I also read a not-so-flattering article about sexual harassment and intolerance in higher education. You can read this disturbing article online.

On reflection, 2017 was noteworthy for much social turmoil, intolerance of differences, and, more accordingly, for the acknowledgement and disavowment of sexual harassment. As we begin 2018, we must affirm our commitment to respect, to human dignity, and to intolerance of any forms of discrimination and/or harassment. Our work in academic medicine is noble and it is vital. We have much to accomplish in 2018, including that we ensure respect for each other, our patients, and our community.

It is a time of great promise for our medical school. In 2018, new trainees will come here. Also, our graduates of the class of 2018 will go forth to give great care all across America. New faculty will also join us to advance our research, aid in our discoveries, train our students and residents and alongside us they will care for our patients. You will help bring new babies into the world, you will save lives, and you will cure some patients’ cancer. Collectively, we will practice quality and safe medicine with a degree of team cohesion and skills that are truly awesome. Our great faculty will undoubtedly receive many national accolades for their/your work. (P.S. we know that already – we are embargoed from mentioning several wonderful recognitions that are “in the works for 2018” – more to follow!) The promise of your work will also bring new competitive grants and new philanthropic donations to advance all our missions. And we will do just that… and we will be an even better school in 2018.

I thank each and every one of you for your commitment to our school in 2018 and I also thank you for your commitment to be exemplary role models for all of us. I pledge the same to you.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not remind us all of a simple, yet glorious historical fact: Our medical school, the founding school of VCU, celebrates 180 years in 2018!

What a great legacy and what a compelling future.

Let’s make it a year to remember.

With best wishes for 2018,

Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

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Updated: 08/19/2008