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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

June 2018 Archives

June 25, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Some stellar stories have crossed my desk recently, and I wanted to share them with you:

  • Our congratulations go to Curtis N. Sessler, M.D., F’85, who has been honored by the Association of Critical-Care Nurses with its Pioneering Spirit Award. According to nursing leaders, Dr. Sessler was ahead of his time in fostering an environment where physicians, nurses and other members of the care team work together.
  • Over the past year, the Class of 2019’s Joanne Chiao spent her Friday mornings volunteering at a local retirement community where she served as a painting partner for adults with early-onset Alzheimer’s dementia. She wrote about her experience in a first-person account for the AAMC’s Aspiring Docs Diaries blog, describing how it improved her ability to understand how individuals perceive their health and disease. “Where previously, I would have honed in on the science, the clinical dilemma and its associated decision-making — I saw instead, a person’s frustration, their struggle with a chronic condition. I heard how distressing and debilitating the pain was. I heard, but, even more, saw, how that pain stole her autonomy, function, and above all, quality of life.”
  • We’re grateful to PharmTox alumna Teri Stockham, Ph.D., who wants to break the cycle of the synthetic drug epidemic and thinks the next generation of forensic toxicologists are poised to do it. That’s just one reason she endowed a scholarship to support forensic science graduate students in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences. “I made it through 10 years of education through scholarships and working – no loans or family assistance. I feel blessed to be in this position at this time in my life and wanted to give back.”

Chronicle - Spring 2018 coverIn addition, the most recent issue of the MCV Foundation’s Chronicle of Giving includes extensive coverage of our medical school. This publication that goes to the MCV Campus’ alumni and friends features a cover story on the Virginia Treatment Center for Children’s new facility.

The issue also spotlights the Class of 1972’s Don Sanders, M.D., who with his wife, Terry, has made a gift in support of the fmStat Scholarship Fund. The publication instructs readers on how to use planned giving to support the MCV Campus, featuring our friends Nancy and Craig Canning as an example, and also recognizes the Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s 60th anniversary, Dr. Gerry Moeller’s appointment to the Wright Distinguished Chair and a number of faculty awards and leadership roles. I’m also appreciative that they included an update from me that reflects on the past 18 months.

You can read all this and more in the spring 2018 issue of the Chronicle of Giving that’s posted online.

I hope you’ll enjoy these stories.


With every good wish,

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

June 21, 2018

You’re only as good as your team

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Yesterday we welcomed 144 new physician-colleagues to our VCU family. We are joined by our PGY1 residents, 27 of whom are VCU SOM graduates and many of whom come from all across the U.S. – and beyond. These vital and talented new colleagues will be the “front line physicians” for our health system, often being the first contact with patients and their relatives. How they practice will reflect on all of us.

Please welcome and support these great new doctors. They will need – and deserve – our attention and support during this formative transition of their early careers. Your wisdom, experience, mentorship and support will be invaluable to them. Please also watch out for future leadership, educational, research and quality science opportunities for them so that they can maximize their learning experiences with us.

Our thanks also to Dr. Aboff, each departmental program director and GME program leaders and their staff for bringing such fine doctors to VCU. Our thanks also to Dr. Aboff for an excellent year-end review of all our residency programs that was very well received at today’s VCUHS Board of Directors meeting.

Let’s welcome and support our newest team members. They will make us proud.

Thank you for your leadership.

Warm regards,

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

June 12, 2018

Outstanding contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni

Dear Colleagues-Friends,

I like to keep you informed about stories that may appeal to you. Here are some new ones that have crossed my desk:

  • We’re proud to see Nathan Lewis, M.D., honored as Clerkship Director of the Year by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine. The alumnus of the Class of 2009 now directs our Emergency Medicine Department’s clerkship for M4s and also co-hosts EM Stud, a podcast for medical students around the country considering careers in emergency medicine.
  • At the medical school’s graduate student recognition ceremony earlier this spring, the room was full of student awardees along with graduates, mentors, family and friends celebrating the scientific achievements of more than 50 graduate students. “We’re proud of our students and always enjoy highlighting their accomplishments,” says Michael Grotewiel, Ph.D., the medical school’s interim associate dean for graduate education. “But this year was exceptional because we got to announce that seven students were nominated for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – and two have been selected to attend!” More than five dozen SOM-level awards and 18 departmental-level awards were presented at the ceremony.
  • We salute the Class of 57’s Wil Blechman who has been inducted into the medical school’s chapter of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in celebration of his second career advocating for the world’s youngest citizens. After a more-than-30-year career as a rheumatologist mostly focused on older adults, he turned his attention as president for Kiwanis International to the issues that can positively or negatively affect the development and well-being of children.
  • Baseball. Fathers. Sons. It’s got all the classic elements of a feel-good Father’s Day story. The Class of 2018’s Ron Rosenberg used a cross-country tour of every Major League Baseball stadium to raise money for SportableRVA – and it was all inspired by the man who sparked in him a love of sports as well as a love for medicine — his father Neil Rosenberg, an alumnus of our Class of 1978.

You may also want to check out the latest issue of Impact, the quarterly publication from VCU’s Development and Alumni Relations office. Vol. 14 includes a pair of terrific feature stories that show the impact that philanthropy has in the medical school. You can find the stories online.

  • An International Outlook, a 4-page first-person feature by Dr. Lance Hampton on his volunteer trips to Vietnam. Dr. Hampton, who holds the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Jr. Professorship in Urology, uses these trips to help patients – both at home and abroad.
  • Better Together, a 4-page feature on Dr. Bruce Rubin’s engineering expertise has brought about an award-winning partnership between industry and academia to improve the lives of children with lung diseases. Dr. Rubin holds the Jessie Ball DuPont Distinguished Professorship.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories.

With every good wish,

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

June 8, 2018

Doing what we do best…

Dear Friends-Colleagues:

Yesterday, we held the 15th annual VCU Health Resident-Fellow Research Day. It was a terrific showing – some 16 oral presentations and over 70 poster presentations. The range of topics was impressive – from molecular biology of cancer, through comparative evaluations of advanced surgical technologies, to quality outcomes and standardizing the discharge process… and lots more. There was a good mix of basic science and clinical science, with projects ranging in design from retrospective studies to prospective multicenter national consortia. Also, significantly, many presentations were in collaboration with our colleagues at the McGuire VAMC. In every presentation, the dedication, scientific curiosity and commitment of our residents and fellows was clearly in evidence. So too was the mentorship and support of our faculty, who gave generously of their ideas, expertise, resources – including their most valuable resource – their time. Our thanks to all participants and supporters of this vital research symposium. Particular thanks go to Dr. Evan Reiter, Vice Chair, Department of Otolaryngology, who led the event and to the senior faculty who served on the panel of judges. Thanks also to Dr. Brian Aboff, Sr. Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education and Ms. Jessica Waugh, GME Curriculum & Program Manager, and dedicated staff for facilitating this event.

The commitment of mentees and mentors at our institution to advancing discovery and science as well as translating this directly to improvement in patient care was very much in evidence at yesterday’s symposium – as it is daily in our basic science labs, in our clinics, and in our operating rooms.

As a complementary accompaniment to this note of thanks, I thought you might be interested in this “hot off the press” article from Health Affairs that demonstrates superior patient outcomes in academic medical centers (AMCs). This is an important article by Burke and colleagues building upon a seminal article that appeared last year in JAMA. Tellingly, in this week’s article, Burke and colleagues conclude: “the better outcomes at AMCs appear to apply to all patients, not only the sickest ones with the most complicated conditions.” Hopefully this will continue to advance the discussion in our academic and broader healthcare communities about the unique, vital, and complementary role that academic health centers – like ours – play in U.S. healthcare.

Thank you for your leadership and contributions to our discovery, to our training of our talented scientists and clinicians, and to the remarkable quality of care given every day to people who seek treatment with us.

With every good wish,

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

June 6, 2018

Anita Navarro Ed.D., appointed inaugural chief of staff for VCU School of Medicine

Dear Friends-Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D., as the medical school’s inaugural chief of staff.

Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D.

Anita M. Navarro, Ed.D.

This is a return to VCU for Dr. Navarro who spent nearly 20 years at the university, including 11 in the medical school. For the past eight years, she has served in a variety of leadership roles at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the premiere academic national organization that represents medical schools and teaching hospitals in the U.S. and Canada.

Most recently, as a senior staff member in Academic Affairs, she has been responsible for a wide range of executive, administrative and programmatic duties in support of the AAMC’s chief academic officer and Academic Affairs. Her portfolio includes strategic planning and implementation, developing and implementing policy, and managing federal and constituent relationships. She was also called on to lead the AAMC’s involvement in the White House’s Joining Forces initiative during the Obama administration, as well as a crisis team in the wake of hurricanes that affected medical schools in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

As our medical school’s inaugural chief of staff, Dr. Navarro will have a broad portfolio of responsibilities including operations oversight for the SOM Dean’s Office, strategic planning, key project implementation, community outreach, and both internal and external communications. We look forward to her collaborative approaches to enhance our communications across departments and units within the medical school, also working in tandem with our health system and university communications teams to expand more broadly our School of Medicine media and communications outreach to our community. She also will support the planning, policy formation and strategic implementation of programs envisioned by our senior leadership team.

Dr. Navarro’s varied experiences in working with White House staff, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Academic Affiliations and other high level organizational executives will be of tremendous benefit to our medical school. She has a deep understanding of the service mission of an institution of public higher education, and especially of an academic medical center. To that end, we also look forward to Dr. Navarro strengthening our academic partnerships, including with other universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with our already robust relationships with the McGuire VA and with the AAMC.

We are particularly fortunate that Dr. Navarro will bring with her a proven record of commitment to VCU and to our medical school. Many here may remember Dr. Navarro’s prior service in our medical school as curriculum director and in creating career development programs for the medical students, and she is an alumna of our university.

Our thanks go to Brian Aboff, M.D., senior associate dean for graduate medical education, as well as members of the search committee for their leadership and service in identifying such an exceptional addition to our team.


Please welcome back Dr. Navarro when she joins us on August 20.

Warm Regards,

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

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