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School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

January 29, 2016

Douglas Arthur, M.D. named Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology


Douglas W. Arthur, M.D.

I am pleased to announce that Douglas W. Arthur, M.D., has been appointed to serve as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, effective February 1.

Dr. Arthur is currently interim chair and professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and holds the position of associate director of clinical affairs in the Massey Cancer Center. He was appointed the inaugural Natalie N. and John R. Congdon, Sr. Chair in Cancer Research in 2013.

Dr. Arthur received his M.D. in 1989 from Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and completed a residency in radiation oncology at the VCU School of Medicine. He finished his training with a brachytherapy focused clinical fellowship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and joined the faculty at VCU in 1994.

Dr. Arthur’s primary research interests include clinical studies focusing on the treatment of breast cancer with special interest in the development and use of accelerated partial breast irradiation. He has a long history of clinical trial development and is the principal investigator of one national trial and co-PI for several national breast trials. He maintains a successful track record of participation at the national level and is recognized as a top enroller to many trials. Presently, he is a breast committee member of the NRG Oncology national cooperative trial group and has been appointed as a co-chairman of the breast cancer local regional subcommittee.

Within the Massey Cancer Center and regionally he contributes to the overall care of patients through Multi-Disciplinary clinic involvement and patient flow management, the focus of which is expert patient care and access to clinical trial enrollment.

Dr. Arthur is the co-editor of the first two editions of a book on accelerated partial breast irradiation and is the lead editor of the latest expanded edition, recently published textbook, “Short Course Breast Radiotherapy: A Comprehensive Review of Hypofractionation, Partial Breast, and Intra-Operative Irradiation.”

My thanks go to Dr. Ann Fulcher, Chair of the Department of Radiology, who led the national search, and the search committee, who identified Dr. Arthur as the next leader of Radiation Oncology.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

December 16, 2015

2015 End-of-Year Letter to the Alumni

In a decade’s worth of letters to the alumni body, I have had the chance to tell you about an ever-growing applicant pool, the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center that houses our new curriculum and an expanding research enterprise that includes the largest grants in VCU’s history. It is a privilege to lead the medical school during such invigorating times, and I am glad to report there are more advances this year.

For one, we have a pair of new chairs to introduce you to. Harry Young, M.D., the beloved founding chair in the Department of Neurosurgery has retired, and it is only fitting that one of his former trainees has returned to the MCV Campus to lead the department that Dr. Young built. Alex Valadka, M.D., arrives from the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas, where he was chairman and CEO. He has been investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, including serving as initiating investigator on a $33.7 million Department of Defense research consortium on mild traumatic brain injury. He will enrich our already exceptional community of traumatic brain injury researchers.

Each year, Dean of Medicine Jerry F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., sends greetings to the alumni body in the form of an end-of-year letter. This is the 2015 edition, reporting the latest happenings from the MCV Campus.

Stephen Kates, M.D., has taken the helm of Orthopaedic Surgery. Arriving last month from the University of Rochester, Kates is a standout in his field with a highly funded and diverse research program. Of particular note, he developed the Geriatric Fracture Center Model of Care, which has been emulated by hospitals in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Latin America and Asia. His expertise will dovetail with our existing strong program in geriatric care.

If you graduated in the past three decades, there’s a good chance you know of Peter Boling, M.D., and his house calls program for homebound elderly. You will be proud to hear his vision for excellent and cost-efficient care has spread beyond Richmond. His team had a lead role in the creation and design of the Independence at Home Demonstration, a Medicare and Medicaid program which proved so successful in its initial year that it’s been extended for two years and is being considered as a permanent program.

There are two other examples of our faculty and students shaping training and patient care on the national front. Medical students are working alongside colleagues from dentistry, psychology, nursing, pharmacy, social work and community health in the second year of a national hotspotting project. A small percentage of patients account for almost half of total health care expenses in the U.S. This initiative is equipping students from 20 medical schools to identify high utilizers and facilitate care in a way that is patient-focused, home-based and cost-effective.

In the second project, we’re testing guidelines intended to eliminate the perceived gap between how medical school typically trains students and what is expected on day one of residency. There are 13 skills – like recommending tests, collaborating as part of an interprofessional team and prioritizing differential diagnoses – that we’re evaluating along with 10 other schools across the country.

With more than 9,500 applications this year, it is important to choose the right students for the 216 seats in the incoming class. When a student struggles, many times it comes down to communication issues, particularly in the third and fourth years that call on interpersonal skills, professionalism and ethical/moral judgment. For more than 10 years, McMaster University’s medical school in Canada has used multiple mini interviews to evaluate these qualities in applicants, and now 22 of the 144 U.S medical schools have joined them. Their collective experience shows that 10 interviews are necessary to properly judge a candidate’s potential to become a great physician. Next year, we will replace our current single interview with a set of ten 10-minute interviews. In order to launch our new process in August, we will need a cadre of faculty, students and – importantly – alumni who are willing to devote one Saturday a month from mid-August through mid-March to the mission of selecting students who will thrive on the MCV Campus. If you are interested, please get in touch with our Admissions Dean, who is an alumna herself, Michelle Whitehurst-Cook, M’79, at mwcook@vcu.edu.

Four years ago, I wrote to you about what was then a new program: fmSTAT. It’s a dual admission program in the medical school that nurtures students who want to be family physicians. It gives them four years of workshops, training and mentors – many of whom are alumni. With a current enrollment of 30, we’ll graduate our first class of fmScholars in the spring. The program is having a significant positive impact on graduating students’ specialty decisions. I remember when I arrived on campus, just 11 students matched into family medicine residencies. This year we’re on track – for the second year running – to see more than 20 match into the field. Results like that are raising our profile on the national front: US News ranked us among the top 50 medical schools for primary care. Our next step is to build a scholarship endowment so that graduates heading into family medicine won’t be saddled with a load of debt.

Endowments like that one make a difference. Over these past 10 years, I have seen 31 new professorships and endowed chairs established in the medical school and the VCU Massey Cancer Center. That financial backing allows us to recruit and retain exceptional faculty members whose national stature translates to advances for our patients, unique opportunities for our students and an elevated profile for the school as a whole. For the first time in our history, the school’s faculty boasts five Institute of Medicine members.

Endowments and private gifts also fuel new centers and institutes. In the last decade, the School of Medicine and Massey have raised $352.5 million. That financial infusion has taken concrete form around campus in, for example, the VCU Pauley Heart Center, the Victoria Johnson Center for Lung Disease Research and the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center. Just this month, community philanthropist Ken Wright announced a $16 million gift – this time in support of translational research. I am grateful for vibrant community engagement and financial support.

Please continue to keep us informed about your own accomplishments. As I read the Class Notes section of the medical school’s new magazine, 12th & Marshall, I am reminded of the remarkable lives of our alumni. From leading national professional societies to devoting themselves to humanitarian causes around the globe and in their own communities, our alumni take what they learned on the MCV Campus and use it to heal, to teach and to lay a path for those who are coming in their footsteps.

I thank you for all that you do in the tradition of the Medical College of Virginia, and I wish you a wonderful holiday season.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

August 27, 2015

Two Medical School Faculty Honored at VCU’s 2015 Convocation

Gordon Ginder, M.D.

Gordon Ginder, M.D.

Earlier this month, I was proud to see a pair of remarkable physicians honored for their work to advance the care of patients in Virginia, Gordon Ginder, M.D., and Ananda Pandurangi, M.D,, were recognized at VCU’s 33rd Annual Faculty Convocation on Aug. 18, 2015.

Gordon Ginder, M.D., was presented the University Award of Excellence. His selfless dedication to delivering the highest quality care to cancer patients in Virginia, many of whom have complex medical and social needs, has created the successful Massey Cancer Center, serving over 15,000 patients each year, that we are all so proud of. His ability to create an atmosphere where everyone associated with the Center feels that they can contribute to its success is remarkable and inspires faculty, staff, volunteers and donors to reach for the highest level of excellence.

Ananda Pandurangi, M.D.

Ananda Pandurangi, M.D.

Ananda Pandurangi, M.D., received the Distinguished Service Award. He has devoted his career of over 30 years at VCU to improving the access to and quality of care for people with mental illness. His research, teaching, and advocacy have had a positive impact on the lives of children and adults in Virginia, the U.S., and beyond, particularly as a leader in our international program with the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. in Chandigarh, India. His service has enhanced VCU’s positive impact on our global community and advances all four themes of the VCU Quest for Distinction.

You can read more about their careers and contributions in the VCU news release.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

August 12, 2015

Stephen Kates, M.D., has been selected to serve as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Stephen Kates, M.D.

Stephen Kates, M.D.

I am pleased to announce that, following a national search, Stephen Kates, M.D., has been selected to serve as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He will begin his tenure on November 16, 2015.

Dr. Kates comes to VCU from the University of Rochester where he is the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Associate Director for the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, a top ranked orthopaedic laboratory. He is a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School and did his residency training at Northwestern University and the University of Rochester. He is editor of Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation and is past president of the International Geriatric Fracture Society.

Dr. Kates serves as the PI of the AO Foundation-Trauma Clinical Priority Program on Bone Infection. Earlier this year, Dr. Kates and his research partners won the 2015 Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research/Orthopaedic Research Society Richard Brand Award for the most outstanding clinical orthopaedic research paper, “A multiplex assay of host immunity against Staph aureus for Osteomyelitis patients.” In addition, he serves as the national leader of the NSQIP/AAOS/OTA national focused registry on hip fractures and is an internationally recognized thought leader in geriatric fracture care. Dr. Kates developed the Geriatric Fracture Center Model of Care, which has been emulated by many hospitals in the U.S., UK, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Dr. Kates will relocate to Richmond with his wife, Amy L. Kates, RN, MS, who has vast experience in cardiology and management, and his daughter Hailey Kates who is a national level equestrian. His older daughter Olivia Kates, MD, is an intern in internal medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Kates will succeed Robert S. Adelaar, M.D., current Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Adelaar joined VCU in 1976 and was named Department Chair and the John A. Cardea Endowed Chair in 2002. As Chair, Dr. Adelaar has overseen growth in the Department including doubling the number of surgeons and the number of operative cases. The Department has gained recognition by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 orthopaedic clinical services in the country. Dr. Adelaar is a past president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society and the Southern Orthopaedic Association. I am extremely grateful to him for his outstanding contributions to clinical care and education in the School of Medicine and Health System.

My thanks go to Dr. Laurence DiNardo, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, who led the national search, and the search committee, who identified Dr. Kates as the next leader of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

July 31, 2015

Dean Strauss Commends Gordon Archer’s 40-year career in the medical school

Gordon L. Archer, M.D.

Gordon L. Archer, M.D.

Gordon L. Archer, M.D., our valued founding Senior Associate Dean for Research & Research Training will be retiring at the end of August.

Dr. Archer joined the faculty at the Medical College of Virginia (now VCU School of Medicine) in 1975 and has been here for his entire career. His early research interest was in infective endocarditis and he was one of the first developers and users of the rabbit model of endocarditis. He has been continuously NIH-funded for his research since 1975, including an NIH MERIT grant from 1995 to 2005.

He was the Chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases from 1992 until 2005 when he became the Senior Associate Dean for Research and Research Training in the VCU School of Medicine. In this position he not only coordinated research programs in the SOM but also directs both the M.D./Ph.D. combined degree and the Ph.D. predoctoral programs.

He has consulted for and been on the Scientific Advisory Board of a number of pharmaceutical companies including, most recently, Achillion, Cubist and Spero Pharmaceuticals and from 1998 to 2003 was the recipient of a Bristol Myers Squibb unrestricted research grant. He has been on the Board of Scientific Counselors at the NIH for the NIDCR, the NIAID and, currently, the NIH Clinical Center. He is on the Editorial Board of the ASM journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. He has published 99 articles in peer-reviewed journals, on 86% of which he was the first or senior author. He has written 26 reviews and book chapters, including the chapter on Antibacterial Chemotherapy for four editions of Harrisons’ Textbook of Internal Medicine. He has also been the editor for two editions of the book, Staphylococci in Human Disease.

In addition to his research interests, Dr. Archer has been involved with student education throughout his career. He was the Director of the M3 Clerkship and then the M3 and M4 medical school years; the Councilor of the medical school honor society AOA for 20 years; and taught Antimicrobial Agents and Antimicrobial Therapy to M1, M2 and M3 medical students as well as graduate students in Microbiology and Immunology. He has been the graduate thesis advisor for eight Ph.D. and two Masters students and the research mentor for 20 Ph.D. and M.D. postdoctoral fellows. As Senior Associate Dean for Research he is also responsible for coordinating research opportunities for medical students and, in 2012, with Kate Lapane, began the summer program Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Public Health Epidemiology (MIDPH) which provides research opportunities for both VCU medical students and college students throughout the country. Finally, as noted above, he has been the Director of the combined M.D./Ph.D. predoctoral training program for 13 years.

Please join me in thanking Gordon for his many years of service at the School of Medicine.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Ross Mikkelsen will serve as Interim Director of the M.D./Ph.D. program. Dr. Mikkelsen joined the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. After obtaining his degree, he held a Damon Runyon post-doctoral fellowship at Tufts University School of Medicine with Dr. Donald F.H. Wallach and then continued at Tufts as a faculty member. His research investigates mechanisms of how cells sense cytoplasmic ionization events due to radiation or chronic inflammation and modulate cell survival mechanisms. Dr. Mikkelsen is presently Chief of the Molecular Radiobiology and Targeted Imaging Division of the Department. He has been on the Medical School Admissions Committee since 1993, a member of the M.D./Ph.D. Steering Committee since 2003 and Associate Director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program since 2007.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

June 9, 2015

Sometimes I worry about our admissions committee.

Spring 2015 issue of 12th and Marshall

This year, we received a record 9,006 applications. We only have 216 seats. Committee members have the unenviable task of winnowing down the applicant pool, assessing drive, determination and dreams, and assembling the first-year class.

We see great grades and MCAT scores, of course, but the academic record doesn’t tell the whole story. So we look at each applicant holistically. That means the committee did more than 900 interviews.

They discover applicants who have unique experiences that enrich the learning environment for the whole class. At an average age of 24.5, the incoming students bring to medical school a variety of work experiences as well as public health service and medical missions around the world.

When I arrived in 2005, we had 4,877 applicants for 184 seats. Since then, across the nation, we’ve seen an increase in the number of students applying to medical school. By 2014, the national applicant pool had grown by 32 percent. In that same time span, applications to our own medical school increased by nearly double that.

Why does our growth far outpace the nation’s?

I’d say it’s our innovation. We’ve got a state-of-the-art building and one of largest simulation spaces in the country. Even deans and facilities staff from other medical schools visit campus to check it out.

Despite the increasingly competitive Match process that we told you about in the debut issue of the medical school’s 12th & Marshall magazine, we place most of our students into the specialties they want. All over the country. Matching to great residency programs. You can see where this year’s graduating class is headed.

And now this year’s USMLE Step 1 scores are starting to arrive. Our new curriculum gets students through their pre-clinical studies quicker than ever, so they take the licensing exam earlier than ever. (A story in the spring issue of 12th & Marshall will tell you more about that.) With 93 percent of the scores in hand, we’re seeing results that are 12-13 points higher than previous classes.

That’s important not only because it means those students can move into clinical training. Those scores are what residency program directors will look at in a couple of years to decide who they’ll consider for their programs. With scores above the national average, our students will be in a position to follow their dreams into the specialties they love.

Medical school applicants look at outcomes like these. It’s one of the reasons we have applicants from all over the country.

Unfortunately, it looks like the job of our admissions committee is getting even more difficult.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

April 29, 2015

Alex Valadka, M.D., named chair of the Department of Neurosurgery

Alex Valadka, M.D.

Alex Valadka, M.D.

I am pleased to announce that, following a national search, Alex Valadka, M.D., will serve as chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He will begin his tenure on August 24.

Valadka succeeds Harold F. Young, M.D., who is the founding chair of the Neurosurgery Department. I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Young whose leadership has been invaluable since he joined VCU as professor of neurosurgery in 1976. Today he is the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Chair in Neurosurgery and director of the Harold F. Young Neurosurgical Center at VCU Medical Center. I credit Dr. Young with building a department that’s among the nation’s leading head-trauma programs. In addition, the department has generated more than $25 million in sponsored research from the NIH and is a top training program for neurosurgeons, including Dr. Valadka who completed his residency training on the MCV Campus in 1993.

Currently, Dr. Valadka is chairman and chief executive officer of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas, the largest, most comprehensive neuroscience program in Central Texas. He has a strong clinical and research interest in neurotrauma and critical care as evidenced by his research funding and record of scholarly publication. Dr. Valadka has been investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, including serving as initiating investigator on a $33.7-million Department of Defense research consortium on mild traumatic brain injury. He is author and co-author on more than seven dozen scientific papers and was co-editor on the textbook Neurotrauma: Evidence-Based Answers to Common Questions. He also is an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

He is active on the national front and has served as chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care; as chair of the Neurosurgical Specialty Group of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma; and on the boards of directors of the AANS and the Coalition for American Trauma Care. He has chaired the Washington Committee for Neurosurgery and served as vice president of the AANS. He served as a standing study section member for the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and continues to be a frequent ad hoc reviewer. His current responsibilities include serving as treasurer of the AANS and governor of the ACS as well as membership on the board of directors of the National Trauma Institute. He is associate editor of the Journal of Neurotrauma and section editor for Neurosurgery. He is the Consultant to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and in that role, he helped create and implement important new initiatives to improve player safety

Dr. Valadka earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago in 1987 and completed his neurosurgery residency training on the MCV Campus in 1993. Afterwards, he joined the faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2006, he accepted a position as professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. In 2009, he moved to Austin where he became CEO of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute and worked to create an academic medical center in Central Texas.

Dr. Valadka is married to Richmond native Patricia Valadka, who earned a pair of bachelor’s degrees from VCU: in psychology in 1982 and in nursing in 1986. Please join me in welcoming them both back to Richmond.

My thanks go to David Chelmow, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who led the national search for a surgeon capable of following in the footsteps of Dr. Young and continuing the department’s traditional strengths in training and advancing the field of neurosurgical care.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

February 3, 2015

Four medical school faculty chosen among 2015’s Blick Scholars

The Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences has announced this year’s Blick Scholars. Of the 10 faculty members chosen, four are from the medical school. Congratulations to:

· Carlos R. Escalante , Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics
· Jessica G. LaRose, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health
· Qinglian Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics
· Lindsay M. Sabik, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research

The Blick Scholars Program is made possible through the George and Lavinia Blick Research Fund housed at the MCV Foundation. Created with a generous $2 million bequest by Lavinia Blick, the fund was her gesture of gratitude for the care she and her family had received at MCV and later at the VCU Medical Center. Her only stipulation was that the gift be used to fund medical research on the MCV Campus.

Blick Scholars are chosen through a nomination process. They must demonstrate documented growth toward achievement of national or international recognition, a developing record of obtaining external research funding, collaborative scholarship and a primary faculty appointment in one of the health sciences schools. The fund made its first awards in 2010.

Every four years, the Blick Scholars Program chooses up to 10 junior faculty who receive an annual award for four years. This year’s awards will begin July 1, 2015.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 26, 2015

Match season off to a good start with success for students matching in Urology, Ophthalmology

Results are in for students hoping to train in Ophthalmology and Urology — two highly-competitive specialties that have traditionally conducted early Match processes. Again this year, hopeful applicants outnumbered residency slots, and I am proud to see that all our students applying to these specialties have matched to strong residency programs.

Three current students and one former graduate saw success in the 2015 Ophthalmology Residency Match:
• Steven Fish – West Virginia University Eye Institute ( Morgantown, W.Va.)
• Katherine McCabe – New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai (New York, N.Y.)
• Adam Pflugrath – VCU School of Medicine (Richmond, Va.)
• John Le, M’12 – VCU School of Medicine (Richmond, Va.)

Both the students participating in the Urology Match have secured positions:
• Zachary McDowell – Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas)
• Jordan Southern – Geisinger Medical Center (Danville, Penn.)

In addition, 11 students have participated in a variety of military scholarship programs, which cover medical school tuition and fees. In exchange, after graduating, the students will serve one year of active duty for each year of scholarship support received. This year, three of the students elected to take a civilian deferment, and we are proud to see the remainder have matched into the specialties of their choice:
• Geoff Bader – Internal Medicine at Keesler AFB
• Erin Connor – Family Medicine at Madigan AMC
• Albert Marle – Internal Medicine at Eisenhower AMC
• Barbara Saber – Ob-Gyn at Portsmouth NMC
• Matthew Schorr – Transitional Year at Eisenhower AMC
• Philip Sholes – General Surgery at Walter Reed AMC
• Scott Toney – Pediatrics San Diego at NMC
• Brittany Wootten – Emergency Medicine at Portsmouth NMC

The Urology, Ophthalmology and Military match processes are independent of the National Resident Matching Program.

Recent years have seen the National Resident Matching Program become an ever-more competitive process. I’m glad to report that our medical school’s graduating class typically equals or exceeds the national average of students matching. We’ve also been nationally recognized for the proactive measures we take to ensure strong matches. Our students benefit from a toolkit developed by Christopher Woleben, M’97, H’01. He’s our Associate Dean for Student Affairs, and his toolkit helps him identify and troubleshoot potential issues our students might encounter. It’s proven to be so valuable that the AAMC published and shared the toolkit with its members nationwide. Since then, other institutions have looked to Dr. Woleben for guidance on dealing with potential Match problems.

When the clock strikes noon on Friday, March 20, envelopes will be handed out from coast to coast at our nation’s medical schools. I wish our students well as they finalize their rank order lists and prepare for that momentous day.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

January 25, 2015

Dean Strauss’ salute to Sheldon Retchin

Sheldon Retchin, M.D., H’79

Sheldon Retchin, M.D.

Sheldon Retchin, M.D., H’79, first arrived on the MCV Campus in 1976 as a trainee. This month he departs, having risen to the posts of Senior VP for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System.

He is headed to Ohio State University where he’ll lead its Wexner Medical Center, and they’re fortunate to get him.

His leadership was one of the reasons I chose to come to Richmond in 2005, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to work closely with him over these past nine years. That experience has shaped my life, in professional, personal and lasting ways.

His energy and vision has transformed our campus. He’s overseen about a half-billion dollars in new construction in the last decade alone. He’s led a hospital, a physician practice plan and a Medicaid HMO that’s won acclaim as one of the few cost-effective programs for caring for an inner city, uninsured population.

That same concern for patients birthed his goal for us to become America’s safest health system. He’s seen us on our way to achieving that: our progress was honored last year with the AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize.

Those initiatives have created a great training environment for the more than 4,500 students enrolled in VCU’s health science schools. The students have a true respect and affection for him. That was in evidence last year when the medical school’s graduating class of 2014 asked him to be its convocation speaker. Dr. Retchin responded with the unforgettable story of Otis, a blues-playing toll-booth attendant who became his friend and eventual patient. In Otis’ memory, Dr. Retchin himself pulled out a harmonica to deliver his own blues riff.

I will always admire the humor, enthusiasm, dedication and, yes, musicality that he brought to his responsibilities. Our campus carries his indelible mark. He deserves to be proud of the work he’s done. And I am grateful to call him my friend.

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System