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From the operating room to tiny table saws

David Chelmow, M.D.

Chelmow’s latest completed model is that of an American privateer built in 1780 in Plymouth, Mass. Click the image above to view in more detail.

David Chelmow, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, likes working with his hands. That may come as no surprise for a surgeon, especially one with a focus on wound closure and the prevention of wound complications. But Chelmow puts his dexterity to use outside of work as well – building model ships.

“I love operating, but it’s nice to work on models because I don’t have to worry about pain control and bleeding,” he explains. “It’s much more relaxing!”

Chelmow grew up making plastic models. He continued the hobby until his college years and moved to wooden models after his father once gave him an extra kit.

Today, he works primarily in wood and often mills his own with a tiny table saw.

An interest in ships and history, he says, is a great combination for modeling. Each of Chelmow’s projects takes between four and five years to complete. The latest completed model is that of an American privateer built in 1780 in Plymouth, Mass.

“It was very successful capturing British ships until it was captured by the British in 1783. The British were good about making plans of captured vessels, so the only early American ships we can model accurately tend to be the ones that were captured. The model started as a kit, but the only parts I used were the frame and a few of the castings, gun barrels and anchors in particular. I replaced everything else including the wood, which is boxwood, Swiss pear, holly, ebony and cherry.”

David Chelmow, M.D.

Chelmow’s current project, the schooner Hannah, is a replica of the first armed commission for the Continental Army. Click the image above to view in more detail.

His current project, the schooner Hannah, is a replica of the first armed commission for the Continental Army.

“She was the first schooner purchased by George Washington. It’s the right complexity for me. The next one may be a bit more ambitious. I only do one project at a time, and leave multitasking for work.”

Finding time for his varied interests is par for the course for the Leo J. Dunn Distinguished Professor who led drafting of ACOG’s cervical cancer screening guidelines issued in 2012.

“It’s been a busy few years. I’ve helped start a national organization for academic generalist OB/GYNs and am finishing my term as the group’s first president,” he said.

“Two of my VCU colleagues and I have edited a book about to be published. I’ll have more time in the coming months.”

No doubt he’ll spend part of this extra time working with wood and very tiny table saws.

– By Nan Johnson


Area journalist goes from reporting to participating

John Ogle

John Ogle

School of Medicine students sometimes get a surprise when they hear one of their standardized patients describing his conditions. If the voice sounds familiar, it’s because it belongs to veteran broadcast journalist John Ogle, a frequently heard contributor on WCVE-FM.

Ogle joined the cast of the School of Medicine’s Standardized Patient Program in 2013, inspired after recording a news story on the program for the Richmond-based radio station.

“I’ve interviewed a lot of researchers at VCU, but I didn’t know what to expect when I went there to do the story,” said Ogle. “We went through the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center building, seeing one amazing thing after another.”

One program in particular caught his attention.

Medical students in the Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety were working with standardized patients, learning to diagnose various conditions and to develop physician-patient relationships. The Standardized Patient Program, a collaboration between VCU’s School of Medicine and School of the Arts, allows students a chance to conduct a physicians’ traditional interview, history and physical. For the actors who play the parts of patients, it’s a chance for paid work and, more importantly, a chance to help the next generation of physicians.

After he completed his story about the program, Ogle decided to try to be part of the news-making program himself, so he applied to be a standardized patient. After several training sessions, he joined the program and now fits in sessions around his journalism schedule. He’s learned a lot about medicine as he’s portrayed a variety of patients.

“I’ve been the chest pain guy. I’ve been the spitting up blood guy. It’s really interesting work,” said Ogle.

“It’s fascinating to work with M1s who are young, and then the M4s who are about to be doctors – and they really do look like and act like them. There’s a certain demeanor they gain over the years. They’re very committed and focused on what they’ve chosen to do.

“The students are often thanking standardized patients for doing this” Ogle said. “But I’m finding that it’s rewarding for me, too. The quality of the work that’s done to get these students to be doctors is a reward I didn’t expect.”

Ogle, 70, considered a career as an actor when he was younger, and is enjoying being back on stage – even if the stage now is an examination room. “It’s a little bit like doing the news. The only difference is that I don’t have to memorize the news. But when you get to be my age, a lot of these ailments are familiar anyway.”

It’s also fun when the occasional student recognizes his name and voice. “It’s pointless to deny it. A lot of the students do happen to be public radio listeners.”

– By Lisa Crutchfield


Video produced by senior neurology residents vies for Neuro Film Festival honors

Two senior neurology residents, Alicia Zukas, M.D., and Ken Ono, D.O., have produced a video that’s drawing attention in the American Brain Foundation’s film competition.

Their five-minute video, “Back to Life,” brings awareness to the phenomenon of strokes in young adults through the story of 33-year-old Delanie Stephenson. It is currently one of the top 4 vote getters from among more than 50 competition entries.

Go online before March 27 to select your favorite. You will have to register in order to view the videos and cast your vote.

The “fan favorite” winner will be announced at the Neuro Film Festival at the American Academy of Neurology Meeting in Philadelphia in late April.

One in six people is affected by brain disease. The American Brain Foundation aims to reduce the prevalence of brain disease by supporting research into prevention, treatment and cures. The Neuro Film Festival helps raise awareness about the need for more research. This year’s entries feature a diversity of brain diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

Zukas earned her medical degree from VCU in 2010, and Ono is a graduate of the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine.


New animated video connects the dots between education and health outcomes


People with less education are living sicker, shorter lives than ever before.

“We all know that a good education is important,” says Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health. “Less recognized is the impact of education on health outcomes. Americans with a good education generally enjoy better health throughout their lives, generate fewer health care costs, and live longer.”

He points to an eye-opening statistic: even a 1% increase in the percentage of Americans with some college education could save $1.3 billion per year in avoided medical care for one disease: diabetes.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the VCU Center on Society and Health is raising awareness about the important connections between education and health. Its staff meets with leaders in government and the private sector — at the national, state, and local level — to explore those connections.

They’ve recently experimented with a new medium, producing an animated video that connects the dots between educational attainment and health.

More and more, the Center is looking to communicate in a variety of ways to reach the greatest variety of audiences. In addition to new media tactics like interactive online tools and this video, the Center also continues to make use of traditional media tactics like op-eds and produce more in-depth and academic material like white papers, issue briefs and journal articles.

Learn more about the Center on Society and Health and watch the animated video.


Urology Chair Lance Hampton takes advanced surgical techniques to Vietnam


Huế, the ancient capital city of Vietnam

In early March, Chair of Urology Lance J. Hampton, M.D., will carry hi-tech expertise to Huế, the ancient former capital city of Vietnam.

It’s his third trip in five years, traveling as part of an organization called International Volunteers in Urology. Based out of Salt Lake City, IVUmed organizes urologists who volunteer to provide medical and surgical education to physicians and nurses and treatment to thousands of children and adults.

Five years ago, Hampton says, “I chose to go to Vietnam because, at the time, I had never been to that part of the world and wanted to see it. It was also a way to involve my urology residents in the trip as there is a urology residency in Huế, Vietnam.”

Hampton holds the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Professorship in Urology. He notes that the endowed professorship supports his efforts to advance the Urology program in multiple ways, including opportunities like this one.


Drs. Lance Hampton (left) and Eric Reid, a urology resident from the University of Oregon outside the operating rooms at Huế University. “Note the short scrub pants and open toed plastic shoes!” Hampton points out.

On this trip and the others before it, he partners with physicians at Huế University. He’ll demonstrate advanced surgical techniques developed in our operating rooms in a region of the world that is severely lacking in modern technology and training.

At the VCU Health System, Hampton is medical director of Robotic Surgery, one of the busiest programs in the Mid-Atlantic region. He’s found the Vietnamese surgeons to be very interested in how he performs laparoscopy and endoscopy procedures, which are uncommon in Vietnam.

In Huế, Hampton’s team typically does four or five major open kidney stone cases each day. “With the expansion of minimally invasive surgery for kidney stones, these procedures are extremely rare in the U.S., but are standard practice in Vietnam,” Hampton explains. “This gives my residents and me the opportunity to perform operations that we rarely see anymore.”


Urology Chair Lance Hampton

His residents have benefitted in other ways as well from this cultural exchange, Hampton said. “It has helped each of them to foster a philanthropic spirit, dedicating themselves to ultimately what draws all of us to medicine – the desire to help others.”

IVUmed provides scholarships to residents who participate, and School of Medicine has also sponsored residents on the trips. On previous visits, Hampton and his team of residents have met up with other urologists in training from Duke, Northwestern and the University of Oregon. This year, a resident from the University of Miami will join them.

Hampton acknowledges that he’s been surprised at how much he enjoys traveling to Vietnam. “I have now spent over a month of my life in Vietnam and I always enjoy it immensely. The people are friendly and welcoming. They love having visitors to their country and sharing with you their culture and their lifestyle.”

In some ways, Hampton can’t help but stand out. “One thing I enjoy about traveling to Southeast Asia is that, even at 5’11″, I’m one of the tallest people in the country. Their scrubs are made for someone 5’6” or so,” says Hampton as he explains a picture of him outside a Vietnamese operating room wearing short scrub pants and open-toed plastic shoes. “The shoes are just what they are used to. They tend to not be very clean and are probably size 8 or less, but having bare feet help keeps you cool in their 85 degree operating rooms. When in Rome…”


Societies vie for the inaugural Strauss Cup

Strauss cup logo

The Strauss Cup Society Field Day will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Abner Clay Park.

A year’s worth of bragging rights are at stake.

Over the past seven months, a series of competitions have been waged in the School of Medicine, pitting its four medical student societies against one another in athletic, academic, spirit and community service challenges. Known as the Strauss Cup, the competition takes its name from Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D.

“The Strauss Cup is designed to build both camaraderie within each Society and a healthy sense of inter-Society pride and competition,” says the Class of 2016’s Shikha Gupta, the Medical Student Government’s vice-president of societies.

The Societies have earned points in each of this year’s academics, spirit and service challenges. “The Societies were all neck-and-neck until the SOUPerbowl, a week-long Society and Faculty food drive competition benefiting FeedMore and the Central Virginia Food Bank,” Shikha said. “The Baughman Society collected nearly 400 food items, earning them a healthy lead in the Tournament standings.”

The other Societies have plenty of time to catch up. The competition’s inaugural year will culminate in the Strauss Cup Society Field Day to be held on Saturday, March 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at Abner Clay Park, located at the corner of Brook Road and Leigh Street. Points will also be awarded for participation in a Society Spirit Week that will be held in advance of Field Day.

The Field Day will give the four societies a final chance to win points before the Strauss Cup is awarded. The event will include the medical school’s traditional M1/M2 Powderpuff Football game along with tug of war, egg tosses and three-legged races. There will also be Dunk Tank featuring favorite faculty members and student leaders from all the MCV Campus schools.

The Field Day is free of charge and open to the VCU community and their families. Some activities will carry a suggested donation, which will be used to benefit United 2 Heal, a non-profit organization based on the Monroe Park Campus. United 2 Heal provides recycled or discarded high-need medical supplies to developing countries at no cost. The organization was founded by Mohamed Ibrahim, a first-year medical student who died suddenly in November. Admired by faculty and students from both of VCU’s campuses, Mohamed’s life has inspired a number of memorial activities.

The school’s 780 M.D. students are assigned to one of four medical societies according to their career and specialty interests, learning styles and proficiencies. The Baughman, Benacerraf, Harris and Warner Societies each carry the name of an alumnus or faculty member to honor the rich history and tradition of MCV.

Each year, the winning society’s name will be engraved on the Strauss Cup, which will take up temporary residence on that society’s floor in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center until the next victor is crowned.

The Societies’ leaders chose to honor Strauss with the naming of the Cup as a way for the medical student body to show its appreciation for the work he does on their behalf.

“It’s our hope that this tournament will continue long after we all leave MCV, so future medical students will be reminded of Dean Strauss’ legacy,” said Shikha. “As a student leader, I’ve been incredibly impressed both by Dean Strauss’s unwavering support of student initiatives and by his commitment to transparency in communication between students and administrators. The autonomy given to our student leaders by the administration to make decisions and implement programs without direct faculty oversight is a demonstration of Dean Strauss’s faith in the student body’s ability to participate in the process of MCV’s growth and development in a meaningful way.”