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The Class of 87’s Apostolos Dallas to receive national award for volunteerism and community service

Apostolos “Paul” Dallas, M’87, has been awarded the Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service from the American College of Physicians, the national organization of internists. The award will be presented at ACP’s annual Convocation ceremony on Thursday, May 5, 2016, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C., where ACP is hosting its annual scientific conference, Internal Medicine 2016, through May 7.

Apostolos “Paul” Dallas, M’87

A resident of Roanoke, Va., and a fellow of the ACP, Dallas is an associate program director of the internal medicine residency at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, assistant professor and director of Continuing Medical Education.

He has been extensively involved over the years in medical volunteer efforts locally and worldwide. Dallas has been a long-time board member and volunteer of the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke, Va., where he created a system for internal medicine students and residents to volunteer and also incorporate the Bradley Free Clinic into standard rotations. In the early 1990s, he coordinated a medical relief drive that sent approximately $100,000 of medical supplies to Puschino, Russia.

He also is intimately involved with the Roanoke Greek Festival, which annually benefits organizations such as the Bradley Free Clinic, Turning Point Women’s Shelter, Habitat for Humanity and the Roanoke Rescue Mission among other institutions. A founding board member of the Roanoke Rescue Mission Medical Clinic, Dallas continues to work with them to provide local homeless people, battered women and children with clinical care, food, solace and a new start in life through their many outreach programs.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.

The Oscar E. Edwards Memorial Award for Volunteerism and Community Service was established by ACP’s Board of Regents in 1998 and honors the late Dr. Edwards, a Governor and Regent of the College. The award is presented to an ACP medical student member, associate, member, fellow or master who has initiated or been involved with volunteer programs or has provided volunteer service post-training.

Courtesy of the American College of Physicians


Class of 67’s John Bagley recalls an unexpected connection to transplant pioneer H.M. Lee

As he flipped through a recent issue of VCU’s Impact, his eye fell on an article about transplant pioneer H. M. Lee, M.D., and the endowed lectureship that has been established in his name.

The sight reminded John Bagley, Jr., M’67, H’73, of one of his own favorite stories.

The Class of 67’s John Bagley, Jr. (on right), was drafted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps after completing his intern year. Sent 7,000 miles from his native Richmond to Korea, he had an unexpected encounter that reminded him of home.

After earning his medical degree in 1967, the Richmond native served his internship at Norfolk General Hospital. During that time, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

“It was the height of the Vietnam War, but my orders were for Korea,” says Bagley. “I was stationed at Camp Red Cloud along with three or four other doctors.”

Camp Red Cloud was about an hour north of Seoul, just outside of the village of Uijeongbu.

“If you have ever seen photos of slums in places like Bangladesh, you can imagine what Uijeongbu looked like in those days. Mud streets with ramshackle buildings on either side.”

After he’d been there several months, a recommendation came down for the Army doctors to meet the local Korean doctor, whose responsibilities included the gynecological care of the thousands of prostitutes who lived in Uijeongbu.

“So off we go to town to meet the local doctor, an elderly fellow named Dr. Lee,” describes Bagley. “We are ushered into this dark, cramped office on the main street of town. It reminded me of Doc Adam’s office in Gunsmoke. There were anatomical charts on the wall in Korean and jars filled with Ginseng roots. So we’re sitting there waiting for the doctor and I notice this 8×10 photo on the desk of a young Korean boy in a cap and gown. I think to myself, ‘That guy looks familiar.’”

John Bagley, Jr., M’67, H’73

The Korean doctor spoke no English, and the Army doctors spoke no Korean. “We are chatting through an interpreter and during a lull in the conversation, I say, ‘Dr. Lee, I was noticing the photo on your desk. Who is that young man?’

“He replied, ‘That is my son.’”

“What does your son do?”

“He is a doctor in the United States.”

“Where in the United States?”

“In Virginia.”

“When I recovered from my shock, I smiled and said ‘Dr. Lee, your son was one of my professors in medical school.’

“Naturally, he was as shocked as I was. I travel 7,000 miles from home to meet one of my professors’ father. That’s what I call my favorite ‘it’s a small world’ story.”

After that encounter, Bagley and the elder Lee got together several times over the next year. Lee even took the Army doctors to some of his favorite restaurants in Seoul.

In 1969, having listened in on the radio to the first moon landing (they had no television at the Army camp), Bagley returned to the states. He went on to complete OB-GYN training on the MCV Campus and set up practice in Richmond. After a 39-year career and an estimated 3,000 labor and deliveries, he is now retired and living in Providence Forge, Va.


M3 Katie Pumphrey to serve national pediatrics group

A three-year stint as a high school lacrosse coach taught Katie Pumphrey that she enjoys working with teens and tweens.

“I like the type of conversations you get to have with individuals this age,” says Pumphrey, who’s now a member of the VCU medical school’s Class of 2017. “I look forward to addressing specific medical challenges that this population has to deal with.”

The Class of 2017’s Katie Pumphrey.

Knowing she was interested in a career working with adolescents, Pumphrey joined the medical school’s Pediatric Interest Group – also known as PIG – during her first year on the MCV Campus. By her second year, she was one of the co-presidents of the very active group. In addition to lunch lectures, VCU’s PIG hosts an annual conference that draws future pediatricians – attendees come from up and down the each coast and from as far away as New York.

When she saw an opportunity to be more involved on the national level, she jumped at the chance.

Pumphrey has been chosen by the American Academy of Pediatrics as one of 20 student representatives from around the country. She’ll serve two terms as one of two representatives for district IV on the AAP’s medical student subcommittee. Her term began in January 2016.

She’ll produce material and resources for medical students, including writing articles for the AAP medical student newsletter and recruiting others to write about their experiences. She’ll also help plan the medical student programming for the AAP National Conference and Exhibition and develop relationships with pediatric interest groups at the medical schools in her six-state district.

In addition to her work with PIG on the MCV Campus, Pumphrey has also served on the Medical Student Government as vice president of community service – a role that was recognized with VCU’s Outstanding Community Service Award.

The Class of 2017’s Katie Pumphrey.

During her first two years of medical school, she even found a way to put her lacrosse experience to work when she helped organize an inner city lacrosse league for elementary and middle schoolers in collaboration with the Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities. “It was wonderful to take a break from medical school once a week and volunteer in the community.”

Pumphrey is working toward an MD-MHA dual degree with plans to combine her love of medicine with her interest in administration.

Now in the midst of her third-year clinical rotations, Pumphrey has already completed her pediatrics clerkship. “After completing the clerkship, I am confident that I want peds to be a part of my life and it was fun to get an idea of what ‘Katie Pumphrey medicine’ might look like in the future.”



Class of 1966’s Llewellyn Stringer heads innovative mobile disaster hospital

When a disaster strikes, the medical community leaps into action. Hospitals brace for an influx of patients, emergency medical teams seek out those that may be injured and doctors provide care to their community in a time of great need. But what happens when a tornado, earthquake or hurricane destroys a community’s hospital and prevents people from getting the care they need?

In steps Llewellyn Stringer, M’66.

Stringer is the project manager for the National Mobile Disaster Hospital, which is designed to deploy anywhere in the country when disaster strikes. The mobile hospital contains all the familiar elements of a normal hospital, such as an x-ray unit, blood banks and pharmacy. This one, however, can be loaded on tractor-trailers, sent to a disaster area and begin receiving patients within days.

Llewellyn Stringer, M’66, outside the National Mobile Disaster Hospital

The mobile hospital project was conceived in 2005 after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and left many without access to medical services. FEMA decided it needed to find a way to respond to such disasters, when local hospitals are either damaged or overwhelmed by the number of patients.

Stringer, who served for 10 years as commander of the National Medical Response Team and was the senior medical advisor to FEMA under the Department of Homeland Security, was an obvious choice to lead the project. He retired from FEMA in 2006, but went back to work for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. In 2008 FEMA moved the hospital from Fort Detrick to North Carolina, and Stringer took charge again.

The hospital is made up of large tents and mobile hard structures. It features a 21-bed emergency department, 10-bed critical care unit, two operating rooms, full digital X-rays, a small lab, blood bank, a pharmacy and a central medical supply with enough stores for 72 hours of operation, a morgue and an administrative and command control unit.

“We can perform just about anything other than open heart surgery,” says Stringer.

Flexibility is key for Stringer and his team. Their home base in central N.C. allows them to quickly respond to tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes on the East Coast or in the Gulf. “The goal is to deploy within 24 hours of receiving an assignment, bring all units, except the ICU, online within 48 hours after arrival on site and have the ICU operational within 72 hours.”

Collaboration is another central part of the project. It is funded by FEMA when deployed, but maintained by NCEMS with funding from the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response grants. Much of the grunt work of unloading and setting up the hospital is done by volunteers from the N.C. Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief organization, who travel with the hospital when it’s deployed.

The volunteers include plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other tradesmen ready to solve any problems that might slow down the hospital’s deployment. Stringer has even partnered with a local N.C. hospital to make sure he can maintain a stockpile of medical materials that are ready at a moment’s notice.

Stringer and his team got their first taste of action last year when the hospital deployed to Louisville, Miss. The town and its local hospital were badly damaged by tornados and in need of help. Within days of being deployed the hospital was able to offer basic services and soon after was able to accept a wide range of patients.

Officials plan to have a temporary hospital open in some capacity until 2018 when construction of a new hospital in Louisville is complete. “Quick response time is obviously an important part of our mission, but maintaining a presence in the affected communities can be equally important. One of the major obstacles to New Orleans’ recovery after Katrina was that many of the health care workers had left town. There weren’t hospitals for them to work in.

“In Louisville we’ve managed to keep 100 of the 140 hospital employees. These people have relationships with their patients and it’s important that they stay in this community to continue providing care.”

The deployment in Louisville also provided an important opportunity to see what worked and what needed to be improved. Nurses told him that showers need to be wheelchair accessible and that they prefer simpler, single-channel IV pumps. Patients requested more private rooms. Doctors asked for improved access to electronic medical records.

Perhaps the biggest problem is one you wouldn’t expect. “Truckers. We have all the equipment loaded and ready to go, but it’s hard to find drivers and rigs to haul 23 trailers across the country at the drop of a hat. That hurt our response time.”

Despite the problems he encountered, says Stringer, the first deployment was a success. “I was the senior medical officer for many natural disasters in the country for 10 years, and I can honestly say that the collaboration and sense of community I witnessed on this project was the best I’ve ever seen.”

By Jack Carmichael


From medieval literature to medical school: Cambridge grad sets his sights on helping others

Gabrovsky,Alexander  Hiking in the Scottish Highlands

The Class of 2019’s Alexander Gabrovsky unusual path to medical school included publishing a 312-page book about the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

As an elementary school student living in the picturesque village of Murs, France, Alexander Gabrovsky’s fascination with the medieval world took hold.

“The family we rented our house from lived in a hilltop chateau from the 12th century,” he said. “I used to spend time there and was mesmerized by the architecture and the family’s stories of their medieval ancestors.”

So much so that he has spent much of his life studying that time period. The Class of 2019’s Gabrovsky not only holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in medieval literature from the University of Cambridge in England, but he has written a book about Geoffrey Chaucer, who is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.

Published in September, “Chaucer the Alchemist: Physics, Mutability and the Medieval Imagination” investigates Chaucer’s fascination with the philosophical and scientific thinking surrounding change in the natural world. Gabrovsky argues an integrated knowledge of alchemy and physics is crucial to our understanding of the physical and psychological transformations that are central to Chaucer’s poetry. The 312-page tome expands on Gabrovsky’s Ph.D. dissertation.

“It was a lot of work, but I also had a lot of fun,” said Gabrovsky, who traveled to Italy to trace Chaucer’s footsteps and spent time in Scotland and Cambridge studying medieval manuscripts and deciphering cryptic verses on alchemy. “It’s surreal. It’s a strange feeling walking into the library here and seeing my book on the shelves.”

Some of Gabrovsky’s classmates who were on hand for his recent book signing on campus have the same reaction. But making the transition from medieval literature to medicine makes perfect sense, he said.

“I have a long list of reasons for going into medicine,” Gabrovsky said. “I enjoy the multi-disciplinary aspect of it and the problem solving. But it also comes down to helping the sick and vulnerable.”

Gabrovsky, 31, grew up Portland, Maine, then lived in southern France for a year while in elementary school. He graduated from high school in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA in 2006. He took two semesters in Beijing, then completed a post- baccalaureate program at Johns Hopkins before completing his master’s and doctorate at Cambridge.

Now he’s pursing a degree that’s been a dream of his all along.

Gabrovsky,Alexander  Restoring a medieval skeleton in Pisa Italy

Alexander Gabrovsky restoring a medieval skeleton in Pisa, Italy.

“I must really like wearing a backpack,” joked Gabrovsky, who taught medieval literature at Cambridge for a semester. “I love learning. With medicine, you take classes in all different aspects of science – there’s a broad spectrum of learning, but you have to integrate that knowledge to understand the rich complexity of the entire human body.”

This past summer, Gabrovsky spent time in Italy, where he worked in a lab reconstructing the skeleton of a 14th century Tuscan peasant, who he thinks sustained a war injury to his femur. He analyzed bones from gravesites and studied ancient diseases.

Next summer, he will work alongside a pathologist from the MCV Campus as they analyze and study South American mummies from pre-Columbian civilizations, such as the Incan empire. He recently arranged a postdoctoral position in the UK, hoping to take a research year between his second and third year of medical school to examine the influence ancient and medieval parasites may have had on human evolution.

“Alexander may not be your typical medical student, but that’s what makes VCU so great,” said Susan DiGiovanni, M’84, H’89, interim senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs. “Students like him add interest and depth to any conversation. They add such diversity to the class.”

Gabrovsky, who is not only fluent in both French and Mandarin Chinese but also reads several medieval languages, is not yet sure of his specialty, but is confident it will take shape over the next few years.

“I am sure that VCU is the perfect place for that to happen,” he said. “We have a well-known paleopathology lab here, as well as a Paleopathology Club, which is really unique for a medical school. And VCU has such a great culture. Everyone is so warm and welcoming. I really get the feeling we are all here to learn and help each other become the best in our field.”

By Janet Showalter


Inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day celebrates a long, successful career on the MCV Campus

For nearly 40 years Gordon Archer, M.D., has been an important part of the MCV Campus. Throughout his career he served the VCU School of Medicine in many ways: conducting groundbreaking research, mentoring medical and Ph.D. students and coordinating research opportunities throughout the school.

Gordon Archer, M.D.

To mark Archer’s retirement in August and the long legacy he built, the inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology was presented by the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine. The event’s topics echoed the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career by featuring presentations on a wide-range of issues, such as difficult-to-treat infections like Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.

Archer is perhaps best known for investigating antibiotic resistant superbugs, which are linked to 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. His work began in the 1970s, when artificial devices, such as heart valves and joint replacements, were becoming infected at high rates. Archer and his team were able to identify the bacteria responsible for many of these infections, and the regimens he helped develop have become the standard treatment in the field. His work on understanding the genetic adaptations that gave rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria has had important implications for the development of new therapies.

Archer has spent nearly all of his adult life in Virginia, where he received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University and his M.D. from the University of Virginia. After training at the University of Michigan, he came to the MCV Campus in 1975 and never left.

During his time in the School of Medicine he served as chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease, director of the MD-PhD program and the first-ever senior associate dean for research and research training as well as in a variety of teaching roles. Archer’s work has been published widely, and he has had a consistent record of research funding from the NIH and other organizations.

The importance of Archer’s research and his commitment to the School of Medicine was on full display during his eponymous research day. The prominence given to student presentations throughout the day honored Archer’s commitment to coordinating research opportunities for students and mentoring them in their work.

The inaugural Gordon Archer Research Day in Infectious Disease, Microbiology and Immunology spotlighted the fields to which Archer devoted himself over the course of his research career. Photo courtesy of Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H.

“It was truly an honor to have a research day in my name and to hear research presented not only by faculty but also by trainees,” Archer said. “The quality and variety of science presented was fantastic and is a testament to the research environment in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.”

The research showcase was organized by chair of infectious diseases Gonzalo Bearman, M.D., M.P.H., chair of rheumatology, allergy and immunology Lawrence Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., and chair of microbiology and immunology Dennis Ohman, Ph.D.

By Jack Carmichael