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School of Medicine discoveries

April 2009 Archives


The Day Four Medicine Alums Were Honored for Their Achievements

The Class of 1984 had extra reason to celebrate at Reunion Weekend 2009, with two of its members honored for their accomplishments and contributions: the Medical Division recognized as James H. Meador-Woodruff with its Outstanding Alumnus Award and Michele A. Romano with the Caravati Service Award. In addition, two medicine alums were selected for the MCV Alumni Association’s campus-wide awards: the Hodges-Kay Service Award went to George Burke, M’70, and the MCV Outstanding Alumnus Award recognized Harry Bear, who earned his medical degree in 1975 and his Ph.D. in 1978.

Read more about their achievements:
James H. Meador-Woodruff, M.D., Class of 1984
Michele A. Romano, M.D., Class of 1984
Harry D. Bear, M.D., Class of 1975, Ph.D., Class of 1978
George W. Burke III, M.D., Class of 1970


The day Dr. Bill Dewey answered Tom Selleck’s phone call

Bill Dewey, Ph.D., has offered counsel to government officials, policy makers and scientific leaders. Now he’s providing his expert perspective to the entertainment industry.

Recently, a request landed on Dewey’s desk from Tom Selleck, who was in pre-production for a future installment of the TV movie series that features Selleck as small-town Police Chief Jesse Stone. Based on the best-selling novels by Robert B. Parker, the made-for-TV franchise got its start in 2005 with “Sea Change.”

A future installment will deal with issues and challenges surrounding drug abuse and addiction. In their effort to get the story straight, Selleck and his executive producer Michael Brandman asked the Entertainment Industry Council to recommend someone who could answer their questions.

Enter Dr. Dewey.

“I was pleased that they cared enough to call someone and present the episode in a way that could serve to educate the public about the disease of drug dependence,”said Dewey, professor and interim chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. “He and his producer were sincere in wanting to get it right.”

And his input has proved to be a benefit to the film-makers. “Dr. Dewey was a great help to us as we have been preparing the next film in the series,” said Brandman. “Both Tom and I are greatly appreciative of his efforts on our behalf.”

The Entertainment Industry Council was aware of Dewey through its involvement with the non-profit organization Friends of NIDA. Dewey founded and still leads the coalition of individuals, scientific and professional societies and patient groups that supports the work of the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. The organization educates the public, policy makers, media and healthcare leaders about drug abuse and addiction and also advocates for broad public and private support for NIDA’s research agenda.

The Jesse Stone movies have all premiered on CBS and five are currently available on DVD.


The day Dr. Read reported on the frequency of a misdirected shot of adrenalin

An epinephrine auto-injector is a fast-acting shot of adrenalin that can be self-administered to help normalize blood pressure and make breathing easier in the event of anaphylactic shock. But new findings in the April issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology by an international team of researchers suggest that the incidence of unintentional injection with epinephrine auto-injectors is increasing.

According to Edward J. Read Jr., M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, who led the VCU portion of the study, the projected rate of unintentional injections is one in 50,000. However, the true figure is likely much higher than indicated in the study which only looked at published reports.

The team examined reports in peer-reviewed medical journals published within the past 20 years and identified 69 incidents of unintentional injection of epinephrine. About 70 percent of them had occurred within the past six years.

The typical auto-injector has the appearance of a large pen. Misuse occurs when users try to inject themselves or another person with the wrong end of the device, inadvertently injecting their thumb or finger instead. The shot is usually administered to a patient’s leg.

“The consequence for the person receiving the unintentional injection is not usually too severe. The bigger risk may well be the ‘lost dose,’ the fact that the epinephrine is no longer available to administer properly to the person urgently needing it,” said Read.

“Our findings reinforce a widely held belief that the current self-administration devices for anaphylaxis are not particularly user-friendly,” said Read. Read, together with a team of researchers from various institutions, is working with Richmond-based company Intelliject, Inc., to develop an epinephrine delivery system specifically designed to address these concerns and to minimize the likelihood of unintentional injections, as well as other use errors.

Read more about the phenomenon and Read’s ongoing research to try to further delineate the true number of unintentional injections.

Read the abstract.


The day Dr. Whitehurst-Cook was honored with VCU’s PACME Award

The medical school’s Associate Dean of Admissions, Michelle Whitehurst-Cook, M’79, was honored in April with VCU’s Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment. The PACME Awards recognize university and health system members who have contributed significantly to multicultural relations and diversity. Throughout Dr. Whitehurst-Cook’s tenure, she has been committed to enhancing the diversity of physician practitioners and the multicultural awareness of her students. She is the principal investigator of the School of Medicine’s highly successful Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program, in which select medical students are exposed to patient populations in either inner-city or rural environments.

“We look at the student body at the VCU School of Medicine and it is diverse,” Whitehurst-Cook said. “And we love it and they love it [because] when they graduate and go out and take care of patients who don’t look like them, they’re very comfortable.”

“I encourage each of you to reach out to the community and do whatever you can to help, because there’s a lot of help that needs to be done.”

The PACMEs were created in 1994 to recognize and encourage those who promote civility, build community, establish effective cross-cultural initiatives, advocate for equity and nurture openness and inclusion within the university community.

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The day Dr. Balster discovered he would be honored with the Eddy Award

Robert Balster, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is the 2009 recipient of the Nathan B. Eddy Award, the highest honor bestowed by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

Read more.


The day the GI division learned it’s ranked No. 1 in most-cited research papers by U.S. universities

The School of Medicine has been ranked No. 1 among federally funded U.S. universities based on the average number of citations per research paper published in indexed journals of gastroenterology and hepatology between 2003 and 2007. VCU published 132 gastroenterology and hepatology-related papers during the period reviewed by ScienceWatch.com, a resource produced by Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators that enables researchers to conduct ongoing, quantitative analyses of research performance and to track trends in science. VCU’s papers received an average of 17.31 citations each.

“For our patients, this translates into the availability of expertise locally that is setting the standard of care for the world,” said Arun J. Sanyal, M.D., chair of VCU’s Division of Gastroenterology. “In other words, our research and clinical trials are making treatment options available here which are not available elsewhere. We are indeed practicing tomorrow’s medicine today.”

Read more here.

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Updated: 04/29/2016