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May 2009 Archives


The day the M4s commandeered the Byrd Theater

For one night only, the Class of 2009 commandeered Richmond’s landmark movie palace for a night of gross exaggerations, over-simplifications and stereotypes.

Longtime faculty members remember when the show was performed live in the Egyptian Building, with lots of singing and dancing. That reckless spontaneity has gradually been replaced with scripted skits shot with handheld video cameras. But, at heart, the annual comedy show is faithful to its beginnings.

“Traditionally Take Offs is a way for M4s to spoof on their time at the med school and hospital,” said the Class of 2009’s stand-up comedian Kevin Lee, who directed some of this year’s installments along with classmates Mo Bajaj, Catherine Schuller, John Au and Brian Le. Brian, whose video for the Geriatrics Forum was a hit with the medical school in 2007, shouldered the lead director’s responsibilities and will soon make DVDs of the show available to classmates.

There’s really nothing like seeing your classmates projected larger than life on the screen at one of Richmond’s cultural icons. Especially when they’re poking fun at the faculty’s mutant powers, FCM interviewing techniques, bodily functions and each other.

Pre-taping the performances has opened the door for involving faculty members in the skits. This year’s cameos included surgical oncologist Brian Kaplan, M.D., associate dean for student affairs Chris Woleben, M.D, and student affairs’ Janet Mundie.

Read more and see a video clip from the show’s trailer


The day Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla was informed that he is the 2009 recipient of the APA’s Division 45 Emerging Professional Award

Dr. Arango-Lasprilla, Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, will receive the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Division 45 Emerging Professional Award during the Division 45 Awards Ceremony held at the APA Annual Convention in Toronto, August 6-9, 2009.


The day alumnus Mark Okusa was inducted into AOA

At the annual Kinloch Nelson, M.D. Student Honors Day, alumnus Mark D. Okusa, M.D., FASN, was inducted into the Brown Sequard Chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha. A member of the Class of 1982, Okusa was honored as the sole alumnus to be inducted into the medical school’s AOA chapter this year.

He is currently the James C. Buchanan Professor of Medicine in the University of Virginia’s Department of Internal Medicine, chief of the Division of Nephrology and director of the Center for Immunity, Inflammation and Regenerative Medicine. The Principal Investigator on 3 NIH research grants and one training grant, Okusa is also on the editorial board of four journals, serves on an NIH study section and is a member of the American Society of Nephrology Acute Kidney Injury Advisory Group. He has published more than 70 articles, book chapters and reviews.

This year, in addition to Okusa, the Brown Sequard Chapter inducted 15 students from each of the Classes of 2009 and 2010; a member of the Urology housestaff, Christopher Cost, M.D.; and two faculty members, Stephanie Call, M.D., and Huan Vu, M.D.

The only national medical honor society, AOA’s mission is to recognize and enhance professionalism, academic excellence, service and leadership within the profession.


The day Dr. Bob Balster learned he would receive the Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award

Robert L. Balster, Ph.D., the Luther A. Butler Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, research professor of psychology and psychiatry, and director of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, has been selected to receive the Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award for outstanding research that has advanced knowledge in the field of addiction research and treatment.

Balster is the editor in chief of Drug and Alcohol Dependence and president-elect of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors. Balster has edited two books, authored more than 270 papers in scientific journals and written 46 book chapters.

The principal areas of Balster’s research include behavioral pharmacology, drug abuse potential assessment, inhalant abuse and regulatory policy. His research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1976.

The award will be presented at the 71st Scientific Meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in June in Reno, Nevada. The Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award was established in memory of one of the pioneers in the field of drug dependence following his death in 1973.


The day SOM departments and programs received financial help for their support of the community

School of Medicine departments and programs are involved in four of the eight university-community programs awarded one-year grants from VCU’s Council for Community Engagement. Grants were awarded to:

ICare CPR Online, a partnership between VCU’s Department of Anesthesia, Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Surgery, the School of Medicine and Henrico County Schools to use an online and videoconferencing program to deliver CPR training and certification to high school students and their families in Henrico County through online PE.

Improving the Quality of Mental Healthcare for Richmond’s Youth, a partnership between VCU’s Virginia Treatment Center for Children, Department of Psychology, School of Social Work and Childsavers, a community non-profit group that addresses the mental health and developmental needs of children, to develop an interdisciplinary mental health program to increase service capacity, improve service delivery and reduce treatment drop-out for adolescent clients of Childsavers.

Development of a Chronic Care Model in an Underserved Population, a partnership between the School of Pharmacy, Department of Internal Medicine, VCU Health System and Cross-Over Health Center in which students and clinicians will develop and measure a chronic disease management model for the Cross-Over Health Center to improve care and treatment of diabetic patients.

Our Park, Our Environment, a partnership between the Department of Pathology, Department of Biology, the Center for Life Sciences Education, Powhatan Public Schools, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in which high school students will participate in the development and implementation of a longitudinal data collection and monitoring system prior to the opening of a new state park in Powhatan County.

“Over the past three years, the university has provided $300,000 in community engagement grants to support 25 university-community partnerships,” said Cathy Howard, Ph.D., vice provost for community engagement. “The variety of these partnerships spans nearly every academic program on both campuses. These awards allow us to build sustainable partnerships with organizations in greater Richmond, which enhances our community’s quality of life.”

Read more


The day Dr. Harry Bear was awarded the NSABP Distinguished Investigator Lifetime Achievement Award

Harry D. Bear, M.D., Ph.D., Walter Lawrence Jr. Distinguished Professor in Oncology and Chair, Division of Surgical Oncology, was awarded the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Distinguished Investigator Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony held in San Diego, California on May 2, 2009. Dr. Bear is a graduate of the VCU School of Medicine and has been a member of the Division of Surgical Oncology since completing his Fellowship in Surgical Oncology at VCU in 1984. He has been on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the NSABP since 1991.

International trials led by Dr. Bear have resulted in major changes in the treatment of breast cancer over the past two decades and have dramatically increased the chance for breast conservation among women with breast cancer.

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Updated: 04/29/2016