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School of Medicine discoveries

July 2009 Archives


The day that Lexi undergoes a rare brain surgery

Seven-year-old Lexi suffers with kernicterus, a type of brain damage that was caused by excessive jaundice after she was born. A story that appeared in the Sunday, July 26, 2009 edition of the Charlotte Observer chronicles her struggles as well as her family’s hopes that a rare brain surgery may allow her to talk or even walk.

Professor of Neurology Steven Shapiro, M.D., an expert in kernicterus, diagnosed Lexi in July 2004. Five years later, Lexi is prepping for a surgery at the VCU Medical Center that will place electrodes deep inside her brain. A week later, a battery-operated generator will be placed in her abdomen, and on August 24 , 2009, the generators will be turned on

This kind of deep brain stimulation has been used to treat other types of movement disorders but, to Dr. Shapiro’s knowledge, it has not yet been tried on someone with kernicterus.

Read more about Lexi’s story at:


The Weekend a Medical School Team Made a Difference in Wise County

It was the last weekend of summer break when a 20-member team from the medical school packed up for a six-hour drive to Virginia’s Appalachian Mountains. For three days, they would devote themselves to the Remote Area Medical Expedition’s free health clinic held annually at the Wise County fairgrounds.

Read more about how the students’ experience at a clinic drew 2,700 patients from 16 states on our Students in Action page.


The day Dr. Steven Woolf’s work was discussed in a NY Times column

As the nation debates health care reform and the value of prevention, NY Times columnist Pauline W. Chen, M.D., tackled the topic of “Getting Good Value in Health Care.”

Appearing on July 23, 2009, Chen’s column drew on the research of Professor of Family Medicine, Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H. She discussed both his Journal of the American Medical Association commentary that was published earlier this year as well as a program that he and his colleagues are using to link the electronic medical records at nine physician practices to counseling services.

Chen’s weekly column, Doctor and Patient, appears on Thursdays at The New York Times Health Section. Read the July 23 column.


The summer Charley Nottingham discovered America from the back of a bike.

On Sunday, May 31, rising second-year medical student Charley Nottingham dipped his bike’s back tire in the Pacific Ocean and started pedaling. His route would take him across the United States in 46 days of hard riding. Nottingham’s trek was the 2nd Annual Ride for Jim, a trans-America bike ride and fund-raiser.

Read about Nottingham’s favorite parts of the trip, see pictures from the road and find links to his blog, a route map and news coverage from a Roanoke TV station on our Students in Action page.


The day the Washington Post reported on Dr. Sismanis’ talent for solving troubling medical mysteries.

The July 7 edition of the Washington Post recounts the frustration that a Bethesda real estate lawyer suffered for six months as he sought an explanation and treatment for a relentless pulsating noise in his ear.

Though previous specialists had offered tinnitus as a diagnosis, it was not until he visited Aristedes Sismanis, M.D., past chair of the medical school’s department of otolaryngology, that he discovered there was a more dangerous explanation for his problem.

The Washington Post story reported that Sismanis suspected a dissecting left carotid artery was at the root of the noise, a condition that would place the patient at high risk for a stroke. The diagnosis not only ended the patient’s frustration, it also put him on track for an eventual cerebral angioplasty that corrected the problem.

Read the complete story that is the latest in a regular series in which the Washington Post’s Sandra G. Boodman reports on medical mysteries.


The Day you discover the back-stories and innovations that tell the tale of Richmond’s medical history

The Richmond Academy of Medicine has unveiled its Oral History Web site. Though it is still in the early stages of development, you can now get a preview of the project.

Medical school graduate from the Class of 1961 Wyatt S. Beazley III, M.D., chaired the Oral History Committee that continues to work on this extensive project. Each month, the Web site will grow as the RAM adds photos, audio clips and information. But already the site features – in the words of Beazley – the “humorous, sometimes sad, many times poignant memories of some of Richmond’s finest doctors.”

So, listen in and hear Waverly Cole, M’54, H’60, describe an early method for giving anesthesia to babies. Or what Marcella Fierro, H’73, was told about her aspirations to become a surgeon. Or how Dr. Paul Monroe improvised soft gel stents out of plastic tubing from Pleasant’s Hardware.

The Oral History project was supported in part by the School of Medicine and the MCV Foundation.

Please preview the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s Oral History Web site

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Updated: 04/29/2016