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School of Medicine discoveries

January 2010 Archives


The day the students were moved to action by the devastation in Haiti.

“This was the worst earthquake in 200 years, and it crippled a nation that was already considered the most destitute in the Western hemisphere,” said second-year student Mona Singh. “We knew that, as medical students, we did not yet have the expertise or time to physically volunteer immediately, but we still wanted to help. Raising money for relief efforts is one easy and tangible way to make a substantial impact.”

Kicking off their effort less than a week after the earthquake, they have already raised more than $1,000 in support of Partners in Health, a medical organization that has been working in Haiti for nearly 25 years. The students have collected money between classes and at lunch lectures and have steered family and friends toward a PIH Web site they created to collect donations.

“Partners in Health was the largest health care provider in rural Haiti,” said Singh, who has been aware of PIH and its founder, Paul Farmer, M.D., since college when she was first introduced to his philosophies for health care delivery. “Though the earthquake destroyed much of Haiti’s already inadequate medical infrastructure and capital city, at least 10 of PIH’s hospitals and clinics were still intact.”

The students’ selection of Partners in Health was strengthened by its endorsement by the Medical Society of Virginia, which is steering Virginia physicians interested in volunteering in Haiti to the non-profit organization.

Singh is president of the medical school’s chapters for the American Medical Students Association and also Physicians for Human Rights. She teamed up to coordinate the students’ fundraising efforts with fellow second-year students Marcie Goeden and Elizabeth Spradlin, who is president of the student chapter of the David Hume Surgical Society.

Learn more about the students’ effort or make a gift.


The day Dr. Seneca traveled to Haiti to offer emergency triage care.

As the world’s attention turns toward Haiti in the aftermath of January 12’s devastating earthquake, Russell P. Seneca, M.D., has already landed on the Caribbean country to offer emergency triage care to its people.

Seneca is associate dean of medical education for the VCU School of Medicine’s first regional medical campus at Inova Fairfax Hospital. As such he oversees the education of the 48 VCU third- and fourth-year medical students who are training on the Inova Campus.

In addition to his academic role, Seneca is also chief of surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital. It’s those skills he will be putting to work as a member of the 12-person medical relief team that has teamed up with the Community Coalition for Haiti, a Virginia-based volunteer organization.

Seneca flew out of D.C. on Sunday, January 17 and is now on the southern coast of Haiti in Jacmel, the country’s fourth-largest city. He’s camping out there while the team works out of what is described as a very damaged hospital.

Read more about the effort at the Inova newsroom or through the Community Coalition for Haiti’s blog that is being updated regularly with information and photos.


The day a local teen turned a school project into $20,000 to fight cancer

A sophomore at Prince George High School, Madison Guidry recently presented a check for $20,000 to the Massey Cancer Center to aid in the local fight against breast cancer.

The money was raised through “Pink, Pink, Cancer Stinks: The Power of Pink is Stronger Than You Think,” a fundraiser conceived and organized by the 15-year-old. According to an article in the Petersburg Progress-Index, the event grew out of a challenge from her high school’s International Baccalaureate Program to “put together a personal project that gives back to their community.”

Read more about her fundraiser in the Progress-Index’s Feb. 20 story High school student raises $20,000 because “cancer stinks”.


The day Wenzel’s NEJM editorial touts potential for minimizing surgical site infections.

Almost half of all surgical site infections that occur post-operatively can be prevented, notes Richard P. Wenzel, M.D., professor and former chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, in an editorial in the January 7, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
In the editorial, Wenzel examined two large multi-institutional studies published in the same issue of the journal and analyzed their combined impact for controlling surgical-site infections.

Read coverage of the issue by the NY Times, USA Today or the VCU News Center or review the NEJM editorial.


The day the medical school discovered the depth of talent that exists in its student body.

“We all feel as if we know our classmates well, but what we mostly know is how they study and handle school,” says second-year medical student Robbie Broughton.

Jan. 6’s Talent Show at Shockoe Bottom’s Canal Club delivered a whole new perspective.

Read more about the talent show in our Students in Action section.


The day M.D. candidate Eric Edwards was featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch.

Their own life-threatening allergies inspired Eric Edwards and his twin brother Evan to develop the “Intelliject EpiCard,” an invention that was described in a recent Richmond Times Dispatch article as “a credit-card-size device that ‘talks’ users through administering epinephrine.”

Knowing they needed specialized knowledge and skills to bring their dream to the medical marketplace, Evan pursued his engineering degree at the University of Virginia, while Eric headed to VCU for pre-med studies. After graduating from the Honors College, Eric enrolled in the School of Medicine and is now a candidate for an M.D. as well as a Ph.D. from the pharmacy school.

The Times Dispatch story reports that “A month ago, Intelliject moved into the big leagues, announcing a multimillion licensing deal with pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis U.S., which will manufacture and market Intelliject’s novel epinephrine injector.”

Read more and watch a slideshow with audio at The Richmond Times Dispatch.

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Updated: 04/29/2016