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School of Medicine discoveries

April 2010 Archives


The day three community partnerships received a boost

Three projects involving medical school faculty and students were among the seven grant winners selected by VCU’s Council for Community Engagement. The seven one-year grants total $100,000 and support important university-community partnerships, a critical component of VCU’s overall mission.

The three projects connected to the medical school are:
· Improving Access and Quality of Care for the Medically Underserved through the Interdisciplinary Enhanced Teaching Model, a collaboration of VCU medical and pharmacy students and representatives from Cross-Over Ministries to work on interdisciplinary teams to expand access to health care for the uninsured patients at Cross-Over Health Ministries, Richmond’s largest free clinic.
· Richmond Chapter of Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment & Endowment, a collaboration of faculty and student teams from Occupational Therapy and the School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment & Endowment and Goodwill Industries to launch a local chapter of FREE to accept, renovate and redistribute medical equipment.
· Una Vida Sana: Assessing and Improving the Health Status of Richmond’s Hispanic Community through Health Professional Student Service Learning, Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, VCU Health System Language Services, City of Richmond Hispanic Liaison Office, Cross-Over Ministries, and local faith-based community organizations to provide outreach cardio-metabolic disease screenings and referrals to the expanding local Hispanic community.

The Council for Community Engagement also recognized four exemplary university-community programs, including an award for research and scholarship given to the Faison School for Autism-VCU Partnership, a partnership between the school and the Department of Psychiatry, which provided school-based services and offered training for students and professionals in applied behavioral analysis methods. The program has helped Faison School grow from serving 12 students with autism four years ago to more than 90 students today.

For more information on the awards, go to the VCU News Center.


The day Sanyal’s study on Vitamin E received worldwide attention

An NIH-funded study of Vitamin E’s impact on the most common form of chronic liver disease made headlines in April when the study results were published in the advance online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The surprising findings revealed that a daily dose of Vitamin E improved the condition of patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Arun Sanyal, M.D., who holds the Charles M. Caravati Chair in Gastroenterology also serves as co-chair of the NASH Clinical Research Network and principal investigator of this study. Sanyal was quoted by the Associated Press: “In all honesty, I was surprised. A vitamin has not been previously used to cure a serious disease” that is not caused by a deficiency. He goes on to caution that this approach should not be considered a panacea.

The AP story “Vitamin E shows promise for treating liver disease” has been picked up by more than 270 AP-member news organizations and has received additional coverage by nearly three dozen other online outlets including U.S. News & World Report, Biotech Week, Science News and MSN.com.

Read more about the findings at the VCU News Center


The day Dick Wenzel shared lessons learned from H1N1 via the NY Times

On the anniversary of the first H1N1 death in Mexico, Professor of Internal Medicine Dick Wenzel, M.D., offers an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times: “What We Learned From H1N1’s First Year.”

First-hand reconnaissance informs the perspectives he shares in the piece. When H1N1 emerged in Central and South America, Wenzel flew down at the request of a former fellow who now runs Mexico’s national vaccination program. What he learned on that trip informed our own preparations in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

As he looks back on the past year and studies the global pandemic, he concludes: “it exposed some serious shortcomings in the world’s public health response.”

His list of lessons learned includes a few startling statistics. For example, he notes that “In fact, only 26 of 94 poor countries in need of the protective H1N1 vaccine have even received it so far.”

Read Wenzel’s op-ed.


The day Greg Christiansen was elected to leadership

Greg Christiansen, D.O., assistant professor of emergency medicine, has been elected to serve as president-elect of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians (ACOEP).

After serving for a year as president-elect, Christiansen will ascend to the presidency in 2011. The ACOEP represents about 4,000 physicians nationally


The day Suzanne Barbour was honored with VCU’s PACME faculty award

At this year’s Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment, Suzanne Barbour, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, was singled out for her contributions as a faculty member. Barbour has endeavored to build a bridge between students and mentors, and as director of the research core of the VCU Center on Health Disparities, she has taken a special interest in helping to develop the research interests of underrepresented minority students.

In accepting the award, Barbour said she was merely the “tip of the iceberg” among a talented group of people affiliated with the Center on Health Disparities. “There’s a huge group of people who are interested,” she said. “I represent a very compassionate and talented group of people and I accept this award on their behalf.”

Read more about the Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment.


The day the medical school moved one step closer to a new education building

On April 3, the doors closed for the last time on the A.D. Williams Clinic. Workers are now removing the overhead pedestrian bridges that connect A.D. Williams to Sanger Hall and Main Hospital, in anticipation of the building’s demolition in June.

The 1930s-era clinic is being razed to make way for the medical school’s new education building that has been designed to accommodate an increased class size as well as small-group, team-based learning. Not only could the existing A.D. Williams facility not accommodate those needs, it also suffers from serious physical deficiencies including no fire suppression system.

The new education building will be home to a transformed curriculum and will include two floors devoted to an expanded, state-of-the-art center for human simulation and patient safety. In the center, students, housestaff and even alumni of the school will find a low-risk setting for confronting the challenges of clinical practice.

Visitors to the building will also find memorials to the A.D. Williams Clinic, primarily in the preservation of the colorful murals that had been displayed in the first-floor lobby.

With occupancy slated for spring 2013, construction begins in October 2010.

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Updated: 04/29/2016