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October 2010 Archives


The day alum Thomas Tracy was named president-elect of the New England Surgical Society

Thomas Tracy

Housestaff alum Thomas F. Tracy, Jr., M.D., has been elected by the New England Surgical Society as its president-elect. His election took place at the NESS Annual Business Meeting on Oct. 31. He will assume the presidency in September at the annual meeting in Bretton Woods, N.H.

Tracy, who completed his general surgical residency training on the MCV Campus in 1986, is vice chairman of Brown University’s Department of Surgery and pediatric surgeon-in-chief at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I.

The New England Surgical Society was founded in 1916, and Tracy will be the sixth surgeon to represent Rhode Island. He has served as secretary of the society since 2006.

Tracy was also elected for a second three-year term as the chairman of the Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery of the American College of Surgeons. He currently serves as the chairman of the Pediatric Surgery Board and is a director of the American Board of Surgery.


The day John Quillen’s work was discussed in a NY Times column

Even though genetic testing could potentially save a relative’s life, a recent study found that most terminally ill cancer patients who were eligible for the testing never received it. In “Taking Genetic History to the Grave,” New York Times columnist Tara Parker-Pope hears from John M. Quillin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Human and Molecular Genetics.

Current genetic tests for at-risk relatives often fail to identify certain genetic markers for cancer, and clinicians are increasingly recognizing the value of beginning genetic assessment with a person who has cancer.

Quillen partnered on the study that was recently published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling with Thomas J. Smith, M.D., professor in the VCU Division of Hematology/Oncology; Joann N. Bodurtha, M.D., professor in the VCU Departments of Human and Molecular Genetics, Pediatrics, Obstetrics-Gynecology and Epidemiology and Community Health; and Laura Siminoff, Ph.D., professor and chair of the VCU Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Parker-Pope’s blog, Well, is a regularly updated on The New York Times website with stories about healthy living. Read her October 21 column or read the VCU news release.


The day more than 90 graduate students unveiled ongoing research to the university community

Over the course of three days in October, more than 90 graduate and post-doctoral students presented their research as part of the 27th Annual Daniel T. Watts Research Symposium.
Five schools and 22 units were represented, with a strong showing from the fields of biochemistry and microbiology.

The Watts Symposium provides an annual snapshot of the diverse research activity taking place across the university. This year, there were a number of projects featuring translational applications. This type of research that aims to quickly move laboratory findings to the patient’s bedside is a priority at VCU, which secured a $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH in the summer of 2010.

The Watts Symposium gives graduate students and post-doctoral trainees experience in the format of scientific presentation and at the same time exposes new students to the breadth of research at the university. With graduate students from all schools on both campuses invited to participate, the event fosters networking and collaboration among student presenters and faculty from the university’s different departments and schools.


The day alum Brandon Cox spoke about his choice to stay in Virginia to practice medicine

As Virginia faces an anticipated physician shortage, the potential problem of caring for the population is compounded by the challenge of recruiting students into primary care fields and then convincing them to stay in the state to practice.

A recent story in Lynchburg, Virginia’s newspaper, The News & Advance, looked at the issue through the eyes of alumnus Brandon Cox, M ’08. A Lynchburg native, Cox has elected to return to the community and practice family medicine with his wife and fellow graduate Laura Ann Cox.

As students, both of the Coxes were in the school’s International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program. The program’s goal is to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in rural and urban underserved areas by better preparing student doctors for service of the medically underserved. Begun in 1998 through a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration and sponsored by the Department of Family Medicine, the ICRP program is open to students who have an interest in and commitment to practicing medicine in medically underserved area.

The Department of Family Medicine also addresses the issue of keeping trainees in Virginia through its residency program. The department’s five residency sites boast a retention rate of 75 percent, with three out of four trainees electing to remain in Virginia to practice for at least one year following their residency.

Read more in the story from the News & Advance, Virginia struggling to counter decline in physicians.


The day alum Read McGehee got a first-hand view of Haiti’s recovery efforts

Medical alumnus Read McGehee, M’61, recently returned from his semi-annual trip to Tovar, Haiti, where he volunteers in a local medical clinic. Tovar is located in the northern part of the country near the second most populated city of Caphaitien.

McGehee first traveled to Haiti in 1970 with the Centers for Disease Control to assess their malaria evaluation program. He’s been going ever since, sometimes as much as four times a year. He currently travels with a friend’s church, Providence United Methodist Church, based in Charlotte, N.C.

While working in the clinic in Tovar, McGehee sees anywhere from 35 to 50 adult patients in just one day, all with varying medical needs. This past visit, for example, the clinic treated a young child with malaria who managed to make it to the clinic despite the two- to three-mile trek — an incredible journey through the region, especially when ill. According to McGehee, “we were able to load him up with fluids and anti-malaria drugs and give him a ride home on a motorcycle.”

McGehee also met an older woman who was unsure of her age, but he guessed it to be around 60. She had devoted herself to taking care of her nine grandchildren after their parents were killed during the horrific earthquake that tore apart Port-au-Prince in early 2010. The grandmother confessed she is unable to feed all her grandchildren and afraid she will not be able to provide for them.

“Under the best circumstances, people in Haiti live in wretched conditions,” said McGehee. “With the earthquake, then the hurricane and now the cholera epidemic, the suffering is unimaginable. It really got to me more than it ever has before.”

He explained that the cholera outbreak had not yet reached the northern part of the country, but that it is only a matter of time. Most of the patients McGehee saw are those who are moving away from the big cities to try and find a safe place to live, an indirect effect of the cholera outbreak and the earthquake.

When asked how Americans can help, McGehee replied, “It’s a difficult question. There are individual foundations that are using money effectively, but there is a heck of a lot of money that is sitting on the table waiting for an organization. There is virtually no infrastructure to use the money.” He’s seen examples of charities putting money to good use, like the orphanage founded by a Charlottesville friend that houses and feeds more than 200 children. Some interpreters he met in Haiti have also started a home for children in Port-au-Prince.


The day two from the medical school were honored by the Medical Society of Virginia

An alumnus and a student from the medical school were honored at the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation’s Annual Salute to Service Awards in recognition of their outstanding efforts that have substantially improved patient care, both locally and abroad.

After earning her medical degree in 1972, Carolyn E. Thomas, M.D., stayed at the VCU Medical Center to complete her residency training in pathology. In awarding her its Service to the Profession Award, the MSV Foundation cited her leadership of Access Now, which has utilized a network of 900 volunteer physicians to provide more than $6 million of specialty medical care to thousands of residents of Central Virginia who lack health insurance and the means to afford it. In addition, as president of the Richmond Academy of Medicine in 2001, Thomas coordinated the physician response to the terrorist acts of 9/11. She currently serves on the medical school’s admissions committee.

Second-year medical student Richard Hubbard was honored for his dedication to the children of Bangladesh, where he has founded the non-profit Basic Needs Program. Isaac K. Wood, M.D., senior associate dean of the VCU School of Medicine, writes about his work: “Richard gives selflessly to improve the quality of life for children in a third world country. While other students are using their break time to ski, go to the beach, or travel, Richard uses his to raise funds for the Basic Needs Project and to carry out mission trips to Bangladesh.”

Read more about Carolyn Thomas, M.D., or medical student Richard Hubbard or watch a slideshow that features them both.

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Updated: 04/29/2016