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February 2011 Archives


The day USA Today called on Tom Smith for perspective on when the right time is to start palliative care

It’s never too early to begin discussions about palliative care, even if you’ve just been diagnosed and are hopeful for a cure, Thomas Smith, M.D., told USA Today.

Smith, professor of internal medicine and the medical director of the Thomas Palliative Care Unit, was also quoted in the Feb. 22 edition of the newspaper about palliative care’s potential to decrease medical costs.

Read the article, Palliative care prolongs life, reduces suffering.


The day the military medical students put out a call for alumni guidance

Founded just five years ago, the Military Medical Student Association aims to provide support and guidance to those medical students who are participating in one of the many military scholarship opportunities available, and to educate the medical community as a whole about the history, role and importance of military medicine in the world today.

The group’s president, second-year medical student Joseph Roderique has put out a call for alumni volunteers who are willing to give students informed guidance as they look ahead to their military commitment. Whether it’s first-hand perspective from serving overseas or pictures from a deployment, involvement can be as extensive or limited as the alumnus chooses.

“Because our organization is so young, we have limited resources,” says Roderique. “We are not looking for money, but for knowledge and experience.”

The student group offers monthly lunch lectures on topics including deployment, research, health care standards, pre-hospital care and military match. Alumni can assist by giving a lunch lecture on the MCV Campus or by offering mentoring opportunities. Roderique says the student group, “would like to have current and previous military available to contact from as many specialties as possible.”

If you have been in the military in a medical or research capacity and are willing to assist, please send your contact information, your branch of service, your status and a brief sentence or two about what you did while in the military to:

Ensign Joseph D. Roderique, M.A., MC, USNR
President VCU MMSA
Class of 2013
E-mail: roderiquejd@vcu.edu
E-mail: vcummsa@gmail.com


The day PharmTox postdoc Laura Wise was tagged as a promising young scientist by a national psychiatric organization

Laura E. Wise, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. NARSAD is the largest donor-supported organization in the world devoted exclusively to funding scientific research on psychiatric disorders.

Wise will use the award to study sex differences in stress-related disorders and the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system. She will characterize fear behavior in an animal model to determine how these behaviors are regulated by blocking or facilitating cannabinoid signaling. NARSAD’s Young Investigator Award Program provides support for the most promising young scientists conducting neurobiological research. Both basic and clinical investigators are supported, but research must be relevant to schizophrenia, major affective disorders or other serious mental illnesses.


The day med student Richard Hubbard was honored by the AMA

Many medical students find time to prioritize community service in addition to their studies. For second-year medical student Richard Hubbard, the concept of community service extends half a world away.

Richard Hubbard with Bangladesh children

A summer research grant during his undergraduate studies introduced Hubbard to the extreme poverty and the malnourished slum children who live on the streets of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. That experience led Hubbard to create a non-profit organization that provides housing, clothing, food, education and medical care to families who have lost a breadwinning father.

The American Medical Association Foundation honored Hubbard for his work with its 2011 Excellence in Medicine Leadership Award. This is the most recent recognition for Hubbard who was also honored last fall by the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation’s Annual Salute to Service Awards and featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Read more about Hubbard’s non-profit Basic Needs Program.


The day the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program renewed the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies’ five-year grant

Munir Ahmed, M.D., a 19-year veteran of the substance abuse field in Bangladesh, had never been to the United States before arriving at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008. As a participant in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program for substance abuse prevention, treatment and policy, he engaged in 10 months of academic study and related professional activities at VCU. The experience changed him.

“I have no hesitation in saying that my fellowship year was the best year of my life,” said Ahmed, who brought his wife and two children to Richmond for the duration of his fellowship. “My family also says so. The VCU Humphrey Fellowship program impacted all of us.”

Ahmed is one of 37 mid-career professionals who participated in the program during VCU’s Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies’ initial five years as host. The institute recently earned a five-year renewal of the grant from U.S. government-funded Fulbright exchange program. The award totals more than $1 million and ensures that more professionals from developing countries will sojourn to Richmond.

During Ahmed’s tenure in the U.S., he took classes, visited local substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, attended leadership training workshops and learned about American history and culture.

Now back in Bangladesh, he applies his enhanced understanding of social justice and human rights to his work, striving to reduce the stigma and discrimination against marginalized populations living with HIV and AIDS while also spreading awareness about the virus infection. An adviser with the United Nations’ program on AIDS, Ahmed is making a difference in his home country.

“I strongly believe that my experience at VCU shaped me to be a better advocate and leader for Bangladesh, not only in issues related to substance abuse but also as a practitioner in the field of development,” he said.

“VCU benefits from the fellowship program because it exposes our faculty and students to people from very different cultures and creates opportunities for research collaborations in their countries,” said J. Randy Koch, executive director of the Institute. “Having this prestigious award from the U.S. State Department reflects very positively on VCU.”

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Updated: 04/29/2016