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April 2011 Archives


The day Ken Kendler’s new book confronted misconceptions about genetic power

Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., professor of psychiatry and human and molecular genetics and director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, has co-edited a book, “The Dynamic Genome and Mental Health: The Role of Genes and Environments in Youth Development.”

The volume features the latest theories and evidence supporting the inter-relation between genes and environments as they influence the development, mental health and substance use of adolescents. The book provides an overview for a non-specialist audience of the latest approaches to gene-environment relations. The chapters are written in accessible language and are relevant to anyone interested in the mental health and development of adolescents, including researchers and practitioners in behavioral, social and medical fields.

Kendler edited the book along with Sarah Jaffee, a developmental psychopathologist at Kings College in London, and Daniel Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Also in April, the World Psychiatric Association announced that Kendler would be honored later this year with its Jean Delay Prize, sometimes regarded as the “Nobel Prize” of psychiatry.


The day the AAMC Reporter featured the School of Medicine on its cover

Emotions always run high at the School of Medicine’s Match Day celebrations, and compelling visual images from the event are common. This year, the school’s video coverage and photography from the event even caught the eye of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The cover story of the association’s monthly publication, the AAMC Reporter, features a photo of fourth-year student Yoo Mee Shin’s reaction to the news that she had matched to her first choice of residency programs: internal medicine at Emory University. Selected from among hundreds of submissions, the photo was taken by Cabay Fine Photography and also accompanies the AAMC’s online coverage.

The AAMC also has included a link to video coverage of the school’s Match Day celebration. The two-minute video was produced by the VCU Office of Communications and Public Relations Office.

More information is available about the school’s Match Day celebration on its website.


The day that Babette Fuss and Ronald Smeltz were honored for their mentorship of undergraduate students

“While some research faculty shy away from involving undergraduates in their research, we know that many undergraduates have the potential to make significant research contributions,” Jeff Wing, director of the VCU Honors College’s National Scholarship Office, said.

Two medical school faculty members who have served as mentors to undergraduates have seen their students go on to be named Goldwater Scholarship recipients. Ronald B. Smeltz, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, is mentor to Grant Day; and Babette Fuss, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, is mentor to Anjali Yashasvi Hari. For the guidance and inspiration they provided, Fuss and Smeltz were honored with research mentoring awards from VCU’s Goldwater Scholarship Committee.

Funded by a federal endowment, the Goldwater Scholarship is a premier undergraduate award fostering and encouraging outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

“While we cannot recognize all the faculty members who mentor undergraduate researchers, when those efforts produce significant accomplishments such as the Goldwater Scholarship, we want to share that recognition with the research mentors,” said Wing. “We hope that this recognition will encourage other research faculty to look for ways to involve undergraduates in their research programs under the right circumstances.”

The research mentoring awards were bestowed during VCU’s first student Research Week.


The day the New York Times called on Richard Costanzo for insight into smell disorders

An article in the April 18 edition of the New York Times describes the research of Richard Costanzo, Ph.D., professor of physiology and biophysics.

In the article “The Nose May Not Know What It’s Missing,” Costanzo describes the challenges confronted by patients with smell disorders and his research into possible treatments using grafts and transplants.

“We have to be fair to patients,” he told the New York Times reporter. “There’s no magic bullet. Some smell problems are treatable, most are not.”

Read the article, “The Nose May Not Know What It’s Missing.”


The day two third-year students took first place at an internal medicine conference

Third-year students Daniel Bennion and Justin Richey won the student poster competition at the 8th Annual “Medical Students’ Steps to Success Meeting” in Bethesda, Md. They bested 45 other entrants from regional schools including Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Maryland, George Washington and Howard Universities. Bennion and Richey’s winning clinical case abstract proposed a new mechanism by which the Epstein-Barr Virus triggers Human T-Cell Lymphoma.

An additional three students presented posters at the conference: second-year student Joseph D. Roderique, and first-year students Todd Teigeler and Kai Li.

The student conference was hosted by the Internal Medicine Interest Groups from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in conjunction with local chapters of the American College of Physicians.


The day more than 30 alumni returned to campus to guide medical students

4_15_2011.jpgMore than 30 medical school alumni from across the country returned to the MCV Campus to participate in this year’s Career Fair. The annual event is a chance for medical students to get answers to their questions about specialty choices and career paths.

This year, 24 specialties were represented by alumni as well as by residency program directors from the medical center. Military recruiters were also on hand. More than 155 students posed thousands of questions about the unique attributes of each discipline and the residency application process.

Held on the first day of Reunion Weekend, this year’s Career Fair allowed participation by alumni from across the country who were willing to come into town a bit early. Other alumni participants were Richmond-area graduates who took a day off from their practice for the chance to represent their specialty, dispel myths and guide current students.

The Class of 1966’s Robert Stacks, traveled from West Newton, Mass. “I’ve had a wonderful career in pediatrics,” said Stacks, who is the senior and managing partner of a 10-person practice in the suburbs of Boston. He practices three days a week and says, “I love talking to students. We’ve always had a teaching program at our practice and we try to give back.”

He was very impressed with the quality of the students who came to talk with him. “Very qualified, very intelligent students,” he said. “Not that I’d expect less.”

“It can be hard to get hold of a physician in the hospital,” said first-year student Esther Cha. She was impressed and grateful that the participating physicians were willing to talk about their professional as well as personal lives.

Her classmate Shideh Chinchian appreciated that “they’re willing to give advice in a general sense, not just about their own specialty, but about the [whole training] process. They had really good advice.”

The Class of 1986’s Daniel Smith woke up early on Friday to make the drive from North Augusta, S.C. because “I love my specialty.” Early in his medical school career, he learned that his exposure to ophthalmology would have to be self-motivated and somewhat self-directed.

“Because ophthalmology’s Match is early and it’s harder to get into, you need to demonstrate your interest to residency programs.” He sought out physicians in the field as well as research opportunities and made sure that his first third-year rotation was in ophthalmology. He recommended to today’s students that they do the same.

First-year student Ankur Patel enjoyed talking to and learning from the residents who were on hand from the VCU Medical Center. “It opened my eyes to what that’s going to be like.”

The Career Fair was hosted by the MCV Alumni Association’s Medical Division Board and the medical school’s Student Affairs Office.

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Updated: 04/29/2016