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School of Medicine discoveries

April 2011 Archives


The day students and faculty were applauded for championing diversity

HOMBRE students

Medical student Kate Di Pasquale accepted the student award on behalf of the student organization Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort.

An annual rite of passage for a number of first-year medical students is the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort, a summer medical mission trip to undeveloped countries.

HOMBRE gives the students a chance to enter deeply impoverished communities to provide direct medical care to those who need it the most. Even during the school year, they devote time from their demanding schedules to organize the trip and raise funds.

For their selflessness and dedication, the student group was honored with the Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment. A physician and nurse from the medical school were also recognized for their efforts to promote diversity at the university:

Cheryl Al-Mateen, M.D.

Cheryl Al-Mateen, M.D., was keynote speaker at the medical school’s 2010 White Coat Ceremony.

  • Cheryl Al-Mateen, M.D., attending physician and Director of the Acute Inpatient Services at VCU’s Virginia Treatment Center for Children, often takes extra time to translate concepts such as diversity and cultural sensitivity into real day-to-day practice for medical students, residents and other trainees.
  • Tima Smith isn’t constrained by office hours. A registered nurse in the VCU Infectious Disease Clinic’s HIV Program since 1996, Smith understands that many of her clients can’t take off work to visit during clinic hours, so she simply stays late and waits for them.
  • VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and Beverly J. Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., FACSM, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the annual PACME awards during a ceremony on April 13. The awards recognize university and health system members who have contributed significantly to multicultural relations and diversity at VCU. Of the four total university recipients, three belonged to the School of Medicine.


    The day medical students were celebrated for their contributions to the arts

    “Doctors can heal the body, but it is music that uplifts the spirit.” – Mother Teresa


    Samuel Faith and Brian Mayeda, both members of the class of 2013, are recipients of scholarship made possible by the Joseph Collins Foundation for medical students who are also making a contribution to the arts. They began playing together after meeting in medical school and now perform regularly with the VCU Medical Center’s Arts in Health Care Program and other occasional gigs around Richmond.

    Medical students Samuel Faith and Brian Mayeda have put that principle into practice. As a result, they have been named recipients of the Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship, an externally awarded scholarship for medical students who are also making a contribution to the arts.

    Faith began playing the saxophone at the early age of seven, but says he didn’t begin to really appreciate the beauty of its music until he was 11 years old. Growing up in Spain, he had the chance to participate in one of the country’s professional conservatories of music where he worked with world-class musicians and dedicated students. He continued to pursue his love of music when he attended college in the U.S. and founded the Virginia Tech Saxophone Quartet.

    Mayeda began playing the clarinet and the saxophone as early as fourth grade. After a few years he also picked up the guitar and played throughout his high school career. As a University of Utah undergraduate, he performed with a variety of bands and in 2002, took the opportunity to teach concert band and jazz band at his former high school for five years. Mayeda always knew, however, that he wanted to be a physician and that music was more of a pastime than a career for him.

    Samuel Faith

    Samuel Faith

    Mayeda and Faith became friends during their first year of medical school but didn’t know the other enjoyed playing music until Mayeda noticed a saxophone at Faith’s apartment. Now they perform twice a month in the lobby of the Gateway Building for the Arts in Health Care Program. Each year, the pair also plays for the HOMBRE fundraiser that sends medical students on a mission to Honduras.

    Both agree that their love of the arts has had a great influence in their study of medicine. Not only is music therapeutic, Faith explains that, “depending on what I do as a physician, having been a musician, I have good dexterity.”

    Mayeda too has seen its benefits, when he’s shadowed physicians as part of his medical training; he has been amazed at how much they were all involved in music. “It helps in medical school as great brain exercise and mental stimulation.”

    Mayeda and Faith are grateful to have received the Collins Foundation Scholarship. For Faith, traveling is very important and he appreciates that this scholarship eases the burden of student loans. Mayeda is relieved that a portion of his out-of-state student’s tuition is taken care of with the scholarship. He says, “It’s cool that the Joseph Collins Foundation recognizes the importance of being well-rounded and wants to award you for that.”

    Brian Mayeda

    Brian Mayeda

    The Joseph Collins Foundation was set up in 1950 following the death of neurologist Joseph Collins, M.D. Collins wished for his residuary estate to be used, in his own words as found in his will, “To enable serious and cultured young men and women who are ambitious and determined, and who are without sufficient means, to study medicine.” Collins was considered a man of scholarly tastes and wide interests in literature. He produced, in addition to numerous articles regarding the medical profession, some 16 volumes of more general appeal. Among his best-known books was The Doctor Looks at Life and Literature. He also helped to found the Karaka Club in New York, which for many years brought doctors together to discuss music, art, literature and other subjects generally considered outside the field of medicine.

    In order to receive the award, applicants must meet several factors considered by the Foundation’s Board. The candidate must be in actual financial need as well as be in the top half of his or her class. A demonstrated interest in the arts or other cultural pursuits outside the field of medicine is required as well as an indication that the applicant intends to consider specializing in neurology, psychiatry, or becoming a general practitioner.

    This year, the medical school has six recipients of the Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship. In addition to Faith and Mayeda, recipients include Angela Hou, Pooya Jahanshahi, Collier Pace and Michelle Tsai.


    The day Richmond Magazine named more than 100 of our physicians Top Docs

    The 2011 issue of Richmond Magazine has named 110 members of the medical school’s faculty as Top Docs. Three dozen of those were additionally designated as the top vote-getter in their specialty category.

    top-docs.jpgThis year’s issue adopts a “heroes” theme and leads off with a full page photo of Tom Smith, M.D., medical director of the Thomas Palliative Care Unit at the VCU Massey Cancer Center, in a Superman-like pose. The magazine also profiled a number of individuals the editors considered to be outstanding, including an alumnus, a student and a faculty member of the medical school:

    • The Class of 1958’s Fred Ward who, though now retired, travels internationally to train health care workers. Assistant Dean for Medical Education Alan Dow, told the magazine, “When most doctors are retiring and slowing down, he’s continued to really be a champion for patients across the world.”
    • Second-year medical student Richard Hubbard began the non-profit Basic Needs Program to assist fatherless children in Bangladesh. Isaac Wood, M.D., an alumnus of the Class of 1982 and now Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs, told the magazine “It is unheard of that a young man, facing the rigors of undergraduate medical education and medical school, still has created the time to fundraise, volunteer and build a hospital and educational setting at an international level.”
    • The Class of 2004’s Christopher Kogut is now on faculty in the Department of Psychiatry. He also volunteers two evening a month at the Fan Free Clinic, where 70 to 80 percent of patients experience depression. “There are so few places you can send people for mental health services who don’t have access,” the Fan Free Clinic’s executive director Karen Legato told the magazine. “We couldn’t do what we do without people like Chris Kogut. … If we could clone him, that would be ideal.”

    In addition, the magazine also spotlighted Bart Bobb, a nurse practitioner at the hospital who specializes in palliative care.

    To create its Top Doc listing, the magazine surveyed more than 3,700 area physicians for their physician recommendations in 53 categories. The magazine reported a response rate of just over 14 percent. Richmond magazine is available by subscription and on local magazine stands.

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    Updated: 04/29/2016