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October 2011 Archives


Alumni Star speaks to students about global health

On a day when Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada, M.D., H’74, was recognized as an Alumni Star for his remarkable contributions to the field of medicine, he also spent time on the MCV Campus connecting with current students and discussing his passion for global health.


He told School of Medicine students, internal medicine residents and faculty that he was happy to return to MCV Campus where, he said, he learned to be a physician. He noted the great discoveries that have been made here, but that many of those advances are not available to much of the developing world.

And with that, Yamada, the past president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program, launched into a discussion of how students can apply their medical educations to solve global health concerns.

“We have to have great advances in science, systems and thinking, and you have to be the engine that drives the innovation in health care.”

In addition to encouraging students to develop innovative solutions, Yamada shared four key lessons he learned from leading the Gates Global Health Foundation that students can apply to build successful medical careers.

First, he said, health care professionals must work with a sense of urgency for curing global health epidemics.

“Seven million children under the age of 7 die each year from preventable illnesses. The sense of urgency is very real,” he said.

He used the example of the Gates Foundation recognizing the 350 million people who suffer from malaria and setting a goal to eradicate the disease. Though other scientists have created mathematical models to show that it is impossible to eliminate malaria completely, the Gates Foundation believed differently. The foundation invested $1.5 billion in a vaccine, and the 14-year-old organization is already saving millions of lives.

“We can create ambitious goals,” Yamada told students, encouraging them to look for solutions that improve the lives of patients worldwide.

Second, Yamada told students, doctors and scientists can’t resolve problems the traditional way. He called for revolutionary innovation, which he described as thinking about something completely differently than the traditional way.


To inspire what he calls an ecosystem that supports innovation, the Gates Foundation provided grants to scientists looking for new ways to eliminate malaria. One submission included an idea to create an electrical field between two posts that kills mosquitos by lasers. “I saw it,” Yamada said, telling students of the innovation. “I’ve got to say that there’s nothing so satisfying as watching a mosquito explode in midair.”

Third, Yamada explained, measurement in global health is essential to success. He told the students a former colleague was fond of saying, “If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing.” Yamada said doctors and scientists are not making the right kind of impact when they are not tracking the success of their work.

Fourth, doctors must work in partnerships to make great accomplishments. Yamada told a personal story of his involvement in stopping the spread of meningitis in central Africa, where it causes painful deaths for thousands of Africans each year. Yamada went to Burkina Faso to be part of the launch of a vaccine to prevent meningitis and witnessed the great partnership between several organizations that brought the vaccine to reality.

“I gave a 7-year-old girl a shot, and she had a big smile on her face. I thought, ‘that’s why I wanted to go into medicine.’ The young girl was excited about preserving her health and creating a future for herself.”

Yamada, who completed residency training on the MCV Campus, is now executive vice president of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.


Medical school marks Rao inauguration with pair of activities

The university celebrated the inauguration of Michael Rao, Ph.D., as VCU’s fifth president with two weeks of activities drawing attention to key priorities. Through various events, the president drew attention to the importance of research, student success, human health and community engagement to the university’s missions.

Two events hosted by the medical school gave Dr. Rao a first-hand view of our students’ commitment to those same priorities.

Lead Health Screenings

Jamie Friedman, Bobby Salazar, Dr. Ike Wood, Dr. Chris Woleben, Theo Woodson, Monica Rao, Dr. Mike Rao, Mohamed Hassanein, Sarah Elfeky, Chris Ray, Ran Lee and Drew Long.

Medical Students Lead Health Screenings

Students in the medical school regularly make the trek from the MCV Campus to the activity room at the Conrad Center. There, they organize health screenings that provide blood pressure and glucose checks as well as information on height and weight. For some attendees, it provides a way to track their high blood pressure or diabetes. For others, it sometimes provides a first warning of a potential problem. With oversight from medical school faculty, the students provide basic counseling and the occasional referral to a local health clinic such as CrossOver or the Daily Planet.

President Rao and his wife Monica were on hand for October’s health screening to witness medical students making a difference for the community. Organized by the Medical Student Government, the health screening is a welcome chance for students to get pre-clinical experience in a relaxed atmosphere. Some of the first-year students who participate do so through a program in the medical school called Learners Involved in the Needs of Communities — or LINC for short — that requires first-year students to perform a minimum of 20 hours of service to the community.

President Rao speaks with Ph.D. candidate Yves Falanga

President Rao speaks with Ph.D. candidate Yves Falanga, who is studying the involvement of Immunoglobulins G (IgG) in anaphylaxis as part of VCU’s Integrative Life Sciences program.

Research on Display

On Oct. 18, President Rao attended the 28th Annual Daniel T. Watts Research Symposium where he spoke with graduate students and post-doctoral scholars about their poster presentations. The two-day symposium featured nearly 100 different presentations of research with a total of 18 units represented, including students from the School of Medicine, the School of Pharmacy, VCU Life Sciences and the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The symposium was established to honor Watts, a nationally recognized pharmacologist who was the first Dean of School of Basic Sciences and Graduate Studies. Each year, the symposium is an excellent opportunity for reviewing ongoing research in the bioscience community at VCU. Coordinated through the medical school’s Office of Graduate Education, it also provides a venue for networking with colleagues and for faculty to encourage the students and support the breadth of basic science training programs offered at the university.


Pediatrician named to Style’s Top 40 Under 40

In Style Weekly’s latest edition of its 40 Under 40 listing, you’ll find Stephanie N. Crewe, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of pediatrics.

The newspaper’s annual compendium of 40 “young men and women who lead, inspire and serve Richmond” features Crewe, a specialist in adolescent medicine who knew from the time she was 5 that she wanted to be a doctor.

A Richmond native, she told Style Weekly that “I represent the antithesis of what a 1994 public health official would have predicted, and strive to empower, uplift, and encourage the generations behind me to do the same.”

Read more about Crewe’s career and accomplishments.


American College of Physicians to honor associate dean

Craig Cheifetz, M.D.

The American College of Physicians has chosen Craig Cheifetz, M.D., as the recipient of its 2012 Walter J. McDonald Award for Young Physicians. Nominated by the ACP’s Virginia Chapter, Cheifetz will accept the award at the ACP national meeting in New Orleans in April 2012.

The McDonald Award is the ACP’s national award for outstanding achievement by a young physician who is within 16 years of graduating medical school. Cheifetz, 42, is associate dean for medical education and student affairs on the medical school’s Inova Campus.

Cheifetz has a record of significant contributions in medical leadership, teaching and mentoring at the local, regional and national levels. He has overseen the development of the VCU School of Medicine’s Inova Campus since its earliest stages and now serves as chair for the Association of American Medical College’s Group on Regional Medical Campuses. The GRMC is the national group that represents regional medical campuses throughout the United States and Canada.

Cheifetz has been active in the Virginia Chapter of the ACP, serving for six years on the governor’s council. He also chaired the chapter’s Council of Young Physicians in its first three years and developed its highly successful program for the professional growth of young physicians.

As a young physician himself, Cheifetz recognized the lack of resources for early-career physicians who were navigating life after residency training. To fill that need, Cheifetz won the Virginia ACP Chapter’s support of a professional development series that helps equip young physicians for the career choices they face as well as on issues like personal finance and time management.

The ACP’s McDonald Award for Young Physicians was established in 2003 to honor Dr. Walter J. McDonald, a former ACP governor and regent, who served as its executive vice president from 1995 to 2002.

Prior to this most recent honor, Cheifetz was named the School of Medicine’s 2011 recipient of the Enrique Gerszten, M.D., Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, which is the School of Medicine’s highest recognition for teaching. Read more about Cheifetz’s accomplishments.


Residency director tapped for national honor

Stephanie A. Call, M.D., MSPH

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has selected Stephanie A. Call, M.D., MSPH, to receive its 2012 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Award. This is one of the highest awards bestowed by the ACGME, with just 10 program directors across the country honored for their innovative ways of teaching residents to provide quality health care. The ACGME is the accrediting body for post-M.D. medical training in the United States.

Call is the Department of Internal Medicine’s associate chair for education as well as the director of its residency program. She will accept the honor at an awards luncheon on March 2, 2012 at the 2012 ACGME Annual Educational Conference in Orlando.
“Teaching is Dr. Call’s raison d’etre,” said John E. Nestler, M.D., the William Branch Porter Professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. “She has brought the department’s educational training program to national prominence. Under Dr. Call’s expert leadership we can boast that our residency program’s internship match has filled for the past three years, whereas other prestigious programs around the country have not.”

Mary Alice O’Donnell, Ph.D., associate dean and director of graduate medical education describes Call as “a magnet for faculty and residents alike when it comes to teaching and talking about medical education.” Call is a sought-after lecturer by internal medicine programs around the country, and a side benefit of her invited lectures, O’Donnell says, is that “we have a much more diverse applicant pool for our internal medicine program. So many people want to train here because their faculty advisors have told them what a great education they will get with her.”

O’Donnell emphasizes that in addition to establishing innovative educational programs, Call’s strength lies in how she personalizes the educational process, inviting trainees to her home to work through career issues or arriving at the hospital in the pre-dawn hours to meet with a trainee ending an overnight shift.

Considered a national expert on faculty development training, Call has held leadership roles in the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine. Prior to this latest honor from the ACGME, she has received teaching awards from all three of the medical universities with which she has been associated as well as from the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Nestler sums it up: “I am delighted and not at all surprised that Dr. Stephanie Call has received the 2012 ACGME Parker Palmer Courage to Teach Award. Simply said, Dr. Call is the greatest.”

Learn more about Call’s contributions.


Professor pens NEJM essay on doctor-patient relationship

Lenore M. Buckley, M.D., has authored an essay published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Lenore Buckley, M.D.

In the piece, she writes compellingly about her interactions with a 9-year-old patient diagnosed with a life-altering chronic condition. Buckley chronicles their visits together, illustrating how she tries to build “a protective wall around him and his parents to hold back the wave of fear, vulnerability and loss of control that is rushing in as they realize something serious has occurred.”

She describes the doctor-patient relationship as a team that is formed in those critical moments and in which the patient is the most important member. Buckley challenges her readers “to remember the personal impact of the diagnoses we make and our ability and obligation to soften the blows, to build that protective wall.”

A professor of internal medicine, Buckley is one of the medical school’s stellar faculty and has been honored for modeling for our students the kind of compassion, communication and wisdom that is described in the NEJM essay.

She has served as medical director of the Rheumatology Teaching Clinic for 16 years and has been honored four times with the Department of Internal Medicine Teaching Excellence Award. In 2006, she received the VCU Health System’s highest honor for a physician when she was nominated by her fellow clinical faculty for the Distinguished Clinician Award. This fall, she received the Women in Science, Dentistry, and Medicine Professional Achievement Award.

Read Buckley’s Critical Moments — Doctors and Patients, one of four essays by well-known experts in the Oct. 6 issue’s Perspective section.

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Updated: 04/29/2016