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March 2013 Archives


M3 Priscilla Mpasi to serve as VP of national student group

Priscilla Mpasi

Priscilla Mpasi

The Class of 2014’s Priscilla Mpasi has been elected as national vice-president of the Student National Medical Association. She will serve a one-year term during the 2013-2014 academic year.

The SNMA held the national election for its officers at the annual conference in Louisville, Ky., on March 31. Priscilla was one of three candidates vying for the post of national VP.

“After three long, grueling days of speeches and Q&A sessions, my name was called,” Priscilla said. “I actually won. I am still in shock and I have not had much time to process as I had to come right back to my surgery rotation and focus on being a medical student. I am so excited and honored to represent our institution in this way on the national level.”

The SNMA is the oldest and largest student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color. Priscilla has served as president of the VCU School of Medicine’s chapter during the 2011‐2012 school year and as a regional officer with the national organization this year.

Priscilla will work alongside the national president to execute the national agenda in its commemoration year entitled “50 years: Diversifying the Face of Medicine.” As vice-president she will serve as an executive member on the board of directors, directly oversee all the national committee programs and initiatives and attend regional and national conferences to speak out on health disparities and the importance of equality in healthcare access.

Priscilla is the first nationally elected executive officer in SNMA from VCU. In 2003-2004, two faculty members were appointed national committee officers: Sala S. Webb, M.D., assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, and Veronica Ayala-Sims, M.D., assistant professor of infectious diseases.


M1 is contributing author on medical text

The Class of 2017’s Abrahm Behnam has married his design skills with medical knowledge to produce 68 illustrations in the recently released text Ultrasound-Guided Chemodenervation and Neurolysis: Reference Manual and DVD Procedure Atlas.

Abrahm Behnam

Abrahm Behnam, Class of 2017

Before entering medical school, Abrahm was a biomechanics research engineer at the National Institutes of Health. “I spent off-hours shadowing the medical director of my section during her clinical rounds.”

His director, Katharine Alter, M.D., is a pioneer in using ultrasound to guide chemodenervation procedures. Chemodenervation uses neurotoxins to paralyze a muscle or group of muscles to treat patients with hypertonia, movement disorders and a variety of other conditions. Alter had a medical teaching atlas underway to introduce the procedures for clinicians, and Abrahm offered his help in capturing basic patient photography and videos to illustrate the concepts.

As Abrahm began the project, he learned that three types of images would be featured: clinical, anatomical and ultrasound. All related to one another but demonstrated different perspectives on the procedure. Abrahm suggested it would be helpful to combine the images to highlight the anatomical obstacles involved with deep injections. The authors welcomed his suggestion and devoted a 70-page chapter to his illustrations.

Behnam Book Cover

Abrahm’s illustration of an ultrasound-guided injection in the neck is featured on the text’s cover.
Used with permission: Alter, K.A., Hallett, M., Karp, B., & Lungu, C. (2012). Ultrasound-Guided Chemodenervation and Neurolysis: Reference Manual and DVD Procedure Atlas. New York, NY: Demos Medical Publishing, LLC.

“The combined image includes a clinical photograph with anatomical illustrations superimposed specific to the photograph’s perspective and to bony landmarks of the patient’s anatomy,” Abrahm explains. “Each photo-illustration has a series of anatomical illustration layers that can be peeled off layer-by-layer to view deeper anatomy.”

Abrahm’s chapter, Muscle Layers and Injection Points Atlas, provides detailed pictorial reference of eight areas of the body from the side of the face to the lower leg. The illustrations guide clinicians in planning and performing chemodenervation procedures by showing the relationship and orientation of individual muscles and surface anatomy to help identify optimal injection sites. Clinicians can interactively scroll through muscle layers using an accompanying DVD featuring 68 animations that the editors have described as a stunning visual roadmap.

“When planning chemodenervation procedures many practitioners find visualizing complex 3 D musculoskeletal anatomy challenging,” said Alter, who is medical director of the Functional and Applied Biomechanics Section of the Rehabilitation Medicine Department at the NIH. “Abrahm’s images provide clinicians with a user friendly pictorial reference guide of the relevant musculoskeletal anatomy. It reveals details about the orientation of and overlapping nature of target muscles. In the short time that the text has been in print we have received a lot of positive feedback about this section of the atlas from clinicians.”
As a self-taught graphic designer, Abrahm’s previous experience was limited to creating logos and t-shirts for various clubs and societies. He now hopes to keep his newly discovered skill alive by working on more medical illustration projects.


Class of 1999’s Robert Feezor volunteers at military hospital overseas

Robert J. Feezor, M.D.

Robert J. Feezor, M.D.

Located near Kaiserslautern, Germany the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is an American College of Surgeons Level 1 Trauma Center and the largest American hospital outside the United States. It serves as a stopping point for soldiers who need urgent care after being critically injured in Afghanistan’s Operation Enduring Freedom.

Earlier this year Robert J. Feezor, M’99, returned from a two-week rotation at LRMC where he volunteered his services in helping to care for U.S. military members.

“This was my first experience volunteering at LRMC,” said Feezor, who is usually found at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine where he is an associate professor of surgery and program director of the vascular surgery fellowship.

“I have no military background, but I was drawn to this opportunity by the desire to say ‘thank you’ in some way to the women and men who give me the right to exercise all the liberties I have at home.”

Read more about Feezor’s experience at LRMC on the Society for Vascular Surgery’s website.


Emeriti Professors Gerszten and Allison publish Atlas of Paleopathology

Enrique Gerszten, M.D., FCAP

Enrique Gerszten, M.D., FCAP

The newly published Atlas of Paleopathology: Autopsies in South American Mummies is a synthesis of more than 40 years of excavating and examining mummified remains. The work was initially launched by the National Geographic Society and later assumed by the Department of Pathology.

“One of the most significant findings in our work was that tuberculosis, long believed to have originated in Europe, was prevalent long before the arrival of the Spanish,” said Enrique Gerszten, M.D., FCAP, emeritus professor of pathology. “We were able to document the tubercle bacilli in both soft tissues and bones.”

Along with Dr. Gerszten, the atlas’ other authors include:

  • Marvin J. Allison, Ph.D., emeritus professor of pathology
  • Brianna E. Maguire, B.S., graduate student in biological anthropology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces
  • Peter C. Gerszten, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, professor of, neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Marvin J. Allison, Ph.D.

Marvin J. Allison, Ph.D.

The Atlas was published by the College of American Pathologists, a medical society with more than 18,000 physician members who specialize in diagnosing disease. The CAP is the world’s largest organization composed exclusively of board-certified pathologists. Paleopathology combines knowledge from the fields of archeology, anthropology, and pathology, and the atlas’ numerous images represent those fields’ investigation of pre-Colombian civilizations from the regions that are today Peru and Chile. It covers topics including:

  • Mummies and artifacts
  • Diseases of the skeletal system
  • Diseases of soft tissues
  • Tumors
  • Intentional cranial deformation
  • Paleoneuropathology and trephination

For more information and to order a copy of the Atlas of Paleopathology, visit www.cap.org/cappress.


Tony Kuzel honors founding chair of Family Medicine Department

Tony Kuzel, M.D.

Tony Kuzel, M.D.

As Tony Kuzel, M.D., was finishing his family medicine residency in Chicago, Ill., he started looking for the right medical center where he could begin his career. He heard exciting developments were happening on the MCV Campus and wrote Fitzhugh Mayo, M.D., chairman of what was known then as the Department of Family Practice, to ask about job opportunities. Mayo saw something special in Kuzel’s letter and encouraged him to apply for a faculty position at the department’s site in Fairfax.

The position was a good fit, and Kuzel joined the faculty. In his nearly 30-year career at the School of Medicine, Kuzel has appreciated the groundwork Mayo laid for family medicine and the elder physician’s guidance.

Fitzhugh Mayo, M.D.

Fitzhugh Mayo, M.D.

“I learned what incredible accomplishments Dr. Mayo had as the first chair of family medicine,” Kuzel said. “He was a part of the group that told the Virginia General Assembly that we had a crisis in primary care. He was a pioneer for reestablishing the discipline.”

Throughout the time the two physicians spent together on the MCV Campus, Kuzel continued to learn from Mayo. In 2003, Kuzel followed in his mentor’s footsteps and was named chairman of what is now the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health.

As the School of Medicine prepared to open the new McGlothlin Medical Education Center, a state-of-the-art training facility for medical students and residents, Kuzel reflected on how Mayo’s contributions have helped the school and health care in Virginia progress. Inspired by these accomplishments, he made a $10,000 gift to the medical school’s campaign in honor of Mayo. Typically donors at this level are recognized with their name inscribed on the building’s donor wall, but Kuzel elected to have Mayo’s name appear instead of his own.

“It is clear that this medical school understands the need for primary care is especially important,” Kuzel said. “Since he was so committed to ensuring that Virginians would have access to quality primary care, it is only fitting to have his name on the wall.”


John Nestler honored with Virginia ACP’s Laureate Award

John E. Nestler, M.D.

John E. Nestler, M.D.

The Virginia Chapter of the American College of Physicians honored John E. Nestler, M.D., with the 2013 Laureate Award at its Annual Meeting and Clinical Update held March 1-2 in Richmond. Nestler, who is the William Branch Porter Professor of Medicine and chair of Department of Internal Medicine, was honored for his distinguished service to the community and chapter.

He is a distinguished scholar and internationally recognized expert on the effects of insulin on polycystic ovary syndrome, a common condition related to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. In the 1980s, Nestler was among the first scientists in the world to suggest that insulin was an important reproductive hormone.

His pioneering work to induce ovulation through the use of such insulin-sensitizing drugs as metformin has led to the common use of metformin to treat infertility in women with PCOS, as well as to address their high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In a 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Nestler’s research team was the first to publish findings of the combination therapy of metformin and clomiphene to promote ovulation.

He is the principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health grants, and his honors include the school of medicine’s Outstanding Research Achievement Award and Distinguished Mentor in Clinical Sciences Award. He has authored more than 100 original publications and edited three books.

Nestler, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, is a former chief medical resident at MCV Hospitals. He has served as chair of the department since 2009. He was vice chair from 2003 to 2009 and was chair of the Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism from 1997 to 2009.

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Updated: 04/29/2016