Jump to content
Placeholder image for header
School of Medicine discoveries

March 2014 Archives


Video produced by senior neurology residents vies for Neuro Film Festival honors

Two senior neurology residents, Alicia Zukas, M.D., and Ken Ono, D.O., have produced a video that’s drawing attention in the American Brain Foundation’s film competition.

Their five-minute video, “Back to Life,” brings awareness to the phenomenon of strokes in young adults through the story of 33-year-old Delanie Stephenson. It is currently one of the top 4 vote getters from among more than 50 competition entries.

Go online before March 27 to select your favorite. You will have to register in order to view the videos and cast your vote.

The “fan favorite” winner will be announced at the Neuro Film Festival at the American Academy of Neurology Meeting in Philadelphia in late April.

One in six people is affected by brain disease. The American Brain Foundation aims to reduce the prevalence of brain disease by supporting research into prevention, treatment and cures. The Neuro Film Festival helps raise awareness about the need for more research. This year’s entries feature a diversity of brain diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism and Parkinson’s disease.

Zukas earned her medical degree from VCU in 2010, and Ono is a graduate of the NY College of Osteopathic Medicine.


New animated video connects the dots between education and health outcomes


People with less education are living sicker, shorter lives than ever before.

“We all know that a good education is important,” says Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health. “Less recognized is the impact of education on health outcomes. Americans with a good education generally enjoy better health throughout their lives, generate fewer health care costs, and live longer.”

He points to an eye-opening statistic: even a 1% increase in the percentage of Americans with some college education could save $1.3 billion per year in avoided medical care for one disease: diabetes.

With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the VCU Center on Society and Health is raising awareness about the important connections between education and health. Its staff meets with leaders in government and the private sector — at the national, state, and local level — to explore those connections.

They’ve recently experimented with a new medium, producing an animated video that connects the dots between educational attainment and health.

More and more, the Center is looking to communicate in a variety of ways to reach the greatest variety of audiences. In addition to new media tactics like interactive online tools and this video, the Center also continues to make use of traditional media tactics like op-eds and produce more in-depth and academic material like white papers, issue briefs and journal articles.

Learn more about the Center on Society and Health and watch the animated video.


Urology Chair Lance Hampton takes advanced surgical techniques to Vietnam


Huế, the ancient capital city of Vietnam

In early March, Chair of Urology Lance J. Hampton, M.D., will carry hi-tech expertise to Huế, the ancient former capital city of Vietnam.

It’s his third trip in five years, traveling as part of an organization called International Volunteers in Urology. Based out of Salt Lake City, IVUmed organizes urologists who volunteer to provide medical and surgical education to physicians and nurses and treatment to thousands of children and adults.

Five years ago, Hampton says, “I chose to go to Vietnam because, at the time, I had never been to that part of the world and wanted to see it. It was also a way to involve my urology residents in the trip as there is a urology residency in Huế, Vietnam.”

Hampton holds the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer Professorship in Urology. He notes that the endowed professorship supports his efforts to advance the Urology program in multiple ways, including opportunities like this one.


Drs. Lance Hampton (left) and Eric Reid, a urology resident from the University of Oregon outside the operating rooms at Huế University. “Note the short scrub pants and open toed plastic shoes!” Hampton points out.

On this trip and the others before it, he partners with physicians at Huế University. He’ll demonstrate advanced surgical techniques developed in our operating rooms in a region of the world that is severely lacking in modern technology and training.

At the VCU Health System, Hampton is medical director of Robotic Surgery, one of the busiest programs in the Mid-Atlantic region. He’s found the Vietnamese surgeons to be very interested in how he performs laparoscopy and endoscopy procedures, which are uncommon in Vietnam.

In Huế, Hampton’s team typically does four or five major open kidney stone cases each day. “With the expansion of minimally invasive surgery for kidney stones, these procedures are extremely rare in the U.S., but are standard practice in Vietnam,” Hampton explains. “This gives my residents and me the opportunity to perform operations that we rarely see anymore.”


Urology Chair Lance Hampton

His residents have benefitted in other ways as well from this cultural exchange, Hampton said. “It has helped each of them to foster a philanthropic spirit, dedicating themselves to ultimately what draws all of us to medicine – the desire to help others.”

IVUmed provides scholarships to residents who participate, and School of Medicine has also sponsored residents on the trips. On previous visits, Hampton and his team of residents have met up with other urologists in training from Duke, Northwestern and the University of Oregon. This year, a resident from the University of Miami will join them.

Hampton acknowledges that he’s been surprised at how much he enjoys traveling to Vietnam. “I have now spent over a month of my life in Vietnam and I always enjoy it immensely. The people are friendly and welcoming. They love having visitors to their country and sharing with you their culture and their lifestyle.”

In some ways, Hampton can’t help but stand out. “One thing I enjoy about traveling to Southeast Asia is that, even at 5’11”, I’m one of the tallest people in the country. Their scrubs are made for someone 5’6” or so,” says Hampton as he explains a picture of him outside a Vietnamese operating room wearing short scrub pants and open-toed plastic shoes. “The shoes are just what they are used to. They tend to not be very clean and are probably size 8 or less, but having bare feet help keeps you cool in their 85 degree operating rooms. When in Rome…”


Societies vie for the inaugural Strauss Cup

Strauss cup logo

The Strauss Cup Society Field Day will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Abner Clay Park.

A year’s worth of bragging rights are at stake.

Over the past seven months, a series of competitions have been waged in the School of Medicine, pitting its four medical student societies against one another in athletic, academic, spirit and community service challenges. Known as the Strauss Cup, the competition takes its name from Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D.

“The Strauss Cup is designed to build both camaraderie within each Society and a healthy sense of inter-Society pride and competition,” says the Class of 2016’s Shikha Gupta, the Medical Student Government’s vice-president of societies.

The Societies have earned points in each of this year’s academics, spirit and service challenges. “The Societies were all neck-and-neck until the SOUPerbowl, a week-long Society and Faculty food drive competition benefiting FeedMore and the Central Virginia Food Bank,” Shikha said. “The Baughman Society collected nearly 400 food items, earning them a healthy lead in the Tournament standings.”

The other Societies have plenty of time to catch up. The competition’s inaugural year will culminate in the Strauss Cup Society Field Day to be held on Saturday, March 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at Abner Clay Park, located at the corner of Brook Road and Leigh Street. Points will also be awarded for participation in a Society Spirit Week that will be held in advance of Field Day.

The Field Day will give the four societies a final chance to win points before the Strauss Cup is awarded. The event will include the medical school’s traditional M1/M2 Powderpuff Football game along with tug of war, egg tosses and three-legged races. There will also be Dunk Tank featuring favorite faculty members and student leaders from all the MCV Campus schools.

The Field Day is free of charge and open to the VCU community and their families. Some activities will carry a suggested donation, which will be used to benefit United 2 Heal, a non-profit organization based on the Monroe Park Campus. United 2 Heal provides recycled or discarded high-need medical supplies to developing countries at no cost. The organization was founded by Mohamed Ibrahim, a first-year medical student who died suddenly in November. Admired by faculty and students from both of VCU’s campuses, Mohamed’s life has inspired a number of memorial activities.

The school’s 780 M.D. students are assigned to one of four medical societies according to their career and specialty interests, learning styles and proficiencies. The Baughman, Benacerraf, Harris and Warner Societies each carry the name of an alumnus or faculty member to honor the rich history and tradition of MCV.

Each year, the winning society’s name will be engraved on the Strauss Cup, which will take up temporary residence on that society’s floor in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center until the next victor is crowned.

The Societies’ leaders chose to honor Strauss with the naming of the Cup as a way for the medical student body to show its appreciation for the work he does on their behalf.

“It’s our hope that this tournament will continue long after we all leave MCV, so future medical students will be reminded of Dean Strauss’ legacy,” said Shikha. “As a student leader, I’ve been incredibly impressed both by Dean Strauss’s unwavering support of student initiatives and by his commitment to transparency in communication between students and administrators. The autonomy given to our student leaders by the administration to make decisions and implement programs without direct faculty oversight is a demonstration of Dean Strauss’s faith in the student body’s ability to participate in the process of MCV’s growth and development in a meaningful way.”


Newspaper profiles life and times of Surgery’s Szabolcs Szentpetery


Szabolcs Szentpetery, M.D.

The front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s March 10 Health section featured Szabolcs Szentpetery, H’75.

The story describes the life and career of the Hungarian native who emigrated to the U.S. in 1965. He’d been training at MCV for only about a year when he was drafted to Vietnam, where he worked at one of the war’s busiest evacuation hospitals. The experience convinced him to dedicate most of his career to serving veterans, he told the Times-Dispatch.

The newspaper story also details his return to America and his connection with heart transplant pioneer Richard Lower, M.D., that grew into Szentpetery starting the heart transplant program at the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“Saint Pete” or “Saint Peter,” as he’s sometimes called by his patients, estimates he’s performed more than 300 transplants – the majority at McGuire. Read more about his 30-year career in the Times-Dispatch story, Pioneering heart surgeon dedicated to care of veterans.

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
Contact us
Contact webmaster
Updated: 04/29/2016