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Dozen with ties to medical school played roles at ACP’s Internal Medicine 2015 meeting

The American College of Physicians is the second-largest physician group in the United States. Its annual meeting, also its centennial celebration, was held April 30 – May 2, 2015, in Boston, Mass. From behind the scenes to center stage, a dozen with ties to the medical school played roles at the meeting.


John F. Fisher, M’69, H’77

John F. Fisher, M’69, H’77, received the Jane F. Desforges Distinguished Teacher Award at the American College of Physicians’ national meeting in Boston, Mass., on April 30, 2015.

A professor emeritus of Georgia Regents University, Fisher’s academic career spans 38 years. The ACP honor is that latest of nearly five dozen teaching awards, including the Clinical Teacher Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the ACP Georgia Chapter’s J. Willis Hurst Teaching Award and two dozen Educator of the Year awards from Georgia Regents University.

During residency training at VCU, he was given the William Harrison Higgins Award. As an infectious disease fellow, he received the Best Fellow Award two years in succession. Following his training, Fisher joined the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia (now Georgia Regents University), where he was professor of medicine and program director for the Infectious Disease Fellowship. He also served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.

Fisher has served on the education committees for both the IDSA and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. He has 101 publications including 57 articles in refereed journals and 44 book chapters. At the ACP annual meeting, he was advanced from Fellow of the American College of Physicians to Master of the American College of Physicians.


Richard “Dick” P. Wenzel, M.D.

Richard “Dick” P. Wenzel, M.D., was the Massachusetts Chapter Lecturer at the ACP meeting. An emeritus professor and former chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine, Wenzel has been long been involved with the ACP and has frequently presented at the annual meeting, keeping physicians up to date with the latest information on topics in internal medicine and infectious disease. His topic at Internal Medicine 2015 was evidence-based physical diagnosis.

In 1988, the Massachusetts Chapter Award Lectureship was established to honor a distinguished Massachusetts internist and to honor an outstanding member of the annual meeting faculty. Today, the recipient of the award is selected by the chair of the Internal Medicine Scientific Program Planning Committee.

Robert Centor

Robert M. Centor, M’75

Robert M. Centor, M’75, concluded his one-year term as chair of the ACP Board of Regents at the annual meeting. The Board of Regents is the main policy-making body of the College.

A member of ACP since 1978, Centor was named a Fellow of ACP in 1985 and became a Master of ACP on October 1, 2014. He has served on the Board of Regents since 2008 and also on many of ACP’s committees, including the Membership Committee, Finance Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and the Health and Public Policy Committee, which he chaired from 2009-2011. Centor was awarded the Laureate Award for outstanding service to medicine and ACP from the Alabama Chapter of ACP in 2009.

He is currently professor of medicine and regional dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. He was on the internal medicine faculty on VCU’s Medical College of Virginia Campus until 1993.


Lisa L. Ellis, M’01, H’04

Lisa L. Ellis, M’01, H’04, chaired the Scientific Program Committee that created a mix of small group sessions, classic lectures and hands-on activities for the annual meeting. Faculty presented new findings in internal medicine and its subspecialties, presented new approaches in practice management and discussed issues related to health care policy as well as lead sessions to hone leadership and teaching skills.

“When I attend each year, I bring back new ideas for managing patients as well as techniques for enhancing my own leadership style,” says Ellis who as the ACP Governor for Virginia represents the state on the ACP’s national Board of Governors. In that role, she helps implement national projects and initiatives at the chapter level and represents member concerns at the national level. Ellis also is on the Board of Governors’ executive committee, which advises the Board of Regents.

Ellis currently is the chief medical officer for the Medical College of Virginia Physicians at VCU and has an appointment as an associate professor in internal medicine and OB-GYN.

A student and young alumnus have taken leadership roles in the organization:


Ali M. Khan, M’09

Ali M. Khan, M’09, is chair of the ACP’s National Council of Resident/Fellow Members that represents the interests of over 22,000 residents and fellows-in-training. He’s been on the 11-member council since his intern year at Yale and has helped lead ACP’s High Value Care initiative that educates and engages physicians as well as resident and fellow members in how to practice in a value-sensitive, thoughtful manner for resource stewardship and patient engagement.

At the ACP’s annual meeting, he co-hosted the council’s marquee event, a TED talk-style national forum for promising innovations and bright ideas for teaching high-value care. Moderated by author Sandeep Jauhar, M.D., and the New York Times’ Lisa Sanders, M.D., the event showcased winners from the second annual Teaching Value and Choosing Wisely Challenge sponsored by the ABIM Foundation and the national non-profit Costs of Care.

“We’ve read articles, attended lectures and held forums making the case for value-based care delivery,” Khan says. “Now, however, those words are being bolstered by action – on the ground, at institutions all across the country, led by talented health professionals with the creativity and drive to effect the collective change we seek. Award Winning Innovations isn’t about making the theoretical case for value – it’s about sharing the best work being done nationally to make that case a reality.”


MD-PhD student Chelsea Cockburn

MD-PhD student Chelsea Cockburn began her four-year term as a representative on the National Council of Student Members in April 2015. Council members organize programming for medical students at the national ACP conference every year, and Cockburn attended the annual meeting in Boston where she was looking forward to meeting the rest of the council members as well as internal medicine physicians.

As a member of the student council, Cockburn is assigned a region of medical schools in the U.S. and will help advise the internal medicine interest groups at those schools to strengthen activities at the chapter level. She’s also been selected to represent the council on the ACP Education and Publication Committee that provides scientific and professional information to physicians, trainees and patients.


ACP attendees with ties to the medical school reunited during the Internal Medicine 2015 meeting. Each year, the Department of Internal Medicine hosts a reception. This year it was held at Boston’s Atlantic Beer Garden overlooking the harbor.

A number of faculty from the Department of Internal Medicine presented at Internal Medicine 2015:

  • Stephanie A. Call, M.D., MSPH, professor in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care.
  • Alan W. Dow III, M.D., associate professor in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care.
  • Mary H. Hackney, M.D., associate professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology.
  • Puneet Puri, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology.
  • George W. Vetrovec, M.D., professor in the Division of Cardiology.

Others were honored at the meeting:

  • Wendy Klein, M.D., associate professor emerita, was awarded the designation of ACP master and was recognized as the Virginia ACP chapter’s 2015 Laureate winner. Klein was co-founder of the VCU Institute for Women’s Health and was the department’s first program director for an innovative residency in Women’s Health.
  • Curtis N. Sessler M.D., the Orhan Muren Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and professor in the Division of Pulmonary Disease, was named an ACP fellow.
  • John R. Strunk, M.D., assistant professor in the Division of General Medicine, was named an ACP fellow.
  • Darren Witte, M.D., in General Medicine and Pediatrics, was named an ACP fellow.

Neurology’s Jack Pellock receives national honors for career-long dedication to the epilepsy community

John M. Pellock, M.D., H’73

John M. Pellock, M.D., H’73

John M. Pellock, M.D., H’73, a professor in the Department of Neurology, accepted the Epilepsy Foundation’s 2015 Champion of Epilepsy Award on April 23 at its “Race for Results” Reception in Washington, D.C.

A pediatric neurologist, Pellock is an internationally recognized expert in epilepsy drug therapy and clinical care. He has been principal investigator for more than 100 trials evaluating epilepsy treatments in children and adults, and has been involved in antiepileptic drug development and studying epilepsy in children for more than 30 years.

“Dr. Pellock’s pioneering work is a testament to his lifelong commitment to serving the epilepsy community and passion for the mission we all share,” said Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation in a news release. “We are grateful for his longtime support of the Epilepsy Foundation and individuals living with seizures, and we are privileged to honor him.”

The Epilepsy Foundation is a national non-profit with nearly 50 community offices throughout the United States. The Champion of Epilepsy Award celebrates individuals whose work has had a positive impact on epilepsy advocacy and awareness.

Pellock earned his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, Mo., in 1971, completed housestaff training in pediatrics on VCU’s Medical College of Virginia Campus in 1973 and fellowship training in child neurology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in 1976. He has been on the VCU faculty since 1978 and served as chairman of the division of child neurology from 1995-2014. In 2004, he received the J. Kiffin Penry Award for Excellence in Neurology from the American Epilepsy Society.


Pathology’s Celeste Powers receives national honor for contributions to education

Charles Johnson Kinsolving1904

Celeste N. Powers, M.D., Ph.D., F’89, accepts the L.C. Tao Educator of the Year Award from Zubair Baloch, M.D., president of the Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology.

Celeste N. Powers, M.D., Ph.D., F’89, accepted the L.C. Tao Educator of the Year Award from the Papanicolaou Society of Cytopathology at the society’s annual meeting in Boston on March 21, 2015.

The L.C. Tao Educator of the Year Award is presented to a pathologist in recognition of meritorious service and contributions to the field of cytopathology education. In 2002, Powers’ MCV Campus mentor William “Jack” Frable, M.D., also received the award.

Powers is the Saul Kay Professor in Diagnostic Pathology and chair of the Division of Anatomic Pathology in the Department of Pathology. The co-author of two textbooks, she also has authored numerous book chapters and over 100 peer reviewed publications in head and neck surgical and cytopathology. Powers has developed and directed regional and national courses, workshops and symposia and has served as an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous pathology journals. At its inception in 1996, she was associate editor of Cancer Cytopathology and, in 2009, became its editor-in-chief.

She is currently president of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology and has served the American Society of Cytopathology as an executive board member and president in the past. In 2008, she received the American Society of Cytopathology’s highest honor, the Papanicolaou Award.

Powers earned a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Baylor College of Medicine and an M.D. from the University of Texas Medical School, where she also completed her residency in anatomic and clinical pathology. She received her fellowship training in surgical and cytopathology on VCU’s MCV Campus under the directorship of William “Jack” Frable, M.D. She held faculty appointments at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, and SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse before returning to Richmond in 1998 to join the Pathology Department.


Internal Medicine’s Larry Schwartz honored by AAAAI for contributions to science

Lawrence B. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.

Lawrence B. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.

Lawrence B. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., has been honored by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology with its Distinguished Scientist Award. The AAAAI board of directors unanimously selected Schwartz for the award that was bestowed at the AAAAI annual meeting in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 21.

The AAAAI award was given to recognize how he has advanced the treatment of allergic disease though his ground-breaking contributions to understanding the mechanisms and significance of mast cells.

As a result of his research, physicians throughout the world are now able to test a patient’s blood for tryptase, a protease enzyme, preferentially expressed by mast cells. His assay for tryptase is now used throughout the world to facilitate the diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis (a WHO criterion and FDA approved for this purpose), uncovering this disorder in many patients for whom this problem might otherwise have remained undiagnosed. The assay is also used to help diagnose mast cell-dependent systemic anaphylaxis; to monitor mast cell cytoreductive therapy; and to assess anaphylactic risk in patients who are sensitive to insect venom. Until Schwartz identified tryptase, there was no reliable and robust method to screen for mastocytosis with a blood test or to identify mast cell activation in allergic reactions.

On the medical school’s faculty since 1983, Schwartz is the Charles and Evelyn Thomas Professor of Medicine and chair of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology. Schwartz’s research had been funded continuously by the NIH for more than 30 years, including a MERIT award in 1990 and as PI of NIH’s Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center at VCU in 2008. Author of more than 350 publications, Schwartz is one of the most highly cited researchers in his field. He has been recognized by VCU with awards for research and innovation; election to honorary societies, i.e., the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and to leadership positions, including chair of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, of the Clinical Immunology Society and of NIH study sections.


Tony Kuzel takes presidency of Association of Departments of Family Medicine

Anton Kuzel, M.D,. M.H.P.E.

Anton Kuzel, M.D,. M.H.P.E.

Anton Kuzel, M.D,. M.H.P.E., was installed as president of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine during the organization’s annual winter meeting in Savannah, Ga. in February. Kuzel is a professor and the Harris-Mayo Chair in Family Medicine and Population Health in the School of Medicine.

At the meeting, he delivered the first address of his one-year tenure, taking the opportunity to focus on the importance of the triple aim of better health, better care and better value through lower costs.

“Changing how primary care is financed – moving away from fee-for-service towards comprehensive primary care capitation – will be essential for primary care to reach its full potential in helping us achieve the triple aim,” Kuzel told his audience. “Large, self-insured employers are already doing direct contracting with primary care practices because their workforce ends up being healthier, more productive and less costly in terms of health care. I see them as our natural partners to achieve true health care reform in the U.S.”

The ADFM represents chairs and senior administrators of 150 family medicine departments across the United States. In the coming year, Kuzel expects it to continue its partnership in a national effort backed by all the family medicine organizations called Family Medicine for America’s Health.

With the tagline “Health is Primary,” the initiative’s goal “is to engage the public and important stakeholders in moving us to a system of health care that focuses on prevention and keeps people healthy and productive, rather than one that rewards treatment of complications of advanced disease,” Kuzel said.

Kuzel earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois and completed his residency training in family medicine at MacNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Ill. He is associate editor for Qualitative Health Research and co-editor of two books on qualitative and health services research. Kuzel joined the VCU medical school’s faculty in 1984, first at the VCU-Fairfax residency program site before coming to the MCV Campus in 1990.


Jerry Strauss to chair IOM committee on the state of ovarian cancer research

Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D.

Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D.

The Institute of Medicine has appointed Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., to chair The State of the Science in Ovarian Cancer Research.

With a goal of reducing the incidence of and mortality from ovarian cancer, his ad hoc committee will evaluate research in the field, identify key gaps in the evidence base and recommend next steps. The committee will prepare a consensus study that is expected by the end of 2015.

A member of the IOM since 1994, Strauss is a past president of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation. He received the society’s highest honor, the Distinguished Scientist Award, in 2006. Author of more than 300 original scientific articles, Strauss holds twelve U.S. patents for discoveries in diagnostics and therapeutics.

Last year, Strauss was appointed chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The board advises the NICHD scientific director and on matters related to the institutes intramural research activities. His term as chair runs through June 2016.

In 2005, Strauss was named dean of VCU’s School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs of the VCU Health System. He is currently serving as interim vice president for VCU Health Sciences and interim CEO of the VCU Health System.