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Longtime Microbiology faculty member Deborah Lebman endows scholarship via her estate plans

Deborah Lebman, Ph.D.

Deborah Lebman, Ph.D.

She makes a difference in students’ lives every day. Now she’s laid the groundwork for her impact to continue even after she leaves the MCV Campus.

Associate Professor Deborah Lebman, Ph.D., joined the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in 1989. A self-proclaimed “fan of our students,” for 18 years she’s directed the immunology course for the medical students and with the advent of the medical school’s new C3 curriculum became co-director of the Infection and Immunity Division.

For several years, Lebman has been a member of the medical school’s admissions committee where, she says, she sees what a great need there is for scholarships.

Earlier this year, she decided to take action and made provisions in her estate plans to create a medical student scholarship.

“I believe that our greatest impact comes from what we give to others,” said Lebman. “Creating a scholarship fund serves the dual purpose of expressing my gratitude for the opportunity to teach the next generation of physicians and giving someone else the opportunity to leave a mark on society.”

Her bequest was featured in the July edition of VCU’s philanthropy email newsletter, Black & Gold & You, that described how bequests can promote academic excellence and strengthen VCU as a diverse premier urban research institution.

The newsletter outlines some benefits associated with bequests:

• Easy to make — You retain your assets throughout your lifetime.

• Revocable — You can make changes to beneficiaries of your estate throughout your lifetime.

• Flexible — Your bequest can be directed to support the university as a whole or a school/program that is important to you.

Photography by Will Gilbert


Kelley Dodson named first female president of the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology

I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.

“I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.”

Housestaff alumna and School of Medicine faculty member Kelley M. Dodson, M.D., was installed as president of the Virginia Society of Otolaryngology on June 4. She is the first female president in the society’s nearly 100-year history.

It’s a milestone that Dodson says has special meaning for her.

“I think my presidency definitely reflects the change in traditionally male dominated surgical specialties to now being more representative and inclusive of women as a whole.”

Dodson has been involved with the society for a half dozen years. She served as president-elect last year and before that as vice president.

Through her service, she says, “I have gained significant insight especially into legislative issues facing the commonwealth of Virginia, as we have been very active in the legislative process on issues affecting our specialty.”

Kelley M. Dodson, M.D.

Kelley Dodson, M.D.

The Virginia Society of Otolaryngology was chartered in 1920. It provides continuing medical education for its members and addresses political and regulatory challenges affecting practice issues. Each spring, the society holds an annual meeting, which was held this year in McLean, Va.

Dodson has a clinical interest in pediatric otolaryngology as well as in congenital and genetic hearing loss. On the research front, she is interested in language and speech outcomes in children with hearing loss and has been involved with genetic studies of tinnitus and different forms of hearing loss. She also studies pediatric chronic rhinosinusitis and the mask microbiome in cystic fibrosis.

After completing her residency in the Department of Otolaryngology on VCU’s MCV Campus, Dodson joined the medical school’s faculty in 2005. She is now director of the department’s residency program.

By Erin Lucero
Event photography by Susan McConnell, Virginia Society of Otolaryngology


MacGyver medicine: Medical school team wins wilderness medicine event

Stabilizing a patient with spinal cord injury. Emergency tracheotomy. Intubation. It’s all in a day’s work.

Except now imagine doing these procedures while mountain biking, canoeing, running through the woods with map and compass, and carrying all your supplies on your back.

The Class of 2016’s Phil Griffith, Chris Woleben, M’97, H’01, and the Class of 2017’s Jenika Ferretti-Gallon prevailed in the Mid-Atlantic MedWAR that combines wilderness medicine and adventure racing.

Sounds almost impossible, but the medical school’s Lactated Ringers team prevailed at the Mid-Atlantic MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race) competition on March 19.

MedWAR events pit three-person teams of wilderness medicine enthusiasts against each other for a day-long event that challenges their medical knowledge, orienteering skills and stamina. The competition, held in several locations throughout the U.S., was created in 2000 by two emergency medicine physicians with a passion for adventure racing. MedWAR events have no route markers, water stations or cheering spectators; instead they simulate backcountry rescue situations so participants can test and improve their skills.

The Class of 2016’s Phil Griffith heard about the event last year and decided it was the perfect venue for his love of the outdoors and career plans as an emergency physician. “Emergency medicine fits with wilderness medicine,” he noted. Except in the outdoors, “You’re practicing with fewer resources, higher evacuation times and the same principles of stabilize and improvise.”

He participated in the event for the first time last year with Chris Woleben, M’97, H’01, on a team dubbed the Lactated Ringers. This year, the Class of 2017’s Jenika Ferretti-Gallon joined them.

An associate professor in the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Woleben is also associate dean for student affairs in the medical school. Though he’s far more experienced in medicine, Woleben calls the students “the masterminds to our team’s success.”

The competition, held in Newport News, includes three loops (four for more advanced competitors) consisting of questions and hands-on scenarios. Each team must navigate to checkpoints where they will encounter physical challenges or wilderness medicine simulations, which they must successfully complete before moving forward.

The team takes its name from Ringer’s lactate solution that’s often used for fluid resuscitation after blood loss due to trauma, surgery or other injury.

During the race, which the Lactated Ringers completed in under seven hours by mountain bike, canoe and foot, they performed a cricothyrotomy on a pig trachea and removed a fish hook from someone’s skin (using a pig’s foot as a stand-in). One memorable scenario involved stabilizing a skydiver who had landed in a tree and sustained spinal cord injury.

The trio capitalized on the lessons learned from the experiences of the 2015 team.

“The reason for our success was that we planned in advance,” said Ferretti-Gallon. “We practiced orienteering the weekend before the race at a Boy Scout camp.”

The group also knew what to carry in their pack, smaller than last year’s but still a hefty 20 pounds of wilderness supplies. “The most important thing you can have is gloves,” said Griffith. “And a knife is always useful.” The group also hauled water purification equipment, shelter, epinephrine for anaphylactic shock, gauze and a CPR mask. A skin stapler came in handy, too, for making quick repairs on their simulated victims so the team could get back on the course.

With few penalties for wrong answers and some bonus points for their knot-tying skills, the team was named winner of the Intermediate division. In addition to bragging rights, the team won a copy of “Improvised Medicine,” a book Griffith dubs MacGyver medicine. “Actually, I’ve had my eye on that for a while,” he said.

It also gave them confidence. “MedWAR can change the way you think about practicing medicine,” Ferretti-Gallon said. “It gives you skills to apply in the field. It’s encouraging and it’s empowering.”

She’ll hold down the fort next year at MedWAR, as Griffith moves to Ohio for residency.

However, he remains prepared for anything he encounters. “I always try to keep my medical bag with me. And my keychain is just exploding now with a bag of gloves, a pocket knife and other supplies.”

By Lisa Crutchfield


Dean Jerry Strauss honored for mentorship

Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the School of Medicine, was honored in March with the 2016 Frederick Naftolin Award for Mentorship. Presented by the Society for Reproductive Investigation, the award recognizes the contributions of a society member to training and career development of investigators in the field of reproductive and women’s health.

Strauss has always placed a priority on mentoring young scientists and has found time to nurture those relationships even during his nearly 11 years as dean.

Eun Lee, Ph.D., one of Strauss’ mentees, was on hand for the ceremony at the SRI 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

SRI President Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., presented the Frederick Naftolin Award for Mentorship to Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., at the SRI 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

An assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Lee met Strauss almost four years ago. At that time, “I was in a unique situation because I had taken a hiatus from research due to my family situation. It was very difficult to return to the work force, especially with the current funding climate and as a woman with three little children. But he saw the potential in me and offered me the position I am currently in now. I will always be grateful for Dr. Strauss believing in me and continuing to support me in my research.”

The two have weekly meetings and exchange emails at all hours of the day, says Lee. She shares with Strauss an interest in preeclampsia, which is a leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality in the United States.

“His interest in all our projects is amazing. He gently leads us to the right path and gives us the intellectual freedom to explore on our own to make discoveries. His suggestions and feedback have made our projects successful.”

The Frederick Naftolin Award for Mentorship was established in 2003 in honor of the former president of SRI who was a staunch advocate for creating a mechanism for the society to celebrate outstanding service to the scientific community through excellence in mentoring.

Strauss is a past president of SRI and in 2006 was honored with its Distinguished Scientist Award, the society’s highest honor for contributions to the field of women’s health research.

An accomplished researcher, Strauss has authored over 300 original scientific articles and holds 12 issued U.S. patents for discoveries in diagnostics and therapeutics. An elected member of the Academy of Medicine for more than two decades, he currently chairs the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He is senior editor of Yen and Jaffe’s Reproductive Endocrinology, the major textbook in the field of reproductive medicine and has served as a member of the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science.

By Erin Lucero


Guests from a dozen states pack reception celebrating the Kirkpatrick Professorship

Affection and respect for Barry Kirkpatrick, M’66, filled the reception hall on March 12. The evening celebrated the successful completion of a campaign to honor a pediatrician who was as dedicated to the tiniest babies as he was to training medical students and residents.

Longtime faculty member Barry Kirkpatrick, M’66, with seven of the neonatal‐perinatal medicine fellows he’s trained. Dozens of former trainees were on hand to celebrate the creation of a professorship that bears his name.

In 1973, Kirkpatrick established the first Neonatal ICU at MCV Hospitals. It was also the first in Central Virginia and would grow to become one of the largest on the east coast. He shared his knowledge and skill with generations of future physicians, creating a fellowship training program in neonatal‐perinatal medicine and an innovative community pediatric clerkship for medical students and residents. He ultimately was named vice chairman for education in the Department of Pediatrics.

Those former residents and students en masse supported a campaign to endow the Barry V. Kirkpatrick, M.D., Professorship. The campaign enjoyed the broadest base of support of any in the medical school in recent years, with scores of commitments coming in from 21 states.

About 150 of those Kirkpatrick fans were on hand in March at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens to celebrate the professorship that will support the teaching mission of the Department of Pediatrics. kirkpatrick-gallerybuttonTogether they recalled the many firsts that Kirkpatrick pioneered: the first 600-gram baby, introducing mechanical ventilation for infants and designing a van to transport newborns from surrounding hospitals to the MCV Campus. In addition, he and surgeon Tom Krummel, H’83, established the east coast’s first ECMO program in 1980 at a time when it had only been offered for infants at UC Irvine, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. They went on to help other university medical centers get their own programs up and running. These were dramatic advances at a time when the medical field was just beginning to learn how to save the lives of very premature babies.

Dawn Mueller, M’72, F’75, a retired associate professor of pediatrics at VCU, was the first of Kirkpatrick’s seven fellows. She was also the chief champion of the professorship campaign, writing letters and making phone calls to ensure everyone had an opportunity to participate.

At the March reception she noted the Kirkpatrick Professorship now takes its place beside endowed professorships honoring Walter Bundy, M’45, and Edwin Kendig, H’36, two other longtime faculty members in the medical school. Mueller characterized the three physicians as “the pantheon of iconic Richmond pediatricians,” and added, “This trio of professorships extends their legacies and influence for generations to come.”

By Erin Lucero


What Does a Surgeon Look Like?

Take off the mask and you’ll see what a surgeon looks like. A surgeon may look like Paula Ferrada, M.D.

Ferrada is associate professor of surgery and director of the medical school’s Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program. The Colombia-born, Harvard-educated trauma surgeon has been a national leader in the “I Look Like a Surgeon” social media campaign that sprung up last summer, following in the wake of a similar “I Look Like an Engineer” phenomenon. Through tweets, Facebook, blogs and other channels, they’re working to shatter stereotypes and show that physicians, especially surgeons, don’t conform to a prescribed appearance.

Taken after a grand rounds conference, the photo of Paula Ferrada, M.D., with general surgery residents and faculty was tagged #IlookLikeASurgeon to show surgeons don’t conform to a prescribed appearance.

A former surgical resident in North Carolina, Heather Logghe, M.D., is credited as the founder of the movement, launching the hashtag #ILookLikeASurgeon. Within two days, it had gone viral, with thousands of tweets and surgeons posting photos of themselves in action.

American College of Surgeons President Andy Warshaw, M.D., weighed in, tweeting, “We all look alike in the O.R.; It’s quality, not gender, that counts.” The Association of Women Surgeons promoted the initiative on its website. By the end of October, #ILookLikeASurgeon had more than a hundred million impressions (the number of times content is displayed on various social media platforms).

“The campaign touched something dear and important to a lot of surgeons,” said Ferrada. “And then it became not just about the gender gap but about all diversity.”

#ILookLikeASurgeon helped bolster efforts to change perceptions and offered a lead-in to important conversations, she said.

“In a world where females compose 50 percent of medical school students, why are we not recruiting those females into surgery?” Ferrada wonders. “Why are the conversations about work/life balance exclusively for women?”

Paula Ferrada, M.D., spoke at the Latino Medical Student Association’s southeast regional conference on the value of advocating for what you believe in.

Though Ferrada says she didn’t necessarily notice a glass ceiling in medical school or residency, as she was working her way toward faculty leadership positions she recognized that the rules are often different for women. “You realize that you have to work harder. You have to ‘correct’ for being a woman. You can’t be too loud, or too quiet, too aggressive or not aggressive enough.

“But we should just say, “I’m going to be who I’m going to be. You’ll have to judge me by my results.’”

And while society as a whole needs to be more accepting, Ferrada feels VCU does a good job of championing diversity and has offered opportunities for leadership. “If it weren’t a diverse place, I wouldn’t have lasted here,” she said. She calls her department “a melting pot of cultures, races, ethnicities and beliefs, all working for the same goal.”

Paula Ferrada, M.D., with Heather Logghe, M.D., who got the ball rolling on the #IlookLikeaSurgeon movement, and Patricia Turner, head of membership services at the American College of Surgeons.

For women especially, Ferrada believes VCU’s MCV Campus excels, offering open conversations about diversity, opportunities for advancement, perks like a lactation room and day care center – and each year welcomes a good number of pregnant residents who are supported as they blend work and family, which, Ferrada notes, are not mutually exclusive.

She and her husband Rahul Anand, M.D., an associate professor of surgery in the School of Medicine, have built distinguished careers and still had time for their six-year-old son. “Everybody has some degree of mommy guilt,” she says. “But if you’re fulfilled and happy with yourself, you’ll be able to make everybody around you happy.”

She counsels women who are hesitant to pursue medical careers, “Think about what you want to do, what gets in between you and your goal, and most of the time you will see yourself.”

And in the meantime, she plans to continue to forge ahead with #ILookLikeASurgeon and will keep on tweeting. “Society is changing, and I want to be part of the change.”

The eye of an eagle, the heart of a lion, and the hand of a woman.”

Attributes of the Ideal Surgeon, 15th Century England

By Lisa Crutchfield