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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.


Pathology’s Margaret Grimes to serve as president of American Board of Pathology

Margaret Grimes, M.D.

Margaret Grimes, M.D.

Margaret Grimes, M.D., H’80, professor of pathology, has been elected president of the American Board of Pathology. She will serve a one-year term.

Grimes has been involved in graduate medical education at the national level for many years and received the Association of Pathology Chairs’ Distinguished Achievement Award in Graduate Medical Education in 2013.

On the MCV Campus, Grimes is a very active member of the teaching faculty and serves as vice chair for education in the Department of Pathology. She was program director for the Pathology Resident Training Program from 1992-2005 and in that time twice received the Saul Kay Faculty Award from the pathology residents. She has served as co-director of the Respiratory course for second-year medical students and, in 2012, was honored with the Enrique Gerszten Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, the highest teaching award conferred by the School of Medicine.

Grimes received her medical degree from New York Medical College and trained in anatomic and clinical pathology at VCU. Following a surgical pathology fellowship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, she was a member of the faculty at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center before returning to VCU in 1990.

The ABP is a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties. It was established in 1936 to promote the health of the public and advance the practice and science of pathology by establishing voluntary certification standards and assess the qualifications of physicians seeking to practice the specialty of pathology.


Saving football: neuroscientist Ray Colello’s research garners nationwide media attention

Ray Colello

Ray Colello, Ph.D.

Could lightweight, rare earth magnets reduce the force of a head-to-head collision on the football field?

That’s the question that’s occupying Ray Colello, Ph.D., this NFL season.

“Helmet to helmet collisions are considered one of the primary means by which concussions occur in football,” says the associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, who’s also an avid football fan. “Repeated concussions can lead to severe brain disease, and the average collegiate football player will take over 500 hits to the head over a season of games and practices.”

On Nov. 15, he presented findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience showing neodymium magnets can generate repulsive forces of over 300-fold their weight that could be used to reduce the impact forces generated during helmet-to-helmet collision.

The proposition has caught the interest of the science press and, in the days following his presentation, he’s done more than two dozen interviews with news outlets like NPR, the journal Science and Scientific American.

Colello’s research has been supported by the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund. His next step will be to field-test the magnets by fitting them inside football helmets worn by crash-test dummies.

Such tests could mimic the indirect hits and rotational forces that come into play in a football game. “We don’t want to trade concussions with spinal cord injuries,” Colello told the journal Science.

Read more about Colello’s discovery.