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26
2014

Student scientists’ parody video “We Found Drugs” perfect prescription for research retreat

Jacy and Andrew

M.D.-Ph.D. student Andrew Van Der Vaart and Ph.D. student Jacy Jacob

Ever wonder what an anthem to neuropharmacology sounds like? If you guessed a remixed Rihanna song featuring two student scientists, you’re right.

M.D.-Ph.D. student Andrew Van Der Vaart and Ph.D. student Jacy Jacob were tasked with entertaining students at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology’s recent research retreat. They decided to write, record and film the parody music video “We Found Drugs” that has been attracting attention across the MCV Campus and social media.

The video, by all accounts, was an instant success. When played at the retreat, it received a standing ovation just “30 seconds in,” according to Jacy. It racked up nearly 1,000 YouTube views in a single day. And the Dean of the School of Medicine, Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., and other faculty reportedly had a good laugh when they saw it at a recent meeting.

Jacy, the video’s star, nearly dropped the project before it began. Luckily an early morning email from Andrew with the song’s chorus “We found drugs in synaptic space” inspired her, and she wrote the verses in just a few hours. After about eight hours of filming and a couple recording sessions in Andrew’s impromptu home music studio, “We Found Drugs” was finished.

While the video has certainly enjoyed wide popularity, it does include a couple jokes that only pharmacology and toxicology insiders will get. The first is the celebrity cameo by Michael Miles, M.D., Ph.D., a pharmacology and toxicology professor, who, according to Andrew, is a strong supporter of the scientific parody video genre. The other joke requires a keener eye for detail and a pharmacological sense of humor. The video mocks the often difficult to remember names of designer drugs by inventing a few of its own, from the almost-believable “Gliditizaglib” to the not-quite-as-believable “Cinnamonnanabun.”

Andrew and Jacy are debating the next step for their video. As “We Found Drugs” continues to collect YouTube views and Facebook shares, they are considering entering it into some competitions, such as the “Lab Grammys,” where it could win even greater acclaim. For now, Andrew and Jacy are content with having created their own anthem of neuropharmacology and having had a little fun along the way.

By Jack Carmichael

26
2014

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.

 

26
2014

Housestaff alumnus Jeffrey Lamont named Wisconsin’s Pediatrician of the Year

Jeffrey Lamont

Jeffrey Lamont, H’82, has been named Pediatrician of the Year by the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (WIAPP). It is the chapter’s most prestigious honor.

Lamont has practiced in Wisconsin for 30 years, and his work in school health on behalf of WIAAP has also earned a national Award of Excellence from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Dr. Lamont is a central member of our chapter and a vocal advocate for children and their physicians,” said James Meyer, M.D., Wisconsin chapter president. “He is instrumental in making connections with our state public health initiatives, especially in the domain of school health, where his involvement has raised the bar of excellence in training and education for school health personnel.”

Lamont has served as WIAPP’s School Health Chair for over a decade and this year completed his tenure as immediate past president of the chapter. He serves the national AAP in his role on the National Nominating Committee.

“There is a lot of good work being done by a lot of Wisconsin pediatricians year in and year out,” Lamont said. “To be recognized in this way by our professional organization is about as nice a surprise as one could ask for.”

Lamont has been interested in school health for many years, working with the AAP, the state of Wisconsin and local schools.

“I have never forgotten the quality of the people I had the privilege to work with at MCV,” Lamont said. “The education I received was superb, not only in terms of hard medical knowledge but in terms of what it truly means to be a children’s physician. The faculty set a tone, a standard of conduct, that one tried to live up to.

“To this day, I’ll find myself facing a clinical dilemma and thinking of how this or that faculty member would respond to what I’m contemplating at the time. It was the frequent citing of the work of the American Academy of Pediatrics by MCV faculty, particularly Dr. Edwin Kendig, that got me involved with the AAP in the first place.”

Lamont is medical advisor for three school districts as well as Marathon County Special Education. He served from 2006-12 on the AAP’s Executive Committee of the Council on School Health and was lead author of the revision of the AAP policy statement on Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion, published in February 2013. He also was a contributing author to AAP’s published manual and course, Pediatric First Aid for Caregivers and Teachers.

“I feel that schools are extensions and reflections of the communities they serve and should be supported as such,” Lamont said. “School health is best addressed by a full range of resources — clinics, specialty organizations, school districts and state and local government — working together to identify problems and solutions and not trying to make them the responsibility of any one entity.”

Lamont is a strong believer in involving and educating parents as well. He’s been known to turn treating a child’s earache into an opportunity to build trusting relationships: “I use teaching otoscopes, which lets the parent see what I see when I examine the child’s ear.”

Lamont has worked with Marathon County Special Education to develop the School Health Skills Day workshop for school personnel who are called upon to provide health and nursing care to students, including those with special health needs. He also serves on the Board of the Foundation of Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital, which supports the hospital’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. The SANE program recently presented data indicating the majority of women served by the program are younger than age 18. He also has been active for many years in the American Heart Association Pediatric Advanced Life Support program. Currently serving as an instructor and as regional faculty, he credits his involvement with PALS to the influence of John Mickell, M.D., who was the director of the Pediatric ICU during his residency.

After moving to Wisconsin, Lamont practiced first with the Wausau Medical Center, an independent multi-specialty clinic. In 1997, the WMC merged with the Marshfield Clinic, and Lamont has practiced with the Marshfield Clinic in Weston since then.