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5 Commandments for Young Scientists from alumnus Sebastian Joyce

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Sebastian Joyce, PhD’88

When Sebastian Joyce arrived on the MCV Campus to pursue his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology in the early 1980s, he’d come farther than most: more than 12,000 miles, from Bangalore, India.

“I was as fresh off the boat as it gets,” says Joyce, “and I left a man. I came here a peasant, and walked away a scholar.”

He credits his transformation to the freedom he was given by his mentor T. Mohanakumar, D.V.M., Ph.D., to think independently and pursue scientific discovery in his own way.

He’s still doing that today. As a professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University, he’s developing the unconventional approach of using T cell-targeted vaccines against infectious diseases.

“He is on the cutting-edge of finding the most effective approaches for preventing infection,” says Phillip B. Hylemon, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology who was on Joyce’s dissertation committee when he was a Ph.D. candidate in the 1980s.

Joyce described his novel approaches to vaccine development when he spoke at VCU earlier this month at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology’s Research Seminar Series. “Vaccines are man’s greatest inventions,” he told his audience as he enthusiastically recounted for them his lab’s efforts to design vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases that plague humankind.

Joyce’s creative and innovative science has won him sustained grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, and his publication record includes the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Nurturing the next generation of scientists is a priority for Joyce. He challenged established scientists to take seriously their responsibility to their trainees with the sentiment expressed in his own lab’s motto: “Inspire young minds: to wonder and imagine; to explore and innovate; to discover and evolve.”

5 Commandments for Young Scientists

1. Be curious
2. Read widely and think broadly about everything, and particularly your own project
3. Question everything, especially dogma
4. Devise simple yet clever experiments
5. Find answers by yourself

Joyce also spoke directly to the students in the audience, encouraging them with his 5 Commandments for Young Scientists. On his last commandment — “Find answers by yourself” — Joyce challenged students: “You don’t have to listen to the gray haired, the balding [older generation] or go to them with all your questions. If they already knew all the answers, there would be no point in you doing the experiment!”

Read about Joyce’s scientific odyssey on the his lab website.


Housestaff alumna Cynthia Romero honored by the Medical Society of Virginia

Cynthia C. Romero

Cynthia C. Romero

Cynthia C. Romero, H’96, has been honored for her outstanding contributions promoting the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health through political service. She accepted the Clarence A. Holland, M.D. Award during the Medical Society of Virginia’s annual meeting on Oct. 26. The award was bestowed by the MSV Political Action Committee.

A family physician from Virginia Beach, Romero currently serves as the director of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Brock Institute for Community and Global Health. She also is the physician manager for Romero Family Practice in Virginia Beach.

She has a distinguished record of service, including being named Virginia’s Commissioner of Health by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2013. Upon completing her term, she returned to EVMS to lead the Brock institute’s effort to leverage its clinical, research and educational programs to positively affect specific health priorities in Hampton Roads.

In his nomination, MSV Past-President Sterling N. Ransone Jr., M.D., cited Romero’s leadership as president when MSV participated in a year-long negotiation with the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners. “Not only did Dr. Romero represent the physician position well, she also developed strong relationships with the NP leadership,” Ransone said. “MSV gained through the eventual passage of the team care bill, but we have also developed a much stronger relationship with an organization which had been seen as an adversary up until that point. We could not have done that without Cyn’s leadership and commitment to doing what is best for the patients and physicians of the commonwealth.”

Romero also has served as president of the Norfolk Academy of Medicine, the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians and MSV in 2011. She was founding president of the Organization of Young Filipino-Americans at the University of Virginia where she received her undergraduate degree, president of her medical school class at EVMS and chief resident at the Riverside Family Practice Program with the VCU School of Medicine.

The MSVPAC’s award honors Clarence A. Holland, M’62, and his long and distinguished record as a public servant. Holland was elected to the Virginia Beach City Council from 1970-1982 and was mayor from 1976-1978. From 1984-1995, he served in the Virginia Senate. The MSV Political Action Committee is the political arm of the Medical Society of Virginia, representing more than 18,000 Virginia physicians and approximately 1,000 Alliance members.


Alumna Janet Eddy honored for her longstanding commitment to the uninsured and underserved

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Janet M. Eddy

The Class of 1987’s Janet M. Eddy has been honored by the Medical Society of Virginia Foundation with its Salute to Service award for her service to the uninsured and underserved. She accepted the award on Oct. 25 at the MSV Foundation’s Gala in Wiliamsburg.

Eddy has a longstanding commitment to providing care to those without insurance. Even before medical school, she worked at Richmond’s Fan Free Clinic, and she continued volunteering at the clinic during medical school. She became its director after completing her residency with the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine.

Since 2008, she has served as medical director of the Bon Secours Richmond Health Care System’s Care-A-Van and helped lead the mobile outreach program’s expansion into Hampton Roads. Under her leadership, it has grown from 8,000 patient visits in 2009 to more than 19,500 in 2013.

Eddy was instrumental in the creation of Access Now, a network of physician specialists and surgeons who provide care to those without insurance in the Richmond area. She has also served as medical director of Craig Health Center at St. Joseph’s Villa, where patients can access services not offered on the Care-A-Van. She also regularly participates in medical mission work, most recently spending a month in New Mexico working on a reservation.


Ken Kendler is inaugural speaker at Oxford Loebel Lectures

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Ken Kendler, M.D., outside Oxford Martin Lecture Theatre

In its inaugural year, the Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme featured Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., in a pair of presentations on Oct. 15 and 16 at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Rather than focusing on the biological, psychological or social as independent factors, the Oxford Loebel Lectures were established to encourage researchers to consider how those factors interact in their contribution to mental illness.

Kendler’s research is pertinent to that approach. Many of his more than 800 publications address the relationship between biological, psychological and social contributors to psychiatric and substance use disorders.

In a pair of well-attended lectures, Kendler first described how recent studies in the genetic epidemiology and molecular genetics illustrate the complex causal pathways to mental illness. In his second appearance at the Oxford Martin School Lecture Theatre, he proposed new goals for psychiatric research and a new framework for conceptualizing and classifying disorders.

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Ken Kendler, M.D., presenting at the Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme

Kendler is the Rachel Brown Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and a professor of human genetics in the VCU School of Medicine. A member of the Institute of Medicine, he also is director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics and editor of the journal Psychological Medicine. Involved in both DSM-III-R and DSM-IV, he chaired the Scientific Review Committee for DSM-5.

The Oxford Loebel Lectures and Research Programme were established with the support of J. Pierre Loebel, a clinical professor emeritus at the University of Washington, and his wife Felice who was also on the faculty at the University of Washington, in the Department of English.

Videos of Kendler’s lectures are available online at the OLLRP website.