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26
2012

Ray family reconnects with medical school

Ed Ray, M.D.

Ed Ray, M.D., founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease

When Alpha A. “Berry” Fowler, M.D., arrived on the MCV Campus in the mid-70s, Ed Ray, M.D., was just stepping down from his more than 20-year tenure as the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease. Ray, a specialist in tuberculosis, stayed on faculty and became a mentor to the younger Fowler, who had just earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and had come up to Richmond for internal medicine residency training.

Today, Fowler sits in the Pulmonary Disease Division’s chairman seat that Ray once held. “He was the first pulmonologist here and was a legend,” says Fowler. “He was an inspiration and one of the reasons I chose pulmonary medicine as a specialty.”

Ray was one of MCV’s first bronchoscopists. He was known across Virginia for his use of the Jackson rigid bronchoscope to examine patients’ airways for foreign objects, bleeding or inflammation. Over the years, Ray assembled an unusual collection of objects retrieved from patients’ airways, including a peach pit and a compass, coins from the late 1940s, buttons and even a belt buckle.

The use of the rigid bronchoscope which Ray pioneered at MCV fell out of favor for the most part in the 1960s when the flexible fiberoptic bronchoscope was introduced into clinical medicine.

“What is old is new again,” says Fowler. “Dr. Ed Ray was one of the first physicians in Virginia to use the rigid endoscope. However, today, decades later, the rigid bronchoscope is being used once again. Pulmonologists at MCV employ rigid bronchoscopy, performing at least two or three procedures each week.” Importantly, if Ray were practicing today, he’d be referred to as an interventional pulmonologist, based upon the tools he used and the techniques he pioneered at MCV.

Class of 1976's Gaylord Ray and Wes Shepherd, M.D., H'03

During a tour of the MCV Campus, the Class of 1976’s Gaylord Ray and Wes Shepherd, M.D., H’03, director of interventional pulmonology, look through the collection of objects Ray’s father had retrieved from patients’ airways during his tenure as the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease.

Ray’s contributions were recently remembered when his son, Gaylord Ray, of the School of Medicine’s Class of 1976, returned to the MCV Campus. He met with Fowler and other Pulmonary Division faculty when he toured the division facilities, the operating room, the Medical Respiratory Intensive Care Unit and the simulation center where medical students and pulmonary trainees gain procedural experience. He says he was impressed with what he saw of the strides the division has made under Fowler’s direction. “The department is in good hands, and my father would be quite proud to see the training, but, in particular, the quality of the division.”

He learned from the director of interventional pulmonology, Ray “Wes” Shepherd, M.D., H’03, that the division’s interventional pulmonology program marked a milestone when it accepted its first fellow in July 2011. There are only 12 interventional pulmonology fellowship programs in the United States, each taking just one fellow per year. And, just this past year, the Interventional Pulmonology Service reached another milestone, performing over 1,000 interventional procedures.

Over lunch, Gaylord Ray shared stories about his father with division faculty members and with his son Chris, who was also on hand. Chris followed in his family’s footsteps onto the MCV Campus and is now president of the medical school’s Class of 2015. “It was important to me to have my son Chris attend the lunch. I see many of my father’s qualities coming out in him, particularly the compassion and thoughtfulness.”

Ed Ray, M.D.

Gaylord W. Ray, M’76, H’79, with his son Christopher C. Ray, president of the medical school’s Class of 2015. They are holding the 1897 diploma awarded to Gaylord’s grandfather, A. Chambers Ray, by the University College of Medicine, a predecessor to MCV. Gaylord Ray’s late father, Ed Ray, is also connected to the medical school: he completed his housestaff training in 1944 and went on to be named the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease.

Now retired from his practice as an emergency medicine physician, Gaylord Ray has chosen to honor his father’s contributions by establishing an endowed fund that will benefit the Interventional Pulmonology Service. Fowler hopes former trainees of Ed Ray may increase the fund through their own gifts honoring the influence he had on their careers.

“The Interventional Pulmonology Service greatly appreciates Dr. Ray’s desire to honor the legacy of his father,” said Shepherd. “I hope that the attributes that Dr. Ray admired in his father live on today in our interventional pulmonology program.”

Shepherd also appreciated hearing Ray’s stories from the 1950s and 60s. “I have already told several of my rigid bronchoscopy partners about Dr. Gaylord Ray’s childhood experience assisting our first pulmonary chair!”

11
2012

Community-minded medical student backed by hometown foundation

He could hardly believe it when he got the news. When the call came letting Akeem George know that he was chosen to receive the L.D. Britt Scholarship, George was thrilled and filled with pride.

Akeem George

First-year student Akeem George at the medical school’s White Coat Ceremony

“My ears were ringing over the phone,” said George, a Virginia Beach native and first-year School of Medicine student. “Dr. Britt actually called me to tell me I was chosen. I called my family right after, because they have sacrificed so much to get me here.”

George was selected as the Class of 2016’s recipient of the Britt award, a $10,000 scholarship given to a minority student from Hampton Roads that is renewable for each of the four years of medical school. Many of the past Britt Scholars have been students at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and George is the first student from the MCV Campus to be chosen by the scholarship committee.

Britt told George that he was selected because of his academic success and remarkable commitment to community service. As an undergraduate student at VCU, George was a leader in his service fraternity. He also volunteered at Richmond’s Fan Free Clinic and in his hometown at the Beach Health Clinic. Despite juggling the heavy course load of a first-year medical student, George now spends hours each week mentoring a 12-year-old boy in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond.

The Britt scholarship was particularly meaningful to George because of his respect for L.D. Britt, M.D., the scholarship’s namesake, and the award’s connection to his hometown.

“I am from the Hampton Roads community, and Dr. Britt is a pillar in our community. He is a role model for young men like me,” George said. “I thought it was cool that he is a nationally renowned surgeon and could practice anywhere, but he chose to come back to Hampton Roads and serve the community that supported him.”

George was honored by the scholarship, as well, because he said he views it as Hampton Roads’ investment in his future. It’s an investment he doesn’t take lightly. Inspired by Britt’s example and motivated by his desire to serve, George plans to return to Virginia Beach to practice medicine. He hopes to be a surgeon who makes a difference for generations to come.

“The scholarship will greatly ease the trouble and distraction of growing debt so that I can focus on my studies, my family and my community. It is a generous gift, and I am reminded that it is an investment in my future. I know that it is my role in the future to give back to my community as a physician.”

01
2012

Classmates honor 2005 alumna with a scholarship in her name

When Rebecca Clary Harris’ classmates remember her, they think of her positive attitude and her ever-present smile.

Rebecca Clary Harris, M.D.

Rebecca Clary Harris, M.D., in her cap and gown at the 2005 graduation ceremony.

“She made the most out of every moment, brought out the good in everything and always found a reason to be happy and smile,” said Katrina Kandra McLellan, M’05. “Ever since I met her, I’ve wanted to be more like her. I think she taught us all how to be better people.”

Becca — as she was known to her friends — had been the third generation of her family to attend the medical school, and was beloved by her classmates and faculty. In 2007, just two years after their graduation from medical school, Becca’s classmates were shocked to learn that she had been killed in an accident. Soon after, her classmates began to make gifts in her memory, creating what they see as a living memorial to her remarkable character as well as to her service and devotion to the field of medicine, particularly melanoma research.

Make a gift

You can help the scholarship to grow over time by making a gift in Becca’s memory.

They recently hit the $10,000 mark and so, for the first time, the fund will be used this fall to award a scholarship to an altruistic student who embodies the qualities of kindness, compassion, unguarded optimism and unquestionable character that made Becca who she was. Preference will be given to someone who has completed post-baccalaureate graduate training in physiology or who intends to pursue melanoma research.

Becca’s classmates had made their gifts to the fund quietly, unbeknownst even to her family. Once the scholarship was ready to be awarded, they asked the family to come together so they could share what had been accomplished in Becca’s memory. Amidst the tears and memories, Becca’s legacy lived on.

At the gathering, her classmates presented her family with a memory book, filled with photos and reminiscences of Becca. For the album, Byrd Davenport, M’05, wrote “As her friends and classmates we are in a position to try to embody, so far as we can, the good things Becca did, and the way she lived. She really was inspiring. And will remain so.”

Becca's family and classmates

In April 2012, Becca’s friends surprised her family with the news that they had created a scholarship in her name. Pictured, from left to right: Becca’s sister Margaret Clary, her mother Kay Clary, classmate Nicole Kelleher-Linkonis, Becca’s husband Justin Harris, classmates Meera Pahuja Mate and Katrina Kandra McLellan, Becca’s sister Kathryn Clary Angus, her father Dr. Richard Clary, M’74, classmates Libby Sherwin, Janae Johnson Sureja and Katherine Johnson, and Becca’s brother-in-law Jason Angus.

26
2011

Grassroots effort grows into $10-million Parkinson’s Center

The Movers and Shakers began as a breakfast group of friends touched by Parkinson’s disease. They’ve grown into a grassroots movement that culminated last week in the opening of a $10-million comprehensive center for the research and treatment of the disease.

A story on the front of the Sept. 26 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Metro section chronicles the effort: Parkinson’s Sufferers Mix Humility With Clout.

13
2011

The day M1 students discovered construction skills

After seven months of first-year coursework, a dozen students headed south to Sebring, Fla., for Spring Break. You might have expected them to hit the beach. Instead, they hit nails.

MCV Springbreak

A dozen medical students headed south to Sebring, Fla., for Spring Break to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

In a week-long trip dubbed MCV Spring Break, the students volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Hanover County, Fla., to help build homes for impoverished families.

Their seven-hour workday started early at 7:30 a.m. and allowed them to participate in every aspect of home construction. Working alongside volunteers from other colleges at six home sites, their tasks ranged from laying foundations and hammering the mainframe, to installing windows and electrical outlets and adding finishing touches with a paintbrush.

This trip differed from the many health fairs and relief trips that medical students organize. Nevertheless, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Christopher M. Woleben, M.D., F.A.A.P., knows how valuable it was. “Projects like this give students an opportunity to connect with and better understand the unique needs of a population they might be serving someday as a physician. Being able to talk to and work with families they are assisting through Habitat for Humanity provides the students with great insight into the challenges families face in meeting the day-to-day basic needs that our students often take for granted.”

MCV Springbreak

One of the trip organizers was Roshan George, a member of the class of 2014, who also appreciated the chance to bond with his classmates and saw the different personalities that emerged outside the school environment. He remembers the beautiful voices of Kyle Resendes and Benson Joseph serenading the group at the camp fire as well as Doug Hidley’s witty and eloquent poetry.

“MCV Spring Break was founded on the principle of serving those in need,” said George, who looks forward to repeating the trip next summer. “One of the vital lessons that we learned from this experience was to never lose touch with reality and the struggles that many individuals face on a daily basis. This experience has broadened our perspectives on poverty. Poverty in Florida is just as much a reality to us as that seen every day in the streets of Richmond.”

03
2011

The day the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program renewed the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies’ five-year grant

Munir Ahmed, M.D., a 19-year veteran of the substance abuse field in Bangladesh, had never been to the United States before arriving at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008. As a participant in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program for substance abuse prevention, treatment and policy, he engaged in 10 months of academic study and related professional activities at VCU. The experience changed him.

“I have no hesitation in saying that my fellowship year was the best year of my life,” said Ahmed, who brought his wife and two children to Richmond for the duration of his fellowship. “My family also says so. The VCU Humphrey Fellowship program impacted all of us.”

Ahmed is one of 37 mid-career professionals who participated in the program during VCU’s Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies’ initial five years as host. The institute recently earned a five-year renewal of the grant from U.S. government-funded Fulbright exchange program. The award totals more than $1 million and ensures that more professionals from developing countries will sojourn to Richmond.

During Ahmed’s tenure in the U.S., he took classes, visited local substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, attended leadership training workshops and learned about American history and culture.

Now back in Bangladesh, he applies his enhanced understanding of social justice and human rights to his work, striving to reduce the stigma and discrimination against marginalized populations living with HIV and AIDS while also spreading awareness about the virus infection. An adviser with the United Nations’ program on AIDS, Ahmed is making a difference in his home country.

“I strongly believe that my experience at VCU shaped me to be a better advocate and leader for Bangladesh, not only in issues related to substance abuse but also as a practitioner in the field of development,” he said.

“VCU benefits from the fellowship program because it exposes our faculty and students to people from very different cultures and creates opportunities for research collaborations in their countries,” said J. Randy Koch, executive director of the Institute. “Having this prestigious award from the U.S. State Department reflects very positively on VCU.”