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March 2007


What's happening with the new curriculum

We are well on our way to fleshing out the details of the four phases of our new medical curriculum, "Becoming a Doctor," which goes live with this fall’s entering class of students. Led by Drs. Jeff Sands (Medicine) and Gordon Churchward (Microbiology/Immunology), the committee in charge of the first phase, Foundations of Medicine, has finalized a schedule for this class’s first 18 months of training. During this phase, students will learn the fundamentals of science within a clinical context, beginning with normal human function and proceeding to month-long blocks based on organ systems, interweaving the normal and abnormal. The Foundations phase continues with what has become a favorite of entering students, "Week on the Wards," in which students in their third week of medical school are assigned to either a hospital or clinic team. The Foundations phase will introduce students to medical interviewing and the physical exam, a process that will be catalyzed by a new 16-room suite in the new building for observed standardized clinical exam (OSCE). A new outpatient experience, including mentorship in a primary care clinic every other week for the remainder of the Foundations phase, is a critical element of the new curriculum. Additionally, the curriculum will expose students to the pressing and common problems of homelessness, health disparities, violence, and abuse that force them to focus on patients as human beings, rather than embodiments of disease.
       Most important, these students will learn from constant interaction with faculty. Currently divided into four "societies," classes now will be further subdivided into groups of eight to 10 students, with a faculty mentor to remain with each subgroup throughout the four phases of their training. "Our goal," says Dr. William Eley, a major architect of the curriculum overhaul, "is to put students in touch with faculty as much as possible. It is relatively easy to fill these exceptionally bright minds with current scientific facts, but our hope is that the closer the students are to faculty, the more likely they are to model the behaviors of academic scientists and physicians. We want Emory graduates to remain inquisitive and continually learn. They will have to learn the facts, but we will strive to teach them those general concepts and precepts that define the excellent physician. To accomplish this goal, they must be present at the bench and bedside of our faculty."
       During the second phase of the new curriculum, Applications of Medical Science, students will be immersed increasingly in clinical experiences at the myriad health care facilities with Emory Healthcare, at Grady Memorial Hospital, and at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, again with intense faculty mentoring. This phase is analogous to the traditional third clinical year in the old curriculum.
       Work on the third phase, Discovery, is ongoing. Here, students will pursue clinical and basic science research for at least five months but with an opportunity to expand this time so as to complete joint MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MBA, or other degrees.
       This summer, faculty will work out the fourth and final phase of study, Translation of Medical Sciences, which will include sub-internships in key areas, electives in others, and two new required months: an intensive care unit month, which will provide important training to care for the critically ill and to revisit basic science principles; and a "capstone" course to serve as a final month of integration, updates, and preparation for becoming an MD.
      I am deeply grateful for the work of the faculty in bringing these plans to fruition. Please feel free to contact Dr. Eley either in person at 309 WHSCAB, by phone (404-712-9979) or by email ( with any ideas or comments you may have about our groundbreaking new curriculum.


Researchers in the spotlight
More than 2,000 faculty, staff, students, and invited guests, including representatives from the CDC and the state, recognized the many accomplishments of Emory researchers during Research Appreciation Day on Dec. 8. Our dedicated, highly skilled scientists and teachers work tirelessly toward a common goal — "Transforming Health Through Discovery" — which was the day’s theme. The event featured displays, tours of Emory’s research laboratories, and guest speakers Dr. Steven Wartman, President of the Association of Academic Health Centers, and Dr. Darrell Kirch, President of the Association of American Medical Colleges. A "Future Makers" series lecture by Dr. William Brody, President of Johns Hopkins University, capped off the event with an entertaining speech on "uncommon service and innovation."
       The day also reminded us of a very important matter underlying research: NIH funding. "Much of the medical research at universities would be impossible without the strong support of the NIH," reports Trish Haugaard, Assistant Dean for Research, who was one of several event organizers. "The high standard of work done in our laboratories and centers is evidenced by the 13 SOM departments that rank in the nation’s top 20 for NIH funding."
       To foster research throughout Emory, the Office of Research Administration was created a decade ago, and David Wynes, PhD, is the new VP for Research Administration. He was Senior Associate VP for Research at the University of Iowa, where he created and oversaw the university’s clinical trials office and was a leader in developing and implementing policies related to conflict of interest, research ethics, animals in research, human subject research accreditation, and research health and safety. Kerry Peluso also joined the office as the Associate VP for Research Administration. She comes from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the director of post-award administration.


Notable grant
The NIH has awarded Emory, Georgia Tech, and Medical College of Georgia a grant to partner on a nanomedicine development center to focus on DNA damage repair. With up to $10 million in funding over five years, the center will be Georgia Tech and Emory’s third NIH-funded nanomedicine/nanotechnology center in less than two years. It will be called the Nanomedicine Center for Nucleoprotein Machines and will be based at Tech. Dr. Gang Bao, College of Engineering Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, will serve as director. The center also will receive almost $3 million from the Georgia Research Alliance.
       According to Dr. Bao, "We need to understand the basic engineering design principles underlying how cells repair DNA damage with high precision and apply this knowledge to the development of novel therapeutic strategies, probes, and tools for a wide range of diseases, including cancer."


Now showing, "Grady's Anatomy"
Millions across the country now can see what an Emory residency at Grady Hospital is all about. "CNN Presents," a television documentary series that profiles compelling modern issues, will profile two first-year Emory residents, Robin Lowman (Emergency Medicine) and Andrea Meinerz (Neurology), and one fifth-year resident, Luis Tumialan (Neurosurgery), in an hour-long documentary called "Grady’s Anatomy." The three residents were filmed for three weeks on- and off-duty at Grady. Of course, "Grey’s Anatomy," a series on ABC, is the inspiration for the CNN show’s name. "Grady’s Anatomy" is tentatively scheduled to air on March 17 and 18 at 8 and 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.


In memory
Our heartfelt sympathies go to the families of three faculty who have died recently. Dr. Herbert Birch, Professor of Gynecology/Obstetrics, Emeritus, passed away Dec. 20. He practiced as a gynecologic oncologist at Emory for 40 years and was a founding member of the Gynecological Oncologist Society. Up to fairly recently, he practiced at a clinic at Grady Hospital.
      Another friend, Dr. Abraham Rosenberg, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, died Dec. 23. He came to Emory nine years ago and was well known for his work with HIV-positive patients and in AIDS prevention.
       We also are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Dean Danner, Vice Chair and Professor of Human Genetics, who died Jan. 2. Dr. Danner was unique among faculty to have served as Vice Chair of Human Genetics and at the same time, Interim Chair of Biochemistry. Dr. Danner came to Emory in 1973 and over the years became a well loved and respected teacher and scientist.


Other outstanding kudos

Top heart award
Dr. Jingying Zhao
(Medicine) has received the Elizabeth Barrett-Conner Research Award from the American Heart Association. This award recognizes excellence in research by an investigator in training and encourages continued biomedical research careers broadly related to cardiovascular function and disease.

Hematology award
Dr. Christopher Flowers (Hematology/Oncology) is the first recipient of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Amos Faculty Development Award. The award is a joint initiative between the ASH and the Robert Wood Johnson FoundationÍs Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. Its goal is to increase the number of minority investigators who have academic research appointments within hematology.

Eye on achievement
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has awarded Dr. Roberto Bernardino (Ophthalmology) its Achievement Award for his contributions in education and leadership.

Dr. Hurst in Hall of Fame
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has selected Dr. Willis Hurst (Medicine) into its Hall of Fame. The board selected Dr. Hurst for work in education and for his 56 years of dedicated service to Emory. This high honor confirms what we have known all along: Dr. Hurst is one of the greatest educators ever.

Students receive national accolades
The AAMC has awarded M3 student Kate Neuhausen the Herbert Nickens Award, which is presented to individuals who advance the educational, societal, and health care needs of minorities. M3 student Josiah Orina was awarded the American Society of Hematology Minority Medical Student Award, which will provide a mentor, research funding, and valuable research experience.


Thomas J. Lawley, MD
Dean, Emory School of Medicine



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