April 2011
Dean Lawley
Thomas J. Lawley, Dean

A historic graduation

This year marks a historic occasion for the School of Medicine. Our first class under the new curriculum will graduate May 9. I am particularly proud of our M4 class. They are an accomplished and talented group. They not only were involved in patient care from the second week of medical school, but they also completed research projects, a number of which were published in national peer-reviewed journals. I think I experienced as much expectation and excitement as they did on Match Day, March 17, when they learned where they will train during their residencies.

The most popular specialties they chose for their residencies were internal medicine, general surgery, and pediatrics. Thirty-six students will spend their residencies at Emory, with an additional four completing their transitional year here. Others will train at leading institutions, such as Yale, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, UCSF, and Stanford. Watch a photo slideshow of Emory's Match Day.

The new curriculum and the success of the class of 2011 would not have been possible without our faculty, many of whom serve as student advisers, and one of the curriculum's key architects, Bill Eley, executive associate dean for medical education and student affairs. I commend each of the faculty for your commitment to excellence and quality in medical education.


New faculty designation for medical education and service

The SOM's Board of Trustees voted on March 24 to approve a new medical educator and service track (MEST). MEST is designed for SOM teacher-clinicians who are outstanding in teaching or service locally and regionally but may not receive national recognition for their work. Faculty on the MEST track will participate in scholarship but will not be expected to obtain their own grants to fund the work they do. Through this track, we can recognize contributions to team sciences that do not fit the definition of independent scholarship required for promotion on other tracks. Perhaps most important, the MEST will allow us to promote and retain faculty whose valuable contributions in education and clinical care are essential for the school's continued success.

The Council of Chairs spent more than a year planning the proposal sent to the Provost and the Board of Trustees and working out the criteria to appoint, promote, and reward faculty who will be part of this track. After the Council of Chairs unanimously endorsed the plan, the school held four town hall meetings last month to explain the proposal and get faculty input. We followed up with a vote of all full- and part-time faculty and found that 97% voted in favor of this plan.

With the implementation of the new track in 2012, many faculty will receive the recognition they deserve. You can explore the amendment for MEST by accessing this web page.


Walt Orenstein returns to Emory faculty

Walt Orenstein

Walt Orenstein will renew his appointment on July 1 as professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine and serve as associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center. All are roles he previously held while he was at Emory from 2004 to 2008.

Orenstein will hold joint faculty appointments with the departments of pediatrics in the medical school and global health in the Rollins School of Public Health and will serve as director of the Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Center (IPIRC), a role formerly held by Richard Compans, professor of microbiology and immunology. The IPIRC is one of five national Influenza Centers of Excellence funded by the NIH.

"It is a pleasure to welcome Walt back to Emory," says David Stephens, vice president for research of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, who was instrumental in recruiting Orenstein. "He will provide additional leadership to our infectious diseases and vaccine research programs and will continue our nationally recognized programs in vaccine development, vaccine policy, and health services research."

Orenstein comes back to Emory from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was deputy director of immunization programs and served on the global health program's vaccine delivery team, overseeing more than $324 million in funding to control vaccine-preventable diseases. While at Emory, he was inducted into the Institute of Medicine in 2007 for his influential research on vaccine development and delivery. He is the former director of the national immunization program at the CDC and the co-editor of the textbook, Vaccines.


Emory is possible partner with new medical school in Abu Dhabi

Last month, I joined a group of 11 faculty and administrators from the medical school on a week-long visit to Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. We were there to discuss Khalifa University's desire to create an American-style medical school. Emory is one of three final candidates to form a collaborative partnership with the university. The chosen U.S. medical school would serve as a collaborating partner, and both schools would host student and faculty exchanges.


Spotlight on rehabilitation medicine

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine provides individualized and comprehensive services to a diverse group of patients, from those who have had strokes or catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries to those who have acute to chronic neuromusculoskeletal issues. Nearly 50 faculty, including physiatrists, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, and other rehabilitation specialists and researchers are working toward the discovery and application of new treatments aimed at improved functional independence and quality of life. Their care is in growing demand with the needs of an active and aging population, as well as soldiers returning from combat.

"We focus on a wide group of patients, from the young athlete trying to return to the field of play, to the very old who wish to stay independent in their homes," says department chair David Burke. "Both share the need to restore lost performance to enhance their quality of life. Our team approach combines medical and physical interventions to maximize the patients' cognitive, affective, and physical gains."

The department also trains rehabilitation professionals in three core areas, the physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program, the neuropsychology fellowship, the physical therapy doctorate program. The latter now has more doctoral physical therapy students (180) than ever before and is consistently ranked as a top 20 program in U.S. News & World Report (11th in the country for 2012).

A sampling of department research projects over the past year includes the following:

  • Stroke researcher Steven Wolf is investigating a robotic therapy device and monitor to help stroke patients regain movement, strength, and coordination in their affected hand and wrist. The monitor also sends feedback remotely to medical providers to aid in stroke care, which can be a benefit for patients living in rural and underserved areas. He is also conducting a study to investigate the effectiveness of administering intense arm therapy to stroke patients in the early post-acute outpatient phase to reduce upper limb impairments and disability.

  • Neurologist Cathrin Buetefisch is conducting NIH-funded studies to determine the effects of two types of therapy to improve motor deficits in post-stroke patients. One study uses a combination of electrophysiological, pharmacological, and kinematic techniques for rehabilitation and the other uses transcranial magnetic stimulation to enhance recovery and improve motor function.

  • Physical therapist Randy Trumbower is examining the effects of intermittent hypoxia to increase hand function and leg strength in patients who have had spinal cord injuries. These studies are funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the Craig Neilsen Foundation.

  • Physical therapist Courtney Hall is working with veterans with traumatic brain injury to determine characteristics of postural control and results of neuropsychology testing.

  • Psychologist Ben Hampstead is working with Allan Levey, chair of neurology, on an NIH-funded grant to identify the memory systems involved in spatial navigation in Alzheimer's disease patients. The study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine activity in the hippocampus.

  • Sociologist Nancy Kutner has an NIH grant to fund a U.S. Renal Data System Quality of Life/Rehabilitation Special Studies Center (SSC). The Emory center, along with two other national SSCs, will analyze the effects of rehabilitation therapies, such as physical therapy and cardiac rehab, on hospitalization, survival, and cost outcomes in chronic kidney disease patients. A part of her research will involve a large cohort of patients on hemodialysis.


Recent awards and honors

Jodie Guest
Jaffar Khan
William McDonald
Grace Rozycki

Ian Crocker (radiation oncology) was named the inaugural holder of the James W. Keller Chair in Radiation Oncology. His accomplishments include development of the Novoste Beta-Cath System, used for the minimally invasive treatment of coronary restenosis and development of a second brachytherapy device (TheraSight) used to treat macular degeneration.

Hans Grossniklaus (ophthalmology) was named president-elect of the American Association of Ophthalmologic Oncologists and Pathologists and council chair-elect of the American Ophthalmological Society.

Jodie Guest (director of HIV research, Atlanta VA Medical Center) received the Crystal Apple for excellence in graduate program teaching. She is an associate professor with the Physician Assistant Program.

Nadine Kaslow (psychiatry and behavioral sciences), was elected to the American Psychological Association Board of Directors.

Jaffar Khan (neurology) was awarded the 2011 Teacher Recognition Certificate by the American Academy of Neurology's A.B. Baker Section of Neurologic Educators. Khan helped develop an innovative neuroscience curriculum.

H. Jean Khoury (hematology and medical oncology) was named the inaugural holder of the R. Randall Rollins Chair in Oncology. He is known for his expertise and research of leukemia, lymphoma, and myelodysplastic syndromes and his development of novel therapies for chronic myelogenous leukemia.

William McDonald (psychiatry) was named Psychiatrist of the Year at the 2011 Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association winter meeting. He is the Fuqua Chair for Late-Life Depression and chief of the division of geriatric psychiatry.

The Physician Assistant Program maintained its top five status in the latest rankings by U.S. News & World Report, placing fourth among 127 PA programs in the United States. The program's incoming class this summer will be its 40th.

Grace Rozycki (surgery) was elected president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress, the largest regional surgical organization in the United States. She also received a 2011 Raising Our Voices-Women Leaders in Medicine Award from the American Medical Student Association.

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