July 2010
Dean Lawley
Thomas J. Lawley, Dean

Farewell, but not goodbye

At a reception in her honor on June 8, Claudia Adkison was recognized for her dedication and service to the medical school. As many of you know, Adkison, executive associate dean for administration and faculty affairs, stepped down June 1. She will be on sabbatical for a year and then will retire but will continue working on special projects as a consultant.

She served in administration for 15 years and before that as a faculty member. She began as a researcher in cell biology and was recognized as an excellent teacher before deciding to go to law school while working full-time. She then entered private practice as an intellectual property lawyer before she was convinced to return to Emory in 1995.

She has worked tirelessly on the school's behalf. To name a few of her many accomplishments: establishing the nine-year tenure clock, creating the faculty development policy, mentoring many faculty and chairs, establishing "chair school" for new department heads, writing the first conflict of interest policies for the university and medical school, and most recently, leading the school in updating its policies on industry relationships.

As many others and I have said, her advice and counsel over the years have been invaluable.

Claudia Adkison
Claudia Adkison, at her retirement reception

"It is hard to overestimate her contributions," says William Casarella, executive associate dean for clinical affairs. "She always took on things that others didn’t."

Adds neurology chair Allan Levey, "She’s a problem solver, never one to push things away. When I called her, she would ask me, 'What are you trying to accomplish?' And then she always helped navigate us to a solution. She’s always been there for us."

Her car was always the last one in the parking lot in the evening, Casarella says. "When I first met her, I may have believed she was homeless."

But indeed she does have a home (and a second home here at Emory) for which the faculty, staff, and I presented her with an Emory chair and a framed photo of the James Williams Education Building that was signed by all the chairs and associate deans.


The science of GME

The Science of GME event highlighted clinical research projects by residents and fellows.

I wanted to thank the many departments and divisions that participated in our inaugural "Science of GME" day in June. The event highlighted more than 30 clinical projects that ranged from patient care to education taken on by our residents and fellows.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) asks medical schools to foster the participation of residents and fellows in clinical research projects, and we decided to hold a school-wide event to show their many innovative ideas and concepts.

This year's projects included improving medical and cultural competency through global health training, incorporating management of early pregnancy failure into the ob/gyn residency program, resource use in teaching versus non-teaching patient encounters, and obstetrical anesthesia and cultural ethics.

"The interesting part of this event is that these projects have the potential to improve patient care or tackle difficult professionalism issues but wouldn't necessarily make it out of the department," says Jim Zaidan, associate dean for graduate medical education and chair of anesthesiology. "The residents and fellows don't discover where molecules go but rather look at how their department organizes resident research, for instance. Starting next year, we plan to choose several projects at the GME level and submit them for poster presentation at the spring ACGME meeting and also ask some to write for publication."


Frisbee champs take fourth at world championship

Josh Ziperstein, in the No. 2 jersey, attempts to make an interception during a game in Prague.

Med students Sam "C-K" Chatterton-Kirchmeier 13M, Robert Runner 13M, Josh "Zip" Ziperstein 11M, and the rest of the Chain Lightning team took fourth place at the world frisbee championships in Prague on July 9th. Chain Lightning, an elite-level men's ultimate frisbee team, lost a close game to the Seattle Sockeye team in the semi-finals and then to Japan's Bunka Shutter Buzz Bullets in the third place game.

The team recently won the Ultimate Players' Association 2009 Championships in Sarasota, Fla.

Ultimate frisbee is played between two teams, seven players per team. Teams score by completing a pass into their opponent's end zone, and players holding the frisbee cannot travel. Ultimate frisbee does not have referees; players are expected to call their own fouls and work out their own disputes, called the "spirit of the game."

Ziperstein is one of Chain's team captains. He won the Callahan Award as college's top player in 2005, while leading the Brown University team to national championship. Chatterton-Kirchmeier played on Team USA, which took the gold medal in the 2009 world games.


Summer science students hit the bunks

Robert Lee
Robert Lee developed the summer science program 16 years ago.

This year's Summer Science Academy, developed by the medical school's Robert Lee, associate dean and director of multicultural student affairs, is implementing a pilot residential program. The high school students chosen to participate stayed in Emory's dorms for the duration of the two-week program.

Lee developed the innovative academy program 16 years ago to develop students' interest in science. Their knowledge of chemistry, neuroscience, genetics and biology is fostered through lab experiences, group projects, lectures, and field trips, without the constraints of time and grades. Their after-hours time will be guided by Emory resident advisers leading activities designed to develop leadership and life experience skills.

The program has been very successful, and I'm also happy to report that Lee received a nice note from a recent high school graduate. Suwanee resident Myranda Buckley attended the academy for the past three years and in the fall, she will be a biology major at Louisiana State University.

She writes, "Because I graduated from high school a year early, I was going to try to spend one more year at the program, but instead I will be volunteering at a local hospital in their cardiology unit. This was an opportunity I could not pass up. I continue to spread the great news about the camp and how much it affected my life. So thank you for the tremendous blessing you have given me by having allowed me to be a part of the program."


Students assist a farmworker during this year's health project in south Georgia.

Physician assistants trek to south Georgia to care for migrant farmworkers

Our Allied Health physician assistants recently returned from their 16th annual migrant farmworker health project in south Georgia. Over the course of the two-week project, they saw more than 1,600 patients. The second-year PA students were helped by several medical (MD) faculty and students, Allied Health physical therapy students, and interpreters from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Watch a slide show on the farmworker health project.

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) recently honored the farmworker health project as its 2010 Host City Prevention Campaign. The AAPA held its 38th annual conference in Atlanta at the end of May. In addition to a monetary gift, the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project received hundreds of children's books for the farmworkers' families.


Spotlight on Neurosurgery

Daniel Barrow
Daniel Barrow

"The Department of Neurosurgery is well known for the sub-specialized expertise of our surgeons, the novel basic research performed by our faculty, and the popularity of our highly competitive postgraduate training programs," says Daniel Barrow, department chair. The department moved from 20th in NIH funding in 2005 to 14th this year.

Among its recent NIH grants, the department received a coveted NIH25 mentoring grant—Emory was one of only two U.S. neurosurgical training programs to receive it. The departments of neurosurgery and neurology were awarded the grant last year to boost the pipeline of clinician-investigators in these fields. The grant funds one neurosurgery resident and one neurology resident to conduct laboratory or clinical research under the guidance of a mentor team and the grant's principal investigators, Nelson Oyesiku (neurosurgery) and Krish Sathian (neurology). The grant aims to make residents competitive for career development awards, such as an NIH K award. Other highlights include the following:

  • Costas Hadjipanayis received an American Academy of Neurological Surgery research award last year. His research lab at the Winship Cancer Institute focuses on brain tumor nanotechnology—creating ultra small particles that target and destroy cancerous cells in the brain, even those in tumors too small to be removed surgically. He also is collaborating with radiation oncologist Cynthia Anderson on a new neuro-oncology clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown. Patients diagnosed with metastatic or primary tumors of the spine are now treated with spinal radiosurgery instead of surgery. With spinal radiosurgery, patients are treated with one dose of a targeted radiation beam tailored to their specific type of tumor.

  • Erwin Van Meir, who heads a molecular neuro-oncology laboratory at Winship Cancer Institute, is the founding director for a new graduate program in cancer biology that will be housed in the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Van Meir's research centers on attacking brain tumor cells when the cells are stressed by a lack of available oxygen—a condition known as hypoxia. "Rapidly expanding tumors soon outgrow the capacity of existing blood vessels to deliver oxygen," says Van Meir. "To survive hypoxia, tumor cells modify their metabolism and induce growth of new blood vessels in the tumor." He has developed small molecules that interfere with this activity, and his most recent grant, from the V Foundation for Cancer Research, will help him accelerate the translation of these small molecules to cancer treatments.

  • Nicholas Boulis performed the world's first human spinal cord stem cell transplant in January. Boulis and neurologist Jonathan Glass (director of the Emory ALS Center) are researching the effects of human neural stem cells on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Stem cells may have the ability to mature into various cells in the nervous system, including motor neurons that are specifically lost in ALS. The stem cells will not generate new motor neurons but may help protect the ones still functioning and slow the progression of the disease. Boulis also is progressing with trials using nerve growth factor gene therapy to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

  • Nelson Oyesiku was named editor-in-chief of Neurosurgery last year for a 10-year term and also serves on the neurosurgery review committee of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

  • Gerald Rodts is the latest Emory neurosurgeon to serve as president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), joining George Tindall (retired), Daniel Barrow, and Nelson Oyesiku. Emory has had more neurosurgeons serve as CNS presidents than any other institution.

  • Daniel Barrow was selected to be the honored guest for the 2010 Congress of Neurological Surgeons annual meeting in October.


Recent awards and honors

Max Cooper
Patricia Hudgins
Helen Mayberg

Max Cooper (pathology) will receive the 2010 Robert Koch Award, endowed with 100,000€ ($127,669 USD), in November for his fundamental contributions to immunology. Cooper is credited with a series of landmark discoveries that provide a framework for understanding how white blood cells normally combat infections and how their development may go awry to produce leukemia, lymphomas, and autoimmune diseases. The Robert Koch Foundation, under the patronage of German President Horst Kohler, promotes fundamental scientific research in infectious disease and immunology and supports measures to solve health issues in developing countries.

Patricia Hudgins (radiology and otorhinolaryngology) and Deborah Baumgarten (radiology) were named fellows of the American College of Radiology (ACR). Only approximately 10 percent of ACR members have achieved this designation.

Bhagirath Majmudar (pathology) recently had a poem published in The Pharos, the magazine of the Alpha Omega Alpha society. The magazine asked readers to write a poem based on a photo. Majmuder's poem was one of five to be selected. To read the poem, access the PDF.

Helen Mayberg (psychiatry and neurology) was one of two scientists to receive the 2010 Roche Award for Translational Neuroscience for her research to target neurocircuitry for the treatment of brain disorders. Her interest in neural network models of mood regulation led to the development of deep brain stimulation, a new intervention for treatment-resistant depression patients. She also is developing imaging biomarkers to predict treatment response.

Barbara Stoll (pediatrics) will serve as president of the American Pediatric Society beginning in May 2012.

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