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June 21, 2019

Expanding our capacity to serve veterans

A few weeks ago, I was honored to participate in a celebration marking the expansion of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP). Thanks to a $2 million grant from the Wounded Warrior Project, EHVP opened a new space which will allow Emory to serve twice as many post-9/11 military veterans.

Emory Healthcare has a long history of caring for veterans in specialized and innovative ways. Emory and the Atlanta VA Health Care System share back-to-back campuses and a partnership that has lasted more than seven decades. Together we help ensure patient-centered care for more than 130,000 enrolled veterans from 50 counties across northeast Georgia.

Through the generosity of the Wounded Warrior Project, EHVP has now doubled its footprint with the addition of new reception areas, offices, training rooms, conference rooms, lounges, and treatment spaces--all designed with the veterans' comfort and privacy in mind. The new space also provides the program with room to grow so that we can serve even more warriors and their families.

I'd like to express my deepest appreciation both to the Wounded Warrior Project and to the entire EHVP team. Their work every day makes a lifesaving and life-affirming difference for our veterans and their families.

Please direct questions and comments to evphafeedback@emory.edu.

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

CHAMPS receives largest-ever single research grant awarded to Emory

The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) network, a global health network headquartered in the Emory Global Health Institute, has been awarded the university's largest-ever single research grant. Launched in 2015, CHAMPS collects and analyzes data to help identify the causes of child mortality in the places where it is highest. This latest $180 million supplement brings the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's total investment in CHAMPS to $271 million.

CHAMPS has established sites in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and South Africa, and will add two more in the program's next phase. CHAMPS partners with governments and national public health institutes to prepare to use CHAMPS findings to better understand and prevent specific causes of disease in children under age five.

Collaborating partners for CHAMPS include the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, whose U.S. office is also based in the Emory Global Health Institute, the CDC, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, and Public Health Informatics Institute, a program of the Task Force for Global Health.

"Each year, 5.4 million children die from mostly preventable causes, the overwhelming majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” says Robert Breiman, director of the Emory Global Health Institute and principal investigator for CHAMPS. "CHAMPS relies on diverse partnerships with research institutes, universities, and health ministries in the countries where we work. The surveillance and analysis being done by CHAMPS and its partners we believe can save the lives of millions of children." Read more.

Top: Haian Fu and Huw Davies lead the task force initiative, "Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation." Bottom: Ken Moberg, Jaap de Roode, and Guido Silvestri lead the initiative, "From Molecular Pathogenesis to Global Pandemics."

New basic sciences task force identifies priorities for investment

A task force created recently to increase the impact of basic scientific research across the university links efforts across different Emory schools, departments, and centers and has the following goals: recommend priority areas for investment in basic science to seed future research, collaboration, and discovery; sharpen Emory's competitiveness in key areas of global scientific focus; and provide opportunities for students and postdocs to pursue meaningful research that translates into positive outcomes for individuals and populations.

Co-chaired by Huw Davies (Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Chemistry) and Guido Silvestri (Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, interim chair of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Yerkes National Primate Research Center director of microbiology and immunology), the task force comprised basic scientists from Emory College and the School of Medicine.

In initial investments, Emory has provided $5 million each to two priority research initiatives: "Biological Discovery through Chemical Innovation" and "From Molecular Pathogenesis to Global Pandemics." This initial financial support is considered seed funding, with the teams aiming to generate additional external funding for research and student fellowships as their research progresses. 

The first initiative is led by Davies and Haian Fu (associate dean of innovation and international strategies in the School of Medicine, chair of pharmacology and chemical biology, and a research leader in Winship Cancer Institute). Its aim is to accelerate development of the next generation of research tools, effective and safe drugs, and diagnostic agents. The work includes high-throughput screening to discover small molecules that target proteins related to diseases, then chemically altering these small molecules to improve their properties either as drug candidates or as chemical tools to probe biology and validate potential drug targets. Using data processing and other technology, high-throughput screening speeds the analysis of millions of chemical and genetic tests, allowing researchers to rapidly identify active compounds, antibodies, or genes important to a biomolecular pathway of interest. 

The second initiative is led by Silvestri, Jaap de Roode (associate professor of biology in Emory College and an expert in host-parasite interactions), and Ken Moberg (associate professor of cell biology in the School of Medicine). The project will take a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary approach to the threat of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, cutting across "scales" of research, beginning with studies of the host-pathogen interaction, then defining novel targets for drugs and vaccines, and ultimately optimizing implementation of new preventive and therapeutic interventions. Read more.

Remembering an Emory Unit nurse

On a warm, breezy day this past April, a World War I nurse named Camille O'Brien came to life as dozens of people gathered in Atlanta's Greenwood Cemetery to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her death.

During the war, O'Brien, who grew up in a small town in Georgia, served with the Emory Unit in Blois, France. Largely staffed by faculty physicians and hospital nurses from Emory, the unit operated Base Hospital 43, where O'Brien worked long hours caring for sick and wounded soldiers. After becoming ill, she died at the hospital on April 18, 1919.

O'Brien eventually was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery. The site remained unmarked until this year, when Michael Hitt, a retired policeman turned historian from Roswell, Georgia, arranged for a marker to be laid on her grave.

"Camille represents everything you want in a nurse," says Hitt. "She put her life second to her patients to the point that it cost her life. She was the only member of the Emory Unit who never returned."

Hitt learned about O'Brien just over a year ago, when he met William Cawthon, a retired insurance claims adjuster from Roswell. Now 84, Cawthon wanted to find a permanent home for several personal items that had belonged to O'Brien, his great aunt.

Cawthon knew little about her, other than that she had died while serving as a nurse in WWI France and that his mother was named for her. No photos of his Aunt Camille existed. Most of her belongings were stored in a suitcase up in the attic of his family's home. Among them was a yellowed letter, sent to O'Brien's sister (and Cawthon's future grandmother) when she died, and a photograph showing her marked grave in a cemetery near Base Hospital 43 in Blois.

Hitt was intrigued. With Cawthon's permission, he arranged for O'Brien's personal effects to be donated to the Atlanta History Center. He also thought it fitting that a simple ceremony be held at O'Brien's grave in France to mark the 100th anniversary of her death in 2019. An acquaintance of Hitt's on the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission reached out to the French Embassy for assistance.

"That's when we learned that Camille's body was brought back from France to Atlanta in 1921," says Hitt. The question was, where was she buried?"

Ever the detective, Hitt searched for clues. He consulted ancestry.com, state and city census records, Atlanta newspaper archives, and historic collections in Emory's Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library (including the book History of the Emory Unit, U.S. Army, 1917-1919), and the Atlanta History Center. He also attended a lecture on the Emory Unit given by Render Davis 71C. His grandfather, Emory medical professor Edward C. Davis, organized and led the Emory Unit from 1917 to 1919.

"It was just like recreating a crime scene," says Hitt. "No detail was too small to understand what happened to Camille."

He found enough information to fill a thick white binder documenting her life... Read the rest of the story. --Pam Auchmutey
Woodruff Leadership Academy Class of 2019

Congratulations to the WLA Class of 2019

Congratulations to the members of the 2019 class of the Woodruff Leadership Academy, who completed their WLA program in April. The class was divided into three teams who tackled the following projects:

  1. Methods for Mitigating Clinician Burnout. Team: Serenity Now (Fawn Connor-Stroud, Donald Harvey, Yousuf Khalifa, Colleen Kraft, Vandana Dua Niyyar, Kush Singh, Stephanie Vicent)
  2. Managing Messaging Mayhem: Advancing the Potential of Patient-Provider Messaging. Team: Emory United (Kimberly Curseen, Hannah Henry, Stephanie Maffett, Limin Peng, Patrick Sullivan, Camille Vaughan, Srihari Veeraraghavan)
  3. Strategy to Improve Gender Equity. Team: Strength has no Gender (Suephy Chen, Jim Forstner, Kristin Higgins, Bleu Owens, Taofeek Owonikoko, Carolyn Reilly, Melissa White)
Veterans program expanded
The Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP) recently celebrated the opening of new patient treatment and office space and the expansion of its health care services for veterans. Made possible by a $2 million grant from program funder, Wounded Warrior Project, EHVP has doubled its current office and treatment space to 10,000 square feet, allowing an eventual increase from 12 to 24 veterans to be treated each week. Read more.
Emory at Aspen
Emory is a sponsor of the Aspen Ideas: Health Festival, which takes place this week in Aspen, Colorado. The festival will include discussions by President Claire E. Sterk and RSPH Dean James Curran, along with Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on ways to work toward ending HIV/AIDS in the next decade; Sterk and Allan Levey on national priorities in the fight against Alzheimer's; and Colleen Kraft and Sharon Vanairsdale on how the 2014 Ebola outbreak sparked a revolution in health care.
New heart & Lung transplant director

Mani Daneshmand has joined Emory as director of the Emory Heart & Lung Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support programs. He also holds the position of director of the Emory ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) Program. He comes to Emory from Duke, where he served as surgical director of lung and heart-lung transplantation and Extracorporeal Life Support Program. He was also program director of the Advanced Cardiac and Thoracic Organ Transplant Surgery Fellowship at Duke and an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery. Read more.

New CEO for three Emory hospitals
Matt Wain has been named CEO for Emory University Hospital, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, and Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods, effective August 19. Wain joins Emory from Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Health in Charleston, where he currently serves as COO. In this role, he provided leadership for development of clinical programs, including operational oversight of the four MUSC hospitals and related ambulatory clinics in Charleston. He also oversaw over $1 billion in MUSC Health major capital projects. Read more.
WHEA Journal Club

Learn more about interprofessional education, and get to know educators from across the health sciences at the monthly IPE Journal Club, held on the fourth Thursday of each month at noon to 1 p.m. Meeting location is the WHSC Library Calhoun Room. Register to be on the Journal Club listserv. 

Health Care Heroes

Mahlon DeLong received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Charles Moore the Community Outreach Award in this year's Health Care Heroes awards from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Read more.

New chairs

Allen Beck is the new chair of ophthalmology, having served as interim chair since March 2016. Denise Jamieson is the new chair of gynecology-obstetrics. Penny Castellano served as interim chair for the past three years.

Patent ranking

Emory University is ranked 47th in the world among universities granted U.S. utility patents in 2018, according to a new report released by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Mary Beth Allen (chief HR officer for Emory Healthcare) received the Atlanta Business Chronicle HR Excellence Award of the Year.

Walter Curran (Winship director) will receive the 2019 American Society for Radiation Oncology Gold Medal at the ASTRO annual meeting in September.

Lisa Flowers (gynecology-obstetrics) received the 2019 Pete & Weesie Hollis Community Service Award from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Jeff Koplan (VP, Global Health) received an honorary degree from University of British Columbia, where he also gave the commencement address.

Mary Jo Lechowicz (medical oncology) received Emory's Exemplary Teacher Award for her role in shaping the next generation of physicians.

Lisa Newbern has been selected to serve on the Georgia Department of Education State Advisory Panel for Special Education.

Cassandra Quave (dermatology and Emory College) was one of six faculty members honored with the Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Kylie Smith (nursing) was one of six faculty members honored with the Emory Williams Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award.

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