Friday, May 13, 2011

"Mother's Pride: Her Son Lives On"

Karen Braswell, secretary in student affairs at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently shared her story about her son's organ donations and the significant impact he has had on the lives of others.

To read the entire article featured in the May 8th Press-Register, click here.

Faculty and Students to be Honored at Annual Honors Convocation

Each spring, the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recognizes students for their academic achievements at the annual Honors Convocation. This year's College of Medicine Honors Convocation for the Class of 2011 will be held May 13th at 7 p.m. at the USA Mitchell Center.

Doctoral hoods, along with the student honors, will be awarded to the medical students. Faculty will be honored by the students as well. The seniors selected those members of the faculty who had the most meaningful impact on their medical education, and for their positive influence, the faculty selected will wear a scarlet sash over their academic regalia.

Below is a list of faculty honored with scarlet sashes:

Dr. Bayani Alberto Abordo
Dr. Jorge Alonso
Dr. Ronald Balczon
Dr. John Bass
Dr. Bassam Bassam
Dr. Frank Bodie
Dr. LaDonna Crews
Dr. Errol Crook
Dr. Mike Culpepper
Dr. Lynn Dyess
Dr. Phillip Fields
Dr. Roy Gandy
Dr. Anthony Gard
Dr. Richard Gonzalez
Dr. James Hart
Dr. Juvonda Hodge
Dr. T. J. Hundley
Dr. Ihab Jubran
Dr. Roger Lane
Dr. Susan LeDoux
Dr. Arnold Luterman
Dr. Paul Maertens
Dr. Charles Markle
Dr. Scott McNair
Dr. Frederick Meyer
Dr. Tom Montgomery
Dr. Kenan Penaskovic
Dr. Frank Pettyjohn
Dr. William Richards
Dr. Rodney Rocconi
Dr. Charles Rodning
Dr. Gregory Rutecki
Dr. John Schultz
Dr. Jeffrey Sosnowski
Dr. Michael Sternberg
Dr. Sherri Taylor
Dr. John Vande Waa

USA Health System Launches New Website Design

The University of South Alabama Health System has improved its website that is available for patients, clinicians, researchers, employees and students. The new site – – launched this past Wednesday.

Underscoring the importance of websites in academic medicine, a recent report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that the majority of aspiring medical students view medical school websites as the No. 1 information source when choosing medical schools.

The report found that 59 percent of aspirants cited medical school websites as the top information source, surpassing information sources such as friends, word-of-mouth, recent graduates, admission requirements and U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The report, titled “Use and Evaluation of Medical School Information Sources by Aspiring Medical Students,” can be found here – .

In addition to providing an improved communication channel for aspiring medical students, the new website will also improve the patient experience. New features include access to social media, online event registration, comprehensive faculty searches and detailed information on inpatient and outpatient services.

“This new site reflects the hard work and collective efforts of more than 100 faculty and staff,” said Becky Tate, chief executive officer of the USA Health Services Foundation. “This will be a dynamic site that will act as a window into the health system for our patients, students and referring physicians.

"We are pleased that our new site accurately represents the close relationship between all entities of our health system - the USA Physicians Group, USA College of Medicine, USA Medical Center, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute," added Tate.

Med Students Express Gratitude to Donor Families

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its Anatomical Gifts Memorial Service on May 5, 2011.

Bodies donated to the USA Anatomical Gifts Program are used not only to train medical students learning anatomy, but also to train practicing physicians learning new medical procedures and to aid in physician research. The bodies are treated respectfully and professionally by students and physicians alike.

According to USA medical student Russell Stevens Terry Jr., the Anatomical Gifts Program contributes a critical component toward achieving the College of Medicine’s mission to educate and train outstanding physicians. “The program and its generous donors enable and empower our exceptional gross anatomy faculty to instruct students at a level of intricate detail and complexity that would be unachievable by other means.

“I felt incredibly uplifted after talking to the donors’ family members at the reception following the ceremony,” said Terry, who was one of the speakers at the memorial service. “Many of them told me how much more at peace they were with their loved ones’ fate and final decision to become an anatomical donor after listening to what I had to say, so that really meant a lot to me.”

During the service, Terry thanked family members of participants in the Anatomical Gifts Program. The following is a portion of his presentation.

First, on behalf of the students, I’d like to extend our thanks to all of you for being here with us today. This service is really something that we have been looking forward to since it allows us, kind of in our own way, to convey our gratitude and sincere appreciation for you and your loved ones’ generosity, which has contributed such a fundamental component to the foundation of our medical education.

So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Now, when I reflect back upon my medical education thus far, I always think back to that very first day of Gross Anatomy Lab. It was quite an unforgettable experience because that was the day when we first met our donors.

I remember walking down to the lab that day for the very first time with my new set of scrubs and my new set of friends – with my study guides and lab atlases all ready to go. It was an exciting time. Gross anatomy! This is what I came here to do! I’m gonna love learning this stuff!

And then I remember awkwardly searching out and finding my group’s table and then pausing for a brief moment and becoming overwhelmed by the enormity and significance of the whole scenario.

Because for me – and I suspect for many others as well – this was our first experience dealing with death so up close, and personally.

I mean, since the time I’d been accepted to medical school I’d known in the back of my mind that this day would come……but I had no idea what to expect because I’d never really given any thought to what the actual moment would be like. But, it was very peaceful, very serene. It was dignified and genuine – emotional and professional. And above all, it was overwhelmingly profound.

So … days passed and turned into weeks, which all-too-quickly turned into months, as we slowly but surely grew into our new roles as medical students.

And as those initial intense emotions began to fade into the background, I found that I couldn’t help but to ponder the origins of this great, anonymous, benefactor of my education – this man to whom I owed such an enormous debt of gratitude.

What had been his occupation? What was his life’s work? Was he a doctor, a banker, a soldier, a teacher? How many lives did he have the chance to impact before he had the chance to impact mine?

What was he passionate about? Was he an outdoorsman? Or a college football fan? Did he love to cook? Or to read? Or to travel?

And who were the people that loved him? Was he a husband, a sibling, a parent, a grandparent? My heart wrenched for those who were undoubtedly left with holes in their lives after his passing.

Well, I never did find any answers to the questions I had about my donor – this man, who I will forever remember as my very first patient. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about him. I know, for instance, that he was altruistic. For at the heart of the decision to become an Anatomical Donor, there surely lies an utterly selfless concern for the welfare of others and of society. I also know that he was concerned about the future, for with his final earthly act…he chose to give unto us his physical body, so that we may in turn give unto others, as America’s future physicians.

Finally, I know that he would be pleased with the outcome of his decision to become an Anatomical Donor.

Because the lessons that we learn here, from your loved ones, are lessons that will be with us for the rest of our careers and the rest of our lives. We will use them to heal. Some of us will use them to teach.

And a few of us, no doubt inspired by your loved ones’ examples, will choose to become Anatomical Donors ourselves. And thus the lessons and influence inspired by their selflessness will continue to be propagated for generations to come.

For, as 19th century poet and Civil War general Albert Pike wrote, "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; but what we have done for others and the world remains….and is immortal."

Dr. Thomas Lincoln Awarded Research Grant

Dr. Thomas Lincoln, professor and chair of physiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, continues to search for ways to improve the care for patients living with inflammatory vascular disorders. His efforts were recently funded through a three-year research grant by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) totaling $1,113,750.

Dr. Lincoln’s research focuses on inflammatory vascular disorders. One of the major threats this disorder causes is atherosclerosis, a condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of the build-up of fatty materials. According to Dr. Lincoln, atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases account for more deaths in the United States than any other cause.

This research project looks at the process that leads to the development of plaque in arteries. The hypothesis is that the inflammation in the vascular system causes the signaling pathway to become disrupted, leading to atherosclerosis.

The research team has previously identified a factor that suppressed an enzyme known as PKG, a key component of the signaling pathway. Dr. Lincoln explained that cells rid themselves of material not wanted. However, sometimes the cell also rids itself of PKG, which leads to inflammation. “Our lab was one of the first to demonstrate that inflammation does indeed suppress this signaling pathway,” Dr. Lincoln said. “We are the first to study this connection as a potential target for treating inflammation.”

Dr. Lincoln said this project is important because of our exposure to things that lead to vascular inflammation – such as viruses and foods that can cause high cholesterol. Over time, these insults can lead to heart attacks and strokes. “This project seeks to better understand the root of the problems that lead to vascular diseases/inflammation and develop targets for drug therapy.”

Dr. Lincoln has been funded by NIH for 30 years consecutively. “Science develops knowledge that translates into better medical care,” he said. “Basic research is both a catalyst for improving care and stimulating the economy.”

Med School Café - Expert Advice for the Community

This week, Dr. Jorge Herrera, professor of internal medicine and assistant director of the division of gastroenterology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, presented the May Med School Café lecture, "New Treatments for Hepatitis C." The lecture had a total of 61 attendees.

The next Med School Café lecture will be held on June 16, 2011, and will feature Dr. Gregory W. Rutecki, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine. During his talk, he will discuss the value of organ transplantation. If you are interested in attending, email for details.