Friday, May 6, 2011

USA Medical Student Awarded 2011 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship

Luke Wiggins, a third-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently awarded the 2011 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship presented by Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

Wiggins, who is in the MD with Research Honors Program at the USA College of Medicine, will conduct his research project in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at USA, under the direction of Dr. Petra Rocic, assistant professor of biochemsitry.

Dr. Jonathan Scammell, professor of comparative medicine and pharmacology at the USA College of Medicine and chair of the MD with Research Honors Program Committee, said the award is a well-deserved recognition for Wiggins and his mentor Dr. Rocic, who he said hosts an outstanding environment for Wiggins’ studies.

“Any medical student with an interest in research should view a successful fellowship application as a first step toward gaining a highly competitive residency position and entering a career in academic medicine,” Dr. Scammell said.

According to Wiggins, his research project uses lab models to investigate the expression and activation of matrix metalloproteinases during a repetitive ischemia, or blood supply restriction, protocol used to induce coronary collateral growth.

Wiggins said coronary collateral growth is a non-invasive alternative to current interventions aimed at coronary re-vascularization – the process of restoring blood flow to the heart – and thus can be an important factor in the amount and degree to which the myocardium is affected by the obstruction of major coronary vessels.

Studies show the number one cause of death in the U.S. to be heart disease. “The long term significance of this project lies in the hope to one day understand how to therapeutically induce the formation of coronary collateral vessels to reduce the effects of myocardial infarction on the heart,” Wiggins said.

“I believe that this project will enhance my medical education by furthering my understanding of how research is conducted,” Wiggins added. “It will act as a learning experience that will equip me with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue future opportunities in research throughout my career.”

The fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of Alpha Omega Alpha and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004.

USA Medical Student Coordinates Donation Drive for Tornado Relief Efforts

Amy Boone, a first-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, will leave for Tuscaloosa, Ala., Tuesday to drop off donations following the April 27 tornadoes.

Boone asked for donations from fellow medical students, and has been collecting the items for the past week. So far, she has raised $650 to help with the effort, along with a room-full of donations. She will use the money to buy canned goods and other nonperishable items in bulk.

A portion of the items collected will be given to a family that Boone knows through a friend. The family, who lives in Tusaloosa, will be having a child in two weeks. “I really want to make sure that the mother and baby have what they need,” Boone said. “I can’t imagine going through something like this.”

Boone said she is working with Hands on Birmingham to help distribute the remaining donations, adding that St. Matthias’ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa will most likely be the distribution center.

“I was in Baton Rouge, La., when Hurricane Katrina hit, and I saw how hard it was then,” said Boone, who has lived in Mobile her entire life. “The difference is that we can prepare for hurricanes, but this disaster is something they could not prepare for.”

“Just knowing that I have the ability to help make a difference in these families’ lives – that’s the big inspiration for me.”

Boone said she has been an avid volunteer since high school. “It’s something I really enjoy doing,” she said. “I’ve always felt very fortunate and blessed, and I feel it’s important to spread those blessings to other people.”

Boone said she is thankful to all of the medical students and faculty at USA for their generosity and support. She will be accepting donations through Monday afternoon, May 9. If you are interested in giving to the donation drive, contact her at

May Med School Café - New Treatments for Hepatitis C

The May Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Jorge Herrera, professor of internal medicine and assistant director of the division of gastroenterology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

His lecture, titled “New Treatments for Hepatitis C,” will take place May 12, 2011, at the Via! Health, Fitness & Enrichment Center in Mobile. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Herrera, an internationally recognized liver expert, will discuss new advances in the treatment of hepatitis C including new drugs that are expected to become available later this year for the treatment of this common disease.

Dr. Herrera earned his medical degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He conducted his residency at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo. In addition, he completed a fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The Via! Health, Fitness & Enrichment Center is located at 1717 Dauphin St. in Mobile. To view a map, visit

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, please call Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or e-mail

Med School Café is a free community lecture series sponsored by the USA Physicians Group. Each month, faculty from the USA College of Medicine share their expertise on a specific medical condition, providing insight on the latest treatment available.

Dr. Ronald Franks Interviewed by New York Times

The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Ronald D. Franks, vice president for health sciences at the University of South Alabama, for an article announcing recommendations for a new version of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).

As vice chair of the committee that reviewed the exam, Dr. Franks said the new MCAT will retain what works, eliminate what doesn't, and will expand to test the additional knowledge necessary to better predict which applicants will be the successful physicians of the future.

To view the entire New York Times article, click here.

Dr. Carole Boudreaux Appointed Assistant Dean for Graduate Medical Education

Dr. Carole W. Boudreaux, associate professor of pathology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently appointed assistant dean for graduate medical education.

“Dr. Boudreaux has been a long standing faculty member and has always been extraordinarily conscientious and diligent in all of her duties and responsibilities,” said Dr. Samuel J. Strada, dean of the USA College of Medicine. “I am sure she will bring those same qualities to this new role and that she will do an outstanding job in the position.”

Dr. Boudreaux will replace Dr. Arnold Luterman, professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine, who has held the position since 2004.

“The assistant dean for graduate medical education is chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee comprised of program directors, administrators and faculty with specific interests and expertise in graduate medical education,” Dr. Luterman said. “Dr. Boudreaux brings extensive experience as a program director and a dedication to the graduate medical education field.”

During Dr. Luterman’s tenure as assistant dean of medical education, significant advances have been made in the graduate medical education curriculum as well as in benefits for residents, the development of a central office for graduate medical education and the institution of a new era of improved work hours, more accountable evaluations for residents, and the expansion and development of new graduate medical education programs.

“Dr. Boudreaux has served for many years as the pathology residency program director, and her hard work, careful attention to the complex and changing rules, and genuine and deep concern for the residents have produced great success for the program,” said Dr. J. Allan Tucker, chair of pathology at the USA College of Medicine. “I am excited for her to have the opportunity to apply these skills and abilities at the institutional level, where she will no doubt be equally successful.”

Dr. Boudreaux received her medical degree from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and completed a residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at USA. She has served as both the pathology residency program director at USA and as a member of the Graduate Medical Education Committee for more than five years.

College of Medicine Class of 2011 Hosts Skit Night

The University of South Alabama College of Medicine Class of 2011 will host a skit night on May 6, 2011, at 7 p.m. at the Mobile Convention Center.

The skits pertain to the four years of medical school. All faculty, staff and students are invited to attend.

Tickets in advance are $12 per person or $20 per couple. You can also purchase tickets at the door for $15 per person or $25 per couple. Tickets are available in Rhonda Smith’s office in the Medical Sciences Building or Karen Braswell’s office on the second floor of the Mastin Building.

For more information, call (251) 471-7145.

Mark Your Calendars - Gulf Coast Liver Support Group Meeting

The Gulf Coast Liver Support Group, affiliated with the University of South Alabama’s Digestive Health Center, will hold its next meeting on May 12, 2011, at 7 p.m. at the Infirmary West Hospital Conference Center at 5600 Girby Road in Mobile.

The support group, which meets once every other month, provides a forum for adult patients with liver disease to learn more about their condition. The educational programs cover medical, social and nutritional topics.

Dr. Jorge Herrera, professor of internal medicine at USA, formed the support group in 1998. The Gulf Coast Liver Support Group is the only physician-led liver support group in the region and state.

Participation in the support group is free of charge. For more information, call (251) 660-5555 or click here.