Wednesday, June 14, 2017

USA Medical Student Benjamin McCormick Receives AOA Research Fellowship

Benjamin McCormick, a rising second-year medical student at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently received the Alpha Omega Alpha 2017 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship.

The $5,000 award provides research support for medical students to conduct research via clinical investigation, basic laboratory work, epidemiology, social sciences, health services, leadership or professionalism.

McCormick will be conducting his clinical investigation at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn., in the division of hematology and oncology. Dr. Bipin N. Savani, professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and director of the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, will serve as his primary mentor.

His research will explore the effects of matching a donor and recipient’s blood types on stem cell transplant success using various outcome parameters. Each day, McCormick and Dr. Savani will collect patient information for analysis from the Long-Term Stem Cell Transplant Clinic, as well as assemble information collected from previous patients. “I will then use various statistical methods to determine the specific outcome determinants for the population under study,” McCormick said. “These results will be presented at weekly group meetings and will culminate in me writing a manuscript for publication.”

According to McCormick, there are no large studies comparing outcomes for ABO mismatch in hematopoietic stem cell transplants. “Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or bone marrow transplantation, is a common treatment option for leukemia, lymphomas and other immunological disorders,” he said. “My research is important because the results of this study will provide information for transplant physicians to improve survival and graft outcomes in their patients. It is proposed that major mismatches may predispose patients to graft failure.”

Although he has a master’s degree in chemistry and an extensive background in basic science research, McCormick said this will be his first exposure to clinically based medical research. He credits the extensive coverage of hematologic malignancies in the first-year curriculum and the weekly patient encounters through the clinical skills program at the USA College of Medicine for preparing him for this project.

“This will be an incredible opportunity for me to explore the realm of clinical research and potential career interests,” McCormick said. “I have been interested in hematology and oncology for many years after witnessing my father’s struggle with cancer, and Dr. Savani was one of his most impactful doctors. I look forward to exploring the field of stem cell transplant research from an academic research perspective and learning how patient outcome data and patient-doctor interactions impact future medical treatment.”

Each medical school with an AOA chapter can nominate one first-, second-, or third-year medical student for the fellowship. Each year, AOA allocates funds for about 50 awards. The name of the fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of AOA and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004. To learn more, click here.

Dorothy Dickinson to Serve on Executive Committee of ARAS

Dorothy Dickinson, GME program coordinator in the department of surgery at the University of South Alabama, was recently appointed to the executive committee of the Association of Residency Administrators in Surgery (ARAS). She will serve as chair of the professional development and sunshine/event committee of that organization.

ARAS is a subcommittee of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS), which underwent a name change from the Association of Residency Coordinators in Surgery (ARCS) to better characterize their role as professionals, innovators and decision-makers within training programs.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected by my fellow ARAS colleagues,” Dickinson said. “I am hoping that my appointment will bring much-deserved recognition to our general surgery residency and fellowship programs and that we will be valued for our servant leadership. The residency administrator is the heart and soul of a program, and I am very grateful for the support of the surgical faculty and residents.”

“ARAS is a very integral and important part of surgical education, and being named to the executive committee of this organization is the highest honor that can be given to a program administrator,” said Dr. Jon Simmons, director of the USA General Surgery Residency Program and associate professor of surgery at the USA College of Medicine. “This also provides national recognition for the department of surgery and the College of Medicine.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Med School Café - Advanced Capabilities of the USA Gastroenterology Division

The June Med School Café lecture will feature Dr. Brooks Cash, professor of internal medicine at the University of South Alabama and a gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group. He also serves as chief of the division of gastroenterology and director of the USA Digestive Health Center.

His lecture, titled “Advanced Capabilities of the USA Gastroenterology Division,” will be held on June 30, 2017, at the USA Strada Patient Care Center Conference Room on the first floor. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m., and the presentation begins at noon.

Dr. Cash will discuss hepatology, irritable bowel disease, clinical trials, PillCam COLON and other unique treatment options offered by the division of gastroenterology at USA.

Dr. Cash earned his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. He completed his internship, residency and fellowship training in gastroenterology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Dr. Cash is a Diplomat of the American Board of Gastroenterology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterology Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. He has chaired numerous professional society committees and has been course director for national and regional ACG postgraduate meetings. Dr. Cash has served on the Rome Committee for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and has authored over 150 articles and book chapters on a wide variety of gastrointestinal topics. He serves as an associate editor for the American Journal of Gastroenterology, an editorial board member and reviewer for multiple internal medicine and gastroenterology medical journals and is a sought-after presenter at national and international medical education meetings.

The Med School Café lecture and lunch are provided free of charge, but reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, 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.

The USA Strada Patient Care Center is located at 1601 Center St. in Mobile. For more information, click here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Medical Alumni Association Hosts Annual Medical Alumni Weekend

The University of South Alabama Medical Alumni Association hosted its annual Medical Alumni Weekend June 9-11, 2017, at Hilton Pensacola Beach in Pensacola Beach, Fla.

The event is a multi-day class reunion held every summer that reunites USA medical graduates on the Gulf Coast. It offers Continuing Medical Education (CME) accredited courses and an alumni dinner sponsored by the association.

Several USA alumni and faculty members presented lectures during the weekend. On Saturday, Dr. Lynn Dyess (COM ’82), professor of surgery at USA College of Medicine and a breast and endocrine surgeon with USA Physicians Group, presented “Advances in Breast Cancer Treatment” and Dr. Daniel Dees (COM ’07), assistant professor of neurology at the USA College of Medicine and a neurologist with USA Physicians Group, presented “Movement Disorders: Screening and Management.” On Sunday, Dr. Sidney Brevard (COM ’87), professor of surgery and a trauma and critical care surgeon with USA Health, presented “Inside Charity Hospital During Hurricane Katrina” and Dr. Edward Panacek (COM ’81), professor and chair of emergency medicine at the USA College of Medicine, presented “Sepsis in the Time of CMS.”

During the annual meeting and luncheon of the Medical Alumni Association Board of Directors, Dr. R. Michael Culpepper, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine, received the 2017 Distinguished Service Award.

The classes of 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012 were honored at this year’s event.

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to view more photos.