Friday, February 7, 2020

Med School Café video online: 'Sports Injuries, Treatment and Prevention'

Brad Clay, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at the USA College of Medicine and a sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon with USA Health, presented "Sports Injuries, Treatment and Prevention" at the January Med School Café.

Watch the full lecture on YouTube or below:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

See how USA Health is transforming medicine in new advertising campaign

USA Health has the responsibility not only to provide the highest quality and level of care to our patients, but also to look for new ways of doing things so that we transform medicine. As the region’s only academic health system, we use our unique perspectives to train the next generation of physicians at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

Last year we committed resources to telling people about our work and our successes. This week we launched our next effort, focusing on our own people. The campaign is multipronged and includes television, billboards, print ads and internal messaging. Throughout the year, the campaign will highlight people from USA Health and the USA College of Medicine.

Among those featured are Mike Lin, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and cell biology; Myria Mack-Williams, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery; and Jennifer Young Pierce, M.D., professor of interdisciplinary clinical oncology.

Watch our three television commercials below, and visit for more information on how we are transforming medicine.

Richards to serve as president of regional surgery organization

William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and director of the USA Surgical Weight Loss Center, will become president of the Southeastern Surgical Congress (SESC) on Feb. 9 at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Richards has served as president-elect since last year’s annual meeting. As the new president, he will oversee the end of the annual meeting by moderating sessions, running the business meeting and giving a message to the group.

During this year’s annual meeting, he will also give a historical talk about Dean Warren, M.D., who Richards describes as his mentor and someone who was doing “some unbelievable things that were well ahead of his time in terms of surgical research.” He hopes to impart to the group some of the lessons from Warren’s life and his surgical research.

Richards’ presidential duties include selecting people to serve on various committees within the SESC, attending business meetings, nominating others for various positions within the organization, and planning next year’s meeting.

“My job will be to help all committees function at a high level, ensure that papers are being published, that we get our communications out, and that we follow up with the SESC’s  organizational initiatives,” Richards said. “As president, my role will include increasing enthusiasm for new surgeons to join this society, as well as encouraging member participation in the annual meeting and through submission of papers to the American Surgeon.”

Over the last year, Richards has also been involved in moving the American Surgeon, the SESC’s journal, from a print publication to an online publication. Richards has been an integral part of modernizing this communication process.

Richards said it is important to have residents and faculty present at meetings to give them the opportunity to communicate their research findings to a large crowd of their peers.

“Presenting new findings reflects that we’re constantly improving our practices through research,” Richards said. “Conducting research advances the practice of surgery and improves the care of patients. As an academic medical center, research is core to what we do. We’re constantly looking at better ways to care for our patients.”

The Southeastern Surgical Congress is the largest regional meeting of general surgeons and more than 600 surgeons are expected to attend the meeting.

Global Engagement: Improving medical education through international collaborations

David A. Gremse, M.D., professor and chair of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine, talks with Lucrecia Hernandez, M.D., Ph.D., from Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM) School of Medicine in Guatemala as they tour the Strada Patient Care Center. 
University of South Alabama College of Medicine leaders welcomed a team from the Universidad Francisco Marroquin (UFM) School of Medicine in Guatemala this week in an ongoing collaboration to assist the Central American institution with curriculum development and program accreditation.

UFM School of Medicine administration and faculty are interested in learning more about the process of medical school accreditation and faculty development, said Benjamin Estrada, M.D., assistant dean for medical education and professor of pediatrics at USA. “They requested a visit to USA to interact with faculty and administrators that have successfully gone through these processes.”

Federico Alfaro, M.D., dean of the UFM School of Medicine, said the group engaged in excellent dialogue with USA leaders during the two-day visit, learning more about the international accreditation process, among other topics.

“I’m full of ideas to bring back to our university,” Alfaro said.

Beginning in 2014, staff from USA’s College of Medicine began formally working with colleagues from the UFM School of Medicine to introduce them to team-based learning, which focuses on longitudinal content integration in a competency–based environment.

“The partnership has enhanced the redevelopment of the UFM School of Medicine curriculum from discipline based to a systems based curriculum,” said Estrada, who is a graduate of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin School of Medicine.

For six years, Estrada, along with Phillip Fields, Ph.D., professor of anatomy at USA, have provided training to UFM School of Medicine faculty during visits and through online collaboration.

In particular, Estrada said, a relationship between Julie Estis, USA’s director of academic enhancement, and faculty with the UFM Medical School and the Central American university has been essential to the partnership. Estis has traveled to Guatemala on many occasions, Estrada said, providing workshops and expert guidance.

Since the 1980s, more than 30 graduates from UFM’s School of Medicine have participated in USA’s graduate medical education program, Estrada said. 

In March 2019, the relationship between the University of South Alabama and UFM became more formalized when USA President Tony Waldrop and UFM President Gabriel Calzada signed a memorandum of understanding for a collaboration between the two institutions.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín Medical School in Guatemala was the first school in Central America to change its curriculum to the integrated systems in a competency-based format. The USA College of Medicine has continued to collaborate with the UFM School of Medicine in different aspects of curriculum development and educational program accreditation.

The team-based learning program developed at USA is influencing medical education in other parts of the world, Estrada said: “Ultimately, we want make a positive contribution to improving medical education and patient care wherever possible.”

Wright receives COM Predoctoral Fellowship Award

Griffin Wright, a third-year student in the Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of South Alabama, works with Natalie Gassman, Ph.D., in her lab at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. 
Griffin Wright, a student in the Basic Medical Sciences Graduate Program at the University of South Alabama, is the recipient of the USA College of Medicine Predoctoral Fellowship Award.

He is working with Natalie Gassman, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and cell biology at the USA College of Medicine and a cancer researcher at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute, to study the response of DNA repair pathways following environment exposures.

“My research primarily focuses on the regulation of a major pathway of DNA repair, base excision repair (BER), in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC),” Wright said. “A greater understanding of how BER is regulated in TNBC would improve treatment selection for the disease.”

Wright said he is grateful for this award, as it allows him to attend an advanced training course focusing on experimental models of human cancer at Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the Auburn University College of Agriculture in 2017.