Tag Archives: The Graduate School

Hypertension in professional football players likely results from trauma on the field

The regular physical trauma that appears to put professional football players at risk for degenerative brain disease may also increase their risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease, researchers say.

The frequent hits football players experience, particularly frontline defenders such as linemen, likely continually activate the body’s natural defense system, producing chronic inflammation that is known to drive blood pressure up, according to a study in The FASEB Journal.

While strenuous physical activity clearly has its benefits, it also produces skeletal muscle damage, which literally tears some cells apart, said Dr. R. Clinton Webb, cardiovascular researcher who chairs the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

As an example, long-term, muscle cell tears actually help build muscle, but short term they spill cell contents, including damage-associated molecular patterns, or DAMPs, which capture the attention of the immune system, said Cam McCarthy, a fifth-year graduate student working in Webb’s lab and the study’s corresponding author.

DAMPs activate what should be a short bout of inflammation to deal with the danger, but in football players, this likely happens over and over again in just a single game. “We think that this increase in blood pressure we see in football players is due to the repeated trauma and immune system activation,” McCarthy said.

The trauma can be significant. The sheer size and strength of linemen today mean that those on the offensive and defensive line repeatedly smash into each other at a force equivalent to about a 30-mph car crash, the researchers write. Resistance training done off the field to improve lean muscle mass, likely results in more torn cells and additional activation of the immune response.

Higher blood pressure has been associated with professional and even college football, but exactly why remains unclear, Webb said. He noted that the cause is likely multifactorial and not simply the obesity found in the preponderance of players. While players’ blood pressure tends to drop toward normal after each season, a long-term impact is likely, the researchers said. Professional football players, for example, have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease than the general population and live, on average, 10 years less.

The researchers hope that by fully understanding the cause, preventive strategies, maybe even something as simple as taking a daily baby aspirin to reduce inflammation, can reduce the short- and long-term impact of higher blood pressure.

Webb and his team have evidence that – at least in rats – circulating levels of DAMPs are increased in hypertension and increasing evidence of their direct role in hypertension. DAMPs appear to raise blood pressure by activating toll-like receptors on endothelial cells, which comprise the single-cell-thick lining of blood vessels. Toll-like receptors are located in all tissue and cell types and these pattern-recognition receptors are always on the lookout for danger and invaders, such as bacteria, McCarthy said.

The researchers theorize that toll-like receptors are activated a lot in football players, particularly linemen, who may be involved in literally a 100 hits per game. Results include arteries that are stiffer, less able to dilate, and higher blood pressure.

The researchers suspect that release and downstream effects of DAMPs likely play a role as well in the damage to the brain, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can occur in these athletes from years of blows to the head.

While increased hypertension in professional athletes may seem like a paradox, the researchers note that hypertension is the most common cardiovascular complication seen in competitive athletes, even ultramarathon runners.

In fact, reports in the lay literature of elevated blood pressure in football players prompted McCarthy and Webb to do a scientific literature search where they found more evidence of the problem, but not the complete cause behind it. That led to their published hypothesis and to their current pursuit of funding to measure DAMPs levels before, during and after season in college football players.

A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looking at the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors among NFL players compared with their peers in the general population showed significantly higher blood pressures. However, other cardiovascular risk factors, such as lipid and cholesterol levels, were mostly similar despite the fact that the players were generally taller and heavier. The study also noted an increase in the past three decades in body mass index for linemen.

Fat, particularly in the abdominal area, is a known risk factor for hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. A 2005 JAMA study showed that the percentage of NFL players with a body mass index of 30 or greater, which is considered obese, was double that of their non-football-playing peers. Offensive and defensive linemen had the highest BMIs. However, despite the pervasiveness of overweight, particularly among linemen, labeling body weight as the only culprit, is premature and doesn’t take into account the complexity of hypertension, the MCG researchers write.

Related studies looking at cardiovascular risk factors among NFL players in different positions showed linemen tend to have higher total cholesterol and triglyceride levels than other players in addition to higher blood pressures. A 2013 study in the journal Circulation showed that even college football players had elevated blood pressures that categorized them as pre-hypertensive and that, particularly linemen, were showing signs of unhealthy increases in the size of their heart related to pumping against increased blood pressure.

Webb and McCarthy’s FASEB study was supported by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

Incoming Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Student Named 2015 Dean’s Doctoral Fellow

WelcomeBack 2015 (76)Anurag Dixit, a newly enrolled student in the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Program at Georgia Regents University, is the 2015 Dean’s Doctoral Fellow.

Originally from India, Dixit came to the United States in 2013 to pursue a Master of Science with a major in biochemistry and molecular biology from Georgetown University. However that degree, along with the Ph.D. he is currently pursuing, are only the most recent additions to his academic profile. Before leaving India, Dixit also earned a Masters in Life Sciences with a specialty in medical sciences and a Master of Business Administration, which he used to work in the field of market research.

Dixit said he was honored to be named the 2015 Dean’s Doctoral Fellow. This prestigious fellowship is awarded to students for academic excellence, competitiveness and overall impressiveness, with a limited number of awardees being selected by the Biomedical Sciences Admissions Committee. Last year’s Dean’s Doctoral Fellows include Lia Taylor and Rachel Roberts, now both second-year students in the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Program.

Dixit stated that his passion for research and discovery led him to choose the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program at GRU.

“Biology has excited me since my early school days,” he said. “I was always amazed by how living cells operate with such high efficiency and precision. I was attracted to the research output and academic environment in the biomedical sciences program at GRU. I believe the Ph.D. Program here can provide me with comprehensive, multidisciplinary training in the current research practices and methodologies found in biomedical research.”

Since starting at GRU, Dixit said one of the happiest surprises has been the supportive and involved faculty. He described a good ratio of students to faculty and said he has enjoyed attending the faculty introduction sessions, which have given him insight to each department’s research areas.

“Even outside of the classroom and in the lab, faculty members are very helpful,” he said. “Labs here tend to be small and the faculty is available to troubleshoot, which is rare in many universities. At many universities, the faculty is usually so busy with other stuff they are not able to give attention to their research students, but at GRU you learn directly from the expert in the field.”

After finishing his studies, Dixit hopes to obtain a post-doc appointment or faculty position where he can perform research. He has experience and interest in cancer and molecular biology, but is keeping his eyes open for new interests during his first-year classes and rotations at GRU. He likes that biomedical sciences doctoral students are admitted through a common admissions process, with each student choosing one of nine majors in their second year.

“When I was entering the program, I was leaning towards one major because I have experience in that area – cancer biology,” he said. “But now, I want to keep an open mind and explore all of my opportunities in this program.”

Graduation celebrations and hooding ceremonies

AUGUSTA, Ga. – More than 1,000 students are expected to participate in Georgia Regents University’s commencement exercises on May 8, at 2 p.m. at the James Brown Arena.

This year’s commencement speaker will be Jane Chen, a TED Senior Fellow and CEO of Embrace, a social enterprise that developed an innovative baby incubator solution designed to address infant mortality in developing countries.

Each of GRU’s nine colleges will hold year-end ceremonies as follows:

  • College of Science and Mathematics Graduation Reception, 10 a.m., May 8, Science Hall Atrium, Summerville Campus; Psychology Hooding Ceremony, 6:30 p.m., May 7, The Pinnacle Club, 699 Broad Street
  • Medical College of Georgia Hooding Ceremony, 2 p.m., May 7, The Augusta Convention Center, 2 10th St.
  • College of Nursing Convocation , 3 p.m., May 7, GRU Christenberry Fieldhouse
  • College of Education, 4:30 p.m., May 7, Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom
  • College of Allied Health Sciences Hooding and Honors Ceremony; 6 p.m., May 7, Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.
  • Hull College of Business Graduation Reception, 6 p.m., May 7, Allgood Hall North Stairwell, Summerville Campus
  • College of Graduate Studies Hooding Ceremony, 8 a.m., May 8, Warren Baptist Church, 3203 Washington Road
  • Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Graduation Celebration; 9 a.m., May 8, GRU Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom, Summerville Campus; ROTC Officer Commissioning Ceremony, 1 p.m., May 7, GRU Maxwell Theatre, Summerville Campus
  • College of Dental Medicine Hooding Ceremony, 10 a.m., May 8, First Baptist Church, 3500 Walton Way

GRU’s Student Government Association will also hold an Undergraduate Ceremony at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, in the GRU Summerville Quad on the Summerville Campus.

For more information on graduation activities, call GRU’s Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs at 706-721-1411, or visit gru.edu/students/graduation/


Georgia Regents University is one of four public comprehensive research universities in the state with nearly 10,000 students enrolled in its nine colleges and schools, which include the Medical College of Georgia – the nation’s 13th-oldest medical school – the nationally ranked Hull College of Business and Georgia’s only College of Dental Medicine. The clinical enterprise associated with the university includes the 478-bed Georgia Regents Medical Center and the 154-bed Children’s Hospital of Georgia. GRU is a unit of the University System of Georgia and an equal opportunity institution.  gru.edu


The Graduate School Awards recognize excellence in research

The Graduate School presented 28 awards at the 31st annual Graduate School Awards Banquet, held at the Alumni Center on Wednesday, April 15.

The awards were given for work presented at Graduate Research Day, a yearly event that provides participants with opportunities to present research to a group of their peers as well as other researchers.

This year, students presented 111 posters and gave 10 oral presentations at an event that featured a keynote speech by Dr. Leroy Hood, a renowned systems biologist who helped pioneer the human genome program with the development of the automated DNA sequencer.


2015 Graduate Research Day winners:

Award for Excellence in Research by a Postdoctoral Fellow (poster):  Paula Rodriguez-Miguelez

Award for Excellence in Research by a Graduate Medical Resident:  Abhishek Mangaonkar and Monique Bethel

Award for Excellence in Research by a Postdoctoral Fellow (oral):  Maria Ouzounova

Graduate Faculty Assembly Award for Excellence in Research by a Graduate Student: Zuzana Berrong, Grace Fox, Fengjiao Hu, Bianca Islam, Eun Mi Lee, Thiri Lin

  1. August Roesel Memorial Award Research Excellence in Biochemistry & Cancer Biology: Satish Kumar Noonepalle

Award for Excellence in Research – Cell Biology & Anatomy:  Paulomi Sanghavi

UGA Clinical & Experimental Therapeutics Award:  Islam Osman

Award for Excellence in Research – College of Allied Health Sciences:  Jeremiah Marshall

Virendra B. Mahesh Award Research Excellence in Endocrinology:  Trevor Hardigan

Award for Excellence in Research – Genomic Medicine:  Robert Schleifer

Award for Excellence in Research – Graduate Nursing: Artinsia Shakir

Medical Illustration Educational Multimedia Award:  Ellen C. Davis and Brittany G. King

Award for Excellence in Research – Molecular Medicine:  Joanna Erion

Award for Excellence in Research – Neuroscience:  Amanda Crider

Lowell M. Greenbaum Award in recognition of Research Excellence in Pharmacology:  Nicole Yiew

Award for Excellence in Research – Physiology: Cam McCarthy

Award for Excellence in Public Health Research:  James Viebrock

James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute Award for Research Excellence in Vision:  Shanu Markand

Award for Excellence in Research – Vascular Biology:  Xueyi Li

Ji Cheng Memorial Award for Excellence in Research by a biomedical sciences student in the early years of training:  Matthew Walker

Fisher Scientific Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research:  Connie Chung

Researcher says P4 medicine is way of future

Within the next 10 to 15 years, Dr. Leroy Hood predicts that the focus of health care will shift from disease treatment to prevention.

“Biology will be the dominant science of the 21st century, just as chemistry was in the 19th century and physics was in the 20th century,” said Hood, President and founder of the Institute for Systems Biology and keynote speaker at Georgia Regents University’s 31st annual Graduate Research Day. “Health care will shift from a reactive to a preventive mode in which each individual has an opportunity to experience optimal health beginning at birth.”

Hood, a systems biologist and researcher who helped pioneer the Human Genome Project and develop automated DNA sequencers, is cultivating his vision for health care through the institute’s P4 pilot project. Systems biology seeks to understand how and why complex systems behave as they do. P4 medicine stands for predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

“Even the simplest living cell is an incredibly complex molecular machine,” explained Hood. “In the past, biologists sought to understand living things largely by examining their constituent parts. But our researchers seek to understand not only each part, but also how those parts function together.”

Researchers at the institute are enrolling 100,000 healthy patients for the P4 project to help predict and understand the role genes play in health. The goal is to collect data on these patients over two decades through genomic and other complex tests. They’ll assess patients’ nutrition, analyze their microbiome, and perform organ-specific checkups. Grasping the countless factors contributing to disease should enable the researchers to develop tools and strategies for disease prevention and early intervention.

“For instance, if we can catch Alzheimer’s disease during the earliest transitions of the disease, then perhaps we can slow the onset by modifying a patient’s diet, exercise, and other behaviors,” said Hood.

Hood believes that physicians will be able to examine the unique biology of each person to assess the probability of developing cancer, diabetes, and many other diseases and illnesses. Physicians would then be able to prevent or treat that disease using personalized therapeutics.

“It’s really going to be spectacular,” said Hood. “We can determine the individual risk for more than 50 diseases. We will also be able to prevent unnecessary procedures and surgeries, saving the health care industry millions of dollars. Ultimately, I believe we can transform and globalize health care for the good of everyone.”

Biotech pioneer to speak on personalized medicine at Graduate Research Day

Dr. Leroy Hood, a renowned systems biologist who helped pioneer the human genome program with the development of the automated DNA sequencer, is the keynote speaker for Georgia Regents University’s 31st annual Graduate Research Day.

Hood’s presentation, “Systems Medicine and Proactive P4 Medicine: Catalyzing a Revolution in Healthcare,” will cap off the two-day event. His presentation will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, March 20, in the Natalie and Lansing B. Lee Jr. Auditorium on the GRU Health Sciences Campus.

Hood’s professional career began at the California Institute of Technology when he and his colleagues developed the DNA gene sequencer and synthesizer and the protein sequencer and synthesizer – four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping of the human genome, which revolutionized biomedicine and forensic science.

“Dr. Hood is an internationally recognized scientist that has had a major impact on modern biology, including the development of the fluorescent DNA sequencer, the work horse of the human genome project,” said Dr. Richard McIndoe, Associate Director for the Center of Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine at GRU. He worked with Dr. Hood as a post-doctoral fellow in his laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Washington.

Hood’s keynote will be of particular value to future clinicians and researchers, McIndoe said.

“He pioneered the use of systems biology in medicine and will be talking about the future and implementation of what he calls P4 medicine,” he said. “The four P’s stand for predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory, which he argues will improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs.”

President of the Institute for Systems Biology, Hood’s research continues with new approaches to P4 medicine. His laboratory also continues to develop new tools and applications for genomics, such as large-scale DNA sequencing and computation, including various approaches to delineating and engineering biological networks, and nanotechnology measurements of blood proteins.

Other Graduate Research Day activities at GRU include oral research presentations by postdoctoral fellows from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in Room 2109 of the Interdisciplinary Research Building; and poster presentations from fellows, medical residents, and graduate students from 10 a.m. to noon, March 20, in the Wellness Center.

The event gives students an opportunity to receive feedback on their work and sharpen presentation skills before presenting at national meetings. Presentations are judged by faculty and awards are presented by The Graduate School and participating programs and colleges.

Family Weekend offers glimpse of student life

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Families of first-year students at Georgia Regents University will get a glimpse of student life during Family Weekend scheduled for Oct. 10-11.

The weekend will include individual programs for each of GRU’s nine colleges, and feature tours, games, lectures by professors, laboratory demonstrations, and more.

Activities on the Summerville campus include:

Friday, Oct. 10:

  • Backyard games and time with the Vice President for Student Affairs, 7 p.m., during the annual Alumni Barbecue, Bellevue Annex
  • Fireworks, 8:30 p.m.
  • Ghost tours by orientation leaders, 8:45 and 9 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 11

  • Jaguar Jaunt 5K run/walk, 8 a.m.; registration begins at 7 a.m.
  • Disc Golf Expo, 10 a.m., various locations
  • Colleges and academic programs open houses, 10 a.m. to noon, Jaguar Student Activities Center lawn
  • GRU Museum open for tours, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Historical Campus tours with student ambassadors, 10 a.m. to noon
  • Faculty/Staff vs. Students flag football game, 11 a.m. , Science Hall field
  • “What’s the value of a liberal arts degree?” lecture by Dr. Andrew Goss, Chair of the Department of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy, 11 a.m., Allgood Hall, Room N126
  • “Murder: She wrote the book,” lecture on serial killers by Dr. Kim Davies, Chair of the Department of Sociology Criminal Justice, and Social Work, 11:35 a.m., Allgood Hall, Room N126
  • Greek Step Show, 7 p.m., Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre

Activities on the Health Sciences Campus will be held Saturday, Oct. 11, and include:

College of Nursing:

  • Welcome program, 9:30 a.m., Health Sciences Building, Rooms 1210 and 1204
  • Tours and demonstrations, 10:30 a.m.

College of Dental Medicine:

  • Welcome program, 10 a.m., Lee Auditorium
  • Lunch, noon, on the veranda of the J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons
  • Tours and lab presentations, 1 p.m., College of Dental Medicine

The Graduate School:

  • Integrity and Professionalism Ceremony, 10 a.m., Alumni Center ballroom, reception immediately following

College of Allied Health Sciences

  • Dental Hygiene Program, clinic demonstrations and building tour, 10 a.m. to noon, Dental Building, Room 4354
  • Physical Therapy Program, brunch, 10:30 a.m., Health Sciences Building lobby; White Coat Ceremony, Health Sciences Building, Room 1222
  • Medical Laboratory, Imaging and Radiologic Sciences, White Coat Ceremony, 11 a.m., Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1833 Broad St.
  • Respiratory Therapy, brunch, 11:30 a.m., Health Sciences Building, Room 4304; tour and demonstrations, noon to 1 p.m., Health Sciences Building, Room 4361
  • Welcome ceremony, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium lobby
  • Occupational Therapy, Pinning Ceremony and department tours, 1:45 p.m., Health Sciences Building, Room 1222
  • Physician Assistant, White Coat Ceremony, 1:45 p.m., Lee Auditorium

Medical College of Georgia

  • White Coat Ceremony, 2 p.m., Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

For more information about Family Day activities, contact the Office of Student Life and Engagement, 706-737-1610 or visit, gru.edu/parents.






College update: What’s new around campus

From new programs to new people, the colleges around campus have some exciting new changes for the faculty and students for the fall.

College of Allied Health Sciences

The College of Allied Health Sciences is excited about the new school year and what the college has to offer students, both returning and new. One of the big changes is the appointment of Dr. Abiodun Akinwuntan as Associate Dean for Research.

“Under Dr. Akinwuntan’s energetic leadership, our college has seen remarkable growth in research productivity, value, support, and financial sustainability,” said Dr. Andrew Balas, Dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences. “I am delighted to support the review committee’s unanimous decision to make his position permanent.”

Also a CAHS Advisory Board has been developed that will inform strategic planning for the college, including development and implementation of short- and long-term goals, community outreach and service, and to garner support for education and research.

Upcoming events:

  • Dean’s State of the College Address – Sept. 23
  • Allied Health Professions Week – Nov. 3-7
  • Dean’s Research Seminar Series (ongoing) – Mark Tarr, EVP/COO of HealthSouth, Aug. 28
  • White Coat Ceremony – Family Day, Oct. 11, for Medical Laboratory Imaging and Radiological Sciences, Physician Assistant, and Physical Therapy
  • Pinning Ceremony – Family Day, Oct. 11, for Occupational Therapy

New faces and people in new places include:

  • Ana Thompson named Department Chair in Dental Hygiene
  • Pam Kearney named Occupational Therapy Program Director
  • Director Mallory Lanier is the first faculty hired for the new Low Vision Rehabilitation Clinic
  • Director Amanda Behr with the Clinic for Prosthetic Restoration that is opening
College of Dental Medicine

As the College of Dental Medicine expands its class size from 80 current first-year students to 85 incoming freshmen this fall, it will hold classes in the brand-new Education Commons building, with its state-of-the-art simulation laboratory, two large flexible classrooms, a café, student lounge, and a variety of study environments to accommodate up to 300 students.

The College will educate 320 students total in all four classes – on the way to a goal of 400 total students by 2016. In the past 45 years, 2,254 DMDs have earned their degrees.

New Vice Dean Named

Dr. Kevin Frazier, Professor in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, has been appointed Vice Dean of the College of Dental Medicine, effective Aug. 11. Dr. Frazier currently teaches in the department and maintains a general practice in the Dental Associates clinic.

New Faculty

  • Dr. Maria Paula Gandolfi Paranhos, Instructor, Department of General Dentistry
  • Dr. Jeffrey Hodd, Assistant Professor, Department of General Dentistry
  • Dr. Amany Tawfik, Assistant Professor, Department of Oral Biology-Anatomy
College of Education

The College of Education is proud to announce five new certificate programs: Sport Coaching, Active Aging, Health Professions Educator, Advanced Counselor Education, and Advanced School Counseling, and we expect to launch our new EdD in 2015. The College’s Literacy Center has also gained national recognition from the National Reading Styles Institute. The Department of Kinesiology and Health Science has joined the American Kinesiology Association. We are leading the redesign of educator preparation programs with an innovative pilot program, in conjunction with Richmond County Schools, for teachers in training. To combat math illiteracy in girls and to introduce girls to college and career possibilities, Women in Philanthropy awarded the GRU Literacy Center a grant to host the Path 2 Math 4 Girls yearlong mathematics camp for girls in grades 5 to 8 in Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie, and Burke counties. Path 2 Math 4 Girls will begin Aug. 16 and run through March.

For the second year, the Georgia Regents University College of Education’s Instructional Resource Center will partner with the CSRA Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) to provide area media specialists with technology training, professional collaboration, and networking opportunities. Workshops will be Sept. 16, Nov. 18, and Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to noon in University Hall, room 221, on the GRU Summerville Campus. The college will also host a Teaching With Primary Sources workshop, sponsored in part by Waynesburg University, on Oct. 11. The professional development workshop helps teachers use a rich reservoir of digitized primary source materials to design challenging, high-quality instruction.

New faculty

  • Cody Morris
  • Christopher (Chris) Mojock
  • Rebecca Stone
  • Dr. Margaux Brown
  • Dr. Kathryn Henderson
  • Dr. Megan Buning (as of Jan. 2014)
  • Dr. Denise Lenares-Solomon (as of Nov. 2013)
  • Nicoetta (Niki) Christodoulou
  • Mary (Molly) Quinn

Returning faculty, after a one-year leave of absence

  • Dr. Laura Russ
College of Nursing

After 70 years of excellence and innovation in academic nursing at GRU and legacies, we are embarking on an exciting journey into the College of Nursing’s eighth decade. This fall, we realize our largest enrollment to date with more than 800 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students taking classes online, here in Augusta and on our Athens campus. For the first three years, we will focus on building the next generation of faculty who will usher nursing education into the future. A cadre of technologically savvy teachers, researchers, and practitioners will embrace the best practices in classroom pedagogy to lead emerging trends in health care. Together, we will ensure the success of our “Eighth Decade” continuing in a tradition of excellence and with an eye toward innovation.

Dr. Annette Bourgault assumed the role of interim Assistant Dean for Assessment and Development on Aug. 1. The position will include developing competencies among all employees, initially working with new and seasoned faculty to assess and facilitate development of core teaching competencies.

New Faces

  • Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” NeSmith has been appointed Chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.
  • Dr. Stephanie Wright has been appointed Director of the Clinical Nurse Leader Program.
  • Dr. Julie Zadinsky has been appointed Director of the PhD in Nursing Program.
  • Shena Gazaway joined the College of Nursing faculty as Instructor in the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing.
  • Michael Stevenson joined the CON Office of Academic and Student Affairs as Administrator.

Upcoming events

  • White Coat Ceremony: Aug. 22 at 2 p.m., Christenberry Fieldhouse – Students entering the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science-Clinical Nurse Leader programs will be presented white coats to mark the beginning of their journey into nursing. Family and friends along with CON faculty and staff will be on hand to celebrate with the honorees.
  • State of the College Address: Oct. 3, 1 p.m. – EC-1210 – Dr. Marion will recap accomplishments of the last year and discuss recent developments and plans for the future of the College of Nursing.
  • 2014 CON Fall Convocation (end of fall semester – date/location TBA) – Will celebrate students completing their programs of study in December.
College of Science and Mathematics

The College of Science and Mathematics welcomes 29 freshmen into the Medical Scholars Program and four into the Dental Scholars Program. These programs attract outstanding students and afford them the opportunity to achieve their BS and MD or BS and DMD degrees in only seven years. In each instance, students will spend their first three years in pursuit of the Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology through the Department of Biological Sciences. The Department has recently hired Elizabeth Gorman to be the Program Manager. She will oversee all aspects of the undergraduate portion.

Coming up, the College will host a Welcome Dinner for the incoming freshman class of Medical and Dental Scholars in the JSAC Ballroom on Monday, Aug 25. And the Department of Chemistry and Physics is co-sponsoring a three-part seminar series titled “Materials Science Research Seminar Series Fall 2014.”

The college also welcomes five new research-intensive, tenure-track faculty:

Department of Biological Sciences

  • Dr. Jennifer Bradford — studies NF-kB signaling in breast cancer tumor-associated macrophage communication.

Department of Chemistry and Physics

  • Dr. Iryna Lebedyeva — primary research interest: identification and design of novel chemical entities in early drug discovery.
  • Dr. Theja De Silva — research focuses on developing mathematical models to understand the behavior of condensed matter materials.

Department of Mathematics

  • Eric Numfors — research interests: applied mathematics, mathematical biology & ecology, optimal control, mathematical modeling, immuno-epidemiology, eco-epidemiology, numerical analysis, ordinary & partial differential equations with applications to population and diseases.

Department of Psychological Sciences

  • Laurence Miller — research focus: use of behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroscience techniques to examine mechanisms that mediate the function of brain reward systems, with particular interest in drug abuse and pain.
Hull College of Business

The James M. Hull College of Business is kicking off the fall semester with three new faculty members: Dr. Michael Dugan, The Peter S. Knox III Distinguished Chair in Accounting; Dr. Kevin Cain, management; and Dr. Harley Eades, computer science.

Hull College has launched and begun recruiting students for the school’s first MBA option aimed specifically for graduates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. The STEM-MBA Option is a 15-month program focused on the management and commercialization of emerging industries in energy, biotechnology, health care, information, and manufacturing technologies.

The business school also has several events planned for the semester including its annual Accounting Week as well as the Russell A. Blanchard Lecturer in Ethics program being held Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom. This year’s ethics speaker will be Cynthia Cooper, a best-selling author and former accounting executive at WorldCom who uncovered $9 billion in fraud in the company’s accounting books.

Medical College of Georgia

The Medical College of Georgia, the state’s public medical school, starts the new year with 230 new students – the nation’s eighth largest freshman medical school class – representing nine states and 47 Georgia counties.

“This is a bright, already accomplished, and well-rounded group of medical students, and we are so pleased to have them here,” said Dr. Peter F. Buckley, MCG Dean.

The Class of 2018 at MCG’s main campus in Augusta will be the first to learn in the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, MCG’s new academic home as well as a state-of-the art facility for interprofessional and dental education. The Education Commons, which should be opening its doors to students in September, will provide a dynamic and eclectic learning environment that includes huge, 300-seat, two-story classrooms; small, intimate learning communities; and an exceptional simulation lab that gives students early, realistic patient experience.

The medical school also starts the new year with a new academic department: the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine headed by neuroscientist Dr. Lin Mei. Also, in the last academic year, nearly 100 new faculty members have been recruited with a broad range of expertise from children’s heart defects to pulmonary biology to systemic fungal infections and immunology.

Students also have an unprecedented number of dual degree offerings. In addition to the longstanding MD/PhD, they can opt for an MD/MBA in collaboration with the Hull College of Business and an MD/MPH in collaboration with The Graduate School. The 40 freshmen at the Medical Partnership campus in Athens, a second, four-year campus in collaboration with the University of Georgia, have dual degree options available through UGA.

The college is also welcoming many exciting new faculty members including:

  • Dr. Jose A. Vazquez, who was named Chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases and is an expert in systemic fungal infections and bacterial infections.
  • Dr. Gurmukh Singh, who is a Professor of Pathology and is credited with the discovery of two genes in the lung.
  • Dr. W. Chris Sheils, who is a 1972 graduate of the Medical College and member of the Radiation Therapy Center.
  • Dr. Todd Burgbacher, who is the region’s first fellowship-trained emergency medical services physician and is now part of the first-response team managing the worst accidents and disasters in the Augusta area.

Coming up this semester, we have the MCG Alumni Association, Athens Regional Reception, on Aug. 28, the MCG Foundation 60th Anniversary Celebration on Sept. 6, and the White Coat Ceremony on Oct. 11.

Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

As always, Pamplin College is flush with activities and excitement in the new school year.

One of the big additions this year will be renowned jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joining the Music Department as an Artist in Residence. He will also be fundamental in the college’s new Jazz Track being offered this year.

Also around the college, the Byrd Gallery will host an “Artist Activist” showcase, which opened Aug. 14 and focuses on women’s rights, race, poverty, LBGT rights, animal rights, war, environmental change, and the justice system. Events include a talk with artist Sue Coe on Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. and the opening reception at 6 p.m.

The Department of History, Anthropology, and Philosophy is pleased to welcome new faculty members to its ranks. Dr. Andrew Goss joined GRU this July as Chair of the Department. He is a historian of Asia, with a specialty in the history of science, whose research ranges from the history of the Dutch empire in Asia to the workings of the modern pharmaceutical business. The Department is also glad to welcome back Dr. Wendy Turner who, after a year as interim Chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages, has returned to devote herself to researching and teaching about the history of medicine in Medieval Europe.

In the Political Science Department, the Center for Public Service and the Political Science Club have teamed up to offer TurboVote to GRU students. TurboVote makes it easier than ever to register. Oct. 6 is the last day to register. Students can go to gru.turbovote.org and register online. The Department will be hosting a program the week of Sept. 22 on GRU internships in Washington, D.C., with the Office of Governmental Relations and Career Services. We placed five interns in D.C. this summer and will have one intern during fall 2014.

And in Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work, Dr. Jessica Ziembroski is joining us as Director of Social Work. Also, Intimate Partner Violence will be taught as a cross-listed CRJU and PADM Graduate Class for the first time in the fall by Dr. Allison Foley. And Dr. Dave Hunt is teaching one of the Inquiry courses – Food for Sport: Connecting Culture, Sports, and Food.

The Graduate School

The Graduate School is looking forward to greeting new and returning graduate students at a Welcome Reception on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Under the leadership of Dean Watsky, The Graduate School has expanded to acquire an array of gifted faculty and new programs over the last year. Eighty-eight new faculty members were added to the eight colleges now included within The Graduate School.

The Graduate School continues to offer leadership and support to more than 20 master’s, doctoral, and specialist programs in biomedical research, biostatistics, business, nursing, kinesiology, public administration, medical illustration, and psychology. The school is looking forward to another great year and is continually impressed with the staff and faculty who pave the way for students. They lead by example as engaging instructors, mentors, and leaders in research and education. Each goes above and beyond to make The Graduate School at GRU truly “A Fit for Life.”


Remembering Kath Engler, sculptor behind several GRU statues

Kathleen “Kath” Girdler Engler, the beloved Augusta artist behind many of Augusta’s most well-known public art pieces, including three at GRU, passed away Wednesday.

Engler’s legacy will live on in the Maxwell Theatre’s “Cultural Triad,” The Greenblatt Library’s “The Graduate,” and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia’s “The Nature of Healing.”

“I love doing the big sculptures. They’re the things I’m leaving behind when I’m gone,” she once told Augusta Magazine. “There’s so much more of me in my sculpture than there ever will be of me in my grave.”

In addition to being an award-winning sculptor, Engler also was a nurse, fitness trainer, and active volunteer. She created Run with Art camps for area children that blended art and fitness to show the fun side of exercise, and she volunteered regularly at Georgia Regents Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, where she made art with both adolescent psychiatric and cancer patients.

To read her complete obituary, visit: legacy.com/obituaries/augustachronicle/obituary.aspx?n=kathleen-engler&pid=171308115&fhid=5407

Pipeline program designed to increase enrollment in MD/PhD programs

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A new pipeline program between Georgia Regents University and the University of California, Merced, is aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented and minority students who want to become physician/scientists.

Four students from UC Merced spent nine weeks working and studying at GRU this summer as part of the Undergraduate Physician Scientist Research Training or UPSTaRT Program. Program creators hope it will pique their interests in applying to medical school, a biomedical research program, or an MD/PhD program.

“We are committed to developing a diverse population of students for our medical school, graduate programs, and our MD/PhD program,” says Dr. Jennifer Pollock, Weiss Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology and Director of the GRU MD/PhD Program. “Programs like these demonstrate that commitment. Having physicians who are also scientists is important to advancing health care because they help translate biomedical research into clinical practice.”

UPSTaRT developed out of a long standing friendship and working relationship between Pollock and Dr. Rudy Ortiz, a researcher at UC Merced. Both universities were ideally situated to support such a program – with UC Merced’s increasing population of underrepresented and minority students and GRU faculty’s experience with mentoring young scientists and extramural research.  UC Merced opened in 2005, but currently lacks the biomedical faculty to support such a program there, Pollock says.

Participants, who were identified by undergraduate research mentors and had completed required pre-requisite coursework in biology, were exposed to a one-week lab introductory “boot camp” at UC Merced that familiarized them with lab safety, library resources, research ethics, and other research basics. They then traveled across the country to GRU, where they worked alongside GRU MD/PhD students and physician/scientists for eight weeks on research projects, from blood vessel remodeling in the brains of diabetic rats, to hypertension to chronic kidney disease.

“I have always been fascinated by figuring out how things work,” says Carly Stilphen, who recently graduated with a degree in biological sciences from UC Merced and studied with GRU hypertension researcher, Dr. Paul O’Connor, this summer. “I also realize that medicine cannot move forward without research and being part of both sides of that piqued my interest.”

“I grew up with two PhD’s as parents,” adds Steven Duval Ruilova, a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology at UC Merced who studied with Pollock. “It adds to our goals to be around these people and gives us a novel view of research. I am building a great foundation here.”

Students also attended educational workshops on networking, time-management, and how to write a research abstract; participated in Grand Rounds sessions for the Medical College of Georgia Department Of Medicine; and attended interview counseling sessions and an actual interview for admission to MCG, which would serve as their actual interview should they decide to attend medical school in Augusta.

“I have been interested in medicine since I was a kid,” says Julio Flores, a senior UC Merced who studied with GRU Physiologist Adviye Ergul. “I did research last summer and became interested how things actually work. I love learning and experimenting and this experience allowed both.”

“It has been great working with students and graduates of the MD/PhD program here,” adds Beverly Li, a senior at UC Merced who studied with GRU Hypertension Researcher Dr. Jennifer Sullivan. “We want to become those students.”

Participants also received a $2,800 stipend, on-campus housing, transportation to and from Georgia, and a travel allowance to attend the 2014 Experimental Biology Conference in San Diego.