Volume 38 | July 31, 2020
Surgical Notes
VCU Medical Center Ranked #1 for 10th Consecutive Year
VCU Medical Center has been ranked number 1 in Richmond for the 10th consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report. Cardiology, heart surgery and urology specialties ranked among the top 50 in the country for 2020-21.

Special shout-outs to the outstanding teams in the Divisions of Urology and Cardiothoracic Surgery for this incredible accomplishment.

To read the full story, click here . To check out the report, click here .
Diversity Scholarship in Urology
"Historically, U.S. medical students have been overwhelmingly white. Although the field has been working toward the goal of building medical student bodies who better reflect the racial and ethnic makeup of the communities they serve, as of 2018-19, Black students comprised only about 7.1% of matriculants, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In some surgical fields like urology, the disparity is even more pronounced.

Lance Hampton, M.D., chair of the VCU School of Medicine Division of Urology, is taking the lead to build greater diversity in his own field. Hampton, director of robotic surgery and the Barbara and William B. Thalhimer, Jr., Professor of Urology, is championing the division’s new Diversity Scholars Program, which aims to embrace the principles of diversity and inclusion and offers expanded opportunities for medical students to gain exposure to urology..."

To read more, click here .
Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Congratulations to Drs. Mohammed Quader (Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery), Juan Torrado (Postdoctoral Scholar, Internal Medicine), Martin Mangino (Professor & Associate Chair for Basic Research), and Stefano Toldo (Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine) for their recent publication in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Their paper, titled "Temperature and Flow Rate Limit the Optimal Ex-Vivo Perfusion of the Heart - An Experimental Study," discusses the basic methods to optimize the preservation of hearts that are removed from donors under poor conditions that make the heart less likely to do well and less likely to be transplanted. This particular study looks at what temperature we use to pump the heart after it is removed to best reanimate it.

To read the paper, click here .
VCU & School of Medicine Faculty Committees
Congratulations to the faculty below on their appointments to the following faculty committees:

  • Emily Rivet, MD, MBA - School of Medicine Professionalism Committee
  • Laura Boomer, MD - University Faculty Senate
  • Chandra Bhati, MD - University Faculty Senate (Alternate)

Each of these appointments were based on peer nomination.

Well done, team!
Editorial by Former Urology Trainee
"As a child of the early 1980s, growing up in Baltimore, I would often stare at the speckled ceiling of the room my siblings and I shared and wondered why my family had to deal with basic struggles like obtaining food and keeping the heat on, at times warming the house with the oven. During my teenage years, I often questioned why people who grew up in urban America had similar problems, while these issues seemed nonexistent in more affluent areas. When I became an adult interested in pursuing medicine, I volunteered at several health fairs and realized quickly that many of the patients were from communities similar to mine; not infrequently, people I met had not received medical care in years, sometimes decades. These experiences, and others like them, revealed that the issues I would wonder about while staring at the ceiling were only a small portion of the concerns that communities like mine face daily.

During medical school, I was one of 5 African Americans in a class of 120 students. I listened with great discomfort and despair to countless lectures describing the health conditions that disproportionately harm African Americans. In none of these lectures, however, did any instructor explain or acknowledge what I had observed for many years—that access to care is a primary factor behind these disturbing statistics..."

To continue reading "Eradicating Racial Injustice in Medicine - If Not Now, When?", an incredible piece written by former Urology trainee Randy Vince Jr. MD, click here . (July 2020 JAMA)
Surgical Residencies Take On Social Media
The General Surgery residents have created a Twitter page to help promote their program. Follow them at @VCUGenSurgRes

Additionally, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery residents can now be followed on Instagram. Check them out here !

Our Urology team can also be followed on Instagram. Check them out here !
New Faculty
Arturo Cardounel, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Cardounel joins us from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he completed his cardiothoracic surgery residency. Prior to joining University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Cardounel completed his PhD here at VCU and his MD at the Ohio State University. He is currently pursing basic cardiovascular research that aligns with his clinical interest in heart failure. In this regard, he is building on his expertise in redox signaling to identify novel molecular pathways involved in the pathophysiology of right ventricular dysfunction.
Jill Peysha, MD
Colorectal Surgery

Dr. Peysha received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and then completed her residency here at VCU. Dr. Peysha has particular interest in trauma and acute care surgery as well as disorders of the colon and rectum to include rectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. She will jointly support the Divisions of Colorectal Surgery and Acute Care Surgical Services.
Mack Drake, DO
Assistant Clinical Professor
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Drake received his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine. He later completed his internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, residency at Virginia Tech, and his fellowships in trauma and critical care at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Dr. Drake's research interests include trauma and burn frailty and outcome measures, remote burn care in medically underserved regions, and critical care optimization of potential organ donors.
Lauren Nigro, MD
Assistant Professor
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Nigro received her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She then completed her Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery residency here at VCU and her fellowship in Breast and Microsurgical Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center. Dr. Nigro's clinical interests include autologous breast reconstruction. Her research interests include improving aesthetic and functional outcomes of implant-based and autologous breast reconstruction.
Employee Spotlight
Meet Hunter Harris who joins us from the Department of Care Coordination where he served as the Executive Secretary for over two years.

As Executive Assistant for Surgery Administration, Hunter will support both Dr. Kasirajan and Katie Golob in calendar management and executive support. He will also support credentialing efforts, specifically for our Advanced Practice Providers, space management, and other special projects. 

Outside of work, Hunter enjoys weightlifting, cooking, deep sea fishing, gardening, welding, working on cars, and playing with his dog, Ruby.

Welcome Hunter!
Monthly Wellness Note
The VCU Wellness team has put together a great list of activities and programs as part of the August Well-Being Program. Activities include pilates, mindful meditation, and a session on healthy eating presented by VCU HR and Massey. All sessions will be virtual so you can tune in from anywhere!

Click here to download the full schedule.
Upcoming Events
Research Open Forum
Monthly, 2nd Mondays
4:00 - 5:00 PM

All are encouraged to attend!
Have a story to tell? Contact [email protected]
Top Photo:
General Surgery Residents
Front Row: Saba Kurtom (PGY4)
Back Row Left to Right: Trevor Nordin (PGY1), Michael Mastria (PGY3), Nicholas Poulos (PGY1 - Ortho)
Department of Surgery | Virginia Commonwealth University | (804)828-7874 | [email protected]