Volume 40 | November 2020
Surgical Notes
Interim Department Administrator
In case you haven't heard, Katie Golob is having a baby! While she is out, Biliana Ivanova will be serving as interim department administrator.

Biliana is the Associate Administrator for the Divisions of Surgical Oncology and Colorectal Surgery with the department. She can be reached at Biliana.Ivanova@vcuhealth.org.

Amanda Jabri (amanda.jabri@vcuhealth.org) and Jessica Carey (jessica.carey@vcuhealth.org) are also available for additional support.
Welcome Dr. Trevino!
The Department of Surgery would like to welcome Dr. Jose Trevino, our newly appointed Chair for the Division of Surgical Oncology and Massey Surgeon in Chief.

Trevino comes to VCU from the University of Florida-Gainesville, where he has taught since 2011 as an associate professor of surgery with tenure in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Pancreaticobiliary Surgery. He also comes with Graduate Faculty Status in the Department of Cancer Biology and Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Florida and is an adjunct associate professor of surgery at the University of Illinois-Chicago. 

To read more about Dr. Trevino, check out this write-up from Massey Cancer Center.

Welcome, Dr. Trevino!
Novel Therapy Improves Brain Repair
Individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) often experience learning and memory difficulties, depression, pain, and anxiety, and any existing therapies to alleviate the symptoms are either ineffective or come with a multitude of side-effects. Now, the Department of Surgery’s Neurotrauma laboratory, led by Dr. Kirsty Dixon, has identified a novel therapy to improve the brain’s repair under pathological conditions. The therapy is injected under the skin once weekly starting an hour following injury or insult, and selectively prevents the spread of the injury across the brain without preventing the brain’s natural repair responses, leading to improved brain outcomes. This therapy has no known side-effects, and has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in humans. VCU now owns several patents for its use under various pathological conditions, and in collaboration with her industry partner, Dr. Dixon is seeking funding for clinical trials to investigate the use of this therapy in individuals with traumatic brain injury. 

Dr. Dixon also collaborates with Dr. Laxmikant Deshpande (VCU Neurology) to investigate the use of this therapy to improve the brain’s outcomes in a rodent model of Gulf War Illness, a condition afflicting many Veterans who fought in the Iraq Gulf War and who now display a multi-cluster of symptoms, many of which overlap with traumatic brain injury. Funding for these initial Gulf War Illness studies commenced September 2020.
Close the Loop BRA5k
A group from the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, led by Lauren Nigro, MD, recently participated in the Close the Loop BRA5k. As a VCU team, they raised over $1500, more than tripling their $500 goal.

Dr. Nigro writes, "I wanted to build this team to help spread the word and support for improving the breast cancer journey for women (and men). These efforts will go towards the overall mission of educating and empowering patients on reconstruction options."

Special congratulations to Dr. Jon Miller (PGY4) and Lauren Powell (MS4) for landing first place!
CDC-Funded Violence Prevention Studies
"Gun violence continues to be among the five leading causes of death for people under age 64, with 109 people dying each day from firearm-related injuries in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To find ways to address gun violence, the CDC recently awarded 10 three-year grants that seek to investigate how to prevent firearm-related violence and injuries. One of these was awarded to a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher, another involves VCU collaborators and is being led by a former VCU doctoral student, and a third was awarded to a former post-doctoral researcher at VCU.

Nicholas Thomson, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine and the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received one of the CDC grants. Thomson is the director of research at VCU’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program, and was awarded a $1.95 million grant for his study, 'Preventing Retaliatory Gun Violence in Violently Injured Adults: A RCT of a Hospital-Based Intervention...'"

To continue reading this story from VCU News, click here.
Robotic Surgery in the Time of COVID-19
Congratulations to Drs. Lance Hampton and Riccardo Autorino for their recent publication in the Journal of Urology.

Co-authored with medical student, Brandee Branche and visiting research scholars, Drs. Umberto Carbonara and Fabio Crocerossa, this paper aims to "assess the issues and challenges in the field of robotic urological surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss current and future solutions."

To read their paper, click here.
Colorectal Surgery Fellowship Match Announcement
Congratulations to Jill Peysha, MD for matching into the Colon and Rectal Surgery Fellowship at Allegheny Health Network's St. Vincent Health Center in Erie, Pennsylvania!

Dr. Peysha completed her general surgery residency here at VCU and has since served as a clinical instructor with the Divisions of Colon and Rectal Surgery as well as Acute Care Surgical Services.

Congratulations, Dr. Peysha!
APP Task Force
In response to a townhall session held by Surgery Administration, a taskforce comprised of departmental advanced practice providers was established, chaired by Lesley Coots, FNP, to review and address concerns, challenges, and needs pertaining to the APPs.

After many meetings to discuss the core themes discovered during the townhall, the task force was able to present a letter of request to Dr. Kasirajan and Katie Golob with their proposals.

Administration is already making changes in response to their requests and plans to provide another update to the APPs by early December.

Thank you for the time and energy that the task force put into this effort and to Lesley Coots for her wonderful leadership.
Postdoctoral Fellowship
Congratulations to Ria Fyffe-Freil for her recent acceptance into the postdoctoral fellowship in clinical chemistry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota!

Dr. Fyffe-Freil, a PhD student working with Dr. Martin Mangino, Associate Chair for Basic Research, will join Mayo early next year.

As a reminder, don't forget to make plans to attend Dr. Fyffe-Freil's oral defense scheduled for November 13th. Information about this event can be found by clicking here and under Upcoming Events below.
The Definition of Faculty Must Evolve: A Call to Action
Brian Kaplan, MD, Professor with the Division of Surgical Oncology and Program Director for the Surgical Oncology Fellowship, recently published a paper in Academic Medicine titled "The Definition of Faculty Must Evolve: A Call to Action."

In the paper, Dr. Kaplan and his co-authors discuss the many changes in academic medicine and the resulting need for a revamp of what it means to be faculty at such academic institutions.

To read this paper, click here.
Dr. Kasirajan Dad-Jokes: Thanksgiving Edition
What did the turkey say to the computer? Google, google!

What did the baby corn say to the mama corn? Where's popcorn?

Why didn't the cook season the turkey? There was no thyme!

What smells best at a Thanksgiving dinner? Your nose!

If pilgrims traveled on the Mayflower, what do college students travel on? Scholarships!
New Faculty
Katherine Klein, MD, MS
Assistant Clinical Professor
Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Klein received her master's and medical degrees from the University of Toledo where she also completed her general surgery residency. She then joined the University of Michigan where she completed her fellowship in surgical critical care and then VCU for her fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery. Dr. Klein's research interests include advances in heart transplantation, proximal tubular injury and patients with renal artery stenosis, and RV failure associated with LVAD implantation.
Raphael Louie, MD, MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor
Surgical Oncology

Dr. Louie received his MPH and medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He then joined the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for residency and then returned to UNC for a fellowship in complex general surgical oncology and traineeship in geriatric oncology. His interests include breast cancer disparities and outcomes research, as well as disparities in care for the aging surgical oncology patient population.
Jose Trevino, MD, FACS
Associate Professor & Chair
Surgical Oncology

Dr. Trevino joins us from the University of Florida-Gainesville, where he has taught since 2011 as an associate professor of surgery with tenure in the Division of Surgical Oncology and Pancreaticobiliary Surgery. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois where he also completed his general surgery residency. Dr. Trevino completed a research fellowship in cancer biology, tumor signaling, and biology at MD Anderson and his surgical oncology fellowship at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. His interests include cancer health disparities, pancreatic cancer biology and tumor microenvironment, cancer cachexia, novel therapeutics and how they relate to pancreatic cancer health equity.
Employee Spotlight
Meet Alexa Rosswog! Alexa joined the pediatric urology team just over 4 months ago where she serves as an administrative assistant. She provides support to the pediatric urology faculty and staff to include calendar management, credentialing, expense reimbursement, and other administrative duties.

When asked about her favorite part of this position, she responded: "My favorite and most challenging part of my role is anticipating the needs of the faculty and staff so they don’t even have to think about remembering when this or that is due. This can be challenging in a new role where I have never worked in a health system before, but quite satisfying when I am able to complete tasks without ever being asked."

Outside of work, you can find Alexa exploring the city's breweries, coffee shops, farmer's markets and thrift stores as well as working her side gig as a wedding makeup artist.
Monthly Wellness Note
It comes as no surprise that working parents across the world are stressing as they strive to balance work and home responsibilities. This stressful balance is exacerbated by our children's virtual learning due to COVID-19. Many of our colleagues here at VCU Surgery are facing these same pressures so we wanted to share an amazing article detailing tips and tricks for parents while distance learning.

Click here to download the article from Common Sense Education.
Upcoming Events
Research Open Forum
Monthly, 2nd Mondays
4:00 - 5:00 PM

All are encouraged to attend!
Have a story to tell? Contact jessica.carey@vcuhealth.org
Department of Surgery | Virginia Commonwealth University | (804)828-7874 | surgweb@vcu.edu