The Harry and Harriet Grandis Family Foundation announced a $2.1 million gift this month that will endow a full-tuition scholarship in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and an endowed chair to support lung cancer research.
In their lifetimes, Harry and Harriet Grandis were devoted to supporting medical education and cancer research. To honor the legacy of the longtime Richmond philanthropists, their daughters, Betty Sue Grandis LePage and Nancy Grandis White, announced the gift Nov. 9 at a luncheon.
Their decision to support cancer research also was inspired by their late sister, Linda Grandis Blatt.
An endowed chair and research fund at VCU Massey Cancer Center will bear Blatt’s name. The family’s gift brings Massey’s total funds raised through the ongoing $100 million Research for Life Campaign to more than $85 million.
Allyson Kennedy researches what occurs in development to create human birth defects such as cleft lip.
Yet for a research project, Kennedy and her research partners employed a technique most often used to examine fossil records.
“And we read a lot of papers that were outside of our field to get an idea of how to best apply our method,” she said, citing works in ecology, paleontology and even psychology.
Stephen Via hopes to use his research to identify explosives hidden in soil by that soil’s plant life. In addition to plant physiology and ecology, Via and his team employ physics to examine how light reflects off the vegetation.
“We’re approaching soil chemistry, how the soil compounds go into the plants, how they’re then altering the plants’ health and function, and then how we can detect all of this,” he said.
Kennedy and Via are Ph.D. students in VCU Life Sciences’ Integrative Life Sciences (ILS) program. Each presented at Monday’s fourth annual ILS Student Research Showcase, which featured four student presentations and a poster session with 11 student presenters.
All of the research on display exemplified what Thomas Huff, Ph.D., VCU’s vice provost for life sciences and research, uses as a chief characterization of VCU’s ILS program: “radical interdisciplinarity.”
Virginia Commonwealth University has ranked in the nation’s top 20 percent of military-friendly campuses among colleges, universities and trade schools.
Victory Media’s fifth annual Military Friendly Schools list recognizes schools that most embrace military-affiliated students. It also serves to educate service members on which campus best fits their needs.
“It’s one thing we are really proud of,” said Brooks Taylor, the public relations and marketing specialist for VCU’s Military Student Services. “We have recognized (veterans’) needs and hope that we accommodate them as best as we can.”
Since the end of the Iraq War and the winding down of combat operations in Afghanistan, military veterans have become the fastest growing population in American colleges. According to Department of Veterans Affairs reports, nearly 1 million military members and their families have enrolled in college in the past four years.
Virginia Commonwealth University pre-med student Anand Gandhi spends much of his spare time volunteering to work at local free clinics. He cares for some of the city’s most vulnerable, including homeless patients, suffering from HIV and AIDS, heart disease, substance abuse and hypertension.
While Gandhi felt that providing treatment was important, he desired to do more to help patients prevent illnesses. He came up with a simple solution that could have a major impact on improving the health of his patients and others suffering from chronic illnesses.
With help from a $41,000 grant from the VCU Quest Innovation Fund, Gandhi worked with VCU partners and the Daily Planet to develop and implement a program called HELP, also known as the Health Education Literacy Program, for underserved patients.
Katie Chapin knew they had a good idea. She just didn’t know how good. Chapin was part of a team of students in the VCU Brandcenter wrestling with a project for a local branding effort. Venture Richmond, an organization devoted to enhancing the vitality of the Richmond community, was exploring ways to brand Richmond as a way of building pride within the city and attracting attention outside of it.
Chapin’s class had been tapped to develop concepts. Chapin and her partners, who included Jarrod Higgins, Michael Whitten, Cecilia Bogardus, Pankaj Rawat and Sara Cobaugh, had come up with a deceptively simple concept: A logo with the letters “RVA” that was a sort of blank canvas, open to interpretation by artists, businesses, organizations, anyone who wanted to place their own personal stamp on it. The idea, they figured, was that the brand would be the community’s in the most authentic way possible.
“It was a way to give people a chance to own that term,” Chapin said. “Richmond means different things to different people.”
It was supposed to be a routine checkup. Sure, she was starting to squint a little more when her first-grade teacher wrote letters on the chalkboard. But nothing could have prepared Uzoamaka Ibeh or her family for what was about to happen that day at the eye doctor’s office. “Cover your left eye and read these letters for me,” the doctor said.
L-P-E-D. Ibeh nailed it. P-E-C-F-D. Perfect again.
“OK, great,” the doctor said. “Now cover your right eye and read me these letters.”
Ibeh obeyed, and immediately everything went black, even though she still had her left eye open.
“I can’t see anything,” Ibeh told the doctor. “I don’t even know what’s there.”
Alumni mother-daughter Laura LaFontaine White and Patricia White Sharrow
Patricia White Sharrow (B.S.’79/P) and her mother, Laura LaFontaine White (B.S.’48/N), recently opened Battletown Pharmacy in Berryville. In addition to paying tribute to the late Eugene V. White (B.S.’50/P), they are carrying on his passion for independent pharmacy.
Learn more about the White family’s history and tradition.
The Richard M. Bracken Chair in Health Administration was endowed in 2013. Richard M. Bracken (M.H.A.’77/AHP), chairman and chief executive officer of HCA, generously established the Chair to support the educational and research activities of the Department of Health Administration. VCU held an Oct. 24 Investiture Ceremony at the Scott House to recognize the generosity of Bracken and to invest Carolyn A. Watts, Ph.D., as the inaugural Richard M. Bracken Endowed Chair. Fifty guests attended a reception to celebrate this special occasion.
Don’t have men’s basketball season tickets? Don’t live in Richmond but still want to cheer on your Rams?
Well, you’re in luck! This season, almost all VCU men’s basketball games will be shown on TV. See the schedule now.
VCU Alumni also is traveling to all road games for pregame socials. See the Rams on the Road schedule to see if we’re coming to your town!
Help VCU men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart and his wife, Maya, raise funds and awareness for the FRIENDS Association for Children (FRIENDS RVA), a nonprofit that has supported Richmond kids for more than 140 years.
How can you help?
Buy one of two awesome limited-edition RVA FRIENDS T-shirts for $20 by Nov. 30 through the Bonfire Funds website (https://www.bonfirefunds.com/friendsrva/?r=18118).
When you use this site and click “BUY A SHIRT,” your T-shirt purchase will be a part of the VCU Alumni team!
Great prizes are up for grabs for the top fundraisers. They include dinner with Shaka, a Limited Edition Shaka t-shirt, a Samsung 55” SMART LED TV and other one-of-a-kind rewards.
Help the VCU Alumni team win the big prize: The team that sells the most shirts wins Shaka for an hour. He can give a motivational speech at your next company meeting or lead your group in an hourlong workout. It’s up to you!
Let’s go Rams and show Shaka our support.