VCU names Michigan State University’s Marsha Rappley to health system CEO post

Marsha D. Rappley, M.D.

Marsha D. Rappley, M.D.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner, Michigan State University

Virginia Commonwealth University today announced that Marsha D. Rappley, M.D., will serve as Virginia Commonwealth University vice president for health sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System, effective Aug. 15.

In the position, Rappley will lead Virginia’s most comprehensive academic health sciences enterprise, which includes the VCU health system hospitals and outpatient clinics; the physician practice plan; the Medicaid health plan; the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Allied Health Professions; and the Massey Cancer Center.

Rappley currently serves as dean of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, with clinical, research and medical education operations at six campuses throughout the state that are affiliated with nine health systems and other health care providers.

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Blick Scholars Program announces 2015 awardees

Benjamin J. Darter, Ph.D.

Benjamin J. Darter, Ph.D.

Ten junior faculty members on the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia Campus have been named 2015 Blick Scholars for their medical research efforts.

Funded by the George and Lavinia Blick Research Fund, the Blick Scholars Program endowment is awarded every four years to a maximum of 10 junior faculty members on the MCV Campus. Blick Scholars are selected through a highly competitive nomination process that includes documented growth toward achievement of national or international recognition, a developing record of obtaining external research funding, collaborative scholarship and a primary faculty appointment in one of the health sciences schools. The awards provide $15,000 for each of the four years to support the research agenda of the Blick Scholars. The awards begin July 1.

Meet the 2015 scholars.

Dentistry: Alumnus receives honors for creating a ‘Top Workplace’

perkinsonThe following is an excerpt from an article by the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

At age 70, VCU Alumni President Baxter Perkinson (D.D.S.’70/D) says he “probably should have retired by now.”

“But I just can’t stand not going to work,” said Perkinson, who still keeps hours at the dental practice he started in 1973, now called Virginia Family Dentistry.

In four decades, the practice has grown far beyond what Perkinson said he ever imagined it would be. It now has 11 offices in the Richmond area with more than 300 employees, including 52 dentists.

Perkinson started with just himself and one assistant.

As the practice grew, Perkinson said he realized it would be important for the dentists that joined to have some ownership. So, he started to take on partners in the practice.

“We want to always be dentist-owned and dentist operated,” he said. “There is a new paradigm out there where big conglomerates and corporations are buying single practices and calling them a group. My group, which grew one office at a time, is a true family.”

Perkinson said his philosophy as a leader centers on the golden rule of treating others as you wish to be treated.

Dentistry: Alumnus recounts his residency

Alumnus Wells Anderson (D.D.S.’60/D) recounts his experiences and the lessons he learned as a resident at the VCU School of Dentistry:

In April of 1960, I was close to graduating from the School of Dentistry at the Medical College of Virginia. I recognized that before attempting to develop a private practice, I first needed to further develop my skills and talents. I had had a great dental education and needed to build upon that.

When a new dental residency was being established at McGuire Veterans’ Hospital, Dean Dr. Harry Lyons asked me if I would be interested. As the first resident, I would have the privilege of developing the new program so I said yes and almost immediately was 100% involved.

I set up rotations through Operative, Prosthetics, Crown and Bridge, Oral Surgery, Oral Pathology, Observation of Head and Neck surgery in the Hospital, Hematology, Photography and a half day every two weeks observing and learning in private dental practices.

I can’t tell you how valuable this year was to me. Much technique and financial and practice management knowledge was gleaned from the half day visits to the private practices of Dr. Fitzhugh, Dr. Butterworth, Dr. Jennings and others. Dr. Jennings, a pedodontist, had a wonderful way with children and I used his techniques and vocabulary my entire dental career. Dr. John Salley in Oral Pathology and Dr. Elmer Bear, Dr. Henry Kalwick and Dr. Carl Andersen consulted one morning a week in Oral Surgery and Pathology. Dr. Andersen, head of the department, tutored me in administration and also put me in charge of the supply room (which badly needed organizing). The dentists in operative and crown and bridge shared their knowledge and techniques as did the technicians in the dental lab. I did dental care on many quad and paraplegics and frequently tended to dental emergencies on hospitalized patients. The familiarity acquired from this hospital care allowed me to be on the Visiting Staff of Champaign’s Burnham City Hospital for more than seven years, but I realized in order to continue I needed more experience, so I withdrew.

My only regret was that I had no practice with Endodontics during my residency — I don’t believe that service was offered through the clinic at that time.

I understand from Dr. Robert Bigelow, who completed his McGuire residence in 2009, that it was for him and is now a two year program.

That means you can learn twice as much!

VCU Research Weeks 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University provost Gail Hackett, Ph.D., knows that research isn’t just for faculty members and doctoral candidates.

Addressing students April 22 at the VCU Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity, Hackett recalled how early forays into research helped determine her career path.

“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate,” she said. “That independent research did have a huge impact on me. It enriched my academic program as a psychology major and influenced my career choice as a researcher and faculty member.”

Organized by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, the symposium allowed undergraduates to share their investigations into everything from 3-D printing to how chemically profiling mixtures with pool chlorine and brake fluid can help authorities solve crimes of arson.

“What I see here is not just a room full of posters,” Hackett said. “What I see is the tangible evidence of what we mean when we talk about student success and academic rigor at VCU.”

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Dentistry: National scholarship helps students pursue service

Bryant Wooten

Bryant Wooten

Second-year VCU School of Dentistry student Bryant Wooten discovered his passion for helping underserved populations while volunteering at free dental clinics across North Carolina as an undergrad. “When I was assisting at the dental clinics, I found it a lot more rewarding and fun than just shadowing in a private practice setting,” he said.

Wooten and first-year dentistry student Qaiser Ahmed were awarded highly competitive scholarships from the National Health Service Corps to attend VCU School of Dentistry in return for a commitment to work at a NHSC-approved site in an underserved community after graduation.

“I’ve always enjoyed serving underserved areas and taking time out to give back,” Ahmed said.

Since 1972, the NHSC has connected 45,000 primary health care practitioners to communities with limited access to primary care. The scholarship pays tuition, fees, other educational costs, and provides a stipend while the students attend school. Service at one of the NHSC sites in urban, rural and frontier communities across the U.S. begins after graduation.

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Dentistry: Showcasing dental professor’s stunning nature photography

A new exhibit at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University will showcase a collection of nature photographs from around the world, shot by Rob Sabatini, D.D.S. (D.D.S.’81/D), assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics in the School of Dentistry.

The exhibit, “Wild Things/Far and Near,” will run from Feb. 18 until Sept. 30, and is free and open to the public.

“I have always enjoyed photography but was frustrated by limitations of the film format. Digital changed all of that for me but I still lacked focus,” Sabatini said. “Then one day in the winter of 2009 I visited the pipeline rapids downtown on the James and saw the great blue herons that gather there each year to breed. The next day I became a nature photographer with a particular fascination for wildlife.”

The exhibition features Sabatini’s photographs shot in Kenya, Alaska, the Amazon Basin in Brazil and New Mexico, as well as closer sites, such as Virginia, the Carolinas and Florida.

Several of the photographs show exotic animals in faraway countries, such as a leopard in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Yet those shots, Sabatini said, actually were the “easy ones.” His favorite shots, he said, were instead the ones of wood ducks, some taken as nearby as the Dutch Gap Conservation Area along the James River in Chester.

“The photos I treasure the most are the ones I worked the hardest for,” he said. “The process of studying a subject, finding it, waiting for it to do something interesting in perfect light, and not messing up the shot, results in personal treasures that cannot be replaced.”

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Third annual Battle for the Capital


The clock is ticking for the third annual Battle for the Capital!

Last year, your alma mater stomped the Spiders on the court AND in our alumni giving challenge. Help us do it again!

Make a gift (minimum: $5) online or through the Gold Line student calling program any time before midnight on game day, Feb. 25.

Visit to make your gift, learn more and follow the Battle live.