First lady Michelle Obama speaks at VCU

First lady Michelle Obama spoke at VCU earlier today to announce a new initiative by the country’s leading medical colleges and universities to create a new generation of doctors and medical personnel.

From the VCU press release:

RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 11, 2012) – First lady Michelle Obama visited Virginia Commonwealth University on Wednesday to announce an initiative of the country’s top medical colleges and universities to create a new generation of doctors, medical schools and research facilities to ensure that service men and women receive the medical care they deserve.

The VCU School of Medicine was among 101 members of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) that signed a pledge to support “Joining Forces” with a commitment to pursue groundbreaking research in the areas of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and to unite with the AAMC and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine to enhance education and share research, information and best practices to better serve veterans and their families. The White House said VCU was selected to host the announcement because it is a national leader in TBI research and a strong partner with the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Veterans Affairs Hospital.

“First lady Michelle Obama’s visit to VCU is both an honor and a tremendous opportunity to highlight our excellence in rehabilitative science and our commitment to human health,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Our Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation’s partnership with the VA Hospital System has earned a national reputation as a comprehensive polytrauma center that treats seriously injured American service members, many with traumatic brain injuries or suffering from PTSD.”

Jerome F. Strauss, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine, added, “First lady Michelle Obama and the Association of American Medical Colleges are shining a spotlight on the contributions that medical schools, in partnership with their Veterans Administration medical center affiliates, have made, and are making to the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“VCU has been a leader in these fields, and we are proud to support the men and women of our military services through clinical programs and continued efforts to advance the science which will improve outcomes,” Strauss said.

VCU’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation faculty have served in physician leadership and clinical positions in the Richmond VA for more than 30 years. The department has been ranked among the top 20 programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The department has grant-funded research investigating traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, return-to-work for people with disabilities and pain management.

VCU’s leadership in rehabilitative science was part of the reason it was awarded a $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2010 to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.

VCU also works closely with mental health experts at the McGuire VA to understand post-deployment mental health issues, particularly PTSD.

“Joining Forces” is a comprehensive national initiative launched by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to mobilize all sectors of society to give service members and their families opportunities and support. Joining Forces recognizes that military families face unique wellness challenges due to the stress of war, multiple deployments and frequent moves.

Military personnel from Fort Lee, just south of Richmond, attended the announcement on Wednesday, along with about 50 representatives from the AAMC.

stock photo of Ms. Obama by Steve Rhodes

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