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At Batson Hospital’s 20th anniversary, Children’s of Mississippi reaching to future with construction

At Batson Hospital’s 20th anniversary, Children’s of Mississippi reaching to future with construction

Honoring the past while looking to the future, Batson Children's Hospital is marking its 20th anniversary this week while planning for future construction.

The state's only children's hospital opened its doors 20 years ago with a dedication ceremony May 16, 1997, and has provided care to thousands of ill and injured children since. Building on its history, Children's of Mississippi has construction plans that will ensure that the state's children have access to state-of-the-art care far into the future.  

“Children's of Mississippi includes the only pediatric hospital in Mississippi, and it serves as a lifeline for so many families,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. “For the sake of these children, we have to continue the momentum established through our first two decades.”

At the urging of the Medical Center's first chair of pediatrics, Dr. Blair E. Batson, UMMC's first children's hospital opened in 1968. The 100-bed round structure, at the time, was considered to be state of the art. The rooms were small, though, and not designed for parents to stay with their children.

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#UMMCGrad17: Milan overcomes odds through determination

#UMMCGrad17: Milan overcomes odds through determination

On April 2, 2017 around midnight, Diana Milan thought she was dead. As the seatbelt squeezed her internal organs and the airbag crashed into her face, she thought about her mother.

She then thought about all the hard work that brought her to this point in time, and she was mad. “We had six weeks before the end of the school, and I thought, 'All this work for nothing. I'm about to die.'”

Milan grew up in Medellín, Colombia, once known as the “most dangerous city on earth.” Home to the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar Gaviria, founder and leader of the Medellín Cartel, the city was a battleground in the 1980s and '90s, according to Alex Warnock-Smith in number 42 of The Guardian's“Story of cities” series.

“It's where they have all the wars and cartels and all the mafia guys,” Milan said of her hometown. “It was kind of scary, but that was all I knew.”

Milan emigrated from Colombia to the United States in 2008 and settled in Columbus, Mississippi, where she taught herself English by watching television. After just one semester of English as a second language, Milan enrolled in classes at the Mississippi University for Women.

Milan started college in 2009 and completed her bachelor's degree in just three years.  She majored in biology and was considering dentistry when Dr. Wilhelmina O'Reilly, assistant dean for student affairs and professor of pediatric dentistry and community oral health, visited “The W” to talk with students about how to apply.

Through the STEP program, Milan was able to visit the campus to make up her mind. “I came here, and I loved it. I loved small group. I loved the school. I just loved the place.”

At age 30, older than many of the other students in her class, Milan began dental school. She would be 35 when she reached commencement - if she made it to commencement.

She doesn't remember much about the car accident. She still hasn't seen a police report to find out what happened. “I just remember the pain. When I finally realized I was alive, I was so grateful.”

She had fractured her L2 and L3 vertebrae. Experiencing internal bleeding, Milan was taken to the operating room for exploratory surgery the evening after she arrived at the Medical Center.

“I couldn't move for the first three days,” Milan said. “I remember being in bed crying, 'I need a computer! I need to do my presentation!' I was crying because I couldn't sit up to work.”

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#UMMCGrad17: DeRussy takes M.D./Ph.D. path to pathology

Bernadette DeRussy didn't go to medical school to become a doctor.

“I went specifically to be a pathologist,” DeRussy said.

The Diamondhead native comes from a lineage of pathologists: her grandfather and great-grandfather, their brothers and her cousin. But it goes beyond family tradition.

“Pathology encompasses nearly everything I like about science and medicine,” DeRussy said. “It involves a lot of thinking and essentially puzzle solving.”

These same qualities drew DeRussy towards biomedical research. That's where she breaks from tradition. When she graduates May 26, she will have two doctoral degrees through the University of Mississippi Medical Center's M.D./Ph.D. program, a seven-year track that trains physician-scientists.

Her mother's tales about the old family practice created her interest in pathology, but it was through undergraduate research experiences that DeRussy learned she “loved being in the lab.”

“My honors thesis advisor at Millsaps told me about the M.D./Ph.D. because of my interest in research,” she said. “I didn't know that was an option before that.”

While in UMMC's Department of Microbiology and Immunology, DeRussy wrote her dissertation on human cytomegalovirus, a member of the herpesvirus family. Most adults carry HCMV without symptoms. However, this common infection can have serious consequences for infants. Congenital HCMV is a leading cause of developmental disorders, she said, and it can also cause severe problems in immunocompromised adults, such as AIDS patients or transplant recipients.

“There are a lot of proteins on this virus, but we don't know what most of them do,” DeRussy said. She studied two, pUL93 and pUL77. According to her research, they appear to be necessary for virus maturation and DNA cleavage and packaging.

“The hope is that someday we can use this knowledge to develop antiviral drugs,” she said.

DeRussy published two first-author papers from her dissertation in the Journal of Virology and one in Scientific Reports, among the top publications in the field. However, she said one of the highlights of her Ph.D. experience was attending and presenting her work at the International Herpesvirus Workshop in Boise, Idaho. Yes, she knows that sounds strange.

“That what's fun about it!” she said. The experience also introduced her to the broader scientific community, allowing her to meet the people behind the research she read.

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#UMMCGrad17: DeRussy takes M.D./Ph.D. path to pathology

Commencement, Emergency Medicine research highlight week’s agenda

Commencement, Emergency Medicine research highlight week’s agenda

Several interesting events are scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center. 


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