Helping you live your best life

Skip main navigation
Group Created with Sketch.

Need help

What can we help you find?

Related Search Terms

Related Search Results


VCU President highlights how research and health care go hand-in-hand

In the yearly State of the University address, Michael Rao, the president of VCU and chair of VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors, shined a light on the dedicated researchers and innovative treatment methods being used at the academic health system.

medical center aerials 2014 VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., notes the important role research plays in bettering patient health. (VCU Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Sara McCloskey

Highlighting what it means to be an academic health system connected to a public research university, Virginia Commonwealth University President and Chair of the VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors Michael Rao, Ph.D., pointed out the achievements of team members, university staff, students and health care programs during the annual State of the University Address on Feb. 8.

These major moments include opening Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s Children’s Tower, the largest pediatric hospital in the region, and VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center being awarded the highest level of excellence from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Looking to the future, Rao noted the important research being pursued by our team members – who are going to great strides to help patients live their best lives. Education, research and innovation are important components of what makes VCU Health one of the best places to receive care in Virginia, and beyond. With the only academic medical center in the region, VCU Medical Center is putting the latest tools and best practices in the hands of the next generation of health care professionals.

“As we adapt to a changing landscape, we’ll think now about how we can best serve patients, communities and support our own people who provide the care. And so, what are we doing now to prepare for the future of healthcare?” Rao said. “As an academic medical center, our research means we’re both providing treatment for complex illness, and we’re discovering and inventing new ways of treating patients and providing care.”

Over the past year, VCU Health News and VCU News have shared the stories of these changemakers who are working tirelessly to find new and advanced ways to treat illnesses and care for patients.

Meet the people unlocking answers to improve patient care and treatment:

Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., with the MCV Campus skyline over her shoulder.

Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., has dedicated her career to researching breast cancer health disparities. (VCU Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., was honored as the American Cancer Society’s 2022 Research of the Year. As the associate director for community outreach and engagement and health disparities research at VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center and the inaugural dean of the VCU School of Population Health, Sheppard is a leading expert in health disparities research. She focuses on disparities within breast cancer outcomes and addresses those disparities by developing approaches to improve survivors’ quality of life or delivery of cancer care.

Learn more about Vanessa Sheppard’s cancer research


Arnethea Sutton, Ph.D., studies the impact of sociodemographic, health care and psychosocial factors on racial disparities in cardiovascular toxicities experienced by breast cancer survivors. (Contributed photo)

Arnethea Sutton, Ph.D., is a researcher with VCU Health Pauley Heart Center and VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center whose work is on disparities in cancer treatment and outcomes for Black women, with a special focus on heart disease in breast cancer survivors. Last year, she was one of 25 cancer researchers across the country selected for an NCI Early Investigator Advancement Program.

How VCU mentorship connected Arnethea Sutton to a career in health disparities research

Two vcu health team members stand with a patient who participated in the gene therapy clinical trial for sickle cell disease. They are in a hospital room and are wearing facemasks.

Walter Davis receives care from the pediatric and adult sickle cell disease teams at CHoR and VCU Health. (Left to right: Joseph Laver, M.D., Walter Davis; patient, and Beth Krieger, M.D. Both providers are hematology and oncology specialists at CHoR) (Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU)

Researchers and providers from the sickle cell disease programs at VCU Health and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU participated in a clinical trial that led to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of gene therapies to treat sickle cell disease in people ages 12 and older. Walter Davis, the patient who participated in the trial, is no longer experiencing the painful symptoms of sickle cell disease.

New sickle cell therapy trialed at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and VCU Medical Center

A scientist using a pipette with a microtiter plate and a petri dish

Along with being one of the top 50 public research universities in the country, VCU is connected to VCU Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the region. (Getty Images)

Two VCU faculty members were ranked by Research.com among the top female scientists both nationally and globally in 2022. Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the VCU School of Medicine, has made major contributions to the understanding of a molecule she originally discovered in the mid-1990s that plays an important role in cancer progression, inflammation and heart disease. Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for Engineering and Medicine and Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Professor in the VCU Department of Biomedical Engineering, uses her knowledge as a biologist to study new technologies to improve patients’ quality of life.

Innovative pursuits to understand the human body

Smiling doctors standing next to each other in operation room

Seung Duk Lee, M.D., VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center liver transplant surgeon and Vinay Kumaran, M.D., VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center living liver surgical director (VCU Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

To ensure as many people as possible who need a transplant have access, VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center’s clinical teams are doing all they can to provide the best quality care. Based on the number of procedures in 2023, the transplant center was ranked 18th in the nation for organ transplants with 577 surgeries performed and 5th in the nation for specifically liver transplants. Hume-Lee also completed its first fully robotic surgery for a living liver donor.

Liver cancer patient saved by fiancée’s selfless gift of an organ donation