Faculty and Staff Features for May 2017

Jeffrey Ferguson, M.D., associate professor, Department of Emergency Medicine

Jeffrey Ferguson, M.D.
Jeffrey Ferguson, M.D.

Ferguson recently received the 2017 Old Dominion Emergency Medical Services Alliance’s Outstanding EMS Physician of the Year award. The ODEMSA is part of Virginia’s comprehensive Emergency Medical Services System, which coordinates regional EMS services. This year, the organization’s annual awards ceremony was May 20.  

Ferguson is also medical director for the Virginia State Police Med-Flight 1, deputy medical director for the Henrico County Division of Fire and medical director for Richmond Volunteer Rescue Squad. He’s been at VCU Health for three years. Through his work in the EMS community, Ferguson was instrumental in VCU Health earning a contract to provide medical coverage for the NASCAR races at Richmond International Raceway.

“I am honored to have been nominated by my agencies for my contributions,” said Ferguson, who is board certified in emergency medical services. “I’ve been involved in EMS since 1988, first as a provider myself. So to be nominated … is a huge compliment to me and my efforts.”


Katherine Dec, M.D., VCU Health physician, VCU Sports Medicine Clinic

Katherine Dec, M.D.
Katherine Dec, M.D.

Dec was recently installed as president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. She is the first physical medicine and rehabilitation trained physician to serve in the role.

The AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,400 sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes. Dec was installed May 11 at the organization’s annual meeting in San Diego, California. She has a long history with the organization, having served on the AMSSM Board of Directors from 2003-07 and then as AMSSM secretary/treasurer from 2011-15 before being elected second vice president in 2015.

“I am honored to take on this role with an organization I know is committed to improving the standard of care athletes receive,” said Dec, a professor in the VCU Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Surgery. “The group has been a large part of my career journey.”

In addition to her work at VCU, Dec also serves as head team physician at Longwood University, medical director of the Richmond Marathon and has been quoted nationally as an expert on concussions. Dec is the AMSSM’s 24th president and will serve in the role for one year.



Susan DiGiovanni, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and student affairs, School of Medicine

Susan DiGiovanni, M.D.
Susan DiGiovanni, M.D.

Virginia Commonwealth University recently appointed Susan DiGiovanni, M.D., as associate dean for graduate medical education in the School of Medicine and designated institutional official for VCU Health System. DiGiovanni had served in an interim role since 2015.

An alumna of the School of Medicine, DiGiovanni earned her medical degree in 1984 and completed her internal medicine and clinical nephrology training at VCU. She then joined a private practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she was awarded for her work in the practice’s internal medicine training program. DiGiovanni then worked at the National Institutes of Health, where she published research in journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and the American Journal of Physiology. She returned to VCU in 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine.

DiGiovanni has been actively involved in the design and implementation of the new medical school curriculum and led the school in a successful eight-year Liaison Committee on Medical Education reaccreditation in 2016.

“Dr. DiGiovanni is a tireless advocate for medical education who is committed to continued innovations in our medical training,” said VCU School of Medicine Dean Peter F. Buckley, M.D. “I’m grateful to Dr. Clive Baumgarten and the other colleagues on the search committee as well as the many other colleagues on the interview panel who strongly endorsed Dr. DiGiovanni for this position.”



Alex Valadka, M.D., chair, Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine

Alex Valadka, M.D.
Alex Valadka, M.D.

Valadka has been named president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The association announced his appointment during the 85th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting.

In addition to serving as professor and chair of the VCU School of Medicine Department of Neurosurgery, Valadka is a director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He has also served as AANS treasurer and as chair of the Washington Committee for Neurosurgery. Prior to joining VCU, Valadka served as chair and CEO of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas, the largest and most comprehensive neuroscience program in Central Texas.

Valadka has a strong clinical and research interest in neurotrauma and critical care as evidenced by his research funding and publications. He has been an investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, including serving as initiating investigator on a $33.7-million Department of Defense research consortium on mild traumatic brain injury. He is author or co-author on more than 100 scientific papers, as well as dozens of book chapters. He co-edited the textbook “Neurotrauma: Evidence-based Answers to Common Questions.”