One would expect that Dr. Mark George would surround himself with the pick of the litter of people in the neuroscience field who would love to work with him and be involved in research at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Colleen Hanlon was clearly the pick of the litter. She is exceptionably bright, hardworking and has an easy grasp of neuroscience and the implications for its use in various disorders. Her knowledge of the field of brain stimulation is encyclopedic, like Dr. George. She is an excellent teacher, is very patient and has a nice way of making difficult subject matter simple, despite getting her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Duke University, instead of attending a great institution six miles away. She did redeem herself by marrying a UNC (2017 basketball national champions) neurologist. Like Dr. George, Dr. Hanlon is a consummate researcher and her primary area of interest these days is in addiction, specifically with alcoholism. As there has been no significant improvement in the efficacy and treatment of alcoholism in the last 50 years, the potential of neuromodulation impacting this large, disruptive and often crippling condition is fascinating and I was encouraged to hear of her recent research.
She also gave excellent talks on other modalities other than RTMS. Her descriptions of Theta-burst TMS as well, as another lecture on the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), were enlightening. We also had occasions to rotate through afternoon hands on workshops and discussions of various techniques including a demonstration with a delightful psychiatrist from Stanford. Some of the graduate students were somewhat surprised to hear what may have been a more honest response of how painful the tDCS was which made me quite thankful I did not volunteer.On Friday afternoon, when the formal lectures were over, Dr. Hanlon sat down in the back of the room where six of us had gathered and spent the next hour-and-a-half discussing her research, the researchof several of the doctors from Stanford, and answered both practical as well as theoretical questions about the area of addiction and what may be happening in the future. It was one of those rare occasions where we got to sit with a world class professor who facilitated our discussions that ranged across many ongoing research protocols course students had in place as well as those that were in the developmental stage. We clinicians provided some clinical experiences from the front lines of addiction treatment so it was a true collaborative atmosphere that is often desired but rarely occurs.
I can’t remember the last time I attended a course or workshop where I went explicitly to hear a speaker as prominent as Dr. George who had such a strong lecturer included like Dr. Hanlon. When Dr. George had to be absent there was no degradation of the quality of lectures when Dr. Hanlon presented. We got our money’s worth.
About Dr. Sammons:
Dr. Sammons received a bachelors and masters degree from Auburn University, a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He did a residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia as well as a forensic fellowship. While serving in the United States Air Force as a squad commander and captain, he was selected as one of 5 psychologist to establish the opiate treatment phase of the drug treatment program for the Department of Air Force in 1972. For this he receive the Meritorious Service Medal. He has practiced adult psychiatry in Grand Junction for 29 years. He is 1 of 2 physicians in Grand Junction that have received specialist training and a special DEA number that allows him to prescribe Suboxone treatment for opiate dependency.
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