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GAPI Celebrates 28th Annual Convention and Banquet with Great Elan.

The Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) held its 28th Annual Convention cum a glitzy banquet at the Crowne Plaza, Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia, on Saturday, April 30, 2016. The gala event was attended by over 400 guests including physicians from all over Georgia and graced by the presence of  Mr.R.Srinivasan, and Mr.D.V.Singh from the Consulate General of India in Atlanta; Invited Guests including Thomas Pearson MD, PhD, Ram Subramanian MD and Stephen Pastan MD from Emory Transplant Center, John Harvey MD and Don Palmisano from MAG and special guest, Chair, AAPI BOT Dr.Aravind Pillai.

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Just prior to the social hour at 5.00 p.m. there was a Board Meeting and followed by the well attended medical education seminar consisting of CME and Non-CME segments:
Moderated by Dr. Jyotirmay Sharma and Hemant Yagnick.Among the informative and engaging topics presented were Obesity in Georgia by Ankit Patel MD, Genetic Diseases by Suma Shankar MD, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases by Jahnavi Srinivasan MD,Fabry’s Disease by Dawn Laney MS CGC, Novel Therapies for Artificial liver support by Ram Subramanian MD all from Emory. Updates were also presented on Pain management by Sanjeev Kapuria MD, Infectious Diseases by Tarak Patel MD and Endobronchial Procedures by Varsha Kulkarni MD all from Augusta.

During the social hour, the attendees intermingled and networked with each other, enjoyed the cocktail and hors d’oeuvres and also visited the various booths.

The program was emceed with great flair, humor and infectious cheer by Atlanta’s noted broadcast journalist for CNN International and freelance journalist Archith Seshadri and Ohio-born , popular stand-up comedian Rajiv Satyal.  GAPI President Sudha Tata welcomed all,and the program began with a mellifluous invocation prayer  to Lord Ganesha by Amoolya Vayalapalli ,who also renedered the Indian National Anthem, after rendering of the US National Anthem of India by Ankita Vayalapalli.D32_2061 - Copy

Sudha Tata who has been with GAPI for the past ten years thanked her Executive Team for their support and invited Dr.Vijay Maurya,Dr.Raghu Lolabhattu and Dr.Syamala Erramili on stage.” I am pleased to see many physicians from Georgia and Emory colleagues present this evening. Being involved in Outreach activities at Emory, I wanted to take the collaboration between Emory and Community physicians to the next level by active engagement in GAPI. I am a Transplant nephrologist at Emory and always wanted to promote awareness of Organ Donation and transplantation in the Indian Community. April is the National Organ Donor month and many events are held to promote awareness of organ donation. Hence I wanted this to be the theme of the GAPI Meeting. We had active partcipation from Lifelink Georgia and Emory Transplant Center to promote this objective. It is encouraging to see increased participation of young physicians in this Annual Convention.”

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Dr.Sreeni Gangasani is currently Regional Director of AAPI South and got elected as member of Board of Trustees of AAPI from July 2016 for three years.. He is in charge of the  GAPI Free clinic at the Global Mall, Norcross and informed that the Clinic, which opened in 2010 is now open twice a month,on 1st and 3rd Saturdays,between 1-4 pm. He recognized volunteers  Dr.Sujatha Reddy, Dr.Jay Sampath;Dr.Vijay and Darshana Vyas;Vidya Kanagaraj and Aravind Krishnan for their dedicated and caring services. He appealed to the audience to volunteer at least once in a year. GAPI also coordinated with Sai Health Fair held at the Global Mall, Norcross in March 2016. Noted singer Sunidhi Chauhan’s Concert was presented as part of GAPI and AAPI’s Charitable Foundation’s fund-raising mission to promote breast,colon and ovarian cancer awareness. GAPI donated money to Chennai flood victims, Sai Health Fair and Clark Howard’s Christmas toys program.”I would like to see more Gapi members involved with these charitable and educational activities over the coming years.”  Dr.Aravind Pillai,Chair,AAPI Board of Trustees lauded the impressive and energetic role of GAPI President Sudha Tata and the Executive Team.He requested the audience to attend the upcoming 2016 AAPI Convention in Marriott Marquis,Times Square, New York from June 30 to July 4. AAPI Secretary Dr. Naresh Parikh requested the attendees to become AAPI members and also to attend the AAPI Convention.

Dr. Thomas Pearson MD,PhD, Executive Director of Emory Transplant Center gave a broad picture and update on Organ Transplants. In his informative  and engaging powerpoint presentation he shared that though number of people waiting for transplants has increased,number of transplants has not increased. What has unfortunately increased is the waiting period which can now be years because the supply of organs has remained static.He briefly suggested ways to tackle this problem. After his riveting talk,two transplant recipients Mustafa Ajmeri and Navdeep Singh Mann recounted their heartwarming personal stories of their transplants at Emory Transplant Center,Atlanta. Navdeep Singh’s wife Tejinder Kaur spoke about her experience as a kidney organ donor for her husband.

D31_0364Both cheerfully said that the transplants were like being blessed with a second life. Dr.Sudha Tata commented later, “I felt the highlight of the evening was the presentation by two of our transplant recipients and a kidney donor. The message about the quality of life with organ transplant is very important. Most transplant recipients have a new lease of life with the gift of organ donation. I always tell my patients that our organ donors give gifts which are truly priceless.”

Dr.Manoj Shah introduced President,Medical Association of Georgia, Dr.John Harvey. Dr.Harvey noted,” It is an honor to be introduced by MAG Past President Manoj Shah – the first physician of Indian Heritage to be president of MAG.I have spent the day with over 50 other MAG volunteers of the MAG Medical Reserve Corps at the first training Drill to assemble the Surge Hospital facility”. Dr. Vikas Kapil who is the Chief Medical Officer of Global Health Initiative at Center for Disease Control(CDC)  made a powerpoint presentation  about the various activities and collaborations the academic and teaching centers can have at regional, national and international level.

Santanu Das MD, Chair of GAPI Election Committee proposed nominations for the President; Dr.Vijaya Maurya; President-Elect, Dr.Raghu Lollabhattu;–Secretary –Dr.Syamala Erramili and Treasurer Dr.Hemant Yagnick . With a show of hands, the attendees unanimously approved the new Executive Committee members.
The outgoing Chairman, Board of Trustees,Dr.Sreeni Gangasani announced the names of new Board of trustees including new chairman of Board of Trustees Dr.Dilip Patel and Dr.Abhishek Gaur;Dr.Piyush Patel;Dr.G.V.Raghu;Dr.Asha Parikh;and Dr.Manmohan Gupta. As Chair of the By-Laws Committee,Dr.Dilip Patel got the changes in the By-Laws ratified by the General body.
Former president of GAPI, and former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr.P.B. Rao said that GAPI helps deserving students with merit and need based scholarships. The annual scholarship of $1,000 and a Citation of Excellence for their accomplishments was given to four students:
Anurag Sharma; Koyal Ansingkar;Harish Alappan;and Silki Modi.
Humanitarian Awards were given to Vijay Vemulapalli and Manojbala(Manju) Tiwari.

Vijay, a well-known and respected community leader who has been a volunteer of Vibha,a non-profit organization, since 1993 started the Atlanta Chapter in 1996. In his brief acceptance remarks Vijay thanked GAPI for the Humanitarian Award and gave a brief  overview of Vibha. Smt.Manju Tiwari is a proficient teacher of Hindi and Indian culture to children.She is the curriculum coordinator and teacher,Balvihar Hindi School in Atlanta.She is also the President of Yuva Bharati Sansthan. Smt.Tiwari thanked GAPI for bestowing the Humanitarian Award to her.
Incidentally , during this same weekend  the Immediate Past President Dr Indran Indrakrishnan  was   selected to receive an award as  one of the top 25 most influential Asian Americans  in Georgia  by Georgia Asian Times .  Earlier this year in January  , he was honored with the globally reputed “Bharat Gaurav Award” and a Certificate of Excellence by the India International Friendship Society (IIFS) which confers this prestigious award to luminous personalities in India and abroad, who have made outstanding contributions in their personalized fields, including science & technology, education, politics and  & social work. He is the first GAPI president to receive such honors  in GAPI’s  27 year history.

Atlanta’s premier Nritya Natya Kala Bharati’s students in colorful costumes, with mini-lanterns in their hands and synchronized handclaps, enthralled the audience with a semi-classical sufi style performance,choreographed by Samta Savla, on the song Bhardo Jholi.

A dazzling Fashion Show choreographed by Madhavi Korrapati was a visual treat for the audience. To the accompaniment of popular Bollywood songs,gorgeous ladies strutted on stage  flaunting their latest colorful fashionwear. Children smartly dressed in black suits and ties followed the ladies and finally it was the turn of men. They teamed up with ladies and struck romantic poses to the amusement of the cheering audience.All came on stage waving U.S.and India’s National flags with aptly chosen rousing patriotic song ‘Maa tujhe Salaam’

After a delectable dinner, Bollywood chart-toppers soon had the attendees on the dance-floor!

The grand elegant décor,stunning lighting effects,music and  sound system,photo and videography were provided by ByteGraph Creations  Prashant Kollipara and team.

BY: MAHADEV DESAI

Pics.by ByteGraph