A Record Number of Residency Positions Obtained for SGU Graduates

St. George’s University graduates have had a record year of achievement thus far in obtaining first-year US residency posts, making this the third year in a row the University placed more graduates in first year US residency posts than any medical school in the world.

Congratulations, graduates! Thus far (April 12, 2013) – and the list keeps growing – 789 PGY-1 positions in 18 different specialties were secured in the US by our graduates in 46 of the 50 states. In addition to the 18 Canadian graduates who secured PGY-1 spots in Canada, many Canadian graduates obtained US residency positions this year.

While the majority of the graduates this year are fulfilling one of the University’s goals of meeting the American Medical Association’s call for more primary care doctors around the country, 25 graduates secured residencies in emergency medicine, 56 in surgery, and 22 in anesthesiology. Others matched in a variety of different specialties, including one graduate who secured an orthopedic surgery spot.

Among the 2013 matches was Michael Melin, who looks forward to beginning his anesthesiology residency at the University of Washington School of Medicine this summer. Mr. Melin grew up 15-20 minutes from the UW campus and earned his bachelor’s degree from nearby University of Puget Sound. He set off to Grenada with hopes of returning to the Pacific Northwest and is proud to have been offered the opportunity.

“Matching at the University of Washington really was a dream come true,” said Mr. Melin, who had gone on 12 interviews for anesthesiology and pegged UW as his top choice. “It will be really nice to go back west – my wife is from the west coast and all of my family is there.”

SGU students also matched in programs located in three Canadian provinces, including Catherine Murray, who obtained a highly competitive diagnostic radiology residency at the University of Ottawa through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS). The native of Winnipeg bolstered her resume by completing three radiology electives and shined during her clinical rotations at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit is proud to be able to continue her career in his home country.

“It’s very exciting to be going back to Canada and to be going to a great program,” Ms. Murray said. “I was told that radiology was very competitive, but felt that I was competitive enough. I felt very comfortable leaving Grenada with my knowledge base, and I think SGU students make a good impression wherever they go.”

St. George’s University USMLE Step 1 First-Time Test Takers Achieve 97% Pass Rate

St. George’s University students who took the USMLE 1 for the first time in 2012 achieved a 97 percent pass rate, marking the fourth consecutive year that SGU’s overall first-time pass rate on the examination surpassed 90 percent. These students have come to SGU from 37 countries, with Canadian students achieving an impressive 100 percent pass rate.

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St. George’s 2012 performance on USMLE Step 1 was an improvement on the outstanding results from 2011, a year in which SGU first-time test takers achieved a pass rate of 95 percent overall and 96 percent among those from the US and Canada. By contrast, the first-time taker pass rate for students at US and Canadian schools was 94 percent in 2011, according to the USMLE website. US and Canadian schools’ pass rate for 2012 is still unavailable.

Designed to measure basic science knowledge, the USMLE Step 1 is comprised of more than 300 multiple-choice questions on topics ranging from the biology of cells and human development to the central nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems, among others. A passing score on all three parts of the USMLE is required to practice medicine in the US.

St. George’s University Welcomes First International Veterinary Student Association Exchange Students

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After a ten-day visit to St. George’s University, 10 veterinary students from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, spoke fondly of their hands-on educational experience and the University’s True Blue Campus. The students visited the campus in November as part of the International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA) exchange program.

“While the program structures are somewhat similar, St. George’s provides a unique hands-on experience, on a campus that provides the perfect atmosphere for studying,” said Sisse Giehm-Reese, a sixth-year veterinary student from Copenhagen.

Furthering this observation, fourth- and second-year students Jasmin Bagge and Janne Roscnfeldt-Olesen, also from the University of Copenhagen, noted that classes at St. George’s are smaller than they’re used to, but very interactive.

The exchange students attended lectures, junior surgery labs, and participated in a goat handling lab at Belmont Estate, St. Patrick’s. When not in classes, they explored Grenada with a trip to Gouyave for Fish Friday and visits to some of the most historic and picturesque locations in Grenada.

“Veterinary medicine is becoming increasingly global. With this program and over 50 IVSA chapters, SGU students have an opportunity to gain valuable international experiences,” said Kristina Miller, a fifth-term veterinary student at SGU, and exchange officer for the Grenada chapter of IVSA. “Exchange students visiting here have a unique opportunity to be a part of a University that brings together students from around the world. It is the perfect place for students to gain an international experience.”

The Grenada chapter of the IVSA has participated in the bi-annual congress and symposiums hosted by the organization, but it is its first year participating in the student exchange program. Plans are in place to make the exchange program an annual event with the next proposed exchange with South Africa some time in 2013.

IVSA is a non profit, non-governmental organization operated by veterinary students from around the world, whose aim is to improve the international standard of veterinary education through the exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture.

Dr. Robert C. Gallo presents 2013 Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University

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An overflowing audience in Patrick F. Adams Hall hung on the every word of world-renowned physician and scientist Dr. Robert C. Gallo at the fifth annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial Lecture/13th Annual WINDREF Lecture. Dr. Gallo, with his refreshing humor and calm demeanor, did not disappoint as he delivered a powerful lecture which received a well deserved standing ovation at the end.

Speaking on the topic “Viruses and Epidemics with a Focus on HIV/AIDS: Our Attempts to Control Them,” Dr. Gallo provided an overview of viral epidemics that have swept the globe over the last century.

“Humans have a 25- to 30-year attention span,” he said, explaining medicine’s shift in focus from researching infectious diseases to degenerative diseases within decades of conquering an epidemic. He pointed out that the number of medical graduates entering the field of virology was shrinking.

In 1980, Dr. Gallo discovered HTLV-1, which was the first of the human retroviruses to be discovered which caused a malignancy. Later in the decade, he discovered HTLV-2 and co-discovered HIV. Dr. Gallo provided the first clear evidence that HIV caused AIDS, and he and his team developed the first HIV diagnostic test. In the ’90s, Dr. Gallo and his co-workers also discovered the first natural inhibitors of HIV, which was instrumental in developing treatments for the infection. In addition, in 1986 he and his team also discovered the first human herpes virus in more than 25 years, HHV-6, which proved to cause the infantile disease, roseola.

Dr. Gallo’s groundbreaking work, widely accepted and revered today, was certainly not widely accepted in the 1980s and he was met with much criticism – and even ridicule – by members of his profession. “What is called translational research today was thought to be not academic enough, not intellectual enough,” he said. Dr. Gallo shared his experience swimming against the tide in the 1980s and relayed how he stuck to his guns, shattering many medical misconceptions of the time.

Dr. Gallo’s lecture also focused on HTLV-1 and HIV and what it will take to control these viral pandemics. “There are approaches to finding a cure, but as yet, no one has a cure for HIV or HTLV-1 … but we have good diagnostic tests today and treatment at least for HIV is having a positive impact on many people’s lives.” His mantra is to “test a lot, treat early and we can control the HIV pandemic – do it for the world, do it forever, until we find a preventive vaccine. This approach will take a tremendous commitment by governments and policy makers.”

In his lecture, Dr. Gallo also touched on the Global Virus Network (GVN) which he cofounded in 2011. The GVN’s mission is to ensure a rapid response to new or re-emerging viruses that threaten mankind, to bring together and achieve collaboration amongst the world’s leading virologists, and to support training of the next generation of medical virologists. He pointed out that several epidemics and global health disasters could have been averted if this network had been established earlier.

At the end of the lecture, Dr. Gallo was inducted as an honorary member of St. George’s University’s Gamma Kappachapter of the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society in recognition of the enormous contributions he has made to our understanding of retroviruses and to medicine and public health.

In her closing remarks, Baroness Howells of St. David’s, a member of the WINDREF (UK) Board of Trustees, thanked Dr. Gallo for his insightful lecture and reflected on the impact it would have had on such an assembled audience.

Dr. Gallo, founder and co-director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has received numerous major scientific honors and awards, including the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which he was awarded in 1982 and 1986. He was rated the most cited scientist in the world for two decades in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Gallo was also ranked third in the world for scientific impact for the period 1983-2002. He has been awarded 30 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Peru, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, and Greece.

St. George’s University Medical Students in India

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Fifth-term medical student Anne Walker described the latest step in her journey to becoming an MD as “simply exhilarating.” Ms. Walker and nine of her colleagues journeyed to rural India in December 2012 for a two-week India Medical Experience Selective at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University Karad (KIMS).

“I was honestly a little nervous about my energy level and wondered how much I would get from the program,” she confided, “especially since I was traveling to Mumbai the morning after our last final. However, I was energized by what I found when I arrived—a group of wonderful doctors, residents and administrators who were welcoming and eager to teach us.”

At this state-of-the-art teaching hospital, the students benefited from first-hand patient experience in a region with a high incidence of oral and breast cancers.

“We were present during a patient interview where a woman presented with a breast lump that had been increasing in size,” Ms. Walker said of her first day at the hospital. “The doctor took the time to explain the essential parts of the patient interview, after which we were given the chance to palpate and analyze the lump ourselves. Four days later, we were given the opportunity to observe the mastectomy for this same patient.”

Buzzing with excitement, she remarked, “It is one thing to learn about ductal carcinomas and their proper treatment in a Robbins Pathology textbook. It is quite another thing entirely to participate in the care of a patient.”

Selective students gain experience with taking patient history, conducting physical examinations, outpatient and inpatient treatments, alternative health care delivery systems, and KIMS community outreach projects designed to educate patients on the prevention and management of disease.

The curriculum provides both a diversity and continuity of experience as the students rotated through the hospital following their cases to their completion.

“The hands-on nature of the selective allowed me to really absorb everything I was learning, and I believe my experience there will prove invaluable especially as I start clinicals this coming August,” Ms. Walker said. “I would highly recommend this selective program for future SGU students and would be happy to be an ambassador for it.”

The India Medical Experience Selective was launched in July 2010, and qualifying fourth-term medical students travel to The Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences University Karad (KIMS) in June and December each year. KIMS is an 845-bed modern hospital with facilities for critical care, joint replacement, endoscopic surgeries, dialysis and more. Students have access to all state-of-the-art equipment at the Institute, including radio-diagnosis investigations: MRI, CT scans, mammograms, and color Doppler. St. George’s University students also join medical and dental students from diverse Indian backgrounds as well as students from other countries, working together in a hospital setting and living side by side on campus.

Public Health Department and High Commission of Canada Team Up to Help Revitalize Grenada’s Nutmeg Industry

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St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has long been committed to building up and supporting Grenada’s nutmeg industry destroyed by Hurricane Ivan, and its efforts have now been joined by the High Commission of Canada, which announced a donation of CDN $20,000 – approximately EC $54,000 – through its Canada Fund for Local Initiatives at a press conference at the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station.

Speaking at the press conference on February 8, His Excellency, Richard Hanley, High Commissioner of Canada to Grenada, commented: “Canada is working alongside Grenada to build a stronger economy. Clearly, the health of nutmeg processing workers is important to the health of the Grenadian economy. This project will help to keep workers safe while they deal with harvests that – I believe we all hope – will grow steadily in size.”

This ongoing project has the potential to revitalize Grenada’s nutmeg industry. Prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Grenada was the second largest exporter of nutmegs following Indonesia. Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, director of the DPHPM, stated that a primary goal of the project is helping the industry meet and exceed its pre-2004 levels of production.

“This is a unique opportunity for Grenada’s economy, which is why St. George’s is so supportive of it,” Dr. Elci said of the project, which is a collaborative effort by the DPHPM, the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Environmental and Occupational Health, the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) and Grenada’s Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition to the research and training conducted, 2,000 nutmeg trees were planted to replace those destroyed by the hurricane in 2004 and a solar dehydrating system developed by SGU faculty member Dr. Dirk Burkhardt was successfully piloted. The new solar dehydrating process cuts drying time in half without compromising quality and eliminates the need for chemicals. This significantly reduces exposure to dust affording improved health and safety of workers. Future plans also include collaborating with the University of Maryland to develop trees resistant to the fungus implicated in killing off many of Grenada’s nutmeg trees.

The long-term aim is to convert the entire industry to using solar dehydration.

“The method of processing nutmegs had barely changed since Grenada’s colonial days,” Dr. Elci said. “Switching to solar drying will mean better, faster production, improved safety and workflow processes that will open opportunities to increase the workforce within the industry.”

St. George’s University Grads To Match Wits With Top Business Schools at Boston Regional

For the second consecutive year, a group of St. George’s University graduates will go head to head with the most renowned business schools in the world.

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Gary Chan, MD ’12; Felicia Chee, MD ’06; Sung Shim, MD ’12; Mark Harman, MD ’12; and Jennifer Lopez, DVM ’11, will represent SGU in the prestigious Hult Prize competition, a start-up accelerator that, in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative, will award $1 million in start-up funding for a team to launch its sustainable social venture.

“The Hult Competition is an excellent opportunity for our university to participate in a meaningful project for the global community,” remarked Dr. Chan, the team’s leader.

The St. George’s Hult Competition Team will take part in the Boston regional March 1-3. Of nearly 10,000 applicants worldwide, the St. George’s University team was among 350 colleges and universities that were selected for the regional round, joining the likes of Harvard University, Stanford University, and The Wharton School. Regionals will also be held at the fourth other Hult International Business School campuses in San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai, as well as from Hult’s online competition. The winners from each regional will advance to the Hult Prize (formerly Hult Global Case Challenge) final in New York City for the chance to win a $1 million cash grant to carry out their plan.

“Participating in the Boston regional is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Harman. “Not only do we have the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas, but we also get to make a concrete impact on the world.”

This year’s St. George’s Hult Competition Team is working to resolve the issue of food security in urban areas in which women and children suffer from malnutrition. It includes studying and researching social entrepreneurship, government, microfinance, community gardens, coops, consumer distribution, and industry infrastructure, among other topics, to devise a hybrid “social business” that can solve the issue.

As doctors and veterinarians, they’re accustomed to coming up with solutions that suit the short- and long-term needs of their patients. Dr. Harman also said that their international medical education allows them tackle global health issues from a unique perspective.

“We have woven each of our unique contributions, along with our medical/veterinarian experiences, into our plan,” he said. “In this way, we have not only come up with solutions that feed residents of slums, but that improve their overall health and ability to contribute to society, as a whole and reduce strain on health systems.”

The team has been advised by Dr. Kristine Kawamura, director of the MBA program, and Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, associate professor and deputy chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“Dr. Kawamura has been an excellent mentor by bringing the experience of last year’s team to our meetings, and helping us optimize our preparation time, and Dr. Bidaisee has been an enthusiastic faculty member in our project, and brings a wealth of experience to our group,” Dr. Chan said.

It is the second straight year that St. George’s University has reached the regional round of the competition. In 2012, Team Nathan – Arian Robert, BSc; Nathan Kwablah, MD ’11; Stephanie Nanayakkara, MD ’10; Theodor Gottlieb, MD ’00; and Yon Chong, MPH, MD ’08 – presented at the Boston regional on the topic of global poverty.

Louis Guida, SGU MD ’84, Making a Difference One Patient at a Time

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Time and again, the patients of Dr. Louis Guida, president and CEO of Bay Shore Allergy and Asthma Specialty Practice on Long Island, thank him for the care he provides – which consistently goes above and beyond. There’s the time a deaf three-year-old received a customized injection of special medication which resulted in him gaining his hearing for the first time. And then there’s Dr. Guida’s cystic fibrosis patient who has managed to live to his 70s when the average lifespan for those stricken with the disease is 37. Dr. Guida doesn’t simply care about the disease; he cares deeply about the person who has the disease.

The 1984 graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine is thankful as well. He always wanted to be a doctor, and each day such success stories remind him of why he loves his job.

“One of the most important things to me is giving patients a better quality of life, whether they’re young, middle-aged, or elderly and in a nursing home,” Dr. Guida said.

In addition to his role at Bay Shore Allergy, Dr. Guida has served as medical director of the Allergy/Asthma and Cystic Fibrosis Centers at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, NY, since 1990, and medical director of pediatric pulmonology and allergy and asthma at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, NY, since 2008. He also cares for patients at a nursing home in nearby St. James.

Dr. Guida, who was named a “Top Doctor” by US News & World Report in 2012 and “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly from 2008 to 2012, estimates that he visits with 30 to 50 new patients each week, or between 2,000 and 3,000 new patients per year. No case is the same. He can capably address the concerns from a wide range of patients in part because of the wide range of experiences presented to him at SGU. He was taught by professors in the top of their fields and from all over the world. The faculty wasn’t just decorated but they were accessible, oftentimes offering their expertise one-on-one before or after class.

“You don’t get that kind of opportunity in a lot of other places,” he said. “We were fortunate to get that. It was just phenomenal.”

In addition to appreciating all that the University and the island of Grenada had to offer, he gained clinical experience in St. Vincent’s in the United Kingdom as well. He initially signed on for six weeks in the UK but ended up staying 18 months.

“At St. George’s, you’re taught to think on our own,” Dr. Guida said. “You’re taught to think outside the box. Unfortunately a lot of physicians now are all textbook knowledge. What Grenada, St. Vincent’s, and England did was teach me think on my own. That’s one of the most important things when you’re caring for a patient, whether it’s an infant, child, adult or the elderly.”

His journey began after receiving his Bachelor of Science in biology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1980. When considering options for medical school, the New Jersey native was pointed to St. George’s University, then an up-and-coming institution in the Caribbean, by Dr. Abdol Islami, the chair of graduate medical education at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey, where Dr. Guida was volunteering. He continues to be grateful for all that Chancellor Charles Modica and the University did for him.

“I would have done anything and gone anywhere to become a doctor,” Dr. Guida said. “Every time I see Chancellor Modica to this day, I thank him for giving me the opportunity to become a physician. I have told many students to go down to Grenada to become physicians. If you want to become a doctor, Chancellor Modica will give you the opportunity, and SGU continues to put out wonderful physicians.

“Anybody can be a doctor but it takes a very special person to be a physician,” he continued. “Grenada taught us to be well-rounded physicians.”

Dr. Guida and his wife have four children, ranging from 16 to 22 years old. The family has resided on Long Island since 1990.

St. George’s University Catapulted Brownrigg, SGU MD ’07, to Anesthesiology Career in Midwest

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When Tanner Brownrigg set off from his home state of Kansas to enroll at St. George’s University School of Medicine in 2003, he had a vision of where the path would lead him. He wanted to study anesthesiology and return to the Midwest to continue his career.

Nine years later, he’s an anesthesiologist at Ad Vivum Anesthesiology, a group of 10 physicians, practicing anesthesia at a community hospital and an ambulatory surgery center in Kansas City. The plan worked. He’s where he always wanted to be, doing what he always wanted to do.

“I have nothing but great things to say about St. George’s,” he said. “I loved my experience there. I went there with a clear idea in my head of what my future held, and it came to fruition.”

Dr. Brownrigg believes one of the main draws to anesthesiology is the ability to work with a variety of different patient populations. On a daily basis he is able provide care to everyone from infants to expectant mothers to geriatric patients. A typical day’s cases might range from outpatient knee arthroscopies and pediatric ear tube placement to epidurals and cesarean section for child birth, or even heart and brain surgeries. He is an integral part of the process before, during, and after the operation.

“Before the surgery, we take the patients’ history, review their labs and X-rays, and making sure they’re medically stable to proceed with the surgery. Once we get into the operating room, I monitor the patient throughout the operation and am able to respond to acute changes that may take place during the surgery. Then in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), I help control the pain and make sure the patient is stable for discharge home or to the hospital floor.”

Upon earning his Doctor of Medicine from SGU, Dr. Brownrigg began his anesthesiology residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City in 2007. Paving the way to matching with his chosen specialty and location was an outstanding performance on both Step 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Dr. Brownrigg finished in the 98th percentile for each exam.

Prior to Match Day, he was confident that he would be paired with one of his top three residency choices. In fact, he had to turn down a number of residency interviews.

“The fact that I scored so well on the USMLE Step 1 and 2 exams was directly related to the quality of the professors at St. George’s and how the classes are structured,” Dr. Brownrigg said. “I never came across a professor that wasn’t willing to help you any way they could. They are at St. George’s purely to teach and it shows.”

He has paid it forward by performing student interviews for the University and attending information sessions in the Kansas City area.

“I’m very grateful that St. George’s gave me the chance to pursue my dream, and as a result I feel it’s important to give back to the school,” Dr. Brownrigg said.

A native of Ottawa, KS, Dr. Brownrigg earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Kansas in 2003, graduating with highest distinction. While in college, he worked as a nurse assistant at a local hospital and performed a variety of volunteer work in the community.

Dr. Brownrigg is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists, and Kansas City Society of Anesthesiologists. He and his wife, Kara, a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, reside in Kansas City, Missouri.

World-Renowned Physician-Scientist Dr. Robert C. Gallo to Speak at St. George’s University

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On February 12, 2013, Robert C. Gallo, MD, who for the past 30 years has been one of the most influential scientists in the world, will visit St. George’s University to deliver the 5th Keith B. Taylor Memorial/13th Annual WINDREF Lecture. The title of his lecture will beViruses and Epidemics With a Focus on HIV/AIDS: Our Attempts to Control Them. The lecture, which is open to the public, faculty, and students, will take place at 6 pm at Patrick F. Adams Hall.

Dr. Gallo, founder and co-director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is one of the pioneers in the field of human retrovirology. Together with his colleagues, in 1980 he discovered HTLV-1, which causes leukemia and was the first of the human retroviruses to be discovered. Later in the decade, he discovered HTLV-2 and co-discovered HIV. Dr. Gallo provided the first clear evidence that HIV caused AIDS, and he and his team developed the first HIV diagnostic test. In the ’90s, Dr. Gallo and his coworkers also discovered the first natural inhibitors of HIV, which was instrumental in developing treatments for the infection.

In addition, in 1986 he and his team also discovered the first human herpes virus in more than 25 years, HHV-6, which proved to cause the infantile disease, roseola.

Dr. Gallo has received numerous major scientific honors and awards, including the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which he was awarded in 1982 and 1986. He was rated the most cited scientist in the world for two decades in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Gallo was also ranked third in the world for scientific impact for the period 1983-2002. He has been awarded 30 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Peru, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, and Greece.