St. George’s University Hosts First International Meeting of NIH Fogarty Program Administrators

This week, St. George’s University will host a conference for the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center grant administrators—the first ever outside the United States.

“We’re thrilled to host this year’s Fogarty International Center administrators meeting,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “This meeting is an opportunity for the world’s leading minds to collaborate and continue their efforts to produce revolutionary research on global health. It’s an honor for St. George’s to facilitate that work.”

Attendees will hear from a number of Fogarty grantees and will discuss a number of global public health initiatives.

Several St. George’s faculty members have received funding from the Fogarty International Center. Among them is Dr. Randall Waechter, Assistant Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Director of Research at SGU. He’s also Grants Administrator of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation.

In 2016, Dr. Waechter and Dr. Angelle Desiree LaBeaud of Stanford received a grant to investigate the threat of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease, on children born during the outbreak in Grenada in 2014. Their work focused on how this disease may affect neurodevelopment in infants exposed to Chikungunya in tropical regions.

In 2014, St. George’s University Professor Cheryl Macpherson partnered with Fogarty grantee Sean Philpott of Union Graduate College (now merged with Clarkson University) on the “Caribbean Research Ethics Education Initiative”—a suite of graduate-level online and onsite bioethics courses for middle and low-income students across the Caribbean.

“At St. George’s University, we share the Fogarty International Center’s commitment to carrying out research that improves the lives of people worldwide while building research capacity in low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Waechter, the lead organizer of this year’s Fogarty administrators meeting. “We’re honored to welcome the Fogarty administrators to Grenada and to help advance the Center’s important work.”

AMSA SGU Donates EC$15,000 to Grenada Heart Foundation

St. George’s University’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) recently presented a donation of EC$15,000 to the Grenada Heart Foundation (GHF)—the latest in a decades-long partnership to help provide lifesaving interventional cardiac procedures to the most vulnerable.

Funds were raised at this year’s Valentine’s Day Date Auction, the group’s biggest and most popular fundraising event of the year. Featuring donations from local businesses and paired with students showcasing various talents, prizes including restaurant vouchers, two-night hotel stays, and a catamaran cruise were auctioned off as “dates” for potential bidders.

The evening included a fire-breather, a belly dancer, and several musicians and dancers.

“The fundraiser turned out to be really amazing. We raised more than we even expected,” said Sravan Vemuri, President of AMSA SGU. “The event was very well attended and full of excitement, with our wonderful and talented students giving their best to help fundraise for such a worthy cause..”

In the last five years alone, AMSA SGU has donated more than EC$100,000 to the GHF through a series of annual, student-organized, community-supported fundraising events. According to Devangi Dave, Secretary of AMSA SGU, its biggest draw, the Valentine’s Day Date Auction, has had “dates” go for four, five, or even 10 times their actual worth because of the audience’s willingness to support this worthwhile charity.

“The date auction is our best and biggest fundraiser,” added Ms. Dave, a fifth-term medical student. “It’s more of a way to engage the Grenadian community and get students excited about being a part of this very important cause, which is not only dear to us but also helps them get involved and give back to the people of the country that serves as their home away from home.”

The Grenada Heart Foundation was established in 1984 when St. George’s University was approached for assistance in obtaining heart surgery for a young Grenadian child. Since then, more than 300 children and young adults have received crucial cardiovascular care through direct funding and philanthropic partnerships.

Today, the GHF is administered by St. George’s University and is generously supported by corporate entities as well as civic and community organizations. All of its services are supported by donors, including the Government of Grenada, Rotary International, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Children’s Health Organization Relief and Educational Services (CHORES), and a network of generous hospitals at which the patients are treated.

“On behalf of the board of directors of the Grenada Heart Foundation, I thank AMSA at SGU profusely for the generous donation, which directly goes toward providing quality cardiac care to needy children,” commented Dr. Kesava Mandalaneni, Chair, Grenada Heart Foundation. “It is because of such selfless efforts of various organizations that GHF can provide life-saving services to patients including covering travel expenses so that they can receive the best care and treatment options available irrespective of their economic situation.”

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Today, AMSA is a student-governed, national organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. AMSA members are medical students, premedical students, interns, residents, and practicing physicians. Founded in 1950, AMSA continues its commitment to improving medical training and has more than 62,000 national and international members.

Global Scholars Study Rheumatic Effects of Living at Altitude in Tanzania

Three St. George’s University medical students, all alumni of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), recently took part in a research pilot project in Tanzania to test the effects of altitude on people living in different global regions.

Dr. Clive Kelly led the research and invited the alumni of the Northumbria-based program to join him in Tanzania after having taught them during their first year clinical selections in Newcastle. The KBTGSP provides students of St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada, to complete their first year of basic sciences at Northumbria as part of their medical degree.

Dr. Kelly, a Physician from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead and Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, developed an interest in researching cases of arthritis in East Africa after traveling in the region last year. He has been involved in a pilot study to assess the range and extent of locomotor disease in the hopes it will give insight into regional variations in rheumatic conditions and treatments.

The students—Zoe McKinnell, Gillian Richmond, and Renee Wong—are now in the fourth year of their medical degrees at SGU. In addition to the research pilot project, they took on the additional challenge of spending a week climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, where they participated in a comparative study with Dr. Kelly on the effect of physiological adaptations to altitude in climbers from different parts of the world.

During their trip, the students also assisted Dr. Kelly’s teaching programme for junior medical students at a Tanzanian hospital and joined classes with more senior students to expand their knowledge from the perspective of different healthcare systems.

“It was great to have Zoe, Gillian, and Renee involved in this international research project, both for their own development and for the contribution they made in the field,” said Dr. Kelly. “From a teaching point of view, it was invaluable to have them there and their input was crucial. We were teaching a class of 40 students and they helped by taking smaller groups on to wards with me to talk to and examine patients and test techniques. I wouldn’t have been able to teach such large classes without their assistance.”

“The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program was a great experience and the small group of 70 students meant we had a real community and support system,” said Ms. McKinnell. “It also gave me the opportunity to go to Tanzania, which turned out to be a big eye-opener. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to teach as well as learn while I was there.”

SGU student Gillian Richmond applied for the KBTGSP because she was interested in studying healthcare systems around the world.

“It was really interesting to go into a teaching hospital as an outsider and learn about healthcare in an international context,” Ms. Richmond said. “Joining SGU’s program at Northumbria University was the best decision I’ve made. I’ve made lifelong friends and my experience in Tanzania will be a helpful bridge to my teaching responsibilities as a resident next year.”

“I am grateful to Dr Kelly who helped us organize a teaching elective in Tanzania, where I was able to learn more than I could teach,” said Ms. Wong. “I was humbled every day by my patients, students, and colleagues.”

Building on this initial success, Dr. Kelly hopes to create an annual program for future students as the research project develops.

University of Glasgow Professor Receives Prestigious Mike Fisher Memorial Award

WINDREF presented the 2018 Mike Fisher Memorial Award to Sarah Cleaveland during the 2017 One Health One Medicine Symposium.

Dr. Sarah Cleaveland of University of Glasgow was presented with the 2018 Mike Fisher Memorial Award at a ceremony hosted by St. George’s University in Grenada. The award was given in recognition of her innovative work on One Health One Medicine, a philosophy that has improved health outcomes for humans, animals, and ecosystems in many parts of the world, in particular in Tanzania.

The Mike Fisher Memorial Award—given annually since 2006—acknowledges the work of the late Mike Fisher, whose original research led to the discovery of the drug Ivermectin, which revolutionized the treatment of a myriad of infectious, particularly parasitic, diseases. As a result, more than 35 million people no longer live under the threat of sight loss from onchocerciasis or disfigurement from lymphatic filariasis. The discovery had a similar effect on animal health.

Professor Cleaveland, BVSC, PHD, FRS, CBE is Professor of Comparative Epidemiology at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health, and Comparative Life Sciences at Glasgow University. She has worked extensively amongst the pastoral Masai people in Northern Tanzania and particularly on a number of infectious diseases that infect people, domestic animals, and wildlife. Her work continues to attract large numbers of graduate students to work with her from many parts of the world, and the outcomes of her studies provide important information for policies in infectious disease control.

Explaining the importance of Professor Cleaveland’s work, Dr. Cal Macpherson, Founding Vice President and Director of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the institution that bestows the award, said: “One Health One Medicine is the convergence of human, animal, and ecosystem health, resulting in a joined-up approach between complementary sectors that, all too often, are practiced in a vacuum. Each of these practices are inextricably connected, and by learning from each other and pooling resources, great progress can be made for the benefit of human, plant, and animal kind.”

Professor Cleaveland is a Fellow of the Royal Society, whose research on rabies has made a pivotal contribution to the development of international strategies for global elimination of the viral disease. Her research platform in East Africa now addresses a wide range of infectious disease problems affecting human, domestic animal and wildlife health. She works to raise awareness of the impact of neglected diseases, to investigate infection dynamics in natural ecosystems, and to identify cost-effective disease control measures that will improve human health, livelihoods, and biodiversity conservation. Professor Cleaveland plays an active role in several capacity-strengthening initiatives and research consortia with African partner institutions.

Mike Fisher died in 2005, and since 2006 his memorial award has been given annually to those who have contributed significantly to the area of veterinary medicine and human health. In keeping with the theme of Dr. Cleaveland’s work, the award was presented at November’s One Health One Medicine Symposium at St. George’s University.

Mike Fisher Award Recipients

  • Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior (2006)
  • Dr. Keith B. Taylor (2007)
  • Lord May of Oxford (2008)
  • Dr. John David (2009)
  • Lord Walton of Detchant (2010)
  • Professor Adetokunbo Oluwole Lucas (2011)
  • Dr. Donald Hopkins (2012)
  • Professor R. C. Andrew Thompson (2013)
  • Professor Alan Fenwick (2014)
  • Sir Gordon Conway (2016)
  • Dr. Charles Modica (2017)
  • Dr. Sarah Cleaveland (2018)

Dr. Sarah Cleaveland (fifth from right), the 2018 recipient of the Mike Fisher Memorial Award, with St. George’s University administration and faculty.

Remembering Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, A Distinguished Doctor, Lecturer, Academic, and Advisor

St. George’s University today pays tribute to Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, who died on November 11, 2017. A distinguished doctor, lecturer, academic, and advisor, Sir Kenneth was a founding member of the Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), and was a Friend of St George’s University, where he sat on the Academic Board for more than 20 years. His illustrious career included crucial research on issues ranging from human rights and ethics to child safety and science education. Sir Kenneth left an indelible mark on SGU and all of his students and colleagues, and his contributions to medicine and research will continue to benefit many generations to come.

Born on June 16, 1920 in Barbados, he attended Harrison’s College before going on to obtain his MD from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. In 1952, he joined the staff of the newly established University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica as its first senior registrar in medicine.  He was later promoted to Consultant, Lecturer, and became the first West Indian Professor (1966) and subsequently Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (1969) a post he held until his retirement from the University of the West Indies in 1976. He then served, for eight years, as Medical Advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

In July 1977, Sir Kenneth received the distinction of Knight Bachelor from Her Majesty the Queen “for services to medicine in the Commonwealth in general and the Caribbean in particular.” His contribution was significant: During his work in Jamaica, he described two previously unknown medical disorders ‘acute toxic hypoglycaemia’, and ‘veno-occlusive disease of the liver.’ With his colleagues, these conditions were identified and nearly eliminated from the country in less than two decades.

Many international organizations were fortunate to benefit from Sir Kenneth’s expertise, who served in positions as diverse as Director of the International Medical Education Trust; Honorary Medical and Scientific Adviser to the Barbados High Commission in London; Founder Trustee and Patron of Students Partnership Worldwide, and board member of the Errol and Nita Barrow Education Trust.

In his capacity as a member of SGU’s Academic Board, Sir Kenneth played an important role in guiding the development  and evolution of the University, which has become a innovative and international center of academic excellence and a leader in global medicine. In recognition of his numerous scientific contributions to medicine, he was awarded an honorary DSc (1986) from Queen’s University, and for his contributions to St. George’s University, was awarded the Order of the Mace in 2008.

He leaves his wife, Barbara, and three children.

SGU Dean of Basic Sciences Elected President of American Association of Clinical Anatomists

As a medical student at the University of Warsaw, Marios Loukas joined the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in 1997. Since then, the Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at St. George’s University has been committed to teaching and studying anatomy, calling it the “foundation knowledge” for all physicians, as well as the foundation for his own career in medicine, academia, and research.

At the AACA annual meeting in Minneapolis last month, the organization’s members elected Dr. Loukas as its 18th president, 20 years since his entry into the AACA. In his new role, Dr. Loukas hopes to expand the visibility of anatomists across the scientific community, improve faculty development, and increase student membership. In addition, he aims to create a clinical anatomists certificate program that recognizes individuals’ excellence and dedication in the field of clinical anatomy.

“In anatomy, you not only learn what makes up the human body, but you learn the clinical application behind every bone, organ, nerve, artery, and more,” said Dr. Loukas.

Through his affiliation with the AACA, he met Drs. Peter Abrahams, Vishnu Rao, and Robert Jordan, who invited him to join SGU as an Associate Professor of Anatomy in 2005. Dr. Loukas has ascended to his current roles within the Department, and also serves as the University’s Dean of Basic Sciences and Research.

While the study of anatomy dates back thousands of years, Dr. Loukas said the most contemporary method of studying human anatomy is imaging—specifically ultrasound—for which the human body “comes to life.” Beginning in 2011, SGU integrated ultrasound education in its curriculum, with training sessions complementing relevant material taught in lectures, wet labs, and small-group discussion sessions. An additional outcome of such integration is availability of research opportunities for students and faculty. This year, five SGU medical students presented ultrasound research at the AACA meeting, including second-year student Jenna Kroeker, who was recognized for the best clinical anatomy poster presentation among 120 submissions.

University of Munich Recognizes SGU Professor for Lung Function Research

One of the most prestigious universities in Europe, the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) annually offers the Prize of the Munich University Society for outstanding scientific work by students. Among the winners of the six coveted spots for exceptional doctoral works was St. George’s University professor Dr. Maia Smith, whose research titled, “Associations Between Physical Activity and Lung Function in a Cohort of German Adolescents” garnered her both a certificate of recognition and the corresponding prize money of Euro 3,000.

“I’m beyond pleased and somewhat surprised at this honor,” said Dr. Smith, an Assistant Professor at SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “Among such impressive candidates from such diverse backgrounds, I feel extremely proud to have my work recognized.”

Touted as the largest cross-faculty support organization in Germany, the Society of friends and sponsors of LMU offers an annual incentive for young academics to intensify their scientific work. Up to six doctoral works and three habilitations are awarded, with the goal of directing the attention of a broader scientific public towards the particular achievement of the scientist.

Dr. Smith joined SGU this April to teach epidemiology and biostatistics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic, a Master of Science from Drexel University in biostatistics, and a research doctorate in human biology from LMU. During her studies at LMU, she served as a graduate research assistant for Helmholtz Center in Munich, which develops personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes, lung disease, and allergy.

“I believe a combination of research support and relevant teaching is what will make a difference to young MD students, and it’s what brought me to SGU,” said Dr. Smith. “Science has always seemed like a universal language, and it’s very gratifying to see that others feel that way too.”

SGU Student Receives Prestigious Grant for Prostate Cancer Marker Research

Aleef Rahman’s commitment to prostate cancer research has been unwavering since it began, and now with a prestigious grant through the New York Academy of Medicine, the St. George’s University medical student can take his project—and his passion—even farther.

This spring, the Academy selected Mr. Rahman as the 2017 recipient of the Ferdinand C. Valentine Medical Student Research Grant in Urology. Mr. Rahman will conduct his research project, titled “Characterization and Validation of Novel Prostate Cancer Markers,” under the guidance of his mentor, Dr. Srinivas Pentyala, Director of Translational Research at Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York.

“When I received confirmation of this prestigious award, I was floored,” Mr. Rahman said. “I had previously received a research grant before, but this one being specifically from the New York Academy of Medicine was a great honor. It’s very humbling to know that only one or two people nationally get this award every year, and all the hard work that I put in has paid off.”

In addition to spending the next 10 to 12 weeks conducting research at SBU, Mr. Rahman is expected to present his research findings at the Academy’s annual Medical Student Forum in September, to an audience of Academy Fellows, faculty mentors, research colleagues, and fellow student grant awardees.

Research has always been a passion of Mr. Rahman’s, particularly throughout his years in undergraduate school at Stony Brook University and later in graduate school. Prior to enrolling at SGU, Mr. Rahman was the Director for Research in the Department of Surgery for Mount Sinai Services at Elmhurst Hospital Center. He then decided to combine his research skills with a medical degree to advance his professional career.

Working with Dr. Pentyala for almost a decade, Mr. Rahman’s research project will expand on his mentor’s previous discovery of three different diagnosis markers for prostate cancer. Mr. Rahman’s intention is to characterize what these markers look like, their genetic code, and how physicians in the future can utilize his findings as a novel marker for prostate cancer.

“Once this summer project is complete, my goal is to continue working with Dr. Pentyala, with the hope that one day doctors can use our results for earlier detection and diagnosis of prostate cancer,” added Mr. Rahman. “It’s exciting to think that the work we’re doing now can have a significant impact in saving the lives of patients in the future.”

St. George’s University Mourns Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior

Ernest Jackson Lawson Soulsby, Baron Soulsby of Swaffham Prior passed away on Monday at his home in Swaffham Prior. As the former President of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation, former Chairman of the UK Board of Trustees for WINDREF, and a 20-year member of the Academic Board, he leaves behind a noteworthy legacy at St. George’s University. His remarkable career spanned five decades, during which he made significant contributions to veterinary and human medicine, global public health, parasitology, immunology, and zoonosis through his teaching, inspiring leadership, and scholarly contributions.

“Lord Soulsby’s contributions to WINDREF and St. George’s University leave an incredible legacy, but it is in his contributions to global health and education that his legacy will most endure,” said Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and Director of Research at St. George’s University, and Vice President and Director of WINDREF. “He will be missed by the many students and others who have met him as well as by the thousands who have relied upon his many publications, textbooks, and edited volumes in conducting their own research. His legacy in One Health One Medicine is indelible and his contributions will be missed.”

A distinguished microbiologist and parasitologist, and a leader in the US and UK worlds of veterinary medicine, Lord Soulsby was the first veterinary surgeon raised to the peerage in the United Kingdom.

He advised the UK government on animal welfare, science and technology, biotechnology, and environmental issues. He was President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the Royal Society of Medicine, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, the Royal Institute of Public Health, and the Royal Society for Public Health. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Biology, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Royal Society for Public Health, the Royal Society of Medicine, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

His career included positions as Professor of Parasitology at the University of Pennsylvania and Professor of Animal Pathology at the University of Cambridge, where he was Dean for several years. Earlier, Lord Soulsby was in general veterinary practice in the north of England, a Veterinary Officer for the City of Edinburgh, and a lecturer in clinical parasitology at the University of Bristol. He was an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Cambridge.

Lord Soulsby was also a Visiting Professor at various universities in Europe, the Far East, South America, and the United States. He is an honorary member of numerous international parasitology societies and has been awarded nine honorary degrees and several awards for his research. He published 14 books, as well as many articles in various veterinary and parasitological journals.

In 2015, the RCVS awarded him the Queen’s Medal, its highest award for services to veterinary medicine. His global experience provided an incredible resource for international agencies and he served as an advisor and consultant to World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, Pan American Health Organization, United Nations Development Program, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Department for International Development, and to numerous governments and universities.

Lord Soulsby is survived by his daughter, Katrina, and his granddaughter, Kananu. His service will be held at the Church of St. Mary, Swaffham Prior, at 2:00 pm local time on Wednesday, May 24. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Soulsby Foundation.

Hemoglobinometer Donation Promises Patients Need No Longer Dread Finger Pricks

“No more tears” was the promise made to the patients of the Pediatric Ward at the Grenada General Hospital. Through US-based technology manufacturer Masimo Corporation, the St. George’s University Advisory Board for Sickle Cell Association of Grenada (SCAG) recently secured the donation of a hemoglobinometer – the first and only FDA-cleared technology that noninvasively and continuously measures hemoglobin without a painful needle stick and invasive blood draw.

“This Masimo unit is a noninvasive way of getting hemoglobin measurements on both pediatric and adult patients,” said Dr. Beverly Nelson, MD SGU ’86, Co-Chair of Pediatrics and Consultant Pediatrician for the Ministry of Health, Grenada. “It’s bright red and very easy to introduce to the child. You also get a measurement that will allow you to give an instant assessment and improve patient care with minimal deviations of accuracy from the normally dreaded finger prick.”

The Pronto device, which is useful for 8,000 measurements before needing to replace its probes, uses optical or light sensors to measure the total amount of hemoglobin in the body, avoiding the requirement of pricking the finger to get a blood sample for a lab test.

Housed in the Pediatric Ward of the General Hospital, the device will also be used by SGU students at health fairs, and for use on sickle cell patients at the monthly SCAG health clinic. Discovering the device is not currently validated for use on patients who suffer from sickle cell disease (SCD) only after it was secured, SGU’s advisory board now hopes to certify the Pronto, especially since one in 10 people in Grenada carry the sickle cell trait, according to SCAG.

Grenada also has an important place in the disease’s history, as the first recorded case was found in Dr. Walter Clement Noel, a Grenadian, in 1910.

“A main reason that we contacted Masimo was to support treatment of Grenadians who have SCD,” stated Dr. Andrew Sobering, Professor, Department of Biochemistry at SGU. “Validation will be done by comparing the measurement from the Pronto device to the standard lab test which involves a blood draw. This project is straightforward because there are enough people with SCD for us to create meaningful comparisons. This will be an important contribution to the international medical community as it will allow quick spot checks for hemoglobin to be done on SCD patients.”

The SGU Advisory Board for SCAG consists of founding members Drs. Felicia Ikolo, Chair and Liaison to SCAG; Mary Maj, Coordinator with Student Health Fairs; Tuula Jalonen, Researcher; and Dr. Sobering, who heads development and fundraising efforts. The team was also aided by SOM student Josh Whitesides, who wrote the initial draft proposal requesting the donation of the hemoglobinometer. By validating the Masimo device, the board strives to make a strong and valuable contribution to medical science while hopefully securing future donations of additional medical technology to the cause.

Masimo is a global medical technology company that develops and manufactures innovative noninvasive patient monitoring technologies, including medical devices and a wide array of sensors. A key medical technology innovator, Masimo is responsible for the invention of award-winning noninvasive technologies that are revolutionizing patient monitoring, including Masimo SET® pulse oximetry, Masimo Rainbow Pulse CO-Oximetry and new Masimo noninvasive and continuous total hemoglobin (SpHb™) monitoring technology.