St. George’s University Celebrates International Collaboration with Northumbria University

This spring, St. George’s University is concluding celebrations to honor 10 years of collaboration with Northumbria University, Newcastle, in the United Kingdom. The anniversary marks a decade since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, which established the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP)—named after the inspirational late-former Vice Chancellor of SGU. Commemorations of the longstanding relationship began in January 2017; the start of the 10th year.

The KBTGSP allows students on SGU’s four-year medical degree to complete their first year of the basic sciences component of their course at Northumbria University. This enables students to gain a valuable insight into cross-cultural medical practices, and experience of living and studying in an international setting. Since its inception a decade ago, more than 1,800 students have enrolled in the program, where they follow the same successful curriculum as offered to students in Grenada.

“The program has been exemplary in demonstrating that two universities based in different countries can cooperate in developing an academic program that produces true ‘global scholars,’” said Dr. David Holmes, Associate Dean of the KBTGSP. “The academic success of the KBTGSP students, and their consistently high praise of their experience on the program, and of living in Newcastle, is testimony to the efforts of members of both universities.”

The 10-year anniversary dinner was held on January 10 in Northumbria University’s Great Hall. A welcome address was given by Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Northumbria University. A welcome speech was also given by Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University, and guests included Baroness Howells of St. Davids, President of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) and the only Grenadian in the House of Lords.

“This anniversary marks a significant milestone in the relationship between Northumbria University and St. George’s University, and also coincides with our 25-year anniversary as a University,” said Professor Francis. “Northumbria has a global reputation for delivering academic excellence and the partnership with SGU is just one demonstration of that. For 10 years, students on the Global Scholars Program have enriched Northumbria’s rich academic community through their academic and extracurricular contributions, and we are delighted to have helped to develop doctors who are saving lives across the globe, thanks to this relationship. I look forward to the partnership continuing into the future.”

Speaking on the importance of the collaboration, Dr. Olds said, “There is no substitute for a well-rounded medical education in producing world-leading physicians, and gaining experience in international settings is invaluable. Our students are fortunate to have this opportunity available to them in their first year, and benefit significantly from their time at Northumbria. The KBTGSP is an ideal international program for medical students who wish devote at least a portion of their professional lives to the service of developing countries, underserved regions of the world, or international NGOs. Developing students with such ambition is a key aim of SGU”.

On January 11, the day after the anniversary dinner, the next intake of students were welcomed onto the KBTGSP in a traditional White Coat Ceremony. Having been ‘robed’ in their white coats, the students will make a professional commitment to the medical profession.

As part of the anniversary celebrations of the partnership between Northumbria University and SGU, alumni of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program have been sharing their memories of their time in Newcastle. Joshua Ramjist, MD SGU ’11, a general surgery resident at Maimonides Medical Center in New York, joined the program in 2007. “The Global Scholars Program was hands down the best experience of my life,” he said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was able to focus on my study skills and develop as a student.”

Jessica Best, MD SGU ’12, is now an emergency medicine physician in Austin, Texas, after completing her EM residency at University Medical Center Brackenridge—the very hospital where she was born. Dr. Best completed the first year of her basic sciences on the KBTGSP, and also spent time studying in Thailand as part of SGU’s two-week elective course. Commenting on her time at the University, she said “I was able to live and learn in all these wonderful places, and form an opinion on what works and what doesn’t. I’m happy to share my experience with prospective students.”

Behavioral Sciences Professor Honored for Epilepsy Diagnosis Research

Another example of St. George’s University’s increased emphasis and commitment on research, the University’s Dr. Karen Blackmon was recently selected by the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) to receive the 2018 Laird S. Cermak Award, a distinction that recognizes the best research in the area of memory or memory disorders.

“It’s very encouraging to see that the research efforts of faculty and students at St. George’s University are being recognized internationally,” said Dr. Blackmon, an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at SGU. “This award calls attention to an active and thriving research culture at SGU, and I am grateful to be a part of its continued advancement.”

A New York State licensed clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Blackmon conducted this research along with her colleague, Dr. Thomas Thesen, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology, Neuroscience, and Behavioral Sciences at SGU, as well as Michelle Kruse, a third-year School of Medicine student currently on clinical rotations in New York.

Their work titled, “Temporal lobe gray-white blurring and Wada memory impairment in MRI-negative temporal lobe epilepsy,” utilized quantitative MRI technologies to characterize the neuroanatomical features of an epilepsy subtype that is challenging to diagnose and treat.

“Our research showed that subtle abnormalities at the cortical gray and white matter junction are associated with a distinct pattern of memory impairment, which could lead to improvements in diagnosis and surgical planning for people with this disorder,” added Dr. Blackmon. “We are hoping that our research demonstrates the value of combining MRI post-processing methods with neuropsychological assessment to increase precision in epilepsy diagnosis.”

The International Neuropsychological Society, founded in 1967, is a multi-disciplinary, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing communication among the scientific disciplines which contribute to the understanding of brain-behavior relationships. INS holds two meetings per year that provide a venue for cognitive and clinical neuroscientists from around the world to share their research and increase their understanding of the driving forces behind cognition and behavior.

The award honors the contributions of Dr. Laird S. Cermak, the former Director of the Memory Disorders Research Center at Boston University and Editor of the journal Neuropsychology, who dedicated his career to studying cognitive impairments that result from brain damage.

– Ray-Donna Peters

New York Resident Awarded Second-Ever Louis Modica Memorial Scholarship

In 1976, Louis J. Modica helped lay the building blocks for an international medical school in Grenada. More than 40 years later, Owen Cole will pursue his dream of becoming a physician as the second-ever recipient of the Louis Modica Memorial Scholarship.

“Becoming a doctor is something I’ve wanted to do for my entire life, ever since I can remember,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s inspiring because Mr. Modica had this plan, and all these years later, I get to pursue my dream under his name.”

The full-tuition scholarship recipient grew up in Bay Shore, NY, in the same village that Mr. Modica, a real estate developer, helped revitalize in the 1960s. Mr. Cole graduated from nearby St. John the Baptist High School and also teaching religious education to sixth- and seventh-graders at St. Patrick’s Parish in town. A two-week mission trip to Chaclacayo, Peru, after his junior year in high school only strengthened Mr. Cole’s drive toward a career in medicine. There, he learned under Dr. Anthony Lazzara in the Hogar San Francisco de Asis, a facility that treats destitute and sick children and young adults.

In particular, he recalled a 14-year-old boy named Victor who was born with one leg and no arms—as a result of, it’s believed, a failed home abortion. Nevertheless, Victor grew to “do everything that you or I could do, all because of Dr. Tony.” More than 30 years ago, Dr. Lazzara left an academic position at Emory University in Georgia to treat underprivileged children in the developing world through the Villa La Paz Foundation.

“It was incredible to see how humble Dr. Tony was,” Mr. Cole said. “He’s given up his life to treat these kids that otherwise wouldn’t be treated.”

Mr. Cole went on to attend the University of Virginia, from which he graduated in 3½ years with a degree in environmental science. After completing his studies, he remained in Charlottesville to volunteer in UVA Medical Center’s intensive care unit and surgical department, in preparation for medical school.

Then came the call about becoming the second-ever Modica Scholarship recipient.

“I was blown away,” Mr. Cole said. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I can’t wait to start my medical career, and I’m really looking forward to living in such a unique environment.”

Mr. Cole will travel to Grenada in January to begin Term 1 at SGU. In addition to pursuing a career in pediatrics, he hopes to provide care for needy communities abroad through an organization such as Doctors Without Borders.

– Brett Mauser

New Zealand Anatomy Conference Examines Impact of “Stethoscope of the Future”

A foundation component of medical education for every clinician, anatomy has recently emerged in the practice of ultrasound technology. Together, they have been called “the stethoscope of the future,” not only in a clinical setting but in the classroom.

For nearly a decade, Dr. Marios Loukas, Dean of Basic Sciences at St. George’s University, has spearheaded its implementation at SGU. As a keynote speaker at the 2017 Australasian & New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists (ANZACA), held at the University of Auckland from December 4-6, Dr. Loukas outlined how and why ultrasound has become an integral part of the St. George’s University curriculum.

“We’ve invested a lot in ultrasound training and we’re really ahead of the curve,” Dr. Loukas said. “As more and more schools are teaching it, it’s important that we explain how we did it, why it’s proven beneficial, some problems that we’ve faced, and how we have sorted it out.”

Ultrasound has been a platform for Dr. Loukas at past conferences, including the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) conference held in Grenada in 2012, after which several attendees obtained hands-on experience utilized SGU’s expansive ultrasound technology during a one-day postgraduate course on the True Blue campus. Dr. Loukas was appointed President of the AACA in 2017.

In New Zealand, he was joined in his presentation by Dr. Anne Agur, a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and Past President of the AACA; and Dr. Brion Benninger, Executive Director of the Medical Anatomy Center at Western University of Health Sciences in Oregon.

“It was a nice balance,” said Dr. Loukas. “I was able to explain the dean perspective, including our objectives, milestones, and competencies, Dr. Agur provided the health allied sciences angle, and Dr. Benninger showed how ultrasound is integrated into his anatomy course.”

In addition, Dr. James Coey, Associate Course Director for Human Gross and Developmental Anatomy at Northumbria University, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at NU, were presented with an award for their research on how anatomy instruction across the globe, and what is the most effective way to teach the subject.

“It is imperative to drive our practice by evidence, communicate and collaborate with other medical educators to create an approach fit for today’s requirements and challenges,” Dr. Sulaiman said. “We are very thrilled having received this recognition from an esteemed organization such as ANZACA and we hope that our results and suggestions would drive further discussion and collaboration among anatomy educators.”

Earlier in 2017, Drs. Coey and Sulaiman were recognized for their work by the Anatomical Society of South Africa. In addition, second-year SGU student Jenna Kroeker was recognized by the best clinical anatomy poster presentation at the American Association of Clinical Anatomy annual meeting.

Mini-Med School Plants Seeds for Grenada’s Future Physicians

Medical students can often point to the moment when their interest in medicine was sparked. By hosting a mini-medical school on general wellness and sickle cell disease for students from Westmorland Secondary School, the St. George’s University Chapter of the Student National Medical Association hoped to plant that seed in their minds and hearts as well.

During the visit, WSS students explored the field of medicine with interactive healthcare lessons, including learning how to take a pulse, identifying signs of anemia, and listening to a heartbeat.

“Children love this kind of hands-on approach to learning,” said Mrs. Meredith Swan-Sampson, Head of the Science Department at Westmorland Secondary School. “The mini-med school generated more interest in the medical field within the students by providing insight into the profession. Our students learned more about what it’s like becoming a doctor and all that it entails from a student perspective.”

In addition to a presentation on sickle cell disease by the members of SGU’s Internal Medicine Club, the students also learned about the components of the blood, conducted physical examinations, and received a lesson on how to perform CPR. At the end of the day, the visiting students took part in a mini-graduation ceremony, receiving certificates of participation and the added treat of being allowed to take photos in the white coats of the SNMA members.

“While in Grenada, we wanted to find more ways to interact with the youth and help encourage them to become doctors as well,” said Danae Brierre, SNMA President. “The purpose of SNMA-SGU Chapter is not only to promote medicine in the underserved communities but also to help influence the students of our host country through our outreach and education programs like the mini-med school. We’re here in Grenada becoming doctors and we want to show them that as Grenadians they too can become doctors here at SGU.”

With the mission of diversifying the face of medicine, SNMA chapters based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the US are designed to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color. Additionally, SNMA is dedicated both to ensuring that medical education and services are culturally sensitive to the needs of diverse populations and to increasing the number of African-American, Latino, and other students of color entering and completing medical school.

St. George’s University Strikes Partnership with Trent University to Provide Direct Entry to Medical and Veterinary School

Representatives from St. George’s University and Trent University announce the institutions’ new academic partnership. From left to right, Sasha Trivett, Dr. James Shipley, Sandra Banner, Charles Furey, Nona Robinson, and Dr. David Ellis.

Today, St. George’s University announced a new partnership with Peterborough, Ontario-based Trent University to provide qualified Trent undergraduates with direct admission to its Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

The two universities commemorated the partnership at a signing ceremony on Trent’s campus. Canadian consultants Sandra Banner and Charles Furey were on hand to represent St. George’s.

“This partnership offers passionate and engaged Trent students a direct pathway to a top-notch post-graduate education in medicine or veterinary medicine,” St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds said. “We’re excited to welcome aspiring doctors and veterinarians from Trent to St. George’s.”

To qualify, Trent University students must complete the Medical Professional Stream, a four-year program designed to guide students into careers in medicine and public health.

St. George’s medical students may spend their first two years studying in Grenada, or choose to complete their first year at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program before returning to Grenada for their second year. During the third and fourth years, students will complete clinical rotations in the United States, United Kingdom, or Canada. In recent years, SGU students have completed more than 300 electives in Canadian hospitals.

Veterinary students spend their first three years studying in Grenada. They then complete their final year at one of the many veterinary schools throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Ireland affiliated with SGU. After sitting the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam, students can begin practicing in the United States or Canada.

St. George’s new partnership with Trent is one of over 30 it maintains with institutes of higher learning in 12 different countries. This will be the fifth partnership for St. George’s with a Canadian institution.

“St. George’s offers a globally focused education, and our partnerships with universities like Trent support that mission,” Dr. Olds said. “We look forward to helping Trent graduates realize their dreams of becoming doctors and veterinarians.”

St. George’s University Offers New Grants for January Med School Enrollees

 

Today, St. George’s University awarded scholarships to four applicants to the University’s medical school as part of its #SGUperspective program. The winners will each receive up to $10,000.

“We are delighted to honor these individuals with scholarships through the #SGUperspective program,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “These grants are helping us attract a January class with a passion for medicine and a wide range of viewpoints and experiences.”

#SGUperspective scholarships are available to new students who enroll in the January 2018 class. Students can apply by creating a 30-60 second video highlighting the aspects of medicine that inspire them, sharing it on social media with the hashtag #SGUperspective, and submitting it here for evaluation by the University’s admissions committee. St. George’s will award scholarships of up to $10,000 to as many as 30 students.

Winning perspectives have included leadership and service (Michael DeLuca), having an open heart (Joseph Varvarigos), connect with patients (Adam Kirstein) and empathy in medicine (Laraib Sehrish). This late-entry grant program will be accepting application for the January 2018 class until December 31.

Applicants to St. George’s January class will also be eligible for the newly established Humanitarian Scholarship, which is awarded to students who demonstrate a commitment to philanthropy and community service. Like the #SGUperspective grants, this scholarship is available only to students entering in January.

Students applying for admission in January will also be considered for CityDoctors Scholarships, which support students planning to work in urban hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.

“We look forward to welcoming a class of students this January who are committed to academic excellence,” Dr. Olds said. “Our video grant program has already led us to four future superstars who will bring innovative, unique perspectives to medicine—and we look forward to identifying many more.”

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.

St. George’s University Launches Online Master of Public Health Program

In a first for St. George’s University, students will now be able to obtain a Master of Public Health online—widening the opportunity for students around the world to benefit from SGU’s teaching program. Launched to coincide with the University’s 40th anniversary, the move encapsulates SGU’s commitment to teach in innovative ways in the years ahead, while improving access to medical education.

SGU’s MPH graduate degree produces leading public health practitioners and researchers for the Caribbean and for the rest of the world. Those who opt to study the course online pursue a degree specialization in the Global Health Track, which is designed to help students gain insight into issues that impact public health on a global scale. Students will learn how to plan, design, and implement programs to benefit the overall health of communities across the globe.

Commenting on the launch, Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost for International Program Development and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said: “SGU is a leading international university, and it is fitting that, in our 40th anniversary year, we are providing the opportunity for those interested in furthering their knowledge in global public health, to take our MPH program online. By taking our Master of Public Health course online, more students from around the world—many of whom live in areas with chronic shortages of public health professionals—will be able to obtain a qualification from St. George’s University’s School of Graduate Studies.”

The course will provide students with the background to address issues that impact global healthcare such as occupational health, preventative healthcare, as well as environmental health concerns including waste and water management, and air pollution control.

SGU’s MPH degree program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), the US accrediting body for public health programs.

Off-Duty MD Grad Treats Casualties During Las Vegas Shooting Tragedy

Adiofel Mark Mendoza, MD SGU ’14 (right), with family in Las Vegas

First he witnessed two ambulances screaming down Las Vegas Boulevard, and over the next five minutes or so, three or four more zoomed past. Adiofel Mark Mendoza, MD SGU ’14, thought it unusual for a Sunday night—even in Las Vegas, where he was wrapping up a five-day vacation with family.

Dr. Mendoza checked the local dispatcher feed and pieced together information on an active shooter situation just four blocks south—at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

That’s when he, like many off-duty service workers, sprung into action. Dr. Mendoza raced to the scene and helped set up a triage center for injured concert goers about 1,000 feet from the site of the tragedy. Over the next six to eight hours, he treated approximately 20 patients who had been injured during the massacre, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.

Dr. Mendoza—who is a full-time hospitalist at Summit Medical Group in New Jersey—confessed that he feels fortunate to have been able to help, but upset that such an event required it.

“I was honored to be there,” he said. “I’m glad there was something that I could do, and that I had the training, unfortunately, that was needed.

“It was a group effort. It was amazing how people were just running up to us asking what they could do, how they could help – nurses who were off duty, EMTs, off-duty or retired law enforcement, ex-military. A lot of people saved a lot of lives and did more courageous things than I did.”

Upon learning of the active situation outside the Mandalay Bay, Dr. Mendoza took a cab as close to the site as he could get before approaching it on foot. En route, he encountered a young woman bleeding from her pelvis, and her boyfriend who had been shot in the shoulder. After providing immediate treatment, Dr. Mendoza flagged down two ambulances and directed the drivers to rush the couple to the nearest trauma center immediately.

He then boarded an ambulance and, amid the chaos, made his way to the main command center—a circle of approximately 30 ambulances and fire trucks on Las Vegas Boulevard that allowed medical personnel to safely treat casualties. Injured concert goers slowly began to trickle in, many on makeshift wheelchairs—office chairs that had been borrowed from nearby businesses. They were treated for both physical and mental trauma.

“Truthfully, it was like being in the emergency room, just on a mass scale,” he said. “It was like being on the job. I’ve gone through a range of emotions and when people asked me about what happened, I really didn’t know what to say. I’m just thankful that I was there and that could help out in some way.”

Dr. Mendoza had been exposed to high-level trauma cases during his clinical training in New York City, Newark, and Chicago. He joined Summit Health after completing his internal medicine residency at New York University Langone Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY this summer, and has his sights set on becoming a military doctor. He is currently in the middle of the review process to be commissioned in the United States Navy Reserves.

“During my training, I volunteered myself every time there was a trauma code because those are the cases I want to be involved in,” Dr. Mendoza said. I forced myself to be in those situations so I could desensitize myself and be in the right state of mind when I’m needed.”

“It’s very upsetting to see something like this,” he continued. “I don’t know how people could do this to each other. In the ER, you see accidents where people come in with broken bones and such, but this was intentional, and these were innocent people who just there on vacation. They in no way deserved this.”