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.

St. George’s University Awards $1.1 Million in CityDoctors Scholarships to Eight NYC-Based Students

St. George’s University School of Medicine and NYC Health + Hospitals have announced that eight students from the New York metropolitan area have been awarded $1.1 million in CityDoctors scholarships. In return, awardees commit to practicing primary care medicine at one of 11 public hospitals in New York City following graduation. Since its inception in 2012, the CityDoctors scholarship program has awarded 99 students with scholarships worth a total of $10.3 million.

“The CityDoctors scholarship program was created to help some of New York’s best and brightest achieve their dream of pursuing a career in medicine in their hometown,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “We look forward to equipping a new group of students with the skills they’ll need to provide quality health care in New York’s neediest communities.”

The 2018 class of CityDoctors scholarship recipients are a diverse group of women and men, representing Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Recipients hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from a range of prestigious institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, St. John’s University, Boston University, City College of New York, SUNY Albany, Lehman College, the College of Staten Island, and New York City College of Technology. The following scholarship recipients, each of whom has committed to a two-year term with NYC Health + Hospitals, began medical school this spring in Grenada.

Name Residence
Suemaya Husein Queens
Joseph Varvarigos Queens
Huigen Chen Manhattan
Georgina Kemeh Bronx
Thomas Joyce Staten Island
Gonzalo Militar Queens
Bishoy Gerges Staten Island
Jesam Usani Bronx

“Our ongoing collaboration with St. George’s University demonstrates NYC Health + Hospitals’ commitment to strengthening primary care services across the city,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Graduates of this program commit to practicing primary care in our health system, which helps us fill a gap our communities so desperately feel, and we are happy to welcome them to our team.”

CityDoctors Scholarship students commit to serving as primary care attending physicians at an NYC Health + Hospitals facility following their medical training. Students who receive a full scholarship commit to working for NYC Health + Hospitals for four years; students with half scholarships sign on for two years.

To qualify for a CityDoctors scholarship, applicants must be a US citizen or US permanent resident and meet one or more of the following criteria: have had a permanent address within the five boroughs of New York City for five years or more, have graduated from a high school within New York City, have graduated from a college or university within New York City, have a parent employed by the City of New York or NYC Health + Hospitals, or be employed themselves by the City of New York or NYC Health + Hospitals for at least five years.

The CityDoctors scholarship program is designed to attract and educate the best and brightest students to become doctors committed to serving in urban hospitals. The collaboration between St. George’s University and NYC Health + Hospitals launched in 2012 to help address the shortage of primary care physicians and to increase educational and career opportunities for local youth. The scholarship recipients have been selected based on their academic excellence and financial need, and will receive either partial or full scholarships to pay for medical school tuition for periods of up to four years, with some scholarships valued at more than $200,000 each.

About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthandHospitals or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.

St. George’s University Recognized as an Approved University by the Medical Council of India

St. George’s University welcomed His Excellency, Shri Biswadip Dey, High Commissioner of India (center), for a visit in August 2017.

St. George’s University has been recognized as an approved university by the Medical Council of India (MCI). The accreditation will enable graduates of St. George’s University School of Medicine to practice in India, paving the way for Indian medical students to study at SGU and return home to practice medicine as fully trained doctors.

SGU has a proven record of recruiting international students who go on to practice medicine in their home countries, often in underserved areas. Approximately 1 percent of all practicing doctors in the USA are graduates of St. George’s University, with that figure rising to around 15 percent of the physician population in Trinidad and Tobago, and 20 percent in Botswana. It is hoped that SGU will be able to make a similar contribution to the medical workforce throughout India.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Medical Council of India for supporting us as we achieve this important milestone,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “This recognition will enable us to fulfill our commitment to accept students from India and help us return them as world-class doctors. I look forward to welcoming them to our campus in Grenada.”

St. George’s University School of Medicine draws students and faculty from 140 countries. It is affiliated with education institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. Indian students who enroll in the MD program will be able to take advantage of these institutional links, resulting in qualified doctors with a truly global medical education.

SGU students benefit from joining an institution with significant links to the Commonwealth. In 2019, the University will host the annual conference of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, with the theme of “investing in student success.” Participants will consider how institutions around the world can work to continually develop students throughout the course of their education, resulting in more staying on and completing their studies.

St. George’s University and Fairleigh Dickinson University Launch Medical Education Partnership

St. George’s University has announced a new partnership with Fairleigh Dickinson University that will give qualified FDU students an expedited enrollment path into the School of Medicine at SGU.

“We are delighted to welcome Fairleigh Dickinson’s best and brightest to St. George’s University so that they can pursue their dreams of becoming doctors,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University.

Fairleigh Dickinson students will be eligible to apply for admission to the medical and veterinary schools at St. George’s University if they complete their undergraduate courses with a minimum cumulative 3.4 GPA and attain an MCAT score within five points of the average among SGU matriculants the previous term. Fairleigh Dickinson undergrads who have completed a minimum of 30 credits and met SGU’s admissions standards will be invited to interview.

Fairleigh Dickinson students seeking entry to the program will also have the opportunity to study abroad at St. George’s University during their undergraduate senior fall. They’ll be exposed to a wide range of science coursework and nursing clinical experience, be able to interact with SGU faculty and students, and experience a taste of life in Grenada.

Participants in the program will then either return to Fairleigh Dickinson to complete their degree or remain at St. George’s University to begin their medical or veterinary education with the January class. Those who opt for the latter will receive their bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson after completing their first medical or veterinary school term.

Fairleigh Dickinson joins a network of schools spanning 12 countries that have established similar partnerships with SGU, including 18 others in the United States.

“Our new partnership offers Fairleigh Dickinson students a unique opportunity to fast-track their entry into the physician workforce by working on their undergraduate and graduate medical degrees simultaneously,” Dr. Olds said.

A Step Forward for Aspiring Physicians—and a Familiar Setting for Some

New students at the January 2018 SGUSOM White Coat Ceremony.

More than three decades since earning their own medical degrees at St. George’s University, Matthew Coppola, MD SGU ’84, and his wife Carmela Coppola (née Carpanzano), MD SGU ’84, proudly sat in attendance as their son, Matt, took his first step into the medical profession at the Spring 2018 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.

“Almost 40 years ago, I met my wife in the mailroom at SGU,” said Dr. Coppola, an internal medicine specialist in Pittsburgh, PA. “Six kids later, my son, Matt, is literally following in our footsteps and hopefully will take over my practice one day.”

The 2022 Grenada class joined its fellow students from SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey two weeks earlier at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. All together, this spring’s incoming SOM class welcomes aspiring physicians from 39 US states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and 20 countries.

The Coppolas expect to make more frequent visits to the Spice Isle. In addition to Matt’s entry into the SOM program, the Coppolas’ daughter, Maria, has hopes of attending SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in the near future. Carmela Coppola, who practices neonatology in Pittsburgh, had been back several times in the late 1980s and helped out at Grenada’s General Hospital. A few years ago, the entire family visited the island, and Matt and Maria got a firsthand look at the SGU experience by visiting the 2015 Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy.

Also, returning to SGU was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Donielle Sliwa, MD/MPH SGU ’12, Chief Fellow in Hematology and Oncology at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. Having sat in those same seats and made the same commitment at her own White Coat Ceremony 10 years prior, Dr. Sliwa knew exactly how the incoming class felt.

“At my White Coat Ceremony, I felt a great sense of pride in my decision to become a physician and an eagerness to contribute meaningfully to the rapidly changing landscape of health care,” said Dr. Sliwa. “SGU will now give you the tools and support you need to be successful in medical school, but in the end, your true success will come from your passion to fulfill your dream, your willingness to ask for help, your humility in expressing gratitude, and your perseverance when times get tough.”

Dr. Lee Miller

Dr. Lee Miller, Professor of Pediatrics and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was the evening’s keynote speaker. Addressing the future doctors, he shared five take-home messages centered on impact, exploration, balance, privilege, and pride.

“Don’t ever take for granted the amazing impact you will have in the lives of others. Explore as many arenas as possible to create your own recipe. Maintain balance to build resiliency and to keep yourself whole. And always remember what a privilege it is to wear that white coat and know how proud we are of you today.”

St. George’s University held a moment of silence to acknowledge the passing of Dr. Arnold P. Gold, who passed away on January 23 at the age of 92. A master diagnostician, Dr. Gold became an international leader and advocate for humanism in health care. Through his foundation, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, SGU established the White Coat Ceremony beginning in 1996, and welcomed both Dr. Gold and his wife, Sandra, to deliver the ceremony’s keynote address in 2005. In 2009, his foundation inspired SGU’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, through which preclinical students can engage in service activities for their communities.

In addition to serving as a rite of passage for aspiring physicians, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies coincide with a weekend of activities that help make up Beyond Spice Family Weekend. The University’s bi-annual event welcomes students and family members to soak up nature and culture in Grenada.

– Ray-Donna Peters

In Memoriam: Arnold P. Gold

St. George’s University School of Medicine held its annual Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) Induction Ceremony in New York City in June 2017. The newly inducted medical students were recognized for exemplary humanistic and altruistic efforts demonstrated throughout their medical education.

Dr. Arnold P. Gold encouraged all the aspiring physicians with whom he connected to strive to achieve the “gold standard of health care”—compassion, collaboration, and excellence in medicine—goals that St. George’s University has for its students as well.

The father of the White Coat Ceremony and ambassador for humanistic patient care, Dr. Gold passed away on January 23, 2018, at the age of 92. His presence will be sorely missed in the medical community, yet his values will continue to be preached around the world, including at SGU, where they are part of the fabric of the University’s mission and spirit.

“Dr. Arnold P. Gold holds a very special place in American medicine,” said Dr. John Cush, MD SGU ’81, Director of Clinical Rheumatology at Baylor Scott & White Health in Texas. “At a time when the science and technology of medicine was changing most, he put his efforts on reminding educators and trainees alike that humanism was as important as the science.”

“Dr. Gold was a true role model for any physician who practices medicine, and he and his wife, Sandra, are true embodiments for care, compassion, and kindness to the nth degree,” added Dr. Vishnu Rao, Dean of Students at St. George’s University, who grew fond of Dr. Gold and his family at the annual Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) meetings, calling him “the most respected of all individuals.”

The St. George’s University community is reminded of Dr. Gold’s influence at the bi-annual White Coat Ceremonies, which mark a first-term student’s official entry into the medical or veterinary medical profession. Dr. Gold ushered in the first-ever White Coat Ceremony in the United States in 1993 at Columbia University. It debuted at St. George’s University School of Medicine on the Grand Anse campus in August 1996, with Dr. Ben Carson, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital—and future US presidential candidate—delivering the keynote speech. The School of Veterinary Medicine began holding White Coat Ceremonies for Term 1 students six years later.

“His efforts to introduce medical students to the guild of medicine with an honor of a ‘white coat ceremony’ will forever be remembered by thousands of physicians who will trace their beginnings back to the ritual and ceremony he created,” Dr. Cush said.

Dr. Gold’s contribution to SGU came full circle in January 2005 when both Arnold and Sandra Gold delivered the SOM White Coat Ceremony address at Patrick Adams Hall in True Blue. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson, Professor and Chair of SGU’s Department of Bioethics, worked with the Golds to introduce the White Coat Ceremonies at SGU.

“Dr. Gold was always incredibly attentive and interactive with individuals, and he loved talking to students,” she said. “He was very accepting and had a way of making people relax and be themselves.”

Dr. Gold emitted this warmth during his own career as a world-renowned pediatric neurologist. He was the “quintessential clinician” according to Dr. Lee Goldman, Chief Executive at Columbia University, where Dr. Gold practiced and taught for more than 50 years.

His impact stretched far beyond the city limits however. In 1988, he co-founded the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that empowers medical students and doctors to sustain a human connection with their patients. Such care was the basis for launching the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), which recognizes senior medical students for their humanistic and altruistic efforts during medical education.

In 2005, Dr. Cush worked with the foundation to establish a St. George’s University chapter of the GHHS. The first class of 13 nominees were recognized in 2006, and since then, several hundred SGU students have earned the distinction.

“The Arnold P. Gold Humanism Honor Society awards have been incorporated into most medical schools, and honors those medical students who devote themselves to serving patients, public health, and causes not usually required by the curriculum,” Dr. Cush said. “His loss is a grand opportunity to extol his contributions to medicine, such that they can be emulated by other mentors and those who benefitted from his influence.”

Dr. Gold’s compassion in medicine extended across a wide spectrum, including religion. While visiting Grenada in the mid 2000s, Dr. Gold and his wife welcomed an international panel of SGU students to a cultural competency symposium, at which each shared how their belief and faith systems apply to medicine.

“Promoting humanism in medicine is immensely important,” said Dr. Cox Macpherson. “As much as we are providing students with the knowledge and skills to be successful physicians, we are instilling the elements of compassion, respect, and empathy that are inextricably linked with health care.”

– Brett Mauser

St. George’s University Announces New Direct Pathway to Medical School for Students at the College of Saint Elizabeth

College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ

TRUE BLUE, Grenada (January 25)Today, St. George’s University launched a new combined degree program with the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ.

Qualified students will be able to receive simultaneous admission to the College of Saint Elizabeth and St. George’s University School of Medicine. If they maintain certain minimum academic standards as undergraduates, they’ll be eligible to continue on to SGU to pursue postgraduate medical degrees.

“We at St. George’s University and our friends at the College of Saint Elizabeth are committed to seeking out students who are passionate about medicine and committed to academic excellence.” St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds said. “We’re thrilled to offer these high-caliber students admission to our medical school at the beginning of their college careers.”

“We look forward to this new partnership with St. George’s and the possibilities that it brings for our students,” said College of Saint Elizabeth President Helen J. Streubert. “As a College with a long history of STEM education, this combined degree program builds on our strengths and gives our students the opportunity to seamlessly join a high-quality medical school.”

Students interested in the new program must declare their intention when they apply to the College of Saint Elizabeth. The two institutions will conduct interviews with qualified applicants to determine whether to offer admission to the combined degree program. Undergraduate students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 and achieve an MCAT score within five points of the average for students who enrolled at St. George’s the previous term to achieve full admission.

After students complete the agreed-upon premedical curriculum and meet other standard requirements for admission to SGU, they will be eligible to spend their first two years of medical school in Grenada. Students will complete the next two years of clinical training at hospitals in the United Kingdom or the United States. They will be encouraged to return to New Jersey for their clinical rotations and residencies.

The College of Saint Elizabeth joins St. George’s University’s 30-plus partners across 12 countries. It is SGU’s 19th institutional partner in the United States, and fourth in New Jersey.

“Our network of partnerships ensures that we’ll have a diverse array of students from all over the world,” Dr. Olds said. “We look forward to welcoming the College of Saint Elizabeth’s most talented graduates to our campus in Grenada—and helping them pursue their dreams of becoming doctors.”

Global Scholars Learn What It Means to Be a Doctor

Keith B. Taylor

In January, St. George’s University medical students in the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program were welcomed to Northumbria University to take part in the traditional White Coat Ceremony. Students were presented with their White Coats by leading medical professionals, including Master of Ceremonies Dr. Ranmith Perera and Keynote Speaker Dr. Linda de Cossart.

Ranmith Perera, MD SGU ’94, thanked the University for providing him with the opportunity to pursue his career in medicine. He spoke of losing hope when, in the early 1980s, the government of Sri Lanka closed down the North Colombo Medical School, where he was enrolled. But he explained, thanks to a special program established at SGU, Sri Lankan medical students were welcomed to Grenada to continue their studies.

Dr. Perera went on to outline his journey, beginning as a pathologist at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh and Western General Hospital as a Senior House Officer in Histopathology, before becoming a Specialty Registrar in London at St. George’s Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. He is now a consultant pathologist in the Department of Cellular Pathology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest kidney transplant programmes in the UK.

His parting words outlined to the valuable contribution SGU’s students will make to society. “There is a global shortage of doctors, so work hard and hurry up. The world can’t wait.”

In her keynote address, Dr. Linda de Cossart spoke about what it means to be a doctor. “Is being a doctor just another job?” she asked—before highlighting the great responsibility the students will face following graduation. Being a doctor is different, she suggested, “because the patients you will meet will be vulnerable; often at one of the lowest points in their lives.”

Commenting on the role of technology in medicine, and the concerns within some parts of the medical community that automation may remove the need for doctors, Dr. de Cossart said, “technological prowess and scientific knowledge are essential, but the thing that will define you as a doctor is how you deal with patients.” She emphasized that, while doctors must be adaptable and stay on top of technological advancements, their role as a compassionate figure providing reassurance and dignity to patients is not under threat.

Dr. de Cossart recounted how she learned these lessons from personal experience. Having decided to become a vascular surgeon, she was set back early in her career when—having run into the operating theatre to assist in an ongoing procedure, she fainted. Struggling to come to terms with what had happened, it was months later when Dr. de Cossart was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening disease. While her recovery took a number of years, by seeking help and support from others, she went on to enjoy a long career—for 22 years as a Consultant Vascular and General Surgeon, and now as an Emeritus Consultant. In 1999, Dr. de Cossart was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons, where she served as Vice President—proving that even the greatest obstacles can be overcome.

“Surround yourself with help,” she implored the students. “You will need it.”

Lending the benefit of her experience as a world-leading surgeon, she cautioned the students to prepare for their first day as a qualified doctor. “You may feel ready, and you can have all the knowledge in the world. But until you are standing in front of a patient, having to make a decision that will impact their lives, you won’t know what it’s like.” Warning that this will be unnerving, she advised the students to embrace the responsibility. “Your professional development will be shaped by these experiences.”

“I hope some of the things I have said today have inspired you” were her parting words. The students’ applause confirmed that they had.

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