Dr. Emily Iker, School of Medicine ’81, Selected President of the American Society of Lymphology (ASL)

eimly iker president aslDr. Emily Iker-d’Harnoncourt was recently named President of the American Society of Lymphology (ASL), a nationally recognized non-profit organization founded in 1996. In this position, her primary focus will be to educate key members of the healthcare profession on the importance of early diagnosis of lymphatic disorders and to establish uniformed guidelines for treatment, training, information and insurance regulations.

Dr. Iker is well versed in the field of lymphology, specializing in lymphedema – a chronic condition commonly seen in cancer patients, which results in extreme swelling of the limbs.  As Director and Founder of the Lymphedema Center in Santa Monica, CA, Dr. Iker has focused on the diagnosis, management and treatment of lymphatic disorders for over 15 years.  She is certified by Professor A. Leduc, PhD, a world renowned leader in the research and treatment of lymphedema. Dr. Iker is a member of many Lymphological Societies, including ISL and GEL, as well as both Slovak and Czech Lymphological Societies where she was awarded the Honorary Membership of the Lymphological Association of J.E. Purkyne, in 1999.

Dr. Iker is board certified by the American Boards of Holistic Medicine and is a staff member of Santa Monica – UCLA Medical Center.  She is not only the Director of the Lymphedema Center but a patient as well.  “Because I have the experience in lymphology as a hands-on MD for over a decade, and I am very active nationally and internationally as a teacher, lecturer and treating physician, I was selected for the position of President of the ASL.” She continued, “With early diagnosis and the uniformed guidelines for treatment we will see less complicated cases and better care for the lymphedema patients.”

Published on 3/1/08

St. George’s School of Medicine Represented at American College of Physicians New Jersey Challenge Bowl

Five SGU Students Represented at American College of Physicians New Jersey Challenge BowlOn February 1st, 2008 five students from St. George’s University School of Medicine impressed an audience of peers and mentors at the American College of Physicians New Jersey (ACP NJ) Chapter Challenge Bowl. This was the first year St. George’s students were invited to participate in the one-day event.

SGUSOM physicians Arash Seratnahaei, Amit Keswani, Rajesh Ramachandran, Robinder Singh and Kelly Lebak are residents at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and represented both institutions with pride and expertise as their skills were put to the test.  Of the 10 “Jeopardy-style” questions asked, SGUSOM physicians answered an impressive nine correctly.  Although the team did not win, their performance made St. George’s and St. Barnabas extremely proud.

The competition is designed for 4th year medical students who have completed all core rotations in New Jersey or are originally from New Jersey.  The four participating student teams were from the New Jersey Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, the UMDNJ Osteopathic School of Medicine and Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

According to Amit Keswani, who was asked to head up the SGU student group, this was an excellent opportunity for our students to meet and interact with students from US based medical schools.  “SGU was well received, and all students were pleased to have us participate in the event,” said Keswani.

Another bonus was the opportunity to attend presentations and participate in workshops, as the Challenge was held at the ACP NJ Annual Meeting.  Amit looks forward to SGU delivering another strong presence next year.

Published on 2/27/08

SOM Welcomes Incoming Class of Medical Students

leigh b grossmanSt. George’s University School of Medicine officially welcomed a fresh class of medical students on January 21, 2008 at the new Charter Hall auditorium to mark their entry into medicine at the symbolic White Coat Ceremony, the 25th of the series.  The 424 students in this class hail from 26 countries; after the United States, the countries with the highest student representation were Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.

The SGU alumni Master of Ceremonies was Dr. John Madden, Associate Dean of Students in the United States and Director of the Office of Student Development and Career Guidance.  Resisting the temptation to speak about the history of the medical school, Dr. Madden gave a vivid account of his life as a physician in the emergency department of a major New York hospital.

Dr. Allen Pensick, the Provost, welcomed the students to the University on behalf of the Chancellor, expressed the Chancellor’s deep regret at being unable to attend the White Coat Ceremony, and wished them well as they begin a “great and noble” career.

In introducing Dr. Leigh B. Grossman, the keynote speaker, Dr. Madden spoke of her distinguished career in pediatrics.

In marked contrast to her imposing academic record, however, Dr. Grossman spoke about three simple, yet crucial, things for every physician to follow.

“Firstly, you will be called on to take care of patients everywhere and throughout your professional and personal life and to not compromise on the care of those that feel they can request this of you (your family, close friends, etc.) but rather to provide them with the best possible medical care. Secondly, you must have a life outside of medicine…to perfect a life, not just a profession. And, thirdly, you should get to know your patients…the social history…who they really are as the people behind the illnesses…know what they do, where they have been, what their personal story is and in real detail as this will affect how they react to a new diagnosis and how they manage and/or cope with their medical diagnosis.  Their social history, their story will similarly affect the outcome of the diagnosis that you make.”

To illustrate her point, Dr. Grossman described some social histories of her patients and ended each by concluding “and I am still learning.”  She concluded her speech by revealing parts of her own social history and stated that no doctor should treat her as a patient without being aware of it.  The students, and indeed the rest of the audience, were privileged to receive such a powerful message.

During the ceremony student Kristin Coppola received her white coat from her father Dr. Anthony Coppola, an SOM alumnus and this added a special charm to the ceremony.

Dean Rodney Croft Addresses KBTGSP Students at White Coat Ceremony

SGU Dean Rodney Croft Delivers Keynote Address, emphasizing the critical link between art and medicine.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Mahoney, Sir Malcolm McNaughton, Senior Faculty Members of Northumbria University and St. George’s University Grenada, White Coat Students, Ladies and Gentleman, I would first of all like to thank Dr. Peter Beaumont for his warm welcome, his interesting reflections as an alumnus of St.George’s University School of Medicine and his most kind words of introduction.

It is both a very great pleasure and indeed an enormous privilege  to have been asked to give the keynote address here today on what is for all of us, but especially the White Coat students, a most auspicious and memorable occasion.

As Dean of Clinical Studies in the UK for St. George’s, let me add my heartiest congratulations to you the White Coat Students who are about to enter the St. George’s Keith Taylor Global Scholars basic science programme at Northumbria University.

This is a very significant programme, not only because it is associated with a renowned UK University, Northumbria, but also in the true tradition of St. George’s School of Medicine, it is for a significant number of you directed towards training medical students who either come from developing countries or towards those who wish to subsequently practise in such countries: a dream shared by our late Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Keith Taylor. It is good therefore to see so many countries, fourteen in all, represented amongst the student body here today who number almost one hundred.

Today’s students are the third class to be admitted. I am pleased to inform you the first two classes did very well in their end of first year examinations which is not only a great credit to the students, but also to their teachers who include both Northumbria and St.George’s University Faculty.

So the previous students, guided by their teachers present here today, have set a very good example to follow; a challenge which I am sure today’s new White Coat Students will meet.

I also wish to congratulate you on the serious but celebratory Professional commitment you will shortly make to your forthcoming medical education and future as doctors to be lead by Mr Simon Crocker the UK Departmental Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and witnessed by all present.

Everyone here knows that you young men and women about to be donned with your white coats are in an extremely privileged position: I say that for the very simple reason that there are thousands of your contemporaries around the globe whose dream is to become a doctor but because of various adverse circumstances are denied this privilege. They would love to exchange places with you today because they know only too well you are joining the most noble of professions, medicine, totally committed to the curing and easing of pain and suffering in our fellow men, women and children.

However, do remember, with privilege comes obligation and it is your obligation to your newly adopted profession, to your teachers, your parents, guardians, sponsors, fellow students, but most importantly to yourselves to remain loyal to your Professional Commitment and to succeed in your professional mission. This will of necessity require long periods of intense study and hard work, but like all good medical students I have no doubt you will play hard too!

Remember also that in the rapidly expanding technological world  of medicine, patients not only require men and women of science but also doctors who have humanistic and empathetic skills.

In the Christian religion St. Luke is both the patron Saint of Doctors but also of Artists.
This serves as a very apt and constant reminder to us all that art and medicine are inextricably linked and prior to you beginning your clinical studies in two years time you will be taught during the Medicine in Society course in Grenada the crucially important practise of taking a clinical history from a patient when the humanistic bond between doctor and patient is first forged and which thereafter continues throughout a patient’s care.

Patients live their symptoms on a daily basis. A good doctor trained in taking a focused clinical history becomes a decryptor of a patient’s symptoms and if you learn this art together with your scientific knowledge, you will often by the end of taking the clinical history alone, have a good idea of the diagnosis. What you certainly also will have achieved is the firm foundation of the humanistic bond between patient and physician.

Always remember too, attached to every medical investigation or clinical procedure there is a concerned patient, together with their relatives and friends. The result of each blood test, ECG, X-ray, each CT, MRI scan, the outcome of each non-invasive and invasive procedure all has a very personal identity and ownership: all belonging to a specific individual and often anxious patient.
Knowledge of the science of Medicine is crucial but dealing compassionately and empathetically with patients and their relatives is truly the art of medicine.

St. George’s University School of Medicine has an established association with the Arnold Gold Humansim awards scheme in the United States and each year on the day before graduation in New York, Humanism awards are granted to a number of students who have been judged by their fellow student peers as being outstanding in exhibiting their humanistic qualities.

So teaching the Art as well as the Science of Medicine is rightfully a great priority for St. George’s.

Indeed for most of you, if not all, it was such a humanistic feeling of wishing to change and improve the lives of the sick and infirm,  thereby also positively affecting their families and friends that motivated you to seek a career in medicine, so never forget this in your basic science years.
During your training there will be periods of stress and perhaps even doubt, but that is when you can call upon your student colleagues, teachers, support staff at Northumbria, then when in Grenada Dr Rao Dean of Students and his staff and also the staff of the Department of Educational Services, and of course your family and friends for help, support and advice. But you must also draw on your own inner strength and when doing so remember the humanistic values and goals you strove to achieve; recite again to yourselves the words of the Professional Commitment you will shortly make and recall the memories of today for I am sure it will serve you well. During your clinical training too, there are many people in the UK and US to advise you along the way, so you really are never alone.

Another obligation you must fulfill is that as trainee doctors you are fully accepting the important professional duty and responsibility to treat all with whom you come into contact, irrespective of race or creed, with due manners, courtesy and respect.

You will of course during your student and indeed subsequent postgraduate careers have many examinations to take. These are obviously serious and nerve wracking occasions but can sometimes have their amusing side too. I never sat a multiple choice question paper in my career; then it was all essays and vivas. I read my basic sciences at Cambridge University and on the appointed day arrived trembling at the Anatomy museum for my Final Anatomy viva. There was a wonderful man called Mr Merryweather who looked after the Anatomy museum and who arranged when we entered the museum for our vivas and which table we had been allocated where our examiners were seated. I must have been looking somewhat pale and anxious as when he helped me on with my short student academic gown which we wore in those days, he leant over my shoulder and whispered in my ear “Don’t worry Mr Croft from Selwyn College: please remember sir just like you and me, every morning your examiners sit on the lavatory!  Good luck sir!”

So you can imagine my thoughts as I approached my two white coated examiners sitting down behind a green baize table.
However my heart sank as one of the examiners was Professor Shute, the organizer of the one year Comparative Anatomy course which we had occasionally attended, but certainly not excessively revised!

Nevertheless, one fact of comparative anatomy I do remember to this day is that the three parts of a crocodile’s jaw are represented by the three tiny bones, in the human middle ear. Now without a shadow of a doubt, I can assure you all that this fact has proved most useful to me on a daily basis during the whole of my surgical career!

However the younger man, Dr Message began by asking me some origins and insertions of muscles on a humerus which was fine. Then we moved on to a skull with the origins and insertions of the medial and lateral pterygoid muscles which I was then asked to repeat with the skull turned upside down: (nice touch I thought!). Finally he zeroed his pencil point at a tiny area on a neuroanatomy slide: I proudly announced it was the nucleus of the ementia teres…and I knew I was right; that was the detail we were expected and had to know in 1965.

He then invited the Professor to take over, who then asked “Are you interested in comparative anatomy?” “Of course sir, absolutely fascinated” I stuttered. “Good, so come over here” he retorted. He took me to a large trestle table covered with skeletal remains ranging from a sabre tooth tiger’s skull to a dormouse and asked me what in retrospect was a reasonably simple question “please show me a non-mammalian skeleton”. I panicked!…mammals, they suckle their young: my thoughts instantly turned to breasts: no you fool that’s soft tissue: he said non-mammalian, that’s without breasts and I have to choose a non-mammalian skeleton from this hoard!

The time for these thoughts to whizz through my head was probably momentary but with my adrenaline levels in the danger zone it seemed like an age and my heart raced and thumped and a rivulet or two of perspiration ran down my back. Then, right at the far side of the table I saw a strange looking skeleton and on one of its rather narrow ribs in extremely faded Cambridge ink I could just about discern the word “Penguin”. I was confident the myopic Professor would not be aware of this. “Oh there sir” “Excellent” he replied, “what is it?”
Very conscious of occupying the remaining viva time to my advantage I said “I’m not immediately sure sir, may I describe it?”

He acquiesced, so I slowly took the Professor through the large protruding beak, but small skull, the large elongated thorax and abdomen, the very short legs but enormous feet, couldn’t possibly have been webbed could they?, but extremely underdeveloped upper limbs, so can’t have been wings.…”So?” the Professor abruptly quizzed. “I’ll hazard a guess” I replied, “it couldn’t possibly be a penguin could it, sir?”  “Excellent Croft”, he exclaimed, “no need to ask you anymore comparative anatomy” and he strode off heading towards an occipital neck dissection. I intentionally lingered slowly behind him as I adjudged my viva time was almost up. It was then that I felt a gentle tap on my right shoulder, I turned: it was the younger Dr Message who then whispered in my ear “I can see the word penguin too!”

Four years from now, you White Coat Students will have the wonderful opportunity of being able to walk across the stage of The Lincoln Centre in New York in front of an enormous audience to receive to great applause, frequently augmented by yells and screams, your medical diplomas from Chancellor Modica, who will then read the Graduation Proclamation when you legally become doctors in an instant!

But take note, the Chancellor does not suddenly flick a switch to magically turn you from a medical student into a doctor in a flash; this is a gradual transitional process which actually begins here today and which continues every day of your medical student training. So never forget you are learning to become and are inexorably becoming a doctor during the whole duration of your medical student life.

The increasing responsibility this brings will be assisted by your advancing maturity brought about by the assimilation of your medical knowledge, but also by your ever increasing experience of academic and enriched cultural life that you will experience at Northumbria University here in Newcastle, at St. George’s University in Grenada and then in the St. George’s Clinical programme both here in the United Kingdom and also in the United States of America.

Travel alone is a great educator: studying a medical curriculum is an amazing educational experience: combine the two and you have the quite awesome opportunity that St. George’s medical training can give you. An experience which thereby prepares you for the medical global world in which we now live and provides you with an experience which you will carry with you for the rest of your lives.

When the mantle of the White Coat is symbolically placed upon your shoulders and when you make your Professional Commitment, you are accepting the profound responsibility essentially required of both a medical student and doctor and you are all today beginning your journey to medical qualification.

I wish you all God’s speed in your venture.

This journey will require great learning, a process which you will need to continue throughout all of your medical careers. One of the fascinationg facts of medicine is that we are on a constantly moving scientific platform with enormous changes in the prevention and treatment of diseases.
In my lifetime I have seen how many infectious disease patterns have drastically changed with improvement in hygiene, housing and education, with the development of antibiotics and vaccination programmes  resulting in the reduction of most and elimination of some infectious diseases.

But then, for example, due to lack of hospital hygiene and abandonment of principles taught to us by Lister in the nineteenth century, together with inappropriate and overuse of antibiotics, seen nature come fighting back with MRSA and clostridium difficile.
The treatment of sexually transmitted diseases was increasingly successful, until a major revolution arrived in the form of HIV.

In surgery, streptomycin drastically changed the necessity for lung surgery for Tuberculosis. Stomach resection operations regularly performed for decades for peptic ulcer are virtually now no longer necessary because of the development of powerful gastric acid reducing drugs.
New treatments for cancer are being developed all the time: now we hear of the ability of ultra violet light to be able to release coated antibodies to kill cancer cells having reached their malignant target, thereby avoiding the side effects of chemotherapy.

One of my old surgical mentors used to say many years ago “Rodney, all the answers lie on the biochemist’s bench” Then, he was right, but now to that I think has to be added the geneticist’s and the stem cell researcher’s bench.

Many people in the developed countries of the world do not now die of old age but the degenerative diseases of old age. It seems stem cell research will in the not too far distant future be able to halt and even prevent the degeneration of tissues, so theoretically we could live forever. What enormous population problems that would cause together with all the ethical problems and end of life issues with which you all will be involved.

The Professional, ethical and financial debates all these changes will generate will be endless and will be a daunting but nevertheless interesting challenge which you will experience during your future medical careers.

This constantly moving scientific platform is not only a challenge for you but also for your teachers: we too have to keep apace!

Furthermore, if you decide to specialize, choose your speciality carefully. Streptomycin changed the necessity for all the pulmonary surgeons many years ago: The many stomach operations I performed in my career for peptic ulcers are no longer necessary, operations I performed for many years gaining access to major intraabdominal arteries via large abdominal incisions can now be accessed by using a fine arterial catheter placed via an artery in the groin. So if I were beginning vascular surgery today I would perhaps be wise to opt for interventional vascular radiology. There are numerous other examples but remember when the time comes to decide on a chosen speciality do try to envisage how it may look in 20 years time.

An interesting gaze into the medical crystal ball.

So it is not just life-style issues, so fashionable with the present generation, which are pivotal in wisely choosing one’s future medical career.

A significant number of you wish to return to your home countries to practice medicine, many of which are developing countries and you may be in awe of the task ahead of you as on qualification you may think what difference can you make to your fellow countrymen, women and children.

I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying you can make an enormous difference not only to the individual patients you treat but in turn to their families and communities so the beneficial effect is far reaching.

In 1967 when I was a final year clinical student at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London, I did my three month clinical elective in a Mission Hospital in Zululand, now Kwazulu in South Africa. This was of course at the time of Apartheid. The hospital was the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital situated in Nqutu, a tiny settlement on the veldt about 30 miles from the nearest town Dundee. The hospital then had over 600 in-patients, had departments of medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology  paediatrics and a two large TB wards.

The Doctor in charge was an absolutely amazing man called Anthony Barker who with his doctor wife Maggie, went out to Nqutu in 1945 having served as a ship’s doctor in WWII in the British Merchant Navy. When he arrived there the so called “hospital” was a simple wooden dilapidated disused store containing seven frightened and suspicious patients. Dr Barker and his team over a period of years transformed that dilapidated old store into the hospital I have just described. It continues with its wonderful work to this day. When I was there in 1967 we operated most days; we had outreach clinics at trading stations on the veldt, often held in the stables; one clinic indeed on the Battlefield of Isandlwana which preceded the heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift in 1879 as depicted in the famous epic film Zulu. The way Anthony Barker changed the lives of the Zulu people and the people who were fortunate enough to know him was immeasurable. He really was a truly remarkable man.

There are of course many other examples around the world of such leviathan human efforts to improve the health of the needy; so the message is: it has been done, it is being done, more needs to be done and for many of you on the Keith Taylor Global Scholars programme your turn can come and you can be successful in such a mission.

During my very memorable time in Zululand which means “Heaven land”, I naturally assimilated some of the language: I still to this day remember amatispuni amabili gatatu neylanga….two teaspoonfuls three times a day.

On leaving Nqutu, I returned to Johannesburg prior to returning home to England and was met by the wife of a friend of mine who was the Managing Director of Canada Dry in South Africa. I was in my student rig and was met at the station by this beautiful lady, Grace, wearing a lovely summer’s dress and gorgeous hat. She took me over to a stunning cream convertible Mercedes with the roof down thereby showing off its beautiful red leather upholstery. The chauffeur dressed in his very smart grey uniform with cap and shining black knee length boots was a native African (a Zulu in fact) and as we drove through the streets of Johannesburg with the sun shining, Grace asked how I had managed conversing with the Zulu patients. Having been asked this question by a lady, I just automatically came out with a string of Zulu phrases used in the gynaecology clinics on the veldt including “get undressed” “hurry up please”,(this was related to the inordinate time it took the Zulu ladies to undo their heavy leather pleated skirts) and ”lie down, look up at heaven”.  “Lala pansi begape Zulu”.

Now in 1967 at the height of Apartheid, fraternizing with native African females was I recall a capital offence. The chauffeur obviously totally unaware of my medical connection, turned round and glared at me in total amazement and utter horror to which Grace briskly patted him twice on the shoulder and said “It’s perfectly all right Mhambi, Baba’s a doctor, he was treating patients; drive on!”. Serenity was restored!

All of you White coat students here today have a marvellous opportunity ahead of you with the global medical passport a St.George’s MD affords you. So grasp it, as there are great works to be done and wonderful ambitions to be achieved. Enjoy your student life with your colleagues, teachers, families and friends, especially as it really does go quite quickly!

Again many thanks to St.George’s for their kind invitation to address you on this wonderful and memorable occasion of your White Coat Ceremony here today which I have no doubt will live long in your memories.

Also again, many congratulations to the January 2008 students who are entering the St. George’s Keith Taylor Global scholars programme at Northumbria University.

In conclusion, may your student days and indeed the journey throughout the whole of your future medical careers and lives prove to be for you all, a fulfilling, worthwhile and joyous adventure.
For if it is so and I am confident it shall be, you will then justifiably be able to say at the end of your medical careers and indeed lives,

“My time on earth was not wasted”.

The very best of luck to you all!

Thank you.

New Class of KBTGSP Medical Students Take Oath at White Coat Ceremony

news-croftwwc3St. George’ s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) along with Northumbria University’s School of Applied Sciences (NU) officially welcomed a new class of medical students into the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP).  On January 17, 2008 the incoming class, which is nearly double the size of the inaugural Jan ’07 class of 54 students, participated in the symbolic White Coat Ceremony held at Northumbria University.

The SGU faculty, staff, students and their families were honored to have Mr. Rodney Croft, Dean of Clinical Studies, UK deliver the Keynote Address. Dr. Brian Curry, Associate Dean, Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, led the Processional while Dr. Peter Beaumont, an SGUSOM alumnus, served as the Master of Ceremonies.  They were joined by Calum Macpherson, SGU’s Vice Provost for International Program Development and NU’s  Vice Chancellor  Kel Fidler .

Dean Croft has had a distinguished career in both General and Vascular surgery in London.  As the UK’s Principal Expert on cardiovascular implants since 1993, he has been involved with establishing major Standards for cardiovascular implants and has been published in many scientific journals.


Dean Croft’s association with St. George’s University began in 1980 when he started teaching SGUSOM students at the North Middlesex University Hospital.  Beginning in 1986, he served as the Director of Medical Education for 15 years.  He also held the posts of Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the UK Surgical Faculty before his 2003 appointment as Dean of Clinical Studies, UK.

As he addressed the KBTGSP incoming class, now representing 14 countries throughout the world, Dean Croft emphasized the critical link between art and medicine.  He urged each student to take stock in the importance of both the scientific knowledge of medicine and the art of nurturing the patient-doctor relationship.  “Knowledge of the science of medicine is crucial but dealing compassionately and empathetically with patients and their relatives is truly the art of medicine,” said Dean Croft.  “Teaching the Art as well as the Science is rightfully a great priority for St. George’s”, he continued.

Interspersed with humorous retrospectives of his personal journey as a medical student, Mr. Croft explained that the opportunity which lay ahead of this group of young men and women is in fact, a great privilege.  As they begin to experience the academic and enriched cultural life of the KBTGSP, they must not forget that with privilege comes obligation, to their professors, families, fellow students and above all, themselves.


Many of the KBTGSP students will return to their homes in developing countries, thereby fulfilling a dream shared by the late Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Keith B. Taylor himself.  In his closing remarks, Dean Croft applauded these endeavors, which he believes have far-reaching beneficial effects on health care in the world.  “I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying you can make an enormous difference not only to the individual patients you treat, but in turn to their families and communities.”

Mr. Croft’s knowledge of UK undergraduate medical education is extensive, having served 13 years as Clinical Sub-Dean at The Royal Free Hospital Medical School, now the Royal Free University College Medical School.  Dean Croft was a member of the Governing School Council for nine years, the lead controlling Committee for the Medical School.  In 1993, he was awarded the School Medal of the Royal Free, the highest award given, and one which is highly regarded by London University.   He was appointed Honorary Senior Lecturer in Surgery at London University in 1994.

Educated at Selwyn College in Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School, Mr. Croft obtained a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1972.  Two years later, he received a Master of Surgery degree at Cambridge University and became a freeman of the City of London and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.    From 1972-1974 he was commissioned s a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps TAVR attached to C Squadron 21 SAS and thereafter as Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Royal Naval Reserve (1974 – 1983). Mr. Rodney Croft lives on the outskirts of London, is married with three grown children.  He enjoys travel and rowing, and is a keen clarinetist and saxophonist.

Read Dean Rodney Croft’s complete Keynote Address.

School of Medicine Adds New Department of Emergency Medicine

david hodgkinson

Dean Stephen Weitzman has appointed Dr. David Hodgkinson as UK Associate Chair of the recently established Department of Emergency Medicine. The addition of the Department reflects SGUSOM’s continued growth and development as an influential and valued international university.

The UK Executive Committee selected David Hodgkinson from a pool of highly respected and qualified applicants in the field.  David had served as Consultant in Emergency Medicine since 1994, initially in Stockport, UK and then from 1996 at Ipswich Hospital, the largest district general hospital in Suffolk, UK.  He trained at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, qualifying in 1983.  During his clinical training he spent time in UK hospitals as well as in the The Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia.  He has had wide experience in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching with a special interest in Clinical Toxicology and Traumatic Brain Injury and Resuscitation.  David has been an examiner for the MRCS at The Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and is now a Fellowship examiner for the FCEM.  He obtained a B Med Sci (Hons) Thesis at Nottingham University and has been a MSc Clinical Supervisor at The University of East Anglia.

Dr. Hodgkinson is widely published in leading national and European journals, with 28 peer-reviewed publications in specialty medical journals. He has written several chapters in standard specialty textbooks and he peer reviews original articles submitted to the Journal of Emergency Medicine. He has lectured at National and International meetings and sits on the National Research Committee for Emergency Medicine.

David is married with two teenage sons. His family will be accompanying him on his forthcoming visit to Grenada where he will attend the first meeting of the new Department of Emergency Medicine next month.  SGU is proud to welcome David and his family to SGUSOM, and looks forward to a long and fulfilling association with him.

In addition to a Department of Emergency Medicine, SGUSOM will create a General Practice and Family Medicine Department.  Applicants have now been invited from the GP Tutors at our UK Affiliated Hospitals for the post of UK Associate Chair in Family Medicine and General Practice.    Two new US Chairs will also be appointed in these two disciplines, in line with the main core Departments which will be based in the UK.

Published on 1/29/08

School of Medicine Grad Shares Real-Life “CSI” Experiences

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan, SOM ’00, is a medical examiner in New York City, one of the high profile posts in the country.

A 1991 graduate of Columbia University, Dr. de la Garza-Jordan recently addressed the Columbia University Club of Southwest Florida in Naples, FL. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan attracted the largest group of Columbia alumni ever to attend this event.

The lecture titled “A Day in the Life of a Medical Examiner” drew upon her varied and often “made-for-the-movies” experiences. The presentation addressed the many complexities of her career beginning with the cases themselves. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan explained that there is no shortage of challenges and unexpected elements including the detectives, fussy undertakers, forensic photographers and resistant families, making each day different from the next.

Clearly, her most compelling case is the recovery effort at the site of the New York Twin Towers. Dr. de la Garza credits her many colleagues from the Medical Examiner Office including Michelle Slone, also a SGUSOM graduate, for their tireless efforts in identifying the victims of this historic tragedy. She shared her first-hand perspective of the devastation and the remarkable collaboration within the various City of New York offices – an effort which continues to this day.

Dr. de la Garza points out an interesting fact about the 30 employed ME’s in the Medical Examiner Office of the City of New York: Only three are women, and each is a graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine. She is proud to be in such good company, and over the years has received praise from many experts in her field for the education and life experience provided by SGU.

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan completed an anatomical and clinical pathology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, and completed an Immunopathology Fellowship (transplant pathology) at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami. She also completed a Forensic Pathology Fellowship at Miami-Dade Medical Examiner in Florida.

Dr. de la Garza-Jordan resides in New York City with her husband Dr. Robert L. Jordan, SGUSOM’s Department Co-Chair of Anatomical Sciences and the University’s Associate Dean of Enrolment Planning for Admissions.

“One World, One Health, One Medicine” Clinic a Success

group picture of one health one medicine 2007On Saturday, November 10th over 60 medical and veterinary medical students joined forces to assist the community of Dierre Morne, St. David in Grenada. “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Project was the University’s first health clinic providing both human and animal health care to those who attended.  The event was the brainchild of third term vet student Brittany King, who was inspired by a woman who attended a previous vet clinic. While appreciative of the care her pet received she expressed concern that the health care and education of the pet owners themselves was being overlooked.

Brittany took these remarks to heart.  As a class representative for the Student Affiliate of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAAVMA), Brittany is well aware of the convergence of animal, human and ecosystem health and the importance of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” concept.  Armed with the belief that improving health care worldwide is a collaborative effort, she approached American Medical Student Association (AMSA) President Asad Bandealey about a health clinic that would address the needs of both humans and animals.   Enthusiastic about this initiative, both began to solicit volunteers from their respective schools, raise money, seek donations and select a location.

With the help of SGU faculty, student volunteers and clinicians from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH), an impressive health clinic for humans and animals was successfully created.  One week prior to the event, local radio, television and print advertisements promoted the event. SGU’s Communications Office facilitated this by producing the flyer, scripting and placing the radio and television advertisements and inviting the media, as is the case with every health fair.  “This,” said Brittany “was critical to the success of the health clinic.”  One local television station actually attended the event.

Proudly wearing bright green t-shirts designed by King, all volunteers began their day with enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference. Two tremendous tents were erected, accommodating medical and veterinary medical student volunteers and their patients.  Medical students also used the Parish church to ensure privacy for patients during medical exams and screenings.

Throughout the day, 40 medical student volunteers treated 140 patients, including 20 senior citizens at a local nursing home and five home-bound patients.  Tests were administered for blood pressure, blood glucose, eyes and hearing.  Breast cancer screening and self-examination techniques, along with patient education and children’s health were also part of the day’s activities.  AMSA was joined by IEA, the SGU academic honor society, SGU’s Pediatrics Club and Women in Medicine (WIM), a group under the AMSA umbrella.  According to Stephanie Muriglan, the President of WIM, her group’s mission is not just medicinal: “At these health fairs, WIM has set a goal to bring awareness to women about the importance of these clinical measures. Knowledge and control over their reproductive health is an important form of empowerment.”

Twenty veterinary medical students and seven clinicians from the VTH treated more than 60 dogs and cats through a variety of treatments including oral dewormers, mange treatments and vaccinations.  Brittany explained that they used a new three-year continuum DAP-R vaccine from Intervet, which will keep the animals protected from distemper, rabies, adenovirus and parvovirus longer than the previous one-year vaccine.   The animals’ owners also received Banfield leashes, collars and bandanas, in addition to a wealth of information about the health of their animals.  The veterinary medical students were surprised but not daunted by the attendance of six goats joined together by a rope.  With no large animal vaccines available, volunteers did their best to examine the animals and educate the owner about their care.

The impact of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair has reached beyond Grenada. Intervet, the supplier and sponsor of the veterinary vaccine DAP-R, matched the 200 vaccines used at St. David with a donation of 200 vaccines for animals in Africa.   This is proof that a unified effort within the broader health science profession is the most powerful and effective tool in improving health care worldwide.

For more photos of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair….

Published on 12/10/07

John Beshai, MD, St. George’s University ’96, Presents Landmark Clinical Trial at AHA Annual Meeting

john beshaiJohn Beshai, a 1996 SGUSOM graduate, presented a late-breaking clinical trial to an audience of peers and mentors at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) on November 6th in Orlando, FL.  Dr. Beshai is an expert in cardiac electrophysiology, an area of medicine focused on the treatment of heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).  A respected scientist and the Director of Pacemaker and Defibrillator Services at the University of Chicago, he served as the National Principal Investigator and Steering Committee Chairman for the RETHINQ clinical trial.

For the RETHINQ trial, 172 heart failure patients were randomly selected to participate from August 2005 through January 2007.   One group of 87 patients received treatment with Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices while the remaining control group was untreated. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices are surgically implanted and deliver electrical impulses to both ventricles at the same time, making both chambers contract simultaneously thereby improving pumping efficiency.

While current guidelines support the use of CRT in patients with moderate to severe heart failure and a prolonged QRS duration, this study aimed to see if the device could benefit patients outside these recommended parameters.  Patients with a narrow QRS complex and evidence of mechanical dyssynchrony as demonstrated on echocardiography were included in the trial.  The results showed that those treated with CRT demonstrated no significant improvement in exercise capacity as measured by peak oxygen consumption. Some symptoms did improve, but quality-of-life scores, results of the six-minute hall walk test and echocardiographic parameters of left ventricular reverse remodeling did not improve significantly.

“There was no significant difference in the change in peak oxygen consumption between the treatment group and the control group during cardiopulmonary testing,” reported Dr. John Beshai.  “Further research is necessary,” he said.   These results were significant, as CRT may not benefit about a quarter of the country’s estimated 500,000 heart failure patients.

The RETHINQ results presented by Dr. Beshai were simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. They are expected to be published in the December 13 print issue of the publication.

This trial was funded by St. Jude Medical Center, makers of the CRT device.
For a video presentation of Dr. Beshai’s clinical trial please see….


Published 11/26/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine Students Enlightened By Innovative Selective in Thailand

selective in thailandOn July 16, 2007 a group of 37 SOM students set off on a two-week academic and cultural adventure to Thailand, initiating an understanding of a different view of medicine and healing. This innovative program was designed to offer participating students the opportunity to experience both conventional Western medical practices and Eastern medical practices in two different locations in Thailand.

The inaugural group of students was representative of SGU’s international student body, originating from Africa, Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.  The participants were divided in half, with Group A spending the first week in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand with a unique blend of spiritual and cosmopolitan life, and Group B in Bangkok, the nation’s capital.  At the conclusion of the first week, Group A and Group B switched locations and began the second week in a new city.  The intimate group size was critical to the success of the program.

Through the efforts of Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean, School of Medicine and Mr. Michael Weitzman, appointed by SGU as a Director of Thai Services, the students maximized their experience in each location. Michael Weitzman resides in Thailand and is responsible for the administration of this program.

In Bangkok, students spent the week shadowing Thai medical students, viewing operating room procedures, performing rounds, seeing patients and attending lectures in Thailand’s oldest public hospital, Siriraj Hospital.  Founded in 1888, Siriraj is the primary teaching hospital in the country, with a capacity of more than 3,000 beds and more than one million outpatient visits per year.  While it is one of the largest and most congested medical centers in Thailand, the students were impressed by the educational environment and the Thai hospitality.  In fact, many SGU students were appreciative of the faculty, staff and students’ continuous attempts to communicate in English during rounds, observations and shadowing.  Janelle Applewhaite said, “More than anything I appreciate, beyond expression, the efforts made by everyone to speak English.  The doctors and medical students were all extremely willing to improve our learning experience in this way.” She continued, “I enjoyed the ward rounds (which were discussed in Thai, but students were on hand to interpret for us) and valued very much the opportunities to observe procedures in the operating theaters.”

SGU student Brenda Ernst eloquently describes her experience in Siriraj, “The exposure to medicine in the Bangkok hospital further motivated me to continue my active pursuit of knowledge in medicine with new excitement and new drive.  I fully appreciate the exposure to medicine in Thailand as well as the lessons in diversity impressed upon me.  It is my belief that the skills I have gained through this interaction with a unique culture will benefit me as I strive to be not only culturally aware but culturally minded in my clinical practice.”

The curriculum in Siriraj was extremely rigorous, each day filled with scheduled academics.  Students looked forward to a more relaxed experience in Chiang Mai that would enable them to experience more of the Thai culture and sights.

Located 700 km north of Bangkok among some of the highest mountains in the country,  Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand.
While in Chiang Mai, students learned the intricacies of Thai massage at the International Training Massage School (ITM).  ITM is accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education and approved by the Thai Ministry of Public Health.  It is also accredited and recognized internationally by many professional colleges and associations for continuing education in the regulated healthcare field.

Well known for teaching westerners and international travelers the practice of massage, this facility offers students a unique perspective as they learn the foundation and techniques of Thai massage as both a student and a participant. SGU students completed the first of five levels of courses offered at ITM, which included massage, acupressure points, the concept of energy line, yoga and Yin/Yang.  Applewhaite describes her stay at ITM as a “most fulfilling experience,” feeling very confident that the techniques she learned were both authentic and inspiring.While in Chiang Mai, students availed themselves of the many cultural activities including shopping at the famous nightly bazaar, visiting the sites, hiking among the local hills and forests, Thai boxing, mountain biking, bamboo rafting, and sampling the local music and cuisine.  SGU student Kyanh Nguyen enjoyed many excursions with his fellow classmates, including elephant riding at Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain.  “The elephant ride looked simple, but in fact was phenomenal.  It was a new experience to ride at a great height on a live animal,” said Nguyen.

Upon completion of the two-week program each student was asked to provide a written essay evaluating their experience and critiquing the curriculum in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Their response was overwhelmingly positive.  “I was hoping to gain an integrated view of medicine – one where both the allopathic and ayurvedic worked in parallel with each other.  I definitely was able to enhance what I learned in Clinical Skills and Anatomy with the time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  I really enjoyed both parts of the program, and hope that next year’s students gain as much experience from the Selective,” said Camille Immanuel.According to Michael Weitzman, plans for another Summer Selective in Thailand are underway.  Upon completion of the two-week program, of which tuition and academic expenses were funded by SGU, each student received one credit for this course…..  Clearly, they returned to Grenada with much more.

Published 10/23/2007