SGU Faculty to Present Symposium on Climate Change at 12th World Congress of Bioethics

news macpherson cherylLed by Dr. Cheryl CoxMacpherson, Chair of the Department of Bioethics, St. George’s University (SGU) will present a symposium on climate change at the 12th World Congress of Bioethics, slated for June 25-28, 2014 in Mexico City. This year’s Congress, themed ‘Bioethics in a Globalized World: Science, Society and Individual’,will engage bioethicists from diverse backgrounds and professions, and feature lectures from leading bioethicists and experts from related fields, poster and symposia presentations, satellite meetings, and other activities.

The St. George’s University team, which also includes Sean Philpott, an Adjunct Professor in bioethics at SGU who is based at Union Graduate College in New York,  Dale Jamieson, a Professor at New York University, and other speakers from Latin America and the Caribbean aim to publish proceedings from the symposium, themed ‘Global Bioethics and Climate Change: Science, Society and Individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean,’ in a peer-reviewed bioethics journal after the Congress.

“We aim to draw attention to ways in which bioethicists and other professionals can help to reduce the health harms of climate change,” said Dr. CoxMacpherson. “We need to engage in policy discussions and public dialogue to really get more people thinking and talking about what’s going to make a difference, so that we can arrive at solutions to balance the conflicts between various national goals and priorities.”

The Congress, held every two years, is organized by the International Association of Bioethics. The 2014 event will be the first ever held in Latin America.

“The Congress in Mexico will be a great experience,” said Manuel H. Ruiz de Chávez, President of the local organizing committee for the Congress, in a letter announcing the event. “It will represent an excellent opportunity to become aware of the developments in bioethics all around the world and to visit a vibrant, enjoyable, and colorful Mexico City with so much history and also many cultural and tourist attractions.”

St. George’s University Awards Inaugural NeuroResearch Excellence Award

NeuroResearch Student Group Founder Honored for Excellence in Neuroscience Research

St. George’s University fifth-term medical student Sunita Hingorani was recognized for her contribution to the founding and growth of the NeuroResearch Student Group, a contingent of SGU students dedicated to research in neuroscience. Thus, when it came time for Dr. Tuula Jalonen, Professor of Neuroscience at SGU, to award the inaugural NeuroResearch Excellence Award, Ms. Hungrani was an easy choice.

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“I wanted to recognize someone who shows excellence in neuroscience, in research and in their other studies, someone who is motivated, has good ideas, and shows leadership and enthusiasm for research,” said Dr. Jalonen, who serves as Ms. Hingorani’s academic advisor. “Sunita is all these things. She kept the group together and pushed and motivated her peers to keep working. I really felt she was the perfect person for this first award, and I can already see other excellent researchers coming up within the group.”

NeuroResearch has grown from a membership of five in 2012 to more than 30 students, all with a thirst and passion for research and neuroscience. Students who join the group devise their own research project or join one of several ongoing projects. The group’s goal is to conduct research significant to neuroscience and with potential benefit for the Grenadian community.

Thus far, the group has researched the use of Propofol by physicians, neuropathic pain in sickle cell disease, awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in Grenada, the prevalence and mechanisms of HTLV-1 infection, migraine, depression in schoolchildren, ‘neurophobia’ among medical students, and diabetes and NMDA receptor activity in cells. Through the support of Dr. Marios Loukas, SGU’s Dean of Medical Research, NeuroResearch has acquired a patch clamp for the Department of Physiology and Neuroscience, which will assist them in their research in the upcoming semester.

“The research we do is so relevant,” said Ms. Hingorani.  “I find myself connecting most of my classes to neuroscience.  The research we conducted has  helped me remember more of what I was learning in class.  I’m sure that my experience in NeuroResearch has prepared me to be open to new ideas in my future career.”.”

Members of NeuroResearch Student Group have presented at two SGU Research Day events and at the One Health, One Medicine conference. In July, Dr. Jalonen will also present a poster on a mathematical model of HTLV-1 at the Federation of European Neuroscience Forum in Milan. Even though Ms. Hingorani is leaving Grenada for her clinical rotations, her hope is to remain involved in NeuroResearch as much as possible.

Drs. Shivayogi and Bharti Bhusnurmath Join the International Society for Oncopathology

Drs. Shivayogi and Bharti Bhusnurmath were invited to join the International Society for Oncopathology (ISOPath) following three presentations they delivered at an ISOPath Continuing Medical Education Conference, held in early January at Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences in India. Presentations were done on advances in cancer pathology in the 21st century, how to treat pathology in a clinical problem-solving context, and teaching medical students and postgraduate residents how to wisely interpret laboratory investigations in patients. Participants included over 200 delegates, pathologists, university professors, and residents from India, the US, and Canada.

The presentations were profound since they advocated the development of personalized/individualized medicine.

news bharti bhus mar“If there are five women with breast cancer which look similar under the microscope, each of those five may need a different type of therapy based on what sort of markers are present,” explained Dr. Shivayogi Bhusnurmath, who with his wife, Bharti, co-chairs SGU’s Department of Pathology. “It’s not one size fits all. Similarly, in regard to people with high blood pressure, not all will respond in the same way to the same drug. There are tests which can be done to show changes in DNA and genes that can help doctors decide what particular medicine should be given.”

This new alliance with ISOPath opens a wealth of opportunities not only for the Bhusnurmaths, but also St. George’s University. “It is a prestige for St. George’s University and solidifies our motto to ‘Think Beyond,’” Dr. Bhusnurmath stated. “Our affiliation with ISOPath will further the University’s international presence and global outreach in the medical field, and it will also create an opportunity whereby distinguished academicians can sign up to become visiting professors at St. George’s University, increasing our knowledge pool.”

Dr. Bhusnurmath, also the Co-Director of the Education Committee of the Association of Indian Pathologists of North America (AIPNA), noted that the ISOPath distinction gives SGU students a competitive advantage for residency matching.

ISOPath is a society of well-known pathologists from around the world who are interested in oncologic pathology. Its primary purposes are to promote and support oncologic pathology, education, and research; cooperate with organizations in the field of oncologic pathology as well as other medical specialties; promote the study of oncologic pathology and encourage the highest standards in the practice and teaching of oncologic pathology.

St. George’s University Clinical Students Shine on 2014 Match Day

Match Day 2014 guaranteed that once again St. George’s University School of Medicine doctors will have a long-term impact on health care in the United States. On March 21, SGU students and graduates took the next step in their medical careers through the 2014 National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), which assigned many of them to their top-choice residencies.

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SGU alumni will report to residency programs in the following specialties: anesthesiology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, neurological surgery, neurology, obstetrics & gynecology, orthopaedic surgery, pathology, pediatrics, pediatrics/emergency medicine, pediatrics/psychiatry/child & adolescent psychology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, and surgery. Residencies were secured in 45 states as well as the District of Columbia. In addition, 17 students matched through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) in March.

“We congratulate our fourth-year students who have proven to have tremendous knowledge, skill, and dedication both here in Grenada and in a clinical setting,” said St. George’s University Chancellor Charles R. Modica. “Programs across the United States will be very pleased with the quality of doctors who enter into residency this summer.”

SGU students’ patient care responsibilities will begin on or around July 1 after a two-week orientation process. Among those set to report is Russell Davenport, who will join the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Virginia. He chose anesthesiology because it combines many of his interests, including critical care medicine, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and procedures.

“I’m really excited to have matched into such an incredible program,” Mr. Davenport said. “SGU prepared me for this residency by challenging me during the basic science years with high academic standards, and the University gave me exposure to an incredibly diverse patient base in New York City hospitals during the clinical years. As a result, I feel extremely confident in my knowledge base, and I feel equally prepared to navigate through both difficult and routine clinical scenarios as I advance into residency.”

Like many, Kimberly Lally landed her first-choice residency: a highly competitive pathology position at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Originally from Southern California, Ms. Lally began with SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, spending her first year in the UK at Northumbria University before continuing her medical education in Grenada.

“I immediately felt that Cedars-Sinai was the perfect fit for me in terms of training and work/life balance, and of all the hospitals I interviewed at in California, it was the only program where I had that ‘gut feeling,’” she said. “I was ecstatic when I found out I matched there. I was with my family and we were jumping up and down and hugging and celebrating. It was a beautiful moment knowing I was coming home for good.”

Since opening in 1977, St. George’s University has graduated more than 11,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 US states and more than 50 countries worldwide. According to published information, SGU has placed more doctors in first-year postgraduate positions than any medical school in the last three years.

For a complete list of residency appointments, visit the SGU website.

St. George’s University and University of St. Thomas Join to Offer Pre-Medical and Pre-Vet Students Combined BS/MD Degree

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, has joined with St. George’s University offering students an opportunity to obtain a BS/MD or BS/DVM degree. Qualified students are able to pursue a career in medicine at St. George’s University following successful completion of the premedical program at St. Thomas.

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“We are extremely proud to establish this pipeline with an institution of the caliber of the University of St. Thomas,” said Margaret A. Lambert, dean of enrollment planning at St. George’s University. “Doing so allows the brightest students to attain a first-rate medical education that will amply prepare them for their careers as physicians or veterinarians, no matter where they choose to go.”

The brainchild of St. George’s University Chancellor Charles Modica and the former University of St. Thomas president, Father Dennis Dease, the agreement was signed in early 2013 following a visit to St. George’s True Blue Campus by Susan J. Huber, Ed.D.Exec. Vice President and Chief Academic Officer and Eleni Roulis,Ph.D. Associate Vice-President for Academic Services and Special Programs.

Applicants admitted to this combined degree program are granted a pathway from their undergraduate degree in biology or health sciences to a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Students admitted to the pathway program complete their undergraduate degree in Biology or Health Sciences at University of St. Thomas in four years, and upon meeting established admission criteria progress into the four-year Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at SGU.

In addition to the St. Thomas partnership, St. George’s maintains partnerships in the United States with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)/Albert Dorman Honors CollegeSt. Michael’s Medical CenterCaldwell CollegeFranklin Pierce UniversityUniversity of the SciencesMonmouth University, and Widener University. The University has similar partnerships with schools in the United Kingdom, Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana, and Uganda.

Virology Workshop Brings Together Journalists and Scientists

GVN, SGU and WINDREF Bridge the gap between researchers and media

The Global Virus Network (GVN) held its first Virology Workshop for Journalists in partnership with St. George’s University (SGU) and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) in Grenada, West Indies this past month.  Nearly two dozen reporters from the U.S., Caribbean and Estonia descended on the “Isle of Spice” to minimize the glaring information gap between medical researchers and mainstream media.  The workshop addressed what can be a complex subject – the science and epidemiology of viruses – and broke the subject down to a comprehensible level that can be utilized when reporters need to communicate to the masses about important news relating to viruses.  Several key issues between reporters and scientists were addressed during the three day meeting.

news virology workshop“This workshop is important in facilitating relationships among the world’s experts, media and policymakers,” said the Rt. Hon C. Modeste-Curwin, Grenada’s Minister of Health during her opening address to the participants. “Additionally, as a result of this workshop, the Government of Grenada will work closely with the GVN, SGU and WINDREF to help train our nation’s medical researchers and identify prevention and treatment measures for our new and existing viral infections.”

“In order for journalists to properly illustrate the issues faced by researchers, they must be equipped with a basic understanding of the subject matter, and we believe this workshop delivered the message effectively,” said Charles Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “We look forward to continuing to work with the GVN on future endeavors, both in Grenada and around the world, to further its efforts.”

The workshop included, among other subjects, lectures on the biology of viruses, challenges related to viral therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics, a laboratory demonstration of microbial detection and a visit to SGU’s hospital led by prominent scientists Dr. Don Junkind, chair of the Department of Microbiology at SGU and Anders Vahlne, PhD of the Karolinska Institute and center director of GVN’s Sweden-Estonian Center of Excellence.   Dr. Robert Gallo, most widely known for co-discovering HIV and developing the HIV blood test, also led a panel discussion, “Can science make the world free of HIV/AIDS?”

“There is a clear gap between what scientists know and what the public knows,” said Dr. Robert Gallo, co-founder and scientific director of the GVN and director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “Journalists are the critical bridge between these groups.”

Also uniquely attending the Workshop were several South Sudanese medical students who escaped their war-torn country to attend SGU for medical training. Government officials also attended including the Hon. Tong Deng Anei, the State Minister of Health in South Sudan, and Drs. Monywiir Arop Kuol Arop and Mayen Machut Achiek Achiek from South Sudan’s National Ministry of Health.

“The GVN Journalist Virology Workshop is an eye opener for those of us who are here and the people of South Sudan who are not attending this conference,” said the Hon. Tong Deng Anei, State Minister of the Ministry of Health, South Sudan.  “Journalists play a key role in the society, and having them actively participate in what we do – such as the technical aspects of the healthcare system – is very crucial indeed. We will work closely with our journalists at home to ensure that our actions are known to the wider public.”

Dr. Cal Macherson, Vice President and Director of WINDREF said “WINDREF and SGU were delighted to partner with the GVN and IHV to host the workshop at SGU’s True Blue campus in Grenada.  The roles of scientists and journalists in combating the global viral threats were keenly explored by experts from both fields.”  Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick from Case Western Reserve University, Ms. Myrtle Bruno from Nature Isle News in Dominica, Dr. Florence Haseltine, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Emerita Scientist and GVN’s Chief IT specialist, and Dr. James Hamblin, senior editor of The Atlantic, led panel discussions.  Journalists received a GVN Virus Resource Book for the Caribbean and were most interested in learning more about the myths led by the anti-vaccination movement versus the scientific truths about vaccinations and the millions of lives they save each year.

GVN plans to hold a second Virology Workshop for Journalists this May in Capri, Italy.

SGU’s Department of Bioethics Delivers Crash Course in Conscious Discipline

Can a family and the community be trained to create a positive environment within which children can reach their potential?  Dr. Barbara Landon, among a growing group of psychologists and behaviorists, thinks so – and is offering free, intense, training to a diverse audience of parents, teachers, caregivers and other.

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Beginning Tuesday, February 25, Dr. Barbara Landon will present her crash course in Conscious Discipline condensing an eight-month-long training into eight weekly sessions. Free to the SGU community and wider public, the training is booked solid for this semester with 60 participants to attend in the morning at the Youth Centre in Grand Anse, and another 45 to attend in the evening at St. George’s University.

A neuropsychologist, licensed psychologist and professor within the School of Medicine, Dr. Landon introduced Conscious Discipline at SGU in 2009 and the program has grown immensely since then through support from the Departments of Bioethics and Educational Services, Reach Grenada, the GAP, and local educators and government officials. Conscious Discipline is an approach developed by psychologist and teacher Dr. Becky Bailey, whom Dr. Landon has worked with and considers a mentor. The program aims to promote social and emotional intelligence in children, positive atmospheres in families, and school environments that encourage learning rather than fear and bullying. It is brain-based and offers adults practical, evidence-based techniques for teaching children self control, conflict resolution, character development, and social skills.

“Our objective is to teach adults that discipline is not something we do to children but something we develop within them,” said Dr. Landon. “We have to help shape the brains of our children so they can grow into adults who can solve problems. Disciplining through fear not only doesn’t work, but also, negatively affects the way the brain develops. There are now several neuroimaging studies demonstrating that harsh parenting reduces gray matter in key areas of the brain; there are also hundreds of studies demonstrating the correlation of harsh parenting with poor social skills, reduced achievement, and criminal behavior. If we want children to learn and solve problems, we cannot govern them through fear and guilt.”

In the past, Dr. Landon has taught Conscious Discipline to persons at SGU’s Grand Anse Playgroup and Grenada Montessori and Preparatory School, as well as to teachers, guidance counselors, SGU staff, and faculty and caregivers at several Grenadian homes for children, and the program has definitely made some fans.

“Conscious Discipline is one of the most powerful, relevant and effective skills that everyoneshould seek to acquire and master,” said Nakazi Cornwall, an Executive Secretary at St. George’s University.

Teachers have also found immense value. Catherine Lalgie, a teacher of 2½- to 4-year-olds at Gateway Academy, gave Conscious Discipline a try after her principal recommended it.

“I was having some serious problems dealing with disciplining my students; I did not think I would continue after the first term,” she said. “I was skeptical at first, but when I tried Conscious Discipline for the first time in class, I was surprised to see how the children responded. At the end of my term, I no longer felt burnt out because of trying to discipline and I saw great changes in the behavior of the children. Conscious Discipline really works, and I know it can work for any child no matter which culture they are from.”

Dr. Landon hopes to begin offering Conscious Discipline training twice yearly. “We are trying to build the idea that adults can be mindful, and if adults are mindful, then they can teach their children to be mindful, which means they will be able to self-regulate, think logically and connect. If we could have this, we could have a completely different world.”

For more information on Conscious Discipline training or to indicate interest in upcoming trainings, please contact Dr. Landon at blandon@sgu.edu.

Lisa Allen-Agostini to Complete Novel, Poems During Spring Stay in Grenada

Trinidadian Named SGU’s First Writer-in-Residence

Selected from an esteemed group of applicants to be the University’s inaugural Writer-in-Residence, Lisa Allen-Agostini penned the young adult novel The Chalice Project, published in 2009, and co-edits the Trinidad Noir fiction anthology. In addition, she writes a weekly column for the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, and founded the Allen Prize for Young Writers, a program that supports and reward writers aged 12 to 19 in her home country.

“I’m honored to be the inaugural St. George’s University Writer-in-Residence,” said Allen-Agostini. “It’s not often that a writer gets such a generous opportunity, and a four-month stay in a different environment where I can focus completely on writing will no doubt help me complete some work I have been engaged with for some time.”

During her residency in Grenada, Ms. Allen-Agostini will work to complete both a novel and a collection of poems. She is also expected to give readings at SGU, local schools, libraries, writers organizations, and other institutions, with recordings of these readings made available to the SGU radio station and the Government Information Service in Grenada. In addition, Ms. Allen-Agostini will offer creative writing workshops at SGU, TA Marryshow Community College, and area schools, and keep office hours in order to consult with those at SGU and in the community.

“I think that the SGU community and Grenada community stand to benefit largely from Lisa being on board,” said Antonia MacDonald, Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, and Chair of the four-person selection committee. “She is a published author who works in different literary genres and whohas extensive experience   conducting creative writing workshops. Moreover, Lisa is both enthusiastic and committedso I’m very happy with the selection.”

To be eligible, applicants had to be over the age of 18, of Caribbean birth or citizenship, and have a track record of publishing literary writing, or in the case of playwrights, a history of having dramatic works performed for a public audience. In addition to providing an opportunity for the writer, the program will expose SGU and Grenada to the contemporary Caribbean literary scene.

St. George’s University Josh Project Recognized by Grenada Ministry of Health

Little children heading into surgery or in the throes of a debilitating disease need all the comfort they can get. SGU students have begun a project to give these children personal comfort kits, called a Josh Kit, to help them get through their ordeals. The Grenada Ministry of Health has presented a Certificate of Appreciation to St. George’s University’s Josh Project, which raises money to purchase Josh Kits.

Since its inception in 2011, SGU’s Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) students have donated more than 100 Josh Kits to hospitalized children in Grenada, and those traveling to the US through the Grenada Heart Foundation to undergo heart surgery. The kits include comfort items ranging from a plush, hypo-allergenic, stuffed golden retriever to an illustrated book called, “I’ll Be O.K.,” about a golden retriever named Josh and his trip to the hospital. For every kit distributed to a child in Grenada, the Josh and Friends Project also donates 10 percent of the proceeds from fundraising initiatives to the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization dedicated to advancing research, training, and care for pediatric settings.

“Our objective as vet students is to create that ‘animal-human’ bond and use it to provide comfort to sick children, so it’s amazing to be recognized for our efforts,” said Sylvia Cushman, Co-Chair of SCAVMA Animal Welfare and Behavior Committee.

“Our vision is to continue making a difference in the lives of children and to bring comfort in whatever way we can through the project,” added committee representative Amanda LaRose. “We realize that the Josh Project makes a huge difference not only in the lives of children, but also families, as they are similarly reassured.”

The Josh Project was founded by Dr. Randy Lange, a veterinarian from Knoxville, TN, who witnessed firsthand how terrifying it was for his daughter, and other patients, to go through minor surgery. The experience inspired Dr. Lange to write a book that explained the procedures and events in the hospital and was uplifting and warm. His inspiration led him to write about his golden retriever, Josh, and develop the Josh Kit. The Josh Project has helped to transform anxious hospital stays for children into friendship-filled adventures toward wellness.

The Josh Project was introduced at St. George’s University (SGU) in 2011 by School of Veterinary Medicine students Danielle Dunn and Sarah Hill. SGU’s SCAVMA chapter took third place for the Josh Challenge, an annual contest between SCAVMA chapters worldwide, for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Josh Challenge is a fun and exciting way for participating SCAVMA chapters around the world to promote friendly competition. The goal is to determine which chapter can raise the most money within their local community to place Josh puppies and books in the hands of hospitalized children. The institution raising the most money is declared the winner of the Josh Challenge.

SGU’s DPHPM Commissions Occupational Health and Safety Committee for Grenada Nutmeg Processing Plants

A committee has been put in place to monitor and address issues relating to occupational health and safety (OHS) at Grenada’s Gouyave nutmeg processing plant by St. George’s University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM). The DPHPM, which has worked with the nutmeg industry since 2008, will train this committee to identify and address OHS issues, gradually handing over autonomy following intermittent training and monitoring. DPHPM will then continue to assist the committee in a technical advisory capacity.

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Director of DPHPM, Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, stressed the significance of OHS. “Any industry which wishes to participate in the global market must pay attention to OHS,” he said. “Consumers, especially from the US and Europe, and several other international organisations are concerned with whether goods are produced in a healthy environment and whether workers are being exploited or exposed to harmful agents.”

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC), which had its first meeting on March 7, is comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups including workers and managers at the Gouyave plant and representatives from the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA). Following their initial meeting and training sessions at SGU, the group journeyed to Gouyave for practical application of their training.

Although OHS often does not receive sufficient emphasis in Grenada, Dr. Elci foresees this changing. “It is going to get better. Once this starts, it is going to spread to other industries,” he said. Dr. Elci has 26 years of experience in the field of OHS and has worked in several industries including the highway construction, tea plantation and processing, garment, shoemaking and microwave popcorn industries.

Dr. Omur Cinar Elci says that the university and his department are happy to be assisting the nutmeg industry. “It is impossible to claim the name of public health or be a centre of excellence in education without seeking to give something measureable and sustainable back to the community. Especially in developing nations, we have a responsibility to pursue more than academic curiosity.”