Adjusting to life in Grenada? Drop in to the International Students Office

As part of the broader support services offered by the Office of the Dean of Students, the International Students Office (ISO) provides a wide range of assistance and resources to new and returning students.

With a global faculty and student body made up of 151 countries, St. George’s University’s newly designated International Students Office (ISO) supports SGU’s diverse campus population.

As part of the broader support services offered by the Office of the Dean of Students, ISO provides a wide range of assistance and resources to new and returning students (both on campus and studying remotely). Services include:

  • Assisting students with visa and immigration inquiries;
  • Providing conversational learning sessions to help students develop their English language skills;
  • Supporting students with cultural adjustments and transitioning to life at SGU and Grenada;
  • Hosting workshops to share tips on healthy student living; and
  • Encouraging incoming students to partake in ISO’s peer mentor program.

“Our international peer mentors serve as ambassadors who meet with parents, prospective students, and international visitors from universities and other agencies,” said Rhanisha Alexander-Daniel, associate director of the International Student Office. “These meetups allow them to share their experience at SGU, while giving more insight into the history and culture of our campus.”

Students can find more information about the International Students Office on the University Portal.

ISO is located at the True Blue campus Welcome Centre. Walk-ins are welcomed or appointments can be booked for a one-on-one consultation with an ISO team member at internationalstudents@sgu.edu.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SGU Welcomes Inaugural April Class

Siblings Stephan and Beatrice Attilus began their medical studies together at SGU this April.

Last week, St. George’s University welcomed its inaugural April class of aspiring doctors with a virtual White Coat Ceremony. Each term, the ceremony is held for first-term students, representing an important milestone marking their entry into the medical profession.

“I want to welcome the students from the first April start for the School of Medicine,” said Dr. Charles R. Modica, chancellor of SGU. “Forty-five years after our first charter class—and in the middle of a pandemic—you’ve decided to take upon yourselves the rigorous studies to pursue a medical degree. We’re here to help you succeed in any way we can, and if you’re anything like your predecessors, I think you’ll do just fine. We’re excited to have you as the newest charter class of the University.”

The 2025 April class joined its fellow incoming students from the August 2020 and January 2021 classes from St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University Four- and Five-Year Program and the School of Medicine, who had their White Coat Ceremonies in March. The April class welcomed students from 22 countries, including the United States, Ecuador, Canada, Argentina, India, Algeria, China, Grenada, Jamaica, Nigeria, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, Fiji, Republic of South Korea, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Ghana, Rwanda, and Ukraine.

In his welcome remarks to the latest incoming class, Dr. Marios Loukas, the dean of the School of Medicine, encouraged the medical students to strive for excellence in their pursuit of knowledge and to heed the oath they were about to pledge.

“As you don your white physician’s coats, you pledge an oath of professionalism and service,” said Dr. Loukas. “Professionalism is a commitment to integrity, altruism, competence, and ethics in the service of others. We must endeavor to honor the sacred trust and privilege society places on medical professionals—cognizant that the standard is an ideal that we must continuously aim to achieve. I welcome you to the noble profession of medicine.”

In his keynote address, Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of SGU and a tropical disease specialist, shared his knowledge and expertise about the fight against COVID-19. He focused on the history of the white coat and the place physicians held in society.

“We have an opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic to reestablish what’s important in physicians,” said Dr. Olds. “By taking on great personal risk and sometimes becoming surrogate loved ones while caring for patients, this global health crisis has shined a light on healthcare professionals on the frontlines and created a new opportunity for all healthcare workers to be appreciated by greater society.”

After sharing a touching story on what it means to be a good physician, Dr. Olds left the newest class of future doctors with a few additional words of wisdom.

“You will learn a lot of medical facts from your faculty—facts about the body and how it breaks down in disease,” he said. “You’ll learn how to diagnose difficult illnesses and how to treat them. But if you’re open to it, you’ll learn how to become a better doctor largely from your patients. So, as you don your white coat today, welcome to the noble profession of medicine.” 

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SGU’s Research Day Returning This October

Research will once again take center stage at St. George’s University this fall. After a two-year hiatus since a record-breaking turnout in 2019, the campus will host its 19th SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day on Saturday, October 23, at Open and Upper Modica Hall.

This year’s event will feature Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as the keynote speaker. For the first time, the event will include virtual presentations. The change will allow for collaborators, graduates, students, faculty, and alumni not located in Grenada to contribute, including those in the St. George’s University of Grenada School of Medicine/Northumbria University program in Newcastle, UK. Clinical faculty in the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine may also participate.

“Those who participate in research benefit, in that it makes them more holistic and impactful in their chosen field of study,” said Dr. Martin Forde, professor of environmental and occupational health in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “One of the goals of Research Day is to allow our students to demonstrate that they are not only interested in gaining knowledge but in making meaningful contributions to the knowledge base of their chosen profession. Through it, they can demonstrate their ability to help answer questions that still are unanswered and highlight where we still need to dig deeper.”

 

 

Recognizing that research is an integral part of a university, SGU established the Medical Student Research Institute (MSRI) in 2009 to encourage, support, facilitate, and centralize medical student research during the four years of a student’s medical education. The MSRI offers medical students who have demonstrated academic excellence the opportunity to work on faculty-mentored research projects, and if their abstract is accepted to Research Day, they will qualify to be considered for a Distinction in Scholarly Activities award at graduation.

Recently appointed to head up the MSRI, Michael Montalbano, MD/MBA ’16, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomical Sciences at SGU, revealed the goals he hopes to accomplish.

“I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to head the MSRI,” said Dr. Montalbano. “In my new role, I want the MSRI to give students the skills that accompany sound scientific approaches to complement the large volume of medical knowledge they learn from their classes. I believe that, armed with the proper cognitive exploratory tools, a student can better map out the dense territory of medical facts, make an informed clinical decision when faced with a choice of paths, and perhaps even start a trail of knowledge in previously uncharted terrain. In short, I want to not just keep curiosity alive but actively promote it.”

Call for Abstracts

Research Day is open to all. Those selected will have the opportunity to present their oral or poster presentations in a chance to compete for the title of best faculty or best student oral presentation, as well as best faculty or best student poster presentation based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement.

The SGU community is invited to send in abstracts on or before Monday, September 27. Please send submissions to Kareem Coomansingh at kcoomans@sgu.edu

 

– Ray-Donna Peters

 

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SAS and SGS grads encouraged to “profoundly impact the world”

On June 12, students from 44 countries came together with family, friends, and well-wishers for their last virtual meetup and to celebrate their academic achievements at the annual School of Arts and Sciences/School of Graduate Studies commencement ceremony.  

Over 420 graduates were encouraged to achieve outside the box as they start their new journey into the workplace around the world.  Degrees were conferred to the SAS and SGS Class of 2021, as well as the SAS Class of 2020, which could not hold its ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a profound keynote address, Dessima Williams, ambassador for Grenada and permanent representative to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013, challenged SGU’s newest alumni to live a life of service and to commit to doing something special and impactful.  

“Go from SGU into the world and help to transform everything that you can—make it better,” said Ambassador Williams. “You are graduating, so you must have gotten some good marks. Go now and make good marks on the world.” 

Jonathan Silwanes, BSc ’20, class speaker for the SAS Class of 2020, added that success is not only about achieving your goals, but about being triumphant when faced with hardships. 

 

As we embark on our respective paths, there will be harder challenges to come, but as long as you persevere, you will be an unstoppable force.

 

“As we celebrate our successes together today, I challenge all my fellow graduates to appreciate the journey you’ve been through, applaud yourselves for your accomplishments, and remember the adversity you’ve overcome to reach this point,” he said. “Continue to believe in yourself amidst the challenges that await you in the future. Continue your quest to your dreams and continue to succeed every day.” 

Namratha Guruvaiah Sridhara, BSc ’20, class speaker for the School of Arts and Sciences Class of 2021, shared a short story that alluded to the importance of turning one’s struggles into positive learning outcomes.  

“Standing here today, our perseverance and willpower to endure has proven to be stronger than any obstacle. Hence, I urge you all to remember this time, not just as a period of difficulty, but look at it as a way to see what you have achieved and what you have overcome. As we embark on our respective paths, there will be harder challenges to come, but as long as you persevere, you will be an unstoppable force.” 

Samantha Antoine-Purcell, MEd ’21, class speaker for the School of Graduate Studies, thanked her predecessors for paving the way and implored her fellow classmates to think beyond the assignments and projects and step into alumni roles to pay it forward. 

“Today, our graduation is not just the end of the journey,” she said. “Indeed, it is the beginning of our commitment to learning and growing, our commitment to leading lives of purpose and intent. It is our commitment to embracing that which we are—the embodiment of phenomenal thought and action. We have a responsibility to use our collective experiences to profoundly impact our world and positively do so as change agents.”

– Istra Bell

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Campus enhancements await students returning to Grenada

 

St. George’s University’s campus is ready for students to return by making several enhancements, and it will have a new look when they arrive.

SGU has continued to support its growing campus community with several expansion and redevelopment projects to be completed in the 2021-2022 academic year. When construction is complete, the campus will feature greater capacity for individual and group study spaces as well as new technologically advanced clinical skills laboratories.

“We are extremely excited to make these improvements to our campus, and truly believe that they will greatly contribute to our students’ success,” said Charles Modica, chancellor at St. George’s University. “We eagerly await their return and, with it, the return of our vibrant campus.”

Enhancements include:

  • New Eric Gairy Pavilion: Outside of Eric Gairy Hall, this open-air pavilion welcomes up to 282 students to convene for outdoor study, a tried-and-true setting to further absorb coursework. Scheduled to be completed by August 2021.
  • New Beachfront Pavilion: On the hill connecting upper and lower campus, this new pavilion will have the capacity for 324 students to conduct group study, all with backdrop of True Blue Bay. Scheduled to be completed by early fall.
  • Renovated indoor study spaces campus-wide: Students can really stretch their legs with 52 percent more individual study spaces thanks to new carrels in Founders Library, Lower Modica Hall, Lower Taylor Hall, St. David’s Hall, St. Andrew’s Hall, and St. John’s Hall. Scheduled to be completed by August 2021.
  • Additional clinical skills labs: After recently updating the existing 56 clinical skills rooms with the newest technology, SGU is also adding another 28 rooms as well as a new control center that will help provide an optimal simulation experience with standardized patients. Scheduled to be completed in early 2022.

The improvements were put in place as SGU prepares to welcome back fully vaccinated students, faculty, staff, and administrators later this month, with in-person classes back in session this August.

“When our students, faculty, and staff are all on campus together, it truly is a magical place to learn, study, and to enjoy each other’s company,” said Glen Jacobs, provost at SGU. “These additions and renovations only add to the unique and enriching student experience here in True Blue.”

St. George’s University’s campus is ready for students to return by making several enhancements.

 

 

– Brett Mauser

Basic Sciences Dean: Energized community and student success at the heart of campus return

Why is learning the basic sciences so crucial to the study of medicine?

“In the basic sciences, we set the framework for all of the foundational requirements of clinical knowledge, skills, and behaviors” needed to apply to hospital medicine, according to Mark Clunes, PhD, the new senior associate dean of basic sciences at St. George’s University. He took on his new role when Dr. Marios Loukas was appointed dean of the School of Medicine earlier this year.

As dean of basic sciences, Dr. Clunes is tasked with ensuring that first- and second-year MD students are well-prepared to enter their clinical years. He knows the terrain well, having been a professor of physiology within the School of Medicine since 2008 and most recently serving as the associate dean of basic sciences. His wife, Dr. Lucy Clunes, also an SOM professor, was recently named the school’s dean of students.

Dr. Clunes shared his perspective on why mastering the basic sciences curriculum is crucial to clinical learning, the future of the virtual learning environment at SGU, and what he is most excited for when students return to campus.

St. George’s University: When students complete their basic science curriculum, how will they be prepared for the clinical years?

Dr. Clunes: Essentially, in the basic sciences, we set the framework for all of the foundational requirements of clinical skills; then in their clinical years they have to apply that knowledge to real patients with all the complexity of real patient presentation.

 

“Campus is more than a location; it’s a place of study, a place where students relax, and a place where they interact and gather and share academic and extracurricular life. It’s a dynamic community and a space we share together. I am very much looking forward to regaining our community.”

 

SGU: How can students prepare for the transition from virtual back to in-person learning? What is the advantage to being back on campus?

Dr. Clunes: Although our curriculum has been delivered remotely during the COVID pandemic, we have continued to provide live interactive sessions, so the time management and study skills required to be successful in the remote program are very similar to those required for the on-campus environment.

However, the advantages of being back on campus are that this is a center of academic activity. The learning environment here on campus is tailored for study, either as individuals or in groups, whereas home is not always equivalent. So for the most part, the return to campus will provide an opportunity to re-establish study communities and provide a stable supportive learning environment for success.

SGU: Will there be aspects of virtual learning that remain a part of the curriculum, even when students are on campus? In what ways?

Dr. Clunes: Certain elements have undoubtedly been advantageous virtually.

For instance, virtual “office hours” have allowed faculty to substantially increase the volume of students we can meet with, and these sessions have been appreciated by faculty as well as the students.

In terms of the core curriculum, we still think that community and engagement are vital, so the core elements of the curriculum will be delivered on site, but flexibility around supplemental activity will undoubtedly be increased.

Some examples include:

  • Patient interviews using remote technology—this won’t be retained as an exclusive modality for patient encounters but targeted sessions for remote technology use with patients will be incorporated
  • The advisory services will very likely offer both live or online options for students.
  • Many of the supplemental learning sessions that run in the evenings on campus can now also be offered online, so that students can choose to remain on campus or participate from their home or dorm.

SGU: From an academic standpoint, what are students’ biggest concerns when they enter their first term?

Dr. Clunes: There is often apprehension about medical school and the demands of studying medicine. It is of course an academically challenging course of study. However, there is a wealth of support from the faculty, the course directors, University administration, and all of the advisory and support services. Everyone at SGU is here for one outcome—student success.

Students will return to campus for the August 2021 term.

SGU: Is the study of COVID-19 now a part of the curriculum?

Dr. Clunes: Infectious disease, immunology, and public health have always been an important part of the curriculum. Our experience over the last 12 months demonstrated why it was so important to learn.

Moving forward, the faculty of the Departments of Microbiology, Immunology and Pharmacology, and Public Health will undoubtedly use the COVID pandemic and the wealth of research garnered as valuable educational tools.

SGU: What are you most excited about when students return to campus?

Dr. Clunes: Seeing campus return to the busy, energized place that it was when the students were present. Campus is more than a location; it’s a place of study, a place where students relax, and a place where they interact and gather and share academic and extracurricular life. It’s a dynamic community and a space we share together. I am very much looking forward to regaining our community.

To learn more about the School of Medicine’s MD curriculum, visit the SGU website.

 

– Laurie Chartorynsky

 

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SGU Donates 8,000+ Meals to St. Vincent Relief Efforts

SGU campus officials collaborated with the Ministry of Health Grenada and officials from the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) to deliver meals to St. Vincent families affected by the volcano eruption. Image courtesy of Terrence Franklyn.

In solidarity with the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its people, St. George’s University has donated more than 8,000 meals to those affected by the recent eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano.

“SGU’s origins are tied to St. Vincent,” said SGU Chancellor and University Co-founder Charles R. Modica. “Our connection to the island spans far and deep and we hope to assist our St. Vincent brethren in any way we can. The meals will help families affected by the volcano, which continues to erupt and cause uncertainty for the people who live and work on the island.”

SGU’s Department of Public Safety officials collaborated with the Ministry of Health Grenada and officials from the National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) to coordinate the effort. SGU’s Department of Public Safety delivered the meals to NaDMA for shipment to St. Vincent.

SGU has also pledged to offer beds for evacuated residents, if needed. In addition, the School of Medicine Alumni Association has started a charity drive to help St. Vincent families, which includes SGU alumni who live and work there. All individuals are encouraged to donate.

 

A Rich History Together

Just as Grenada and St. Vincent share close ties, the island and its people are dear to many in the SGU community, as it was a co-partner of the University from its inception. For more than 25 years, SOM medical students completed a semester of their basic sciences on the island. When the volcano last erupted in 1979, some SGU students were studying on the island and instrumental in helping island recovery efforts, even as medical students. SGU also lent a hand by donating much-needed supplies.

Similarly, when Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada in 2004, St. Vincent offered assistance during the country’s recovery.

“We are thinking of our Vincentian neighbors during this challenging time and stand ready to further assist in their recovery,” said SGU Provost Glen Jacobs. “We are working closely with the Government of Grenada and disaster preparedness agencies to continue offering support in any way we can, including food and shelter for our St. Vincent brethren.”

Students, faculty, and staff in Grenada wishing to drop off donations may contact NaDMA.

 

— Laurie Chartorynsky

 

 

 

SGU, WINDREF co-host climate intervention webinar with UN, WHO, and PAHO

Continuing its longstanding collaboration with national, regional, and global organizations that drive discussion and improvements related to climate change, St. George’s University co-hosted an interactive webinar to address the importance of climate intervention in the Caribbean and how the region can benefit from increased data collection.

The webinar, titled “Calculating the Health Co-Benefits of Climate Interventions Using the CaRBonH tool in the Caribbean,” was co-organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Regional Collaboration Centre at St. George’s, SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Small Island Developing States, which include the islands in the Caribbean, have a high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change despite the region’s low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, SGU’s dean of the School of Graduate Studies and director and vice president of WINDREF. “These impacts include more frequent and increasingly severe storms; unpredictable weather patterns, which impact agriculture and the incidence of vector borne diseases; increasing sea levels; and increasing temperatures, all of which adversely affect human and animal health.”

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The April 28 webinar introduced the current status of the data collection process in the Caribbean and explored the potential advantages of adapting the WHO’s Carbon Reductions Benefits on Health Tool (CarbonH) tool to assist in calculating the health benefits of climate interventions.

“Ultimately the data collected in the region will be part of the discussions at the Global Climate Change, COP26 meeting to be held in Glasgow in November 2021,” Dr. Macpherson said.

The CaRBonH tool was initially developed by WHO to quantify the potential health and economic benefits that could be achieved by climate policy implementation in Europe. RCC St. George’s, WINDREF, PAHO, WHO, and SGU have been working in collaboration to apply the CaRBonH tool in the Caribbean by conducting a preliminary analysis of data availability in the region.

 

“Small Island Developing States, which include the islands in the Caribbean, have a high vulnerability to the impacts of climate change despite the region’s low contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

Webinar participants included 24 representatives of the UNFCCC National Focal Points, and chief environmental health officers and national statistical officers from 16 Caribbean countries. The session was moderated by Dr. Lindonne Glasgow, SGU’s deputy chair and assistant professor of the DPHPM.

Presenters included Dr. Vintura Silva, regional lead of UNFCCC RCC St. George’s; Jonell Benjamin, consultant of UNFCCC RCC St. George’s; and Dr. Daniel Buss, advisor for climate change and health in PAHO, with opening remarks given by Dr. Macpherson,

St. George’s University hosts the UNFCCC RCC in the DPHPM, one of six global Research Collaborating Centers in the world. In an effort to assist in the development of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in the region, the UNFCCC secretariat created a partnership agreement with WINDREF, which is based on the SGU campus, as well as St. George’s University to establish a regional collaboration center in St. George’s, Grenada. The RCC St. George’s is available to support countries interested in applying the CaRBonH tool to calculate the health co-benefits of climate interventions.

The group plans to reconvene on June 1 and 2 for a virtual conference titled, “Making the Case for Health Co-Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation in the Caribbean.”

SGU’s Omidvar Named International Medical Student of the Year

As a former pediatric patient, Ava Omidvar has spent many years in and out of hospitals—to the point where she considers them to be her second home. Through the tireless efforts of her medical teams, she’s been given a second chance at life, and for the sake of her own patients, she’s committed to making the most of it.

For her dedication to emergency medicine, Ms. Omidvar recently received the scholarship award for International Medical Student of the Year by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and Resident and Student Association.

“The award came as a complete surprise to me,” stated Ms. Omidvar. “I had no idea I was nominated but I felt incredibly honored to be noticed in such a positive way. Getting this award has provided me with even more motivation to continue this path I have chosen—not only to help those most vulnerable, but to also help those who come after me.”

It was given in recognition of her leadership and service as the president of the Emergency Medicine Club at SGU; her research project SAVED: Starting the Conversation of Death for Healthcare Providers, which she presented at the CENTILE conference in Washington DC; and her advocacy for policy topics relevant to the specialty of emergency medicine.

“The desire for giving through medicine is a lifelong passion that has guided me throughout my life,” said Ms. Omidvar, a third-year medical student at St. George’s University. “It has inspired me to take advantage of every educational avenue, job opportunity, and volunteer project available to me. These combined experiences have helped me turn my passion into expertise and my dreams into a reality.”

Currently studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam, Ms. Omidvar looks forward to starting her clinical rotations and getting back into the field as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic. Her plan is to use what she’s learned during her time at SGU to achieve her dream of becoming a pediatric emergency medicine physician in order to provide improved care to her community during a time when healthcare professionals are needed the most.

“My passion for medicine has taken me from the back seat of an ambulance in Baltimore, all the way to a small clinic in Kampala,” shared Ms. Omidvar. “From a classroom in Boston, a government facility in Maryland, a MEDEVAC helicopter over Washington, DC, to the clinics and hospitals of the beautiful country of Grenada. At each turn, I have come face-to-face with the patients and people who inspire me to continue this journey.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

New On-Campus Lab Strengthens Diagnostics, Education, And Research In Grenada

With the development of a state-of-the-art diagnostic molecular facility on campus, St. George’s University has assured its community and the country of Grenada that SGU will be prepared to do its part should another infectious disease outbreak surface in the near or distant future.

The laboratory is housed in the on-campus Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) building, and was constructed to meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

“By upgrading our laboratory, we can now provide a long-term diagnostic molecular facility that could provide timely and appropriate diagnostic services for the University and potentially the region,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at SGU. Previously, most diagnostic testing had to be sent outside of Grenada for analysis, often creating longer lead times for receiving results.

In addition to diagnostics, the lab will serve as a teaching facility for graduate and undergraduate students interested in molecular technology elective courses. It will also be a resource for faculty and students to conduct research on emerging and re-emerging vector-borne diseases and other infections.

By demonstrating the capacity to accurately and safely test hundreds of cases each week, Dr. Macpherson envisions that the lab will further enhance international and regional partnerships with such groups as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and universities worldwide.

We can now provide a long-term diagnostic molecular facility that could provide timely and appropriate diagnostic services for the University and potentially the region.”

 

Commitment to accuracy and efficiency

SGU’s molecular lab will be overseen by Elsa Chitan, the head of the WINDREF laboratories, and will be initially utilized to conduct all COVID-19 testing on campus. Vanessa Matthew-Belmar, MSc ’16, a lab technician in the School of Veterinary Medicine, will use the lab to conduct her PhD studies on COVID-19 at SGU.

“The molecular lab will provide a diverse group of students and faculty with a molecular facility, which is increasingly the Gold Standard for diagnosing infectious diseases,” said Dr. Trevor Noël, director of SGU’s field research studies in the Office of Research and deputy director of WINDREF. Since its founding in 1994 as a non-governmental organization in Grenada and as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation, WINDREF has been committed to health and environmental development through research and education programs, by promoting collaborative relationships between internationally recognized scholars and regional scientists, and by adhering to the highest ethical research and academic standards. WINDREF’s current donors include the NIH, Grand Challenges Canada, Nature Conservancy International, FAO, The Spencer Foundation, Global Challenges Research Fund, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Water Partnership, and many other entities.

SGU’s molecular lab in the School of Veterinary Medicine served as Grenada’s initial national SARS-CoV-2 testing site at the onset of the pandemic last year. It was one of approximately 250 quality control labs around the world overseen by the WHO. Its results were in 100 percent concordance with the expected test results from the WHO. The national testing laboratory located at the Grenada General Hospital continues to collaborate with WINDREF personnel on best diagnostic practices.

PCR testing continues at SGU’s Open Modica Hall, where Dr. Kathy Yearwood, director of University Clinical Services and Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair of nursing and allied health science, join staff from the University Clinic, nursing program, and WINDREF COVID-19 team, have been testing the SGU affiliated community and contractors. The program has tested almost 8,000 individuals over the past year with the majority of the results returned to those tested within eight hours. A rapid turnaround is essential for the test to be useful for epidemiological surveillance, and its success played a significant role in limiting the numbers of COVID-19 infections in Grenada over the past year.

Dr. Trevor Noel receives his COVID-19 vaccine as part of Grenada’s initial rollout.

SGU faculty step forward in Grenada vaccine rollout 

Drs. Macpherson and Noël were amongst the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on February 12. They joined the Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell; Minister of Health the Hon. Nickolas Steele; and a number of cabinet members, senior administrators from the Ministry of Health, and some frontline workers.

“In Grenada, non-pharmaceutical measures have been in place from the beginning, whether it’s a limited curfew, the mandatory wearing of masks in public, frequent washing of hands, physical distancing, along with a rapid test, trace, and isolate and quarantine program, all helped to maintain the low numbers of COVID-19 infections in Grenada,” Dr. Macpherson said. “As a result, we have had so few cases, which means that almost everyone is immunologically naïve and susceptible to infection. The vaccine is the final piece to protect everyone in Grenada.”

 

 

Both Dr. Macpherson and Dr. Noël reported having only transitory mild side effects from the first of two vaccine shots. The immediate rollout of the vaccine will be administered by the Community and Public Health nurses of the Ministry of Health at the Grenada General Hospital. Dr. Yearwood and members of the SGU clinical team and WINDREF COVID-19 team were among those to receive the vaccine early in its rollout.

“The strong partnership between the Ministry of Health, SGU, WINDREF, PAHO/WHO and the participation of the people of Grenada with the non-pharmaceutical measures allowed Grenada to limit the number of cases of COVID-19 in Grenada to extremely low levels,” said Dr. Macpherson. “It has been a pleasure for us to be a part of this remarkable public health achievement.”

– Brett Mauser