Over 80 Global Scholars Celebrate White Coat Ceremony in UK as St. George’s University Ushers in New Class of Medical Students

On the first step of their path to becoming an MD, 782 incoming students took part in the St. George’s University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, with 86 Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars taking part in the ceremony at Northumbria University, Newcastle on August 15, 2013. Baroness (Ros) Howells of St Davids, the only Grenadian in the House of Lords, was guest of honor at the ceremony.

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Addressing the new intake, Baroness Howells said she envied the students for “the wonderful years you will spend in Grenada, not least after your experience in this modern and progressive city of Newcastle – and at such an outstanding university as Northumbria.”

She congratulated them on having “chosen a great and noble profession.”

Baroness Howells is a trustee of St George’s University’s UK Trust and serves on the board of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the research institute situated on St George’s University’s True Blue campus.

At the ceremony, Kenya’s Joyce Mbogo – a former St George’s scholar and now paediatric endocrinology lecturer at Nairobi’s Aga Khan University Hospital – introduced keynote speaker Leslie Hamilton, consultant cardiac surgeon with the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle; and Ian Postlethwaite, Northumbria’s Deputy Vice Chancellor.

After the students had been robed with their symbolic white coats, Dr. Mbogo led the students in stating their professional commitment to work alongside colleagues and professors “with tolerance, compassion and honesty.”

About the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program.
The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) provides students accepted to St. George’s University School of Medicine the unique opportunity to spend their first year of Basic Medical Sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, followed by study in Grenada and clinical rotations in the United States, United Kingdom, and Grenada. Students follow the same curriculum as Grenada and are taught by SGU faculty while in the United Kingdom. The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) provides an opportunity for medical students to students to take their first year of basic sciences at Northumbria before moving to St George’s University, Grenada, to complete their preclinical training.

Future Veterinarians Profess Their Oath at White Coat Ceremony

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More than 100 students expressed their commitment to the profession of veterinary medicine at the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, held on August 20 at Bourne Lecture Hall on the True Blue campus. The future veterinarians came from near and far, with eight countries represented in the Fall 2013 class, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Grenada, and as far away as Taiwan.

Dr. Lila Miller, cofounder of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), and vice president of veterinary outreach at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), delivered the keynote speech, challenging the incoming students to be aware of the role of veterinarians in animal welfare, and the moral and ethical obligations in the field.

“So often animal welfare is not at the forefront of what we’re being taught,” Dr. Miller said. “We have many obligations as veterinarians that we sometimes have to wonder – where does animal welfare fit in? The American Veterinary Medical Association defined veterinarians as ‘the medical authority for health and welfare of animals,’ so it is incumbent upon your class to ensure we get there. You have the advantage at this spectacular University with a melting pot of cultural experiences and knowledge.

“The next few years are going to be exciting and challenging, and I encourage you to approach everything you’re going to learn with an open mind and learn as much as you can about animal welfare,” she added. “See where you can apply those principles in both your professional and personal lives, and be a vocal advocate to help position veterinarians as the leaders in animal welfare.

University Chancellor Dr. Charles Modica urged the students to take advantage of the opportunities at St. George’s University and remember the lifelong experiences they are sure to learn.

“You will meet people of different races, creed, cultures, and beliefs from all over the world,” he said. “If you take the opportunity to get to know them, work and learn with them, and be a part of this community, you will leave here not only with a degree, but some great human understanding that this world needs. If you can get along with everybody on this campus from all the countries represented, you’ve just managed to get along with everyone of this planet. It’s a greater opportunity than you might have envisioned when you chose this University.”

Alumnus and Master of Ceremonies Dr. Brittany King, DVM SGU ’10, encouraged the students to make their experience at St. George’s University their own. “You can do anything you dream, and if you dream it, your faculty and support group at St. George’s University can make it happen.”

Founded in 1999, the AVMA-accredited School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated over 800 veterinarians from 24 countries who have practiced in 47 US states and 10 countries around the world, including Canada, the UK, and South Africa.

SGU Hosts Regional Conference on Bird Conservation and Climate Change

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St. George’s University welcomed leading authorities in regional bird conservation from across the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean to the 19th regional meeting of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), the largest organization devoted to wildlife conservation in the Caribbean.

This conference is being held at the University’s True Blue Campus from July 27 – 31, 2013, in collaboration with the Grenada Forestry and National Parks Department, Grenada Dove Conservation Programme and Grenada Fund for Conservation. Over 150 delegates from 37 countries are expected to attend.. The theme of this year’s conference, “Bird Conservation in a Changing Climate,” is an extension of the 2013 Earth Day theme, “The Face of Climate Change.”

In a press release about the event, Dr. Howard Nelson, president of the SCSCB described the conference as “an invaluable opportunity to share a growing body of knowledge that shows that climate change has broad far-reaching environmental impacts with both conservationists and the public at large.” Dr. Nelson commented, “We feel especially privileged to have this conference in Grenada given the threat of climate change to the survival of the critically endangered Grenada Dove.”

The Grenada Dove – ‘Leptotila wellsi’ which is the national bird of Grenada, is endangered because of its extremely small and fragmented population. According to Bonnie Rusk, Founding Director of the Grenada Dove Conservation Programme, the most significant threats to the species’ survival are habitat loss and invasive predators. Dr. Nelson noted that both local and international support could not be more urgently needed to prevent further population decline and possible extinction of this unique Caribbean specie.

Executive Director of SCSB, Dr. Lisa Sorenson noted that more than 560 species of birds call the Caribbean region ‘home’. The islands also provide a critical habitat for hundreds of long-distance migratory birds that spend the winter in our forests and wetlands, or use them as a “refueling” stop en route to their final destinations in Latin America, especially during times of poor weather. Sorenson further stated that an astounding 72% of the approximately 208 resident island-birds are endemic to the Caribbean islands and is found nowhere else on the planet. Chair of the Grenadian organizing committee, Tyrone Buckmire affirmed that “the conference would provide a powerful exchange about habitat conservation, environmental advocacy, and the tools to face the global challenge of climate change.”

St. George’s University School of Medicine Graduates Nearly 1,000 New MDs

On Saturday, June 15, St. George’s University conferred Doctor of Medicine degrees to nearly 1,000 MD students at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The 2013 class is the largest in University history with graduates from around the world representing 34 countries.

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“This ceremony is a symbol of confidence that you are now equipped for the world into which you are entering,” St. George’s University Provost Allen Pensick said in his address. “You must consider the term commencement, which speaks of the beginning of a journey, rather than the end. We have equipped you with the basic skills for you to continue learning, and continue learning we all must, to keep pace with the changing world around us.”

With the graduation of the 2013 class, St. George’s retains the distinction of placing more doctors in US PGY-1 residencies than any other medical school in the world for the third year in a row. Since its inception in 1976, St. George’s University has produced more than 11,000 doctors from 133 countries who have practiced in all 50 states in the US and in over 50 countries around the world.

The University honored Mary Sansone, founder and organizer of the Congress of Italian American Organizations (CIAO), with a Medal of Merit at the ceremony for her years of non-profit work and community service. Along with CIAO, Ms. Sansone founded Community Understanding for Racial and Ethnic Equality, or CURE, an organization geared toward promoting racial harmony and human rights. St. George’s also acknowledged Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, a member of the St. George’s University Board of Trustees and the president of Barry University (FL) for nearly a quarter century, with an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters.

SGU’s 2013 Class of DVMs Celebrates Another Milestone In Their Careers

In the fall of 2011, the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2013 celebrated in Grenada when word came that the University has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Two years later, they gathered together once again, this time with their family and friends present, at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City to collectively rejoice once again.

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On Friday, June 14, SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine conferred Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees to 94 students, bringing its alumni total to more than 850 since its founding in 1999.

“The spirit you have is one of success and perseverance, and this is a spirit you have and are also qualities of the School of Veterinary Medicine,” Chancellor Charles R. Modica said to the 2013 class. “You have an attachment to animals that many may not understand, yet this affinity and love you have for over 10,000 species is admired and respected.”

The ceremony marked the 10-year anniversary of the University’s first SVM graduation, and to commemorate the milestone, charter class members presented Chancellor Modica with an award of appreciation, acknowledging his vision and determination for establishing the School of Veterinary Medicine and developing veterinary medical education at SGU.

In addition to the conferral of degrees, Chancellor Modica presented Dr. Richard Halliwell with a Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Halliwell has served as president of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (1984-1986), European College of Veterinary Dermatology (1994-1996), World Association for Veterinary Dermatology (2000-2008), and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (2003-2004).

Grenada’s First Female Governor General Addresses SAS/GSP Graduating Class

A jubilant class of 178 St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and Graduate Studies Program (GSP) graduates received their degrees from Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University, on May 18, 2013 at the 2013 commencement held on campus in Grenada.

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The 2013 SAS/GSP class had the distinct honor of being addressed by Her Excellency Dr. Cecile La Grenade, first female Governor General of Grenada and Managing Director of De La Grenade Industries for 21 years. In her inspiring address, Her Excellency encouraged the graduates to continue learning, developing and growing and to aspire for great things.

“You are all now standing on the threshold of future greatness and the tools of personal success have been imparted to you,” Her Excellency began her address. ”As you begin your new adventure, it is now up to you to blaze forth a trail of activities which create value to your jobs and business ventures alike.”

The Distinguished Service Award, St. George’s University’s highest honor, was bestowed on Dr. John B. Davidson in recognition of and gratitude for his outstanding contribution to St. George’s University, his role in the development of the biochemistry department and its survival following Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and his long-standing friendship with the University.

Coincidentally, School of Arts and Sciences valedictorian, Karla Hood, spoke to her fellow graduates on making the most of every opportunity. MBA graduate Gwen Burbank, spoke on finding the best place to be, which she described as “the place where you feel what is right for you and what is good for the world at exactly the same time”.

The graduates, who represent 12 countries, join the over 13,000 St. George’s University graduates in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, and other professions and disciplines who have worked in over 50 countries around the world.

Developing 21st Century Medicine St. George’s University 19th Geoffrey Bourne Memorial Lecture

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Medicine doesn’t stand still. Medical knowledge doubles every five years; the practices and procedures are constantly changing to meet current standards and expectations. The world is changing rapidly, and medical outlooks and practices must change continually.

Sir Duff, Chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom, spoke on the topic – Developing 21st Century Medicine. In his three-part presentation he highlighted the development of modern medicines as an ever changing model.

Following the 18th century evolution of medicine from observation, which yielded disease clarification, contagion theory, the value of exercise, and the relationship between nutrition and health; to comparative clinical trials and experimental biology in the modern era, there has been an increase in the demand and cost of health care. He stated, “Today we have an increasing demand for healthcare which we have been able to meet with supply, but at a cost that is now unsustainable for most countries.” He further explained, “There have been immense successes, but we’ve been victims of our own successes because we have created an economic health care catastrophe of ever-increasing demand met with an ever-increasing supply.”

Sir Duff articulated that the solution to this problem is to identify the new era of efficacies through the development of new medicines with a high benefit to risk ratio. He stated, “We need to show that the benefits of the medicine to the patients outweigh the risks,” And this can be done, “by stratifying populations and moving towards personalized medicine.” He noted that while we may be several decades away from personalizing medicine, we’re already stratifying populations for its development. He further ventured into the classical model of developing medicine and the need for a more adaptive clinical trial, including the use of some of the most powerful and promising bio-technology.

Honoring the visionary legacy of the late Geoffrey H. Bourne, Sir Gordon Duff stated, “The first-in- human trial is the gateway between biological research and clinical medicine and we must think about it carefully.” This provided the foundation for the third part of his presentation which focused on good prescribing practices.

Sir Gordon Duff is currently the chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an agency within the Department of Health in the United Kingdom, responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices are effective and acceptably safe.

He has been Lord Florey Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Sheffield since 1991. From 2000-2009 he was Chairman of the National Biological Standards Board and co-chair of the Scientific Advisory group for Emergencies since 2009. He was knighted in 2007 for services to public health.

Huge Turnout at SGU’s 2013 Career Day

Career Day on St. George’s University’s True Blue campus was the largest ever this March 23rd. SGU partnered with the Rotaract Club of Grenada to provide career guidance and motivation to over 1,300 students from secondary schools around Grenada.

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As a University and the largest private employer in Grenada, St. George’s is well placed to offer this kind of guidance to students. Marcelle Strachan-Mitchell, SGU’s Recruitment Support Officer and one of the key organisers of the event commented: “We were absolutely delighted for this opportunity to enhance students’ knowledge on the myriad of careers that are available to them. It is important to steer our nation’s youth into making suitable and relevant subject choices, and most importantly to equip them with the tools necessary to build a successful career path. We hope we have inspired them to think beyond.”

Students heard from practitioners of 23 professions including medicine, entertainment, culinary arts, engineering and information technology. This year, four new careers were featured: plumbing/water treatment, construction, cosmetology and medical technology. While many of the students who attended Career Day already know what career they wish to enter and wanted to learn more about their choice and the educational path to it, others who had not yet made this choice benefited from exposure to the wide variety of featured careers.

Besides an exposition of the careers and the tracks into those careers, the attendees received guidance on financing higher education, preparing for interviews and the job market, and a fun, interactive fashion show demonstrated the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of dressing in the workplace. It was a valuable day for all.

SGU Students, Faculty and Staff Raise over EC$70,000 for Women’s Rights

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In a conservative society like Grenada, a play titled ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is bound to raise eyebrows, which is precisely its point. The award-winning play, written by Eve Ensler, is meant to shock, forcing society to face the realities of taboo themes like violence against women and girls, and putting persons at ease to discuss these difficult issues thus aiding in the fight against them. The campaign has gained global participation and the play is put on each year in countries around the world. Putting its money where its mouth is, so to speak, the movement doesn’t stop at raising awareness but also raises funds to directly tackle these issues.

This year, St. George’s University students, faculty and staff, together with associates from the local community, put on the Vagina Monologues for the sixth consecutive year. Over EC$15,800 was raised from the proceeds of the play, sponsorship from the SGU Student Government Association, Jones Browne and Hubbard (Grenada) Ltd., Food Fair and the Grenada Bottling Company and the sale of chocolates and white ribbons. This money will be donated to Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), the Cedar’s Home for Abused Women and Their Children, Grenada Chapter of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership (GrenCHAP) and GrenAIDS.

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Total funds raised by the group for local and international women’s causes over the six years it has put on the production now exceeds EC$70,000. Alyssa Bierzynski, media and sponsorship coordinator for the group, comments: “We have to acknowledge that here at home in Grenada the issues are real and gender-based violence does exist. We have to stop blaming the victims and we need to stand in support of those who need our help.”

Sacha Pierre, the main organiser for the event, stressed that the production is not just about entertainment. “The Vagina Monologues leaves theatre goers with a real message, with hope and, with any luck, the spirit of activism,” she commented. She also highlighted that it is not only about women: “Productions of the Vagina Monologues aim to raise awareness among both men and women about domestic and sexual abuse and general acts of violence against women. We have had in the past, and continued to have this year, several men who have given of their time to contribute to this production.”

On March 8, voices for gender equality and against violence against women and girls were again raised around the globe on International Women’s Day.

Dr. Robert C. Gallo presents 2013 Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University

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An overflowing audience in Patrick F. Adams Hall hung on the every word of world-renowned physician and scientist Dr. Robert C. Gallo at the fifth annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial Lecture/13th Annual WINDREF Lecture. Dr. Gallo, with his refreshing humor and calm demeanor, did not disappoint as he delivered a powerful lecture which received a well deserved standing ovation at the end.

Speaking on the topic “Viruses and Epidemics with a Focus on HIV/AIDS: Our Attempts to Control Them,” Dr. Gallo provided an overview of viral epidemics that have swept the globe over the last century.

“Humans have a 25- to 30-year attention span,” he said, explaining medicine’s shift in focus from researching infectious diseases to degenerative diseases within decades of conquering an epidemic. He pointed out that the number of medical graduates entering the field of virology was shrinking.

In 1980, Dr. Gallo discovered HTLV-1, which was the first of the human retroviruses to be discovered which caused a malignancy. Later in the decade, he discovered HTLV-2 and co-discovered HIV. Dr. Gallo provided the first clear evidence that HIV caused AIDS, and he and his team developed the first HIV diagnostic test. In the ’90s, Dr. Gallo and his co-workers also discovered the first natural inhibitors of HIV, which was instrumental in developing treatments for the infection. In addition, in 1986 he and his team also discovered the first human herpes virus in more than 25 years, HHV-6, which proved to cause the infantile disease, roseola.

Dr. Gallo’s groundbreaking work, widely accepted and revered today, was certainly not widely accepted in the 1980s and he was met with much criticism – and even ridicule – by members of his profession. “What is called translational research today was thought to be not academic enough, not intellectual enough,” he said. Dr. Gallo shared his experience swimming against the tide in the 1980s and relayed how he stuck to his guns, shattering many medical misconceptions of the time.

Dr. Gallo’s lecture also focused on HTLV-1 and HIV and what it will take to control these viral pandemics. “There are approaches to finding a cure, but as yet, no one has a cure for HIV or HTLV-1 … but we have good diagnostic tests today and treatment at least for HIV is having a positive impact on many people’s lives.” His mantra is to “test a lot, treat early and we can control the HIV pandemic – do it for the world, do it forever, until we find a preventive vaccine. This approach will take a tremendous commitment by governments and policy makers.”

In his lecture, Dr. Gallo also touched on the Global Virus Network (GVN) which he cofounded in 2011. The GVN’s mission is to ensure a rapid response to new or re-emerging viruses that threaten mankind, to bring together and achieve collaboration amongst the world’s leading virologists, and to support training of the next generation of medical virologists. He pointed out that several epidemics and global health disasters could have been averted if this network had been established earlier.

At the end of the lecture, Dr. Gallo was inducted as an honorary member of St. George’s University’s Gamma Kappachapter of the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society in recognition of the enormous contributions he has made to our understanding of retroviruses and to medicine and public health.

In her closing remarks, Baroness Howells of St. David’s, a member of the WINDREF (UK) Board of Trustees, thanked Dr. Gallo for his insightful lecture and reflected on the impact it would have had on such an assembled audience.

Dr. Gallo, founder and co-director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has received numerous major scientific honors and awards, including the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which he was awarded in 1982 and 1986. He was rated the most cited scientist in the world for two decades in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the Institute for Scientific Information. Dr. Gallo was also ranked third in the world for scientific impact for the period 1983-2002. He has been awarded 30 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States, Sweden, Italy, Israel, Peru, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, and Greece.