Guest lecturer Dr. Jeffrey Ponsky—named one of America’s Top Doctors® for over a decade—offers his advice for residency seekers.
One of the world’s experts on Chikungunya and Dengue, Dr. Desirée LaBeaud, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stanford University, delivered an insightful lecture on the debilitating mosquito-borne infections that have recently affected the Caribbean as part of the St. George’s University Public Lecture Series.
Chikungunya and Dengue in Grenada and the Americas: What Are We In For?
Chikungunya is a hot topic in Grenada, as well as in other parts of the world where it is beginning to be seen. Chikungunya and Dengue have affected many people in Grenada and its impact in the nation is of great interest to all concerned.
One of the world’s experts on Chikungunya and Dengue, Dr. Desirée LaBeaud, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stanford University, delivered an insightful lecture on the debilitating mosquito-borne infections that have recently affected the Caribbean as part of the St. George’s University Public Lecture Series on November 11.
“We don’t really understand the true economic or health impact of these infections,” said Dr. LaBeaud. “It is critical to try and prevent an outbreak rather than trying to deal with one once it occurs. We need to optimize epidemic vector-borne disease control.”
In her presentation titled “Chikungunya and Dengue in Grenada and the Americas: What Are We In For?” Dr. LaBeaud stressed the role that increased global travel plays in the spread of these diseases to epidemic proportions. Citing recent research, she presented her audience with an overview of the chikungunya and dengue viruses, a chronological history of their spread, their symptoms, control, and prevention strategies. Their recent spread to the Caribbean has brought their treatment and preventive measures into the spotlight.
“Active, ongoing surveillance is crucial, and you need to respond within the first few weeks of an infection presenting itself in your community,” said LaBeaud. “A delay of just two weeks can result in an exponential increase in both the human cases and the costs to abort an outbreak.”
Dr. LaBeaud stressed that, on an individual level, the only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent the bite of an infected mosquito. While mosquito nets are great for preventing malaria because its vectors feed at night, they are generally ineffective against preventing CHIKV whose vectors bite during the day. She recommends wearing repellent, and destroying potential breeding sites around households.
More intense measures are being considered by scientists for a global response to these threats in the future. These include RIDL technology, releasing insects with a Dominant Lethal gene that causes only males to be bred, and the promotion of the Wolbachia bacteria which make mosquitoes inefficient transmitters of disease. Several vaccines are also being developed to prevent both chikungunya and dengue.
St. George’s University introduced its Public Lecture Series in 1998 to educate, inform, and enrich the public on topical issues. The series has brought several regional and international experts to Grenada to lecture on diverse topics that include the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME), challenges facing small-island economies in a changing world, sustainable agriculture, the US Civil Rights Movement, West Indies cricket, and sickle cell research. Previous speakers include Sir Paul Scoon, former Governor-General of Grenada, Dr. Hilarian Codippily, World Bank consultant/economist, and Dr. Merle Collins, award-winning Grenadian author.
St. George’s University (SGU) embraces the philosophy of “One Health One Medicine” – that the wellbeing of all animal species, including humans, are interrelated, and that knowledge gained in one species benefits the others. Scientists at SGU will further analyze the convergence of human, animal, and ecosystem health at the second annual One Health One Medicine Caribbean Conference, which will take place from March 14-16, 2014, on the True Blue campus.
“This meeting,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, vice provost for international program development and director of research at St. George’s University, “ will bring together scientists from public health, veterinary and human medicine, bioethics, climatology and agricultural and animal sciences to address the global health problems we are facing in an increasingly interconnected world. ”
The conference will be addressed by, amongst others, Dr. Donald T. Simeon, the deputy director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and senior lecturer in biostatistics at the University of the West Indies, as well as Dr. Dennis Trent, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and former deputy director and chief of the molecular biology branch within the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.
The first One Health One Medicine Caribbean Conference attracted by more than 150 participants, including scientists and scholars from Guyana, Trinidad, the United States, and Grenada, as well as 20 scholarly presentations. Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, delivered the keynote address, speaking on the critical need for integrating health and agriculture. Minister Ramsammy is uniquely placed to speak on this topic as he is the former Minister of Health in Guyana, a post he held for more than a decade.
For more information on the 2014 One Health One Medicine Caribbean Conference, visit sgu.edu/onehealth or contact Ms. Riba R. David at firstname.lastname@example.org or 473-444-4175 ext. 3373.
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Dr. Macpherson’s book, coedited with Francois Meslin (WHO, Switzerland) and Alex Wandeler (CFIA, Canada) “Dogs, Zoonoses and Public Health,” examines the relationship between veterinary and human medicine, microbiology, parasitology, and public health. The second edition, released in February 2013, includes new chapters on the human-dog relationship and its benefits, as well as non-infectious disease issues humans share with dogs.
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.”
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.
On February 12, 2013, Robert C. Gallo, MD, who for the past 30 years has been one of the most influential scientists in the world, will visit St. George’s University to deliver the 5th Keith B. Taylor Memorial/13th Annual WINDREF Lecture. The title of his lecture will beViruses and Epidemics With a Focus on HIV/AIDS: Our Attempts to Control Them. The lecture, which is open to the public, faculty, and students, will take place at 6 pm at Patrick F. Adams Hall.
Dr. Gallo, founder and co-director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is one of the pioneers in the field of human retrovirology. Together with his colleagues, in 1980 he discovered HTLV-1, which causes leukemia and was the first of the human retroviruses to be discovered. 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 coworkers 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 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.
First let me thank Chancellor Modica for his gracious invitation to deliver this address and the warmth with which he and his colleagues have received me. Next, let me congratulate the new graduates on having reached this milestone. It is a great relief to have achieved this, but I say milestone advisedly as I hope that many of you will continue to follow in one way or another the intellectual pursuits that you began here.
It is always a pleasure to come to Grenada and there must be few more beautiful sites in the island than the True Blue campus of your University. This is not my first visit to the University, I came here 32 years ago when it was only a medical school, and I recall the temporary facilities on Grand Anse and wondering if the students would find the almost idyllic surroundings conducive to study. I also commented then on the relevance of the school to the health care needs of the Caribbean and if it would ever become grounded in the Caribbean. It is refreshing to note how you have grown, the number of disciplines you now embrace beside medicine and the number of Caribbean students who are enrolled in your programs. But perhaps the students in arts and sciences have better powers of concentration and are less distracted than the medical students-at least those of thirty years ago. Or indeed, all students here have heeded Alfred Toynbee’s dictum that “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” I really do hope you have benefitted from the beauty of the physical surroundings as a complement to the excellent courses of instruction that have been offered.
As is the case with all good universities, you have been protected and almost cosseted during your stay here and are now ready to face a world which to every fresh set of graduates is brave and new. All of you will have heard and read of the difficulties faced by Caribbean countries-some of them intrinsic to their own situation and some as a result of external conditions, particularly the financial ones.
If it is any comfort to you, let me recall an address given by a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies some thirty years ago which could have been written today. He described the University of the West Indies as being located in a region of the world that is “passing through an economic crisis, revealed by multiple symptoms-unemployment, inflation, falling growth rates, energy shortages etc.” But he went on to say: “these symptoms are not new to us in the West Indies, excepting perhaps in their intensity and we are in the habit of looking beyond them to their causes to see the whole as a challenge of development.” You all remember the old saw, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” He would analyze the role of the University in responding to those challenges. It is in the same vein that I wish to explore with you the role you can play in responding to some of these development challenges, as students before you from other universities in our region and certainly those from my own university have done and continue to do.
I begin by affirming that you are and will continue to be in a privileged position. You represent only a fraction of the cohort of persons who can benefit from higher education and this applies to Caribbean students as well as those from other parts of the world. I believe that there is a responsibility that comes with this privilege –there is a price for this privilege, although in this transaction I expect you to pay this price not only for the benefits you have received until now, but particularly for the continuing benefits that will accrue to you as a result of having studied and been trained here.
I discovered after I had chosen this theme that the “Price of Privilege” is the title of a book by an American psychologist who explores why wealth in the family can produce anxious, depressed teenagers. They are so taken up with objects that they never concentrate on deeper issues and never build the character necessary to take them through life. But I intend to think of the issue as it relates to universities, rather than families.
The currency in which you will pay this price of privilege has compassion, engagement and commitment among its highest denominations. As you pay in the coin of compassion, remember never to take lightly the fact that for most of you, as it was for most of my generation, the great majority are from families in which a university graduate represents the exception rather than the rule. That clearly is changing, but the change could be much more rapid.
Paying the price means you must never take lightly the responsibility of transmitting relevant information to those who do not have it. The idea or practice of information transmission has seen many phases. Mankind has always been concerned with the dual problem of his physical transportation and the transmission of his ideas. We have seen progressive growth in the capacity to do both although to date we have not been successful, as in Star Trek, of beaming one person from one place to another. When we moved primarily on foot, we depended on the heralds and minstrels to carry the words and images of our deeds. But in addition we used signals of one sort or another to try to shackle distance. We read of the smoke signals of ancient tribes and some of us have heard the talking drums of our African ancestors-the gangan of the Yorubas and the kalangu of the Hausas.
The enhanced transportation of man and his goods is now almost without limits as the physical world is stitched together by ships of ever increasing size, some of which compete with the birds for their space. Of equal significance is the increasing sophistication in the transmission of ideas. The technology of communication changes with mind-numbing speed. Our computers talk to one another. The world is becoming ever more interconnected and that is the driving force behind the much discussed and analyzed phenomenon of globalization which is really not new. It is the speed at which we are being connected and the technology that makes this possible that bring up serious reflection on the roles you can play. A major issue for you in thus interconnected and plugged-in world is the role you play and the responsibility you exercise as you take part in transmitting information as undoubtedly many of you will occupy positions of influence and authority in your countries. One of your concerns is how do you protect the values and mores of our societies as you transmit information through the tried and true methods or though new means such as social networking?
The urge to transmit information to the young seems to be hard wired into most species. See the duck instructing her young as they follow in line behind her. The responsibility of transmitting the appropriate information to the young has been taken seriously by man throughout the ages. Socrates was put to death because he was deemed to be corrupting the young by the information he was transmitting to them. So as a privileged graduate I expect you to contribute to the body of information in your society-to use the skills you have acquired here and the talents you have honed here to participate in sharing information for the creation of a better society. You will not be diminished by sharing information, as in the words of Thomas Jefferson;
“He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
Perhaps this is a responsibility of all good men and women, but I place a special charge on those of you who have had the benefit of higher education.
But the information you share is not value –free. It will have an impact on how you and your fellow human beings relate to one another. This country is fortunate that it is not subject to much of the racial disharmony that besets some others. There are however other forms of intolerance and discrimination that demean a society. I wear another hat as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean and have for years observed the state of the epidemic and tried to add my mite to the efforts to control it. There has been progress. The Caribbean governments have been good about providing for those persons who are HIV positive and need treatment as their disease progresses. But we have not done equally well in terms of prevention although as in all programs of prevention it is impossible to prove the counterfactual.
It is a belief shared by many of us that the stigma and discrimination attendant on homosexuality and the false notion that homosexual transmission is the dominant form are impeding the efforts to control the epidemic. We know that men who have sex with men represent a group with higher incidence of HIV positivity and the fear that such persons have about the stigma and discrimination that they suffer makes it difficult for them to come forward to be tested . It is an unfortunate fact that all but one of the Caribbean countries have laws on their books that make sex between consenting males a crime severely punishable by law. I would hope that within a university there would be a spirit and practice of tolerance that would be embraced and shared by its graduates so that surely, even if slowly we would see a change in the attitudes that lead to the discrimination against a group of persons with whose life style some do not agree. I hope some of you will accept the challenge of trying to engender the societal change needed to remove this phenomenon from our countries.
One of the questions that all graduates have to answer for themselves relates to the benefit of their higher education. There is the view that most of higher education represents a purely private as opposed to being a public good to the extent that its benefits accrue specifically to the individual. In that sense it makes the graduate more marketable and there is no need for him or her to consider anything else besides maximizing the returns from this good. As I am sure you know, a public good can be thought of as a good or service in which the benefit received by any one party does not diminish the availability of the benefits to others, and where access to the good cannot be restricted. Traffic lights are always cited as the classic example of a public good.
A university education provides benefits that go beyond the individual graduate. I have always posited that that is one reason for alumni to support their university and I would propose that it is another part of the price you should pay for the privilege of having attended this university. Your university, to the extent that it is engaged in teaching as well as research produces information that is of societal value, is producing public goods. To the extent that it fosters the kind of inquiry and curiosity that is essential for societal health then it is providing a service that is within the category of public good. This is not to deny your commitment to the institution because you have an interest in ensuring that the currency of your own credential remains valid. The validity of that currency will be a determinant of the extent to which you reap rewards form your education here. You are all aware of the differential in earnings generally between those who have received tertiary education from those who have not.
The notion of university education being uniquely a private good has been in part responsible for the tremendous growth of institutions of higher education with out walls, whose sole function is credentialing. However, I still see immense value in having at least part of the training of the young involve interaction with each other and with teachers with whom they can interact to use a popular phrase ‘live and direct”. So I trust you will pay the price of the privilege of being educated here by being good alumni. You must support your university; you must be committed to seeing it continue and prosper.
There is one last charge I wish to leave with you and another rationale for supporting higher education in general and your university in particular. Mankind throughout the ages has had periods which in retrospect were a denial of our basic humanity. We can think of places in which there has been brutality that we here in the Caribbean find it hard to conceive and sometimes we are arrogant enough to believe that it cannot happen here. But as we see the escalation in violence in some of our societies we begin to wonder. We see increasing violence in our speech, our music and our dress. I saw recently a young man wearing a T-shirt with the words “Top Shotta” on the chest. Shotta is the jargon for a gunman-a killer.
A recent report on crime violence and development in the Caribbean, examined the trends, costs and policy options. There is no doubt that crime and violence represent a major drag on our development. The causes are many and varied and the report stressed the multiple entry points for engaging in the prevention of crime and violence. It stated:
“There is no one “ideal” approach. The common denominator is that successful interventions are evidence-based, starting with a clear diagnostic about types of violence and risk factors, and ending with a careful evaluation of the intervention’s impact which will inform future actions.”
Here obviously is a role for academic institutions and my own University is dedicating considerable effort in this direction.
There is the belief that we are inherently competitive and violent and there is a thin veneer of civility that keeps the world from descending into barbarism. I believe that it is education and the presence of institutions such as ours that have a critical role in maintaining and thickening that veneer. I do not mean to suggest that we diminish moral autonomy or shift moral responsibility away from the individual, but I do believe that it is in the multiple diversities in a university that we can find part of the solution.
Finally, let me say thanks to the parents and friends of the new graduates. I know that this must be a joyous day for you and some of you are breathing a sigh of relief that the fight appears to be over and the battle won. However, I ask that you continue to support your new graduates as they go out into the world. They will continue to need it. Perhaps not financial support, but the counsel that comes from a concerned friend or elder in moments of doubt can be of inestimable value.
I hope you will assure me that the privilege you have had through attending St.George’s University will not lead to the depression, anxiety and narcissistic behavior seen in the children of the affluent who pay the price of privilege as described in the book to which I referred.
Let me thank you again for the opportunity to be with you and I wish you much luck
*Presented at the School of Arts and Sciences and Graduate Studies Program Graduation Ceremony, St. George’s, Grenada, 15 May 2010
Dr. Yvette Sheline, Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurology and Director of the Center for Depression, Stress and Neuroimaging, Washington University School of Medicine,
delivered the 10th Annual WINDREF Lecture on the evening of
March 16th at Bell Lecture Hall on St. George’s University’s True Blue campus. She drew upon an accomplished career in Psychiatry, with a specific research focus on neuroimaging and treatment studies of depression. She spoke on the topic: “Brain Imaging: New Insights into Neuropsychiatric Disorders.”
Since the inception of the WINDREF Lecture Seriesin 2000, Dr. Sheline joins an impressive list of guest speakers who are experts in their fields, including Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor David Molyneux, President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Dr. John Rouben David, a prolific author and award winning specialist on leishmaniasis.
Dr. Sheline addressed the audience of SGU faculty, research scientists and students, emphasizing the use of neuroimaging in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a term that is used to describe a group of brain disorders which cause memory loss and make it harder to carry out daily tasks. Dr. Sheline explained that the development and advancement of molecular imaging techniques of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s patients are critical to early diagnosis and evaluation. The abnormal accumulation of amyloid in organs is thought to play a significant role in various neurodegenerative diseases.
After graduating from Harvard University, Dr. Sheline received an MS in neurophysiology at Yale University and an MD at Boston University Medical School. She completed psychiatry residency training at Harvard’s Beth Israel Hospital.
A recipient of many awards including the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depressions (NARSAD) Young Investigator and Independent Investigator Awards and a NARSAD Klerman Award Honorable Mention, Dr. Sheline’s research studies have identified structural brain changes in MRI studies of depression, serotonin neurotransmitter changes on PET scans, and functional alterations in the emotional circuitry seen during MRI studies of depression.
Dr. Sheline has also served on the Board of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, and has published her work in several top-tier academic journals, including PNAS, The Journal of Neuroscience, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Neuropsychopharmacology, and the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
The Windward Island Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) was established in 1994 to advance health and environmental development through multidisciplinary research and education programs. WINDREF provides a scientific resource center which promotes collaborative relationships between internationally recognized scholars and regional scientists, adhering to the highest ethical and academic standards in all research endeavors.
Dr. Joshua Hauser’s Inspiring Keynote on Medicine’s Delicate Balance of Compassion and Science.
St. George’s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) officially welcomed a new class of 417 medical students to its Grenada campus on January 25, 2009. This was a highly qualified class of students from 27 countries. Keynote speaker Dr. Joshua Hauser drew upon an extensive career in Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, providing invaluable insight into medicine’s delicate balance of compassion and science. Dr. Reginald Abraham, a board certified cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon in Southern California and a graduate from St. George’s University’s School of Medicine Class of 1990, served as Master of Ceremonies.
Dr. Joshua Hauser, a graduate of Harvard Medical School in 1995, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Palliative Care at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; Director of Education at the Buehler Center on Aging, Health and Society; and Director of the Education on Palliative and End of Life (EPEC) Project.
Since a central part of the White Coat Ceremony showcases students swearing a professional oath, promising to act with integrity and in an ethical manner during their training and career in medicine, the selection of Dr. Hauser to deliver the keynote address was most appropriate. Though he himself had admittedly never participated as a student in a White Coat Ceremony, his interpretation of its symbolism and how that has applied throughout his career offered these future physicians an interesting and important perspective; one that relies on caring, compassion, and science as the foundation of medicine.
The Keynote Address
As a palliative care physician and an internist, Dr. Hauser’s clinical work focuses on quality of life, symptom control and support for seriously ill patients and their families. Dr. Hauser explained that since many of his patients are dying, they and their families are faced with many difficult and emotional decisions. “One of the things that I love about palliative care is that there are often very specific medical things to do and think about…and there are also opportunities to help patients and families deal with something that I sometimes call ‘the big picture’.” Here-in lays the delicate and crucial balance of caring and compassion and medical science. In palliative care, Dr. Hauser explained, symptom management is the science, and helping patients and families cope with illness and dying is the caring and compassion part.
To this, Dr. Hauser added five more recently recognized values and behaviors he has embraced: curiosity; a tolerance for uncertainty; humor; passion; and service. Beginning with curiosity, he explained that practicing medicine is “fundamentally about entering into other people’s lives,” whether figuratively as does a psychiatrist or literally as by an internist. Dr. Hauser continued, “All physicians…require motivation in the form of curiosity: a curiosity that motivates you to want to know about someone’s life, to dig deeper into their situation or to perfect an operation.” Drawing upon personal experiences, Dr. Hauser explained that being curious will not only help diagnose a patient’s illness but has a direct benefit for the physician. Very often, he explained, asking a patient a few simple questions about themselves, their life and family, will inspire us to reflect on our own lives, seeing the humor and the sadness, and most importantly keep us engaged in the work.
Uncertainty, said Dr. Hauser is an inevitability of medicine and accepting the uncertainty will help bring you closer to your patient and your colleagues. In emphasizing the need for humor in the profession, Dr. Hauser made reference to his specialty of palliative care, which is by definition not supposed to be funny. This is precisely why humor is so necessary, as it is frequently through humor that a physician can connect with a patient and perhaps improve not only their day, but his own.
In closing, Dr. Hauser acknowledged that the role these characteristics play in their lives will change and evolve over time, but he encouraged them to keep them at the forefront as they begin their education and reflect upon them continuously throughout their careers.
SGU’s 1990 graduate, Dr. Abraham, was an entertaining and humorous master of ceremonies. He connected with the entering class with heartfelt words of his own and he exhorted them to work hard and develop confidence in what they do and compassion for their patients. Dr. Abraham’s particular interest in minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery and off pump bypass surgery (OPCAB) is the subject of his many lectures. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Cardiology, and the American College of Chest Physicians, as well as a board member of the American Heart and Stroke Association. Dr. Abraham has conducted extensive research and published in the fields of ulcer, cardiovascular medicine, cardiac physiology and robotics in cardiac surgery. His current interests are in global investment and development in innovative technologies, building and growing state-of-the-art heart institutes.
Dr. Hauser has held numerous leadership roles in national efforts in Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, and has been recognized with the International Society for the Advancement of Humanistic Studies in Medicine’s Young Physicians Award for Humanism and the Department of Medicine’s Teaching Award by Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University.
He has served as past chairman of a National Institutes of Health study section on research ethics; past co-chairman of the program committee for the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities; and a current member of the ethics committee for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. His research, which focuses on the development of strategies to support family caregivers in palliative care, has been published in highly regarded peer-reviewed journals including JAMA; the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management; Journal of Palliative Care; andAcademic Medicine. Dr. Hauser has also dedicated his services to many different volunteer positions, including as a physician at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans and the Maria Shelter, a physician advisor for the Southside Sarcoidosis Support Group, and a volunteer physician for Connections for the Homeless in Evanston, Illinois.
Welcoming Family and Friends
The University was equally excited to have over 100 of these students’ family members participate in the “Beyond Spice” Parents’ Weekend, an opportunity to showcase the True Blue campus facilities and the Island. Family members from as far off as Ireland, the United States, and Canada were invited to informative and culturally entertaining events, such as: campus and Island tours, an orientation cruise, student and faculty presentations, question and answer sessions. All were designed to enhance their comfort level and familiarity with the University. The success of the previous two Parents’ Weekends reinforces the innate value of such an event. The faculty and staff at St. George’s University plan to incorporate this endeavor into future White Coat Ceremony events.
Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) Induction
The White Coat Ceremony also welcomed the 2008 inductees into SGUSOM’s Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). Each year, a group of peer-nominated students who demonstrate humanistic characteristics during their time in medical school, including mentoring skills, community service, and observance of professional ethics, receive this award. Congratulations to the 2008 Inductees:
Peter J. Lee
Sara Safarzadeh Amiri
The Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) was established in 2002 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to foster and acknowledge humanism among medical students. The GHHS has been established at 47 US medical schools and three international medical schools since its inception. St. George’s University became one of the three in 2005.
Keynote Speaker Dr. Gregory S. Hammer Helped Ring in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s 10th Anniversary Year.
Good afternoon. It is my privilege to be here celebrating with you today. I am Greg Hammer, and this past year I had the honor of being President of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA represents more than 78,000 veterinarians working in private and corporate practice, government, industry, academic and the uniformed services. The AVMA acts as the collective voice for its membership and for the profession to the public and government. With every new member, our voice becomes stronger and more effective.
I’m glad to be here, this may be as close to paradise as I ever get. I left 20-degree weather a couple of days ago to get here. Delaware does not usually get that cold, so I’m glad to he here. I practice in Delaware. Our practice is about 70% small animal and 30% equine. It is my hope that when you finish here, that whatever type of practice you enter, you have as much fun as I do. Never lose the enthusiasm that you have right now. Never lose that compassion for and desire to help those animals that we serve.
I want to first of all, congratulate you and your parents. You are among the select few that have joined the greatest profession on earth. I look forward to the day that you will be my colleagues. That day will be here sooner than you think.
I think these types of speeches are supposed to be filled and with advice…so the next paragraph or two are my words of wisdom:
All of you are type “A” personalities and extremely competitive. That is how you got here. Each and every one of you had to compete against many others for the seat you now occupy in your class. Well, you made it into veterinary school and it’s time to stop competing against each other. It’s now time to start challenging yourself to become the best doctor you can be. Take advantage and soak up every bit of information that you can. When the information becomes tedious and overwhelming…remember you can do it. Your clients, your patients will need you. Remember your ultimate goal…DOCTOR!!! Be the best, don’t settle for less.
In addition to challenging yourself, help your classmates. This is your family for the next four years. You will spend more time with them than anyone else. Mentor each other. I had the good fortune of being selected for the class of ‘73’ at Kansas State University. We helped each other. We learned from each other. We pushed each other. Get to know your classmates, help them through the next four years and they will help you. Tell them how much you appreciate their help. You will grow closer to some of your classmates. They will be life long friends. Be sure you let them know before you graduate, because unfortunately some you will never see again. Again this is your academic family-help each other and you will all benefit.
I want to turn the page a little now, and ask you to do something for your chosen profession in the future. You will be Doctors of Veterinary Medicine in less than four years. With that title and respect, comes a great deal of responsibility. No matter what type of practice you enter, or where you go, you will be a respected member of your community. You must advocate on behalf of your profession and the animals we serve. The public and government rely on us to educate them on animal well being and public health. If you don’t do it, others will and you may not like the results. You can start now by joining and participating in your student AVMA. You should have 100% membership. The student AVMA is your voice to the profession. We have many positions on AVMA councils and committees that are only open to students. They don’t require that much time and are a good way to get involved in national veterinary medicine. There are externships that are only open to first and second year students at AVMA headquarters and the Washington DC office. Remember if you don’t get involved in shaping the future of veterinary medicine, someone will shape it for you.
The future of veterinary medicine is bright. There has never been a better time to be a veterinarian. The demand in all fields of veterinary medicine is high and the supply has never been lower. We are at a crisis in our work force. You will be asked to do more, but you will have the freedom to get involved in any facet of veterinary medicine. Be sure and look beyond the traditional careers of veterinarians. Your future is unlimited in public health, food safety and bio-security. You are our future and I think we are in great hands. Welcome to the greatest profession…Veterinary Medicine.