Special Public Lecture Series at the KBT Global Scholars Program in UK

ian elvin dr michael chewThe KBT Global Scholars program is designed for students who wish to spend all or part of their professional lives in developing nations or in underdeveloped areas of developed nations. SGU has introduced this special public lecture series to reinforce the international aspects of the KBTGSP.  One or two lectures a term will be presented by professionals well versed in a variety of health related global issues.

On September 20th at the Newcastle Upon Tyne campus of NU, Sport Northumbria kicked off the series with a lecture on sport and health.  Ian Elvin, Director of Northumbria University Sport addressed his audience with a presentation titled “Developing Community Health through Sporting Partnerships: The Global Vision.”   Professor Elvin believes strongly in the power of sport as an instrument of both personal development and social change.  Teaching the rudiments of health can be a real resource for developing communities.   Through his efforts, Sport Northumbria is involved in a number of local and international community sport projects,  providing a unifying platform in areas which include the Caribbean and Zambia.

Now ten years old, Sport Northumbria offers a myriad of competitive and social sport opportunities to the international community of Northumbria University (NU).  Ian Elvin has worked at NU since 1979; he was Program Head for Sport Management before becoming Director of University Sport in 1995.  In this capacity he is responsible for the planning, delivery and management of all sport facilities, programs, clubs and services at NU.

Ian was a Board member of the European Association of Sport Management from 1992 – 2003 and has been Chairman of Sport Newcastle since its inception.  He is also Chairman of the English Student Rugby Union’s Development Committee.

The second lecture was given on October 22nd by  Dr. Michael Chew, a Science Program Officer at the Wellcome Trust – one of the largest biomedical research charities in the world.  He presented a lecture on “Diseases of Poverty: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”  Dr. Chew’s life achievements and focus have been devoted to studying those diseases which target people who are living in poverty.  Many of these diseases can be prevented with a community’s dedication to public health issues.

Dr. Chew’s responsibilities include receiving and processing research grant applications in the areas of immunology and infectious disease, advising scientists about their research and careers in this area, and ensuring that funds awarded by the Trust are used appropriately.

Dr. Chew travels extensively, usually to remote and impoverished places, as most of these research projects are conducted in the developing world where ‘diseases of poverty’ such as malaria, TB and HIV are pervasive.  Prior to joining the Trust in 1997, Dr Chew worked as a research scientist at the Institute of Child Health, London, and Imperial College, London after completing his PhD in Parasitology at Imperial College in 1981.

SGU and NU look forward to the continued success of the KBTGSP lecture series which will provide students with information on public health issues much needed in today’s globalized society.

Published 11/13/2007

Dr. Mahr’s School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony Keynote Address

Dr. Roger K. Mahr, Immediate Past President of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), inspired a new class of 82 veterinary medical students during his keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony held at St. George’s University on August 21st, 2007.

Congratulations as you enter the veterinary medical profession!

As a student at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, and as you now receive your white coat, you are a part of the veterinary medical profession.

It is indeed a privilege for me to bring greetings and congratulations on your achievement from the 75,000 members of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In a few short years you will be stating the following words: “I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society”.

Those words are part of the Veterinarian’s Oath, and you will repeat those words as you receive the value of a lifetime…the value of your veterinary medical diploma.No other profession, I believe, has a comparable value to society.

No other profession for sure has as much impact on the health of both animals and people.

Acquiring that value and entering the veterinary medical profession is a great privilege.

You are indeed privileged.

With each privilege…and with each value… comes responsibility.

This evening as I welcome you into the veterinary medical profession, I would like to share with you a quote which has formed the basis for my outlook on life, and in particular my career in veterinary medicine.  It is by a philosopher named Huston Smith, and he states:

“Infinite gratitude towards all things past;
Infinite service towards all things present;
Infinite responsibility towards all things future.”

“Infinite gratitude towards all things past”.

As colleagues, you and I can be justly proud of our rich heritage.

Think about your past, your achievements, and your experiences that have led to this day.

I am grateful for my roots growing up on a dairy farm and for those life experiences that I had prior to becoming a veterinary medical student at Iowa State University.

Like most of you I sought to become a veterinarian because of an early human-animal connection.

My first bonding was with a Guernsey calf.  I still recall the thrill of participating in my first pet parade.  With a bottle of milk replacer, I proudly led my calf around the hometown square with a sign on my back, “June is Dairy Month, We Drink Milk”.

I know each of you have stories that you can share as well…Experiences that have brought you to this achievement of becoming a student of veterinary medicine.

As fitting as it is to reflect on our past and express our gratitude, I believe that it is more important to look to the future, knowing that our past will always be a part of our future.As we look to the future of the veterinary medical profession, the necessity for unity of our profession is apparent.

Veterinary medicine is a small profession with great responsibilities and vast opportunities.Companion animal practice, food supply veterinary medicine, public health, and biomedical research are only a few of the career opportunities that will be open to you.

It is this diversity of expertise combined with a commitment to working together that defines our veterinary medical profession.

The AVMA is that unified voice and unifying voice of our profession.

We are all partners in striving to fulfill the AVMA Mission, “Improving Animal and Human Health, Advancing the Veterinary Medical Profession”.

“Infinite Service towards all things present”.

Your first and primary service now is to make the most of your educational opportunities here at St. George’s University.

Utilize your excellent resources, including your professional educators and facilities, to develop your knowledge and skills.

I encourage you to become involved with your student organizations, and specifically invite you to become actively involved with the Student AVMA, to help shape the future of our profession.  Serve your profession now by joining together with your colleagues, fellow students and veterinarians alike.

Your education provides you with the knowledge necessary to become a veterinarian.  But lifelong friendships and relationships built through Student AVMA and AVMA activities, and other organizations, will also provide an unlimited source of knowledge as well as professional strength and satisfaction.

“Infinite responsibility towards all things future”.

You are the future leaders of the veterinary medical profession.

The AVMA recognizes and values your role in the future of the veterinary medical profession as a leader.

The AVMA strives to nourish that leadership development by supporting Student AVMA activities and having students serve in the AVMA House of Delegates and as valuable members of several AVMA committees.Your voice is needed to address the important issues facing our profession now and in the future.

It was my privilege to have served last year with Dr. Kara Tassone who graduated this year from St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine.  Kara served as president of the Student AVMA.

As SAVMA president Kara served in the AVMA House of Delegates, served on the AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee, and attended all AVMA Executive Board Meetings.
Leadership from the veterinary medical profession is critical to the future well being of our global society.

Consider these facts:

  • 75% of all emerging diseases in people in the past 25 years are zoonotic

 

  • 21 billion animals were produced for food and fiber throughout the world last year alone
  • 38,000 animals cross the US borders every day

Animal health and public health are truly at a crossroads.

The convergence of animal, human, and ecosystem health dictates that the One World One Health One Medicine concept must be embraced.  Avian influenza, tuberculosis, HIV, West Nile Virus, monkey pox and many more certainly underscore the one health concept.

As veterinarians, and as veterinary medical students, collaborating and cooperating with our colleagues in human medicine, public health, and the environmental sciences is imperative.

Together we can accomplish more to improve health worldwide than we can alone…and we, as the veterinary medical profession have the responsibility to assume a major leadership role in that effort.

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend the White Coat Ceremony for the School of Medicine.  In a short time they too will acquire the value of their lifetime…the value of their medical diploma.I encourage you to collaborate, cooperate and communicate with the other health science professional students here at St. George’s University.

I would further encourage you to take the leadership initiative to enhance that relationship.  In closing, let me return to where I started… Value…Privilege…Responsibility

I challenge you to periodically ask yourself the question…What is my value and responsibility as a veterinary medial professional?

It is my fervent hope and vision, that we as veterinary medical professionals, together with our other health science professional colleagues, will assume our collaborative responsibility…to protect and promote our immeasurable value, to utilize that value to its fullest, and to make sure that our future is a promising future…a future of even greater value.

Congratulations again, as you embark on your professional career in veterinary medicine!

Published 10/2/2007

Dr. Jack Cush’s Keynote Address

Dr. John J. Cush, MD, a member of SGU’s second graduating MD class, urged students at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony to view all challenges, both small and large, as an adventure to be embraced and met head on with dignity and determination.  

What Defines You

Senator Antoine, Chancellor Modica, University Deans, Parents, guests, Ladies and gentlemen… and my fellow classmates.

It is a tremendous and humbling honor to be here with you today.  As a graduate of SGU, this is truly great to return to GRENADA, my 2nd home, to address my mentors, peers and you – my new colleagues in medicine.  My debt of gratitude to this institution cannot be quantified.  Equally large is my respect and sense of responsibility to you – the life blood and future of this institution.

I am like you.  I once sat where you now sit – eager and anxious at the start of medical school.  I am a graduate of SGUSOM who has been blessed with unexpected opportunity and achievements beyond my early expectations.  The years and accomplishments have come fast, but at a moment like that, one can only pause and wonder how did I get here; why me?  From this day forward you are medical students.  Today you can write MSI after your name…then MS2, 3, 4 until you can finally place an MD after your name.  Ladies and gentlemen you will earn the alphabet soup that follows your name thru blood, sweat, and tears – and tuition.  You give us 4.5 years of excellence and we will give you an MD and a world that desparately needs your compassion intellect and skill.  Along with this degree comes a wealth of opportunity, public stature, responsibility and a life of purpose and clarity.

Every MSI and Graduate of SGUSOM started their professional pathway with this great burden of challenge in front of them.  Ive too have been rejected, doubted, advised to go elsewhere; but here we are … meeting the challenge.  For this I applaud you and warn you – it will only get worse from here on out.

This summer I heard a troubled sports figure quote Mohandes Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. ”  The spirt of adversity resonates with many graduates of St. Georges Univ School of Medicine.  More important has been their consistent ability to recognize adversity, then overcome and master it. This is a shared adventure that you too have signed on to.
 
Adventure– defined as act involving risk or surprise.  So for many of us our first adventure was this weekends travel to Grenada during Hurricaine Dean.  Interminable delays, cancellations, airport attitudes, bad food, etc.  As a pampered 1st class 200,000 mile a year traveler I would normally have been as irate and perturbed as any, but watching our new students and their families was a curious and familiar event and hence I watched much of this with great amazement.  The disconcerted, disconnected med student travelor was not me, but was now you.  Most coped, some behaved badly and thankfully some upper classmen were present to mollify the angst.  I proudly thought, their first lesson has begun.

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “
Events such as these, maybe trying, but they are also formative. You will be faced with may equally difficult and unfathomable predictaments in your medical lives.  These events will test your metal as a person and a physician.  In my first trip to SGU and Grenada, the flight was also delayed and we arrived without any luggage.  Being a hefty guy finding replacement clothing in downtown St. Georges was impossible.  However, one clothing shop did have an XL pair of baggy swim shorts for me. Unfortunately they were PINK.
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “

Adventures are about the unexpected. 

Some adventures are the result of will, others by fate, some by scholarship.  Robert Louis Stevenson once said  “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek”. St. Georges University and medical school will introduce you to many new and very real adventures. Whether you like it or not, they define you.  They become great when you rise to the occasion and master it.  They become sadly memorable, and deeply educational when we fail to control or manage them.  So your medical education and your medical lives will be a curious interplay of great triumph and occasional disappointment.

While you’ve all chosen medicine because of your love of mankind, your desires to alleviate suffering and hopes for an effectively applied intellect, you’ve overlooked a common truth – that bad things happen to good people.  That’s right….you’ve all chosen to go into the bad news biz. “Mrs Swanson, your husband just died 20 minutes ago in the OR”  or “Mr Raffert you have pancreatic cancer and only 4 months to live”  or “Frank….to have the worse case of bad breath Ive ever witnessed.  Can you wait outside … no I mean outside the building, while I figure out what we are going to do”.  The patients will be both good and bad, young and poor, family and foe, cooperative or unkind.  The only constant is you and what you bring to the table – your intellect, your effort and your kindness.  But where do these skills come from?

A recent presidential debate introduced a question about the power of prayer. Most candidates were unsure of the preventative power of prayer, but all agreed on the healing capacity of prayer.  Prayer or thoughtful introspection often helps you find the strength to endure that which was previously unthinkable. There is no chapter, textbook, formula or pat answers for the tough stuff in life or medicine. Yet, you (the doctor) will be expected to provide wisdom, solace and leadership during the difficult moments of death and disease.

Do not wrongly consider these difficulties, challenges and inconveniences. Instead, recognize that great lessons start here in Grenada (often disguised as adventures and challenges) and will continue throughout your education and career.  Each is an opportunity for you to learn and to master adversity.  You are now in a position of great influence.  In times of trouble, many will come to you…the MS1,2,3,4 or MD – Because your suppose to know. For goodness sake you got a 27 on the MCAT!! Much is expected of you….please do not disappoint me, or your mother or yourself.

In the course of these adventures you will be sharing your path of enlightenment and greatness with your classmates, your family, your faculty. Our faculty is superb. You should expect much from them as they expect much of you. The notoriety of our faculty is evident. The national weather service has decided to name its hurricanes after our faculty. This weekends hurricane was an attempt to honor our many notable Deans.  Faculty, family and classmates – these are the people who will deliver you, the coat tails you will need to grab onto at times. Be good to them, love them, show them your appreciation and above all listen to them. While you may be the “doctor” or the MSII – your still the guy or girl who cant clean your room, balance a check book or burn water on the stove.

Some Advice for Entering Freshmen.

1) SLOW DOWN & CHILL – don’t raise your voice or blood pressure. Respect and action are more easily achieved with a smile than a shout of crazed urgency. Your NY minute does not register on a west Indian clock. Realize that a 4 wk a transition period is needed before youll calm down enough to understand the pace, the pronounciations and the policies  of this island and school.

2)  Welcome to bug island. We have bugs the size of fondue pots. There were here first and …oh and theyre here on scholarship. Don’t waste time trying to kill them. Divert them and ignore them

3) Stop talking dollars & start talkin EC ($10US = 26EC  OR  10EC.=$3.73US)

4) If at 1st you dont succeed – blame your roommate.

5) When the going gets tough – the tough goes for a run, or goes to kickboxing class.  Theres true wisdom in the healthy mind and healthy body connection.  Make yourself healthy for a lifetime of greatness. It starts here where you only need to focus on your health and scholastic achievement.

6) True Blue is not Grenada. – Get to know Grenada; read a book, visit the museum, find a  get a favorite waiter; go to church; read the paper watch videos Heartbreak ridge or Island in the Sun.  It would be a wasted education if you left grenada without knowing grenada.

7) Learn how to learn. Make use of the universities Department of Educational Services (DES).

8) Realize that how you treat each other today will predict how you will treat your patients in the future.  Kindness and respect are skills that need constant attention, especially while living as guests in grenada

9) Just show up. Seventy percent of success in life is showing up (Woody Allen).

10) Medicine will be your life and work – not your lifes work. Don’t confuse the two. Be good at your work, but work at being a good man, woman, parent, spouse etc.  The best physician is a well rounded being.

This White Coat ceremony was started by the Arnold P Gold Foundation to impress upon students the importance of compassion, humility and dedication to the practice of medicine.  This ceremony bookends to the Hippocratic Oath and graduation and signifies your desire and dedication to the profession.

The white coat itself is emblematic of the scholar, physician and medicine. The challenge of laboratory studies, the high standards of practice and the stately demeanor of the diagnostician and healer.  That’s one crazy monochromatic coat.  Wearing that coat assigns great responsibility – to your community, your family and yourself.

Great Physicians are foremost great people. They are generous, kind, selfless, gregarious and good looking too.  In essence they are humanists. The Arnold P Gold Foundation also established the Gold Humanism Honor Society. During your tenure here you will hear of SGU efforts to foster and acknowledge humanism during your medical education.  Students will be encouraged to partake in activities outside of the classroom or hospital that result in substantive benefit to their community and fellow man.  Such commitment to a humanitarian activities while matriculated as a SGUSOM student may be rewarded by inclusion in the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

In closing, I hope that you will realize that Adversity and Adventure will define, develop and complete you as a person and physician.  Recognize lifes challenges – meet them, master them and most of all, enjoy them!

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. “

Jack London (1876 – 1916), Jack London’s Tales of Adventure

Published 9/10/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine and Univ. of Northumbria at Newcastle School of applied Science Inaugural White Coat Ceremony 18 August 2007 Address by Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart

Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, an accomplished academic who serves as a member of the Academic Board of SGU and the Board of Directors of the UK Trust for WINDREF, compares SGU’s thirty-year journey of academic growth and international expansion to the exciting journey each student is about to begin. 

Chancellor Dr. Modica, Vice Chancellor Professor Fidler, Lord Walton, Dr. Rodney Croft, Dr. Rao, Dr. Chaudry, Dr. Baruha, Dr. Cheryl Macpherson, invited guests and colleagues and, in particular, the undergraduates, because it is primarily you whom I address today, my first words must be of congratulations on the profession you have chosen and of welcome to this, the first staging-post on your way towards it.

I am deeply flattered to have been able to join the long and distinguished list of St. George’s white coat speakers. Some of you might recall George Bernard Shaw’s words:  “What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.” I am more than flattered by the invitation to deliver this address. I am deeply honoured.

This is both a personal and a pubic occasion. It is personal for you, the undergraduates, your families and your friends. You are embarking on the study of a profession that will inform your lives for years to come. It is also a public mark of a partnership between the St. George’s University School of Medicine and the University of Northumbria, which, I predict, will make it the largest and most important international centre for medical education for years to come.  I congratulate its architects for their wisdom and foresight.   There is an old African adage which says: “If you wish to go quickly, go alone; but if you wish to go far, go together.”  I am confident that the journey of this partnership will be long and fruitful.

International university collaboration

This partnership is characteristic of developments, already underway, that are hallmarks of the new world that globalization is calling into being. Universities working together towards shared interests and goals will have potentially powerful unifying effects for otherwise separate groups and for scattered communities.  They have special capabilities and provide special opportunities.  They can chart a path through different cultures and assist people of diverse backgrounds to work together towards a sense of a shared humanity. They can provide a much needed international educational outreach.

Achieving this is essential if we are to, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “make the world safe for diversity.” Never before have so many peoples and countries had so much in common; and yet never before have the issues that divide them been more numerous and threatening. I look to the time when there will be global networks of universities which will facilitate collaborative and educational exchanges worldwide.   There has been too much of a tendency for doctors and other health professionals to train and work in geographical, social and cultural isolation. We are now at a crossroads of international change – development, history, education and human spirit.  Vigorous initiatives towards exchanges between medical undergraduates and young graduates are now being catalyzed. Such exchanges are essential underpinnings for what is now being termed the ‘global village.’

It has been my privilege not only to witness but to participate in the unfolding excitement of the academic growth and international expansion of the St. George’s University School of Medicine for nearly 30 years. There are several reasons why I am confident that you, the new undergraduates, will find your own educational journey through the joint curriculum provided by the partnership between these two illustrious institutions exciting.

There aren’t many universities that would be able to offer part of their undergraduate training against a background of flowering frangipani, flaming poinsettias and the azure blue water of the Caribbean, a choice of undergraduate colleagues from more than 80 countries, a range of US and UK teaching hospitals for clinical studies, a selection of teachers and instructors from among the most highly qualified in the world and the best equipped undergraduate teaching laboratories to be found anywhere.

Undergraduate educational challenges

The period of training you are now embarking on will bring challenges and rewards for you yourselves as undergraduates and, yes, for your teachers as well. Teachers of medical undergraduates also have challenges.  My own most cherished and happiest memories, my greatest sense of challenge and achievement as a medical teacher dated back to November, 1954. The first class of young doctors from the University of the West Indies was about to graduate. Their graduation was, for all of us, their teachers and course instructors, a defining moment. For students and staff alike a wonderful experiment had now been accomplished. These young men and women will always hold a special place in my memories and affections. They had arrived five years before from Jamaica and several of the other West Indian islands as new undergraduates, like you today, at the recently established University of the West Indies. We, their teachers, had strived to train them to the highest standards and to inculcate them with the highest values of our profession.  They, the newest of our colleagues, were now, as you yourselves will be in a few short years, about to embark on their own careers.  In a life that later experienced many other professional rewards I still think of the graduation of that first medical class of the university of the West Indies as one of the highest points of my own professional career.

Let me early in my talk associate myself with the words of welcome and advice in Chancellor Modica’s message to you today: “As you begin your studies for this challenging career, you must weigh opportunity against responsibility.  St. George’s University will equip you with all the right tools for the job, but how much you take away will depend on how you approach the experience and how much effort you invest in it. I wish you every success”.

For success you will need special competences and skills. Their achievement can be summed up in one word: “work”. Professor William James, Harvard psychologist, had this message for young undergraduates: “Let none of you have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever line it may be.  If he keeps busy each hour of the working day he may safely leave the final result to itself.  He can, with perfect certainty, count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.”  Students too often settle for a concept of education that is little more than instrumental, that contents itself with course work, with passing examinations.  But, although this may be a by-product, it can’t be a goal.  The goal must be something larger, more fulfilling, more substantial; something that will not only provide a context for what you do know, but will tell you how to use it; something that will chart a course for what you might become rather than merely validate what you have learned; something that will enable you not only to adapt to tomorrow’s changes, but to play leadership roles in effecting them.

Indeed a measure of the success of your education will be the capacity it will give you not only to adapt to change but to manage and direct it, to be aware of the gap between what can be done and what is being done, to be willing to challenge assumptions about the current reality, to shake things up, to persevere and to give leadership.

It is you, the younger people, who provide the vital links between a community’s aspirations and its achievements.  It is you who will have a significant influence on future medical orientations as you practice your professions.  It will be up to you to have the courage and self assurance to resist distractions from medicine’s highest ideals, the confidence to do things differently, the optimism that what you do can make a difference. It is at the undergraduate stage of your careers that first steps in this direction, the preparation for these roles, must be taken.

Medical professionalism

Let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the obligations, responsibilities and commitments the practice of medicine will entail. In his message to you today Dean Weitzman urges you to “recognize that in entering the field of medicine, you join a community, wherein the team is as pivotal to success as individual effort.  To this end, you must strive for excellence in your pursuit of knowledge, for you can only give your best when you fulfill your potential.  As you don these white physician coats, you pledge an oath of professionalism and service. Professionalism is a commitment to integrity, altruism, competence and ethics in the service of others.”

A description of medical professionalism from London’s Royal College of Physicians sets out these values, behaviours and relationships at greater length: “Medicine is a vocation in which a doctor’s knowledge, clinical skills and judgment are put in the service of protecting and restoring human well-being.  This purpose is realized through a partnership between patient and doctor, one based on mutual respect, individual responsibility and appropriate accountability. These values, which underpin the science and practice of medicine, form the basis for a moral contract between the medical profession and society. Each party has a duty to work to strengthen the system of health care on which our collective human dignity depends.”

I must hasten to add, however, that the practice of medicine is more than the performance of a set of ritual medical duties, the meeting of formal codified historical obligations. For most of you, I predict, it will also prove, as it has for me, a privilege to be able to be of such personal and continuing service to others; a pleasure to have an opportunity on a daily base to share a common humanity with so many people; to give encouragement, to share confidences, to be of assistance when needed. Dr. Chaudry notes that “while the field of medicine is challenging, the rewards and personal satisfaction are immeasurable.”

Medicine: its global reach

I must refer briefly to medicine’s global reach.  In his 1983 commencement address to the graduating class of St. George’s University School of Medicine, the late Lord Pitt stressed that “Medicine is international.  The fight against disease and, more important, the securing of good health, cannot be confined within national boundaries.”

In sharing certain basic interests, values, educational standards and goals, medicine functions in a field that has no inherent barriers.  It is an international guild or brotherhood, where members can take up their calling in any part of the world and find colleagues whose traditions, methods and objectives are identical with theirs.

This privileged position for doctors as world citizens carries with it globally accepted understandings and accords that extend beyond national to international health concerns. The doctor’s role in the protection and promotion of health, his acceptance of standards of competence, professional ethics and responsibilities have a worldwide extension; remain the bed-rock of medical practice everywhere.

Some unresolved medical issues

You might also wish me to share with you some of my own perceptions about a number of anomalies and contradictions that litter today’s medical landscape and cloud the horizons against which you will work during your professional lives. Practices related to medical drug usage and disease prevention are examples.

The tactics of the international pharmaceutical industry has led to a global hypochondria about how disease should be approached – ‘a pill for every ill’. It must bear much of the responsibility for the intellectual astigmatism with which so many doctors and so much of the public currently views issues of health and disease; in Britain today half of the adult population and a third of children take some form of medication every day. Two centuries ago Philippe Pinel, French psychiatrist and physician, said: “It is an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly: but, it is an art of much greater and more difficult acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether to omit them.”

Disease prevention is also an aspect of health on which there is not likely to be much disagreement.  For most medical disorders prevention is clearly cheaper, more humane and more effective than intervention or treatment after they occur.  This observation is hardly new; but it gives us the opportunity to look back critically at the past and forward to opportunities for the future.

The diseases that kill most people worldwide – the so-called non-communicable diseases, diseases caused not by infection but by how people live their lives – could be avoided by preventive action, by modifications of lifestyle, by activities that would make individuals more effective custodians of their own health than they have been in the past; that would make them more self-reliant, less dependent on doctors and other specially trained health professionals. Progress will continue to be made by improvements in the treatment of diseases and by the provision of more and better facilities for health care; but the opportunities for improving health by the prevention of disease are even greater.

I invite  your reflection, even at this undergraduate stage of your medical careers, on why prevention has failed so far to engage more fully the attention of the medical profession, on why prevention has not become a more important element in the health expectations of the public; on the distinction between medicine as a social institution and medicine in its more limited role of caring for the sick; on how in its larger role medicine could come to grips with the wider issues that influence health; on the meaning of health and how this meaning might be made more central to the concerns of both medical education and medical practice.

Sir Ian Kennedy’s comment is relevant; “If we were to start all over again to design a model for modern medicine, most of us, I am sure, would opt for a design which concerned itself far more with the pursuit and preservation of health, of well being.  What we have instead is the very opposite, a system of medicine which reacts, which responds, which waits to pick up the broken pieces – a form of medicine, in short, concerned with illness, not health.  A moment’s thought demonstrates the folly of this.”

Concluding comments

Let me conclude, as I started, with advice especially for you, the undergraduates. I will quote for you a comment from Sir William Osler’s “Aequanimitas” – ‘Peace of mind’, which, I will add, each doctor should strive for.  Sir William was the best-known physician in the English-speaking world at the turn of the 20th century. He has been called the “most influential physician in history.” I recommend the reading of Osler to undergraduates and graduates alike.  He emphasized the need for a renewal of emphasis on human values.  “Medicine”, he pointed out, “is the only one of the great professions engaging, equally, head and heart and hand. To an inquisitive mind the study of medicine may become an absorbing passion full of fascinating problems, so many of which present a deep human interest.

”More than two thousand years earlier the Roman orator, Cicero, in his treatise, “De Senectute”, (On Old Age) gave advice to older people: “Remain interested and never stop learning.” This advice is as relevant for you and your generation as it has been for me and mine.

I should like to link for you Osler’s comments to Cicero’s advice. Together they mean that a good beginning for each of you might be, as a personal responsibility, to ensure, firstly, continuity of the medical education you will receive in the coming years and, secondly, that your continuing medical education, whatever form it takes, should have human values as a central objective.  Senior citizens like me can provide valuable experiences from the past and useful guidelines for the future.  Much of the responsibility, however, of meeting tomorrow’s challenges will rest on your shoulders; and many of these challenges will have not only scientific but highly significant human dimensions as well.  This is why the human perspectives of the period of training you are now about to embark on will be as important as the scientific – and not only for the success of your future practice as doctors but also for the quality of the benefits you will both bring to, and derive from, the communities and specialties in which you elect to work.

Published 9/1/2007

The 8th Annual WINDREF Lecture Presented by Dr. John Rouben David

Dr John Rouben David Black and White PortraitDr. David delivered the 8th Annual WINDREF Lecture on the evening of Thursday, February 15, 2007 at the Caribbean House Great Hall, True Blue campus.  He delivered on the topic: Leishmaniasis: A novel approach to control visceral leishmaniasis and another to treat cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Dr. David received his MD degree from the University of Chicago Medical School, Chicago, Illinois in 1955. His academic appointments have been held at New York University (assistant professor 1964 – 66) assistant and then associate professor of medicine (1969 – 73) then professor of medicine (1973 –) at the Harvard Medical School, a senior associate in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the chief of the Division of Tropical Medicine, Harvard Medical School, the John LaPorte Given Professor & Chairman, Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) (1981-91), the Richard Pearson Strong Professor & Chairman, Tropical Public Health, HSPH (1991 – 97), the Richard Pearson Strong Professor, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, HSPH (1997 – 2002) and the Richard Pearson Strong Professor Emeritus since 2002.

He has received many awards in several countries for his contributions to research in tropical diseases, especially immunological aspects of leishmaniasis. He is a member of 15 international societies, served on countless committees of many international health bodies and editorial boards. Dr. David has been a prolific author and has published over 300 peer reviewed papers and held a number of grants over many decades. In New York, he is currently an advisor to the Jeffrey Sach’s Millenium Village project in Africa and Health Specialist concerning neglected tropical diseases. Dr. David is an active member of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) Scientific Advisory Board.

Professor Ian McConnell Delivers the Thirteenth Annual Geoffrey H. Bourne Memorial Lecture

Professor Ian McConnell Balck and White PortraitThe Thirteenth Annual Bourne Lecture was delivered by Professor Ian McConnell on the evening of February 12, 2007 at the True Blue campus in Grenada.  Professor McConnell presented on the topic: One Medicine: A Continuum of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science, focusing on the interplay between the three fields.

The lecture drew upon Professor McConnell’s distinguished career in research, specifically in the immunology of infectious diseases of animals and man.  One Medicine has been a consistent theme of his extensive research and teaching.  Throughout his research career he has exploited uniqueness offered by animal physiology and animal disease problems to gain insights into basic aspects of immunology and pathology of diseases importance to both veterinary and comparative medicine.

Professor McConnell is Professor of Veterinary Science and Director of Research at the University of Cambridge, England.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE), Founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, and Professorial Fellow at Darwin College Cambridge.  He graduated in veterinary medicine from the University of Glasgow and in Natural Sciences (Pathology) from the University of Cambridge.  He carried out his doctoral studies (PhD) in immunology in the laboratory of Prof. RRA Coombs in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge.

Professor McConnell has 150 scientific publications which focus on studies on the immune system in health and disease, with particular focus on infectious diseases of man and animals including zoonotic diseases transmissible to man.  He was principal author of two editions of a highly successful book on the Immune System – a major undergraduate textbook in immunology.

He has made many fundamental discoveries on the immune system, particularly in the area of membrane receptors on lymphocytes, the role of the complement system in viral immunity lymphocyte physiology, and unique studies on immunity and pathogenesis of a naturally occurring ruminant lentivirus (maedi visna virus – MVV) – which is a prototype AIDS virus.  His research has provided unique insights into immune physiology and the pathogenesis of lentiviral infections of man and animals.  His current research is on the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is focused on the mechanisms whereby prions which cause scrapie in sheep are able to invade the central nervous system.

Professor McConnell is recognized as an authority on infectious diseases of livestock, and through chairmanship and membership of several key Government and Royal Society Committees in animal and human health, has played a leading role in top-level Government Committees dealing with BSE, the Royal Society’s Inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease, and more recently the Nuffield Council Inquiry on the ethics of research involving animals.  He was chairman of the Vaccination Subgroup for the Royal Society’s Inquiry  into Foot and Mouth Disease which led to the UK Government’s decision that emergency vaccination would be used in any future outbreak of FMD in the UK.  This is a major policy shift for the UK Animal Health Authorities.  As a member of the UK’s main advisory committee on spongiform encephalopathies (SEAC), he has been involved in scientific and advisory issues relating to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) of animals and man.  He has also had a widespread involvement with the food industry through his expertise in diseases transmitted to man through the food chain.

For a synopsis of Prof. McConnell’s lecture “One Medicine: A Continuum of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science” please see: Bourne Lecture.

Published 2/20/2007

Dr. Charles Weissmann Delivers Twelfth Bourne Lecture

Professor Charles Weissmann, MD, PhD, FRS, was the Twelfth Geoffrey H. Bourne Memorial Lecturer at SGU. Hoards of eager listeners – physicians, professors, students, administrators – packed into the Bourne Theatre on February 16, 2006, to hear this renowned biochemist talk of “Of Mad Cows, Mice and Men.”

Dr Charles Weissmann Black and White PortraitDr. Weissmann presented an account of the research work that has led to the conclusion that several diseases, namely scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, fatal familial insomnia, Kuru and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, are caused by lethal infectious proteins called prions. In his lecture he gave numerous examples of his own research findings that have improved our understanding of these important prion-induced diseases.

One of the world’s leading pioneers of modern biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Weissmann has contributed significantly to the elucidation of the life cycle of RNA bacteriophages, developed site-directed mutagenesis and reverse genetics, and was the first to clone and express human alpha-interferon genes in E.coli. He has made breakthroughs in the investigations of diseases induced by prions that affect animals and humans. He has been internationally recognized and he has received numerous awards and honors for his work. Dr. Weissmann began his career with doctoral degrees in both medicine and organic chemistry from Zurich University in Switzerland.

Dr. Weissman’s lecture was comprehensive, eloquent, and witty – a fitting memorial to Dr. Bourne. Dr. Geoffrey H. Bourne, the first Vice Chancellor of SGU, was an educator, scientist, writer and visionary, who played an exceptional role in the early development of SGU, guiding its growth with a determined and steady hand.

SGU was honored to have Dr. Weissmann join its distinguished list of Bourne Lecturers.

Published on 03/02/2006

WINDREF Lecture on Lymphatic Filariasis Given by Dr. Eric Ottesen

The 7th Annual WINDREF Lecture was delivered by Dr. Eric Ottesen on February 15, 2006, in the Bourne Lecture Hall on the True Blue campus. Addressing an audience of 100 people, Dr. Ottesen, a distinguished leader in the field of research on lymphatic filariasis, presented his lecture entitled Understanding the Science, Attacking the Problem: Lymphatic Filariasis and Beyond.

Dr Eric Ottesen Black and White PortraitLymphatic Filariasis is a worldwide parasitic disease that has affected, in particular, the people of Guyana. A known sign of lymphatic filariasis is Elephantiasis – grotesquely swollen legs. WINDREF, the research organization associated with SGU, has identified lymphatic filariasis as one of its key research projects and is working towards eliminating the disease in Guyana. The scale of this health problem is worldwide involving 80 countries and over 120 million people. The World Health Organization has declared its intention to eradicate this disease in the world by 2020.

It was fitting that the WINDREF lecture was given by Dr. Ottesen. WINDREF Annual Lectures, from their inception, have always reached a high standard on the cutting edge of biomedical research and Dr. Ottesen’s lecture on lymphatic filariasis certainly lived up to that standard.

Dr. Ottesen received his AB degree from Princeton and his MD from Harvard before taking his residency in pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Ottesen then joined the United States Public Health Service and worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH rising to the Head, Section of Clinical Parasitology, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases. Between 1994 and 2001 Dr. Ottesen worked at the World Health Organization, Geneva, becoming the Project Leader, Filariasis Elimination Programme, in the Department of Control, Prevention and Eradication. He returned to the US in 2001 to assume his current post of research professor and director of the Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre at Emory University – Rollins School of Public Health.

Dr. Ottesen has published over 220 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals and his work has been recognized by the award of many honors and awards from several societies in different countries. He serves on a number of scientific journal editorial boards and a number of advisory boards.

A highlight of the WINDREF Lecture was the presentation of the Mike Fisher Award to Lord Lawson Soulsby of Swaffham Prior. Lord Soulsby is the first recipient of this award, for his life long contribution to medicine. Director of WINDREF, Dr. Calum Macpherson has noted that Lord Soulsby, like Mike Fisher has “made a difference to the lives of people and animals on the planet”. Lord Soulsby is the Chairman, WINDREF (UK) Board of Trustees and the award was also recognition of his leadership and contributions in this area.

Published on 02/28/2006

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The 6th Annual WINDREF Lecture Presented by Mary Jeanne Kreek, MD

Mary Jeanne Kreek is Professor and Head of Laboratory, the Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive Diseases at The Rockefeller University in New York City, where she focuses on determining how genetics as well as other neurobiological alterations factor into addictive diseases such as opiate addiction, cocaine dependency, nicotine addiction and alcoholism. She has received several awards for her scientific research related to the biology and treatment of addictive diseases including the prestigious Betty Ford Award and the Nathan B. Eddy Memorial Award for Lifetime Excellence in Drug Abuse Research, one of the highest recognitions in the field of drug abuse research. Her 2005 lecture was titled “Drug Abuse and Addictions: Some scientific approaches to a global health problem.”

Dr. John J. Cush Delivers Eleventh Annual Bourne Lecture

A St. George’s University School of Medicine graduate, Dr. John J. Cush has gone on to become Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Medical Director of the Arthritis Center of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and a Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. His 2004 lecture was titled “Direct to Consumer Advertising of Medical Products.”