School of Graduate Studies Celebrates 25 Years of Excellence

Seventeen years after establishing a successful School of Medicine, St. George’s University further evolved as an international center for excellence with the launch of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). Spearheaded by SGU’s second Vice Chancellor, Dr. Keith B. Taylor, it was his vision for international expansion which led not only to forming SGS but to creating the Office of Research, the Panel on Research and Scholarly Activity and most noteworthy the founding of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)in 1994.

This year, the school celebrated 25 years of excellence, having graduated more than 1,300 students.

“Dr. Taylor recognized that if a tertiary education institution wanted to enhance its excellence in medical education, this could be done through expanding its academic offerings,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and director of research at SGU. “Today, SGS aims to achieve and sustain excellence in every area of its graduate programs, evolving its reputation as a world-class school, and enriching international, national, and regional communities through the outcomes of its programs and the skills of its graduates.”

At present, the SGS has 34 different graduate degree programs, including a Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts, and Master of Education programs. In addition, students can earn dual degrees such as the DVM/MSc, DVM/MBA, MD/MSc, and MD/MPH, which has more than 1,000 graduates and is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Established in 1999, SGU’s Master of Public Health program has been fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) since July 2010, having recently earned CEPH re-accreditation of the MPH program through 2022. According to Dr. Christine Richards, chair of public health and preventive medicine, that makes it the only accredited program in the region and only one of five such programs accredited by the CEPH outside of the United States.

With approximately 25 percent of graduates hailing from Grenada, the School of Graduate Studies has had a significant impact on Grenada and research in the Caribbean as a whole—especially on the quality of jobs and the level of Grenadians entering senior posts in the country and within the region. Many SGU grads have gone on to hold high-profile positions in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), occupy top placements in Grenadian financial and health institutions, and assume the role of Grenada’s Chief Medical Officer, including Drs. Carlene Radix and George Mitchell.

 

“Today, SGS aims to achieve and sustain excellence in every area of its graduate programs, evolving its reputation as a world-class school, and enriching international, national, and regional communities through the outcomes of its programs and the skills of its graduates.”

Calum Macpherson, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies

 

In terms of research, substantial work has been completed in collaboration with the Ministries of Health, Education, and Agriculture through WINDREF, also commemorating its 25th year. The foundation is a non-profit charitable trust which attracts considerable contributions of grants and donations from international organizations and private donors. WINDREF has hosted several dinners at the House of Lords in the UK with notable speakers, such as Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee. It has also held a number of fundraisers, including one in 2000 at the United Nations in New York, which raised US $400,000, of which $200,000 was donated to renovating Grenada’s General Hospital.

“WINDREF brings in approximately US $1.2 million a year in research funds,” said Dr. Trevor Noël, deputy director, WINDREF. “It is also one of the largest employers of our MPH graduates, providing not only employment but exciting research opportunities for Grenadians so they don’t have to move abroad to become research scientists. They now have the opportunity to work on well-funded research projects right here in Grenada.”

The foundation’s largest research projects have included partnerships with SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) and the Ministry of Health covering both noncommunicable and infectious disease research through the lens of their public health and epidemiological importance in a small island developing state. Appropriate, applied research has been the foundation’s focus with practical solutions such as instituting the Touch Toe Test—a simple examination to help diabetes sufferers detect loss of sensitivity in their feet. Along with a PSA, the program potentially reached thousands of Grenadians in hopes of resulting in a reduction of diabetic foot amputations.

Similarly, with the introduction of the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) epidemic in 2014, WINDREF also collaborated with Drs. Clare Heath and Desiree LaBeaud of Stanford University to study the epidemiology and long-term effects on those infected with the virus. At present, the foundation has partnered with renowned Dengue expert, Dr. Timothy Endy from SUNY Upstate Medical University on an incidence study of infection within the SGU student population, as well as the immunology of the primary infection and the feasibility to support dengue vaccine development.

With much of the School of Graduate Studies’ research conducted on its True Blue Campus, SGU also houses the first WHO Collaborating Centre on Environmental and Occupational Health in the Caribbean, the Global Water Partnership (GWP)’s Caribbean network, and one of six regional collaborating centers of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in the world.

“One of the largest research focuses in the future will be the effects of climate change,” added Dr. Macpherson. “In addition to the environment, it’s going to have an impact on both human and animal health. We hope to be at the cutting edge of research into this global problem. Our capacity to develop research protocols and partnerships will certainly be of importance regionally but will also have relevance globally.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

First-Year MD Student Presents Research at International Anatomy Conference

Pinthusorn “Blue” Eiamratchanee, a first-year medical student in the St. George’s University/Northumbria University 4-Year MD Program in the United Kingdom, recently presented the initial findings from a research collaborative between Mahidol University International College (MUIC) and SGU at the 19th Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA) in London.

Blue’s research presentation titled, “Novel insights into the anatomy and function of intertendinous connections in human hand” was part of a collaboration established by Dr. James Coey, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences at SGU, and Athikhun Suwannakhan, a PhD student in the Department of Anatomy at MUIC. The research group was also the first to classify the Linburg-Comstock variation—an anatomical variant of flexor tendons of the hand—into three different types with immunochemistry, and proposed that its etiology is secondary to a traumatic injury or an excessive use of the hand.

“It was such an honor to work with Dr. Coey, an expert in the field of anatomy, and Mr. Suwannakhan, who comes from one of the most prestigious universities in Thailand,” said Ms. Eiamratchanee. “I was really excited about participating and presenting my work at the IFAA conference. It was an amazing opportunity for me to engage in both technological and educational discussions with different associations of anatomists from around the world.

“I have always wanted to be a medical doctor and a researcher,” she added. “I believe that, by being both, it would give me opportunities to use the current knowledge of science to help people understand the problems and obstacles in providing healthcare to patients, as well as expand the current knowledge as a tool for other physicians to provide better and more accurate medical diagnosis, treatment, and/or surgery.”

St. George’s University was further represented at the conference through platform presentations from Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of basic sciences and research at SGU, along with numerous poster presentations and artwork submitted by Dr. Robert Hage, professor of anatomical sciences at SGU, and his daughter, Lisa Hage, MD ’10.

This research collaboration continues to strengthen the relationship between SGU and MUIC, following the partnership established in 2014 that launched a dual BSc/MD degree between the two universities, and most recently the MOU signed in 2018 allowing Mahidol students who successfully complete a preclinical year of study to be eligible to enroll in SGU’s MD degree program.

“Blue is one of the first students to capitalize on this partnership, progressing from MUIC to SGU’s Northumbria program, and in her first year has managed to present at a prestigious international conference,” Dr. Coey said. “Additionally, the fact that this research was a collaboration with Mahidol paves the way for continued joint ventures in the future.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall Receive Marine Biology Lesson in Grenada

Outdoor classrooms aren’t unusual for Dr. Clare Morrall (above), but in April, the St. George’s University professor of biology, ecology, and conservation shared her knowledge with a pair of special pupils—the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

During their royal tour of the Caribbean, Prince Charles and Camilla attended Grenada’s Blue Economy Exhibition, one of the more than 50 engagements on their 10-island trip. As the final event on their Grenada itinerary, the exhibition showcased the country’s role in piloting sustainable blue growth and innovative solutions for small island states.

His Royal Highness spent time at the Ocean Spirits display, Grenada’s longstanding turtle conservation organization, which presented a summary of its almost 20-year research results. The display also included a poster update on the sargassum situation in Grenada assembled by Dr. Morrall and research student Michelle Taylor.

“I had the opportunity to talk with Prince Charles about marine turtles in Grenada and also the issue of sargassum on Caribbean beaches,” said Dr. Morrall, president, Ocean Spirits Inc. “I showed him a metal flipper tag that Ocean Spirits uses with leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles and shared the story of a leatherback turtle that was satellite tagged in Canadian waters that recently returned to Grenada and nested on the east coast.”

Ocean Spirits Inc., is a nonprofit organization that relies entirely on volunteers, grants, and donations to successfully carry out its work. It uses its funding for research (currently the longest running sea turtle survey in Grenada), community outreach (training local staff in research and conservation), educational programs, summer camps, field trips, and school presentations.

– Ray-Donna Peters

St. George’s University Hosts Record-Breaking Research Day

Faculty, students, and local and regional citizens recently descended on Louis and Marion Modica Hall for the 18th St. George’s University Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day, during which a record 145 presentations were showcased.

Of the presentations, 79 were posters and 66 were oral presentations. A faculty panel made up of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the submissions, choosing three to four winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement. Three winners were selected for Best Faculty and four for Best Student Oral Presentations, and three for Best Faculty and Best Student Poster Presentations each.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will present each with a plaque on April 15.

“This year’s Research Day received the largest number of submissions of both poster and oral presentations in its 25-year history,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at St. George’s University. “This event saw the sharing of scholarly contributions from students, faculty and collaborators. Many thanks to all who presented, attended, or assisted with this year’s Research Day and made it such a memorable one.”

In addition to the faculty and students from all four schools at SGU, faculty from T.A. Marryshow Community College, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the University of the West Indies also presented at the conference. Co-authoring the work featured was an impressive list of collaborators from 14 countries and representing more than 50 institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Oxford, the University of Sydney, Temasek in Singapore, and Pretoria in South Africa.

St. George’s University Research Day began in 1994 as a means to disseminate outcomes of research being conducted by faculty and students at the University, which at the time comprised the Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. With the expansion of the University’s programs and the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, the Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Zeta Honor Society for veterinary medical students held its first Research Emphasis Day in February 2010 combining with the University-wide Research Day. The Society aims to foster the constant advancement of the veterinary profession, higher education, and scholarship, and to promote research in matters pertaining to the welfare and disease of animals. In keeping with the emphasis on One Health One Medicine, Phi Zeta conducts its Research Emphasis Day in collaboration with the other schools at the University. The next SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day is scheduled for October 24, 2020.

Best Faculty Oral Presentation

  1. Dr. Bhumika Sharma – SVM
  2. Dr. Damian Greaves – SAS
  3. Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson – SOM

Best Student Oral Presentation

  1. Amber Lee – SVM
  2. Masha Phillip – SAS
  3. Matthew Carvey and Paul Feliu – SOM

Best Faculty Poster Presentation

  1. Dr. Naudia Dundas – SVM
  2. Gwen Burbank – SAS
  3. Rachael George-St. Bernard – SOM

Best Student Poster Presentation

  1. Lauren Kiebler – SVM
  2. Zoya Buckmire – SAS
  3. Jennifer Nguyen – SOM

Phi Zeta plaques/certificates were awarded to the following students for their participation: Yu Wang, Sarah Tabin, Chris Memonagle, Monica Tetnowski, Caitlin Moraland, Lindsey Hattaway, Andy Hsueh, Teresa Monroe, Dexton St. Bernard, Jaelene Haynes, Katelyn Thille, Nia Rametta, Shekinah Morris, Vishakha Vasuki, Devin Cruz-Gardillo, Haidi Janicke, and Alexandra Baker.

– Ray-Donna Peters

International Expert on Dengue Fever Delivers 20th Annual WINDREF Lecture

With 390 million dengue infections per year and 96 million more individuals showing symptoms, half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue virus, this according to Dr. Timothy Endy at the 20th annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University. In his address, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University outlined the history of dengue research in Thailand and shared his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease.

Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of his research across almost three decades but as part of a proposed incidence study titled “Dengue in a Travel Population: Prospective Cohort Study of Primary Dengue Infection.” The study will examine dengue-naïve individuals who move to an endemic dengue area and are now at high risk for infection, while also offering an opportunity to study the immunology of primary infection.

Dr. Timothy Endy

“The Grenada prospective dengue study is the first of its kind, in that a primary prospective study has never been done,” stated Dr. Endy. “Understanding what happens during that first infection is so key and so understudied that it’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it here at SGU.”

Funded by Janssen Global Public Health, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the study began on August 2018 and will run until May 2021. Approximately 600 students are enrolled. They will provide blood samples for research surveillance throughout the year with the primary objective of determining what the incidence of dengue is within the student population, as well as the feasibility to support a prophylactic dengue efficacy trial.

“The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body with hopes of providing a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection,” explained Dr. Endy. “Additionally, we hope it will help to refine diagnostic assays for dengue which is essential for diagnosing acute dengue and vaccine development; and be a platform in which to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines in a traveler’s population.”

As professor and chair of microbiology and immunology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered a renowned expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens. During his longstanding career, he has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.

Formerly known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the WINDREF Lecture attracts the attention of world experts willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.

– Ray-Donna Peters

New NIH Grant Puts Focus on Zika Virus’ Effect on Child Neurodevelopment

The WINDREF building on SGU’s True Blue Campus

Three years after the Zika virus (ZIKV) epidemic swept through Grenada and the region, St. George’s University faculty members have secured a two-year grant from the US-based Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to examine the effectiveness of a community intervention program aimed at improving neurodevelopment in Grenadian children exposed to the virus.

The new NIH-funded study will be administered by the non-profit Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), which is based on the SGU campus in Grenada. Dr. Randall Waechter joins three other SGU faculty members—Drs. Barbara Landon, Karen Blackmon, and Trevor Noël—on a research team that also includes Dr. Michelle Fernandes, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatrics, Southampton University, and Honorary Research Fellow at Oxford University.

“This work could have a significant impact on the way we address neuropsychological impairment in children exposed to the Zika virus,” Dr. Waechter said. “If effective, there is no reason this intervention couldn’t be implemented in other countries impacted by the Zika virus.”

One of the most significant consequences of the ZIKV epidemic is the increased risk of adverse neurological developments in the children of ZIKV-infected mothers. These children, who are now 2 and 3 years old, are at high risk for chronic epilepsy as well as intellectual and learning disabilities. This study will provide valuable data on whether a culturally adapted and evidence-based project called Environmental Enrichment can rescue neurodevelopmental outcomes in toddlers who were exposed to ZIKV.

The research also presents a novel approach to assisting these children that may be applicable worldwide. It augments the ongoing Saving Brains Grenada program in Grenada, work that was funded by Grand Challenges Canada. The program has enabled community workers to interact with caregivers and their children, helping parents implement enjoyable Conscious Discipline-based ‘brain smart’ methods that foster neurodevelopment in young children. These methods focus on elements of child-raising such safety, attachment, and self regulation, in addition to early childhood stimulation. The Saving Brains Grenada team has been supported by Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Landon called the new NIH study a “natural fit” for the Saving Brains Grenada initiative.

“Our primary goal is to maximize brain development in children,” she said, “giving them the best chance for success across their entire lives.”

Professor Janet Hemingway CBE receives the 2019 Mike Fisher Memorial Award

The Mike Fisher Memorial Award has been given to Professor Janet Hemingway CBE, Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The announcement was made at a Dinner in the House of Lords, UK, in aid of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)—the research arm of St. George’s University. Professor Hemingway was recognized for her work, over many decades, in a variety of areas affecting human and animal health.

The Mike Fisher Memorial Award—given annually since 2006—acknowledges the work of the late Mike Fisher, whose original research led to the discovery of the drug Ivermectin. Today as a result of the discovery, over 35 million people no longer live under the threat of blindness from onchocerciasis (river blindness), millions more have been spared the gross disfigurement from lymphatic filariasis, and countless animals live healthier lives because of ivermectin.

Hemingway is Professor of Insect Molecular Biology and Director of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, with over 450 staff based in Liverpool, Malawi, and several other tropical locations. She is a Senior Technical Advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has 38 years’ experience working on the biochemistry and molecular biology of specific enzyme systems associated with xenobiotic resistance.

In 2012, Professor Hemingway was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the Control of Tropical Disease Vectors, and this year she was conferred as an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Commenting on her achievement, Professor Hemingway said, “I was delighted and honored to receive the Mike Fischer award recognizing my contributions to the control of infectious diseases in the tropics for two reasons. First, the link with Mike himself and his role in the discovery of Ivermectin, which is still used today in combination with a number of the interventions I have pioneered for insect vector control. Second, the link with Grenada and the Caribbean islands, where I have worked on dengue for many years.”

MIKE FISHER AWARD RECIPIENTS
2006: Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior
2007: Dr. Keith B. Taylor
2008: Lord May of Oxford
2009: Dr. John David
2010: Lord John Walton
2011: Professor Ade Lucas
2012: Dr. Donald Hopkins
2013: Professor R. C. Andrew Thompson
2014: Professor Alan Fenwick
2016: Sir Gordon Conway
2017: Dr. Charles Modica
2018: Dr. Sarah Cleaveland
2019: Dr. Janet Hemingway

MD Student’s Research Appears in Clinical Anatomy Journal

What began as a research project in the United Kingdom turned into an award-winning presentation at an international medical conference. And now, for lead author Jenna Kroeker and her St. George’s University colleagues, that research has been published one of the US’ most prestigious anatomy journals—Clinical Anatomy.

The article, titled “Investigating the time-lapsed effects of rigid cervical collars on the dimensions of the internal jugular vein”, was accepted by the Clinical Anatomy board this summer and published in October.

“Our team was the perfect blend of strengths, and we all came together and did what we were good at,” she said. “We’re thrilled. It was a total team effort.”

The research stemmed from SGU’s Ultrasound Selective, a course designed by Dr. James Coey, Associate Course Director for Human Gross and Developmental Anatomy at Northumbria University, and Dr. Sara Sulaiman, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy at NU, to introduce students to the research cycle and further their anatomical knowledge. A seven-student team that included Kroeker utilized ultrasound to learn how prolonged use of a rigid cervical collar, commonly known as a neck brace, affected the dimensions of the internal jugular vein, which drains the head through the neck.

Twenty-four volunteers wore the cervical collar for a period of four hours, and each student was assigned a specific task in order to standardize the research. Roles included fitting the collar to subjects, measuring their height and weight, conducting the ultrasound, and calculating measurements.

They discovered that “the dimensions of the internal jugular vein increase when wearing a collar, suggesting that there is a venous outflow obstruction with prolonged use.”

Ms. Kroeker then created a poster with the input and support of Drs. Coey and Sulaiman. She presented the research at last July’s annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, gaining high praise from its attendees.

“We definitely weren’t expecting anything near this level of success or interest,” Ms. Kroeker said. “I flew into the conference a bit late because of classes and arrived to find out that there was a lot of buzz about our research.”

Out of 120 posters, the cervical collar research was voted the Sandy C. Marks Jr. Student Poster Presentation Award for clinical anatomy at the meeting. She submitted a paper to Clinical Anatomy in December 2017, and after a rigorous editing process, it was officially accepted in August 2018.

Its appearance comes during Ms. Kroeker’s third-year clinical rotations at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, after which she will gear up for the residency application process. In addition to the research award and publication, she has soared in the classroom and on exams, posting an exceptional score on the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1.

“What I’ve found is that I enjoy understanding over memorizing,” Ms. Kroeker said. “Rather than just memorizing a list of symptoms for each disease, it’s important to understand exactly every element from pathogenesis to presentation, to understand how every presentation traces back to an underlying cause.”

She also appreciates the guidance of her twin sister, Lauren, a fourth-year medical student who is slated to graduate from SGU this spring.

“It’s nice having someone I know who learns the same way I do,” Ms. Kroeker said. “You can get advice but it might not always be the best advice for you. With my sister, I always had someone who could tell me what to expect each step along the way. If I had a question, she could always explain the answer in a way that made sense.”

Ms. Kroeker, who’s originally from Edmonton, hopes to match into a residency program back in Canada upon graduating in 2020.

St. George’s University Hosts First International Meeting of NIH Fogarty Program Administrators

This week, St. George’s University will host a conference for the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center grant administrators—the first ever outside the United States.

“We’re thrilled to host this year’s Fogarty International Center administrators meeting,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University. “This meeting is an opportunity for the world’s leading minds to collaborate and continue their efforts to produce revolutionary research on global health. It’s an honor for St. George’s to facilitate that work.”

Attendees will hear from a number of Fogarty grantees and will discuss a number of global public health initiatives.

Several St. George’s faculty members have received funding from the Fogarty International Center. Among them is Dr. Randall Waechter, Assistant Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Director of Research at SGU. He’s also Grants Administrator of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation.

In 2016, Dr. Waechter and Dr. Angelle Desiree LaBeaud of Stanford received a grant to investigate the threat of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral disease, on children born during the outbreak in Grenada in 2014. Their work focused on how this disease may affect neurodevelopment in infants exposed to Chikungunya in tropical regions.

In 2014, St. George’s University Professor Cheryl Macpherson partnered with Fogarty grantee Sean Philpott of Union Graduate College (now merged with Clarkson University) on the “Caribbean Research Ethics Education Initiative”—a suite of graduate-level online and onsite bioethics courses for middle and low-income students across the Caribbean.

“At St. George’s University, we share the Fogarty International Center’s commitment to carrying out research that improves the lives of people worldwide while building research capacity in low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Waechter, the lead organizer of this year’s Fogarty administrators meeting. “We’re honored to welcome the Fogarty administrators to Grenada and to help advance the Center’s important work.”

AMSA SGU Donates EC$15,000 to Grenada Heart Foundation

St. George’s University’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) recently presented a donation of EC$15,000 to the Grenada Heart Foundation (GHF)—the latest in a decades-long partnership to help provide lifesaving interventional cardiac procedures to the most vulnerable.

Funds were raised at this year’s Valentine’s Day Date Auction, the group’s biggest and most popular fundraising event of the year. Featuring donations from local businesses and paired with students showcasing various talents, prizes including restaurant vouchers, two-night hotel stays, and a catamaran cruise were auctioned off as “dates” for potential bidders.

The evening included a fire-breather, a belly dancer, and several musicians and dancers.

“The fundraiser turned out to be really amazing. We raised more than we even expected,” said Sravan Vemuri, President of AMSA SGU. “The event was very well attended and full of excitement, with our wonderful and talented students giving their best to help fundraise for such a worthy cause..”

In the last five years alone, AMSA SGU has donated more than EC$100,000 to the GHF through a series of annual, student-organized, community-supported fundraising events. According to Devangi Dave, Secretary of AMSA SGU, its biggest draw, the Valentine’s Day Date Auction, has had “dates” go for four, five, or even 10 times their actual worth because of the audience’s willingness to support this worthwhile charity.

“The date auction is our best and biggest fundraiser,” added Ms. Dave, a fifth-term medical student. “It’s more of a way to engage the Grenadian community and get students excited about being a part of this very important cause, which is not only dear to us but also helps them get involved and give back to the people of the country that serves as their home away from home.”

The Grenada Heart Foundation was established in 1984 when St. George’s University was approached for assistance in obtaining heart surgery for a young Grenadian child. Since then, more than 300 children and young adults have received crucial cardiovascular care through direct funding and philanthropic partnerships.

Today, the GHF is administered by St. George’s University and is generously supported by corporate entities as well as civic and community organizations. All of its services are supported by donors, including the Government of Grenada, Rotary International, American Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Children’s Health Organization Relief and Educational Services (CHORES), and a network of generous hospitals at which the patients are treated.

“On behalf of the board of directors of the Grenada Heart Foundation, I thank AMSA at SGU profusely for the generous donation, which directly goes toward providing quality cardiac care to needy children,” commented Dr. Kesava Mandalaneni, Chair, Grenada Heart Foundation. “It is because of such selfless efforts of various organizations that GHF can provide life-saving services to patients including covering travel expenses so that they can receive the best care and treatment options available irrespective of their economic situation.”

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Today, AMSA is a student-governed, national organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. AMSA members are medical students, preclinical students, interns, residents, and practicing physicians. Founded in 1950, AMSA continues its commitment to improving medical training and has more than 62,000 national and international members.