St. George’s University Honors Clinical Studies Pioneer Morris Alpert

Back in its infancy, St. George’s University School of Medicine was guided forward by Dr. Morris Alpert, a hand surgeon and anatomist with a personality as unique as his expertise. The Founding Dean of Kingstown Medical College (KMC) in St. Vincent and a longtime member of the Board of Trustees for St. George’s University, Dr. Alpert built the foundation for SGU’s clinical studies program, creating a bridge between Grenada and the United States and the world that still exists today.

The University honored Dr. Alpert by unveiling a bronze plaque highlighting his accomplishments at a dedication ceremony on March 29 on the True Blue campus. Held outside Morris Alpert Hall, the ceremony was attended by University administrators, faculty, staff, and SOM alumni who knew and enjoyed the company of Dr. Alpert.

He came to SGU from Albany Medical College, where he had been Chair of Surgery. Dr. Alpert’s approach of using a modular system with leading specialists from the US, UK, and the world helped transform the School of Medicine in its early years.

“Starting off with not much—a lecture hall, a small dorm facility and two secretaries—Dr. Alpert single-handedly created the clinical program at KMC,” said Dr. C.V. Rao, Dean of Students. “He was a kind man but very strict and truly cared about all his students. And they also felt the same way, evidenced by the standing ovation he would receive when attending the SOM graduation ceremony in New York.”

“As SGU celebrates the first 40 years of its existence, what better way to do this than a formal dedication to Dr. Morris Alpert—honoring him for both his unique vision and leadership style which served our University well,” added Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost Emeritus. “For our students, there were at least 28 years of classes, twice a year, that went through St. Vincent. A great deal of our students and alumni met Dr. Alpert and got a real-life taste of medicine and how to conduct themselves in the real world.”

A member of the 1977 Charter Class, Dr. Emmett Cox II suffered a tragic bike accident early on in his studies at SGU. The first to treat Dr. Cox was Dr. Alpert, who saved his student’s life. Dr. Cox, has since become a successful orthopedic surgeon—and a hand surgeon like his mentor, Dr. Alpert.

“He was such a strong-willed person and yet so polite. He would tell us to respect our patients and learn our anatomy, and take time out to do a standard physical examination,” recalled Dr. Cox. “I feel so proud to have been trained and received my tutelage from Dr. Alpert. He taught us to never give up on your dreams no matter what. If he told you something, you could bank on it. And in my lifetime, he was a giant.”

The bronze plaque is only the most recent way in which St. George’s University has saluted Dr. Alpert’s impactful role in its growth and success. In addition to dedicating the building of Morris Alpert Hall to his memory, the Morris Alpert Scholarships exist in honor of the high moral and ethical standards he set for his students during his tenure on the faculty of St. George’s University. Dr. Alpert’s knowledge, dedication, and enthusiasm exemplified the University’s commitment to taking the practice of medicine to new and unanticipated heights.

New York City Council Honors St. George’s University’s CityDoctors Scholarship Program for Addressing Primary Care Shortage

NEW YORK (April 5) – Today, the New York City Council issued a proclamation honoring St. George’s University (SGU) for establishing the CityDoctors Scholarship Program, which covers tuition for SGU medical students who commit to working with underserved patients in the city’s public health care system.

“We are grateful for the New York City Council’s recognition of the good work that our CityDoctors scholarship recipients are doing in New York’s neediest neighborhoods,” said Charles Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “And we at St. George’s look forward to educating the next generation of CityDoctors scholars, who are making an honorable commitment to serve the people of New York.”

St. George’s University established the CityDoctors Scholarship Program in partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals to support students from New York City who might otherwise be unable to afford medical school. Students commit to one year of service with NYC Health + Hospitals for each year of scholarship aid they receive.

This year, the program will award $1.5 million in scholarships to 12 recipients from New York City and its surrounding area, who will commit to practicing primary care medicine in the city’s public health care system after graduation. Since its start in 2012, the CityDoctors program has awarded full- and partial-tuition scholarships to 112 students, totaling more than $12 million in medical school scholarships.

“The collaboration with St. George’s University has enabled more than 80 students the opportunity not only to continue their education, but to have job security following graduation,” said Machelle Allen, MD, Chief Medical Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals. “The program also helps bring more primary care physicians into the workforce and into communities across the city, where they are so desperately needed. Thank you to the New York City Council for acknowledging this important program.”

“St. George’s is committed to educating the top-notch medical graduates that the United States needs to close its doctor shortage,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University. “The CityDoctors Scholarship Program stands out as a great example of how medical schools can work with hospitals to do just that.”

 

St. George’s University CME Examines Advances In Medicine Over Last 40 Years

Since opening its doors 40 years ago, St. George’s University has evolved from a mere idea into an international center for education. Health care, too, has witnessed significant advances that have changed the landscape of medicine. These innovations were examined and celebrated in concert with SGU’s milestone anniversary at March’s School of Medicine Alumni Association (SOMAA) continuing medical education conference in Grenada.

Titled “Advances in Medicine in the Last 40 Years,” the four-day conference was sponsored in part by Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey. It featured prominent SOM alumni and faculty presenters who presented on such topics as sepsis treatment, opioid abuse and solutions for health care providers, and the impact of infectious disease on society today.

In addition, SGU President Dr. G. Richard Olds delivered a presentation on “Building a Medical School Around Social Needs.”

“CME conferences are designed to educate physicians on what’s happening in practice, and in medicine. My presentation focused on what’s the latest we know in the education of physicians and how to design a medical to school to get a higher percentage in the future to better address the US health needs,” explained Dr. Olds. “This CME in particular was aimed at a broad group of physicians trying to give them updates in areas that are relevant to their practice but they may not individually be as up to date on.”

“As the academic sponsor, Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center is pleased to bring continuing medical education back to the island of Grenada,” said Dr. Joseph Feldman, MD SGU ’89, Chairman of Emergency Medicine, HUMC. “We look forward to partnering with SGU on this important initiative for many years to come and to expand the event, increasing the number of participants worldwide, to make it a truly international endeavor.”

More than 50 attended the CME, 44 of whom were SGU alumni, as well as 18 Grenadian physicians who practice locally. In addition to the seminars, the SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities to experience a taste of culture and hospitality on the island many of the attendees called home during their studies. The group enjoyed a sightseeing tour of Grenada’s natural beauty; lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation; a shopping tour of Grenada’s capital, St. George’s; a sunset barbecue; river tubing; and a Catamaran day cruise including snorkeling and a visit to the Underwater Sculpture Park and Hog Island; and lastly an alumni charity dinner with proceeds aiding the purchase of cardiology equipment for the SGU Physicians Network Program.

“Physicians are always looking for continuing medical education but this was also a chance for our graduates to come back to Grenada and celebrate 40 years of alumni achievements with their friends and colleagues,” said Dr. Bruce Bonanno, SOMAA President. “We are extremely pleased with the success of this event and can’t wait for the next CME in March 2018.”

Social Media Impact and Mixed Reality Explored at St. George’s University’s First-Ever Tech Day

The Educational Computing Team (ECT) at St. George’s University launched the Spring 2017 Series of its Teaching with Technology Tuesdays (TwTT) with its first-ever Tech Day on March 10, 2017 at Allen Pensick Hall. With the theme “Innovative Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning,” Tech Day centered on social media and video in education, 3D technologies, and the use of augmented/mixed reality in medical education.

“Tech Day provides an opportunity for participants to actually see, touch and play in what we call our sandbox,” explained Shereene Twum-Barimah, Educational Technology Specialist. “At our past TwTT launches and workshops, our audience expressed an interest in interacting directly with the various technologies our presenters were showcasing. With our introduction of Tech Day, everyone now has a chance to physically connect with a variety of different technologies on display before them, including 3D printing and several virtual and augmented reality devices.”

With the prevalence of mobile devices, students are learning anywhere and everywhere. According to Ms. Twum-Barimah, teachers all over the world can easily record their lectures and lessons and make them available for students to consume on multiple platforms and non-traditional classroom environments. As a result, students can come prepared to have more meaningful discussions in the classroom with their instructors and peers. Technology has been modifying and redefining the face of education for years now and is getting even more innovative. The classroom is no longer defined by the walls the students are sitting within. Today’s students will now need the knowledge and skills to navigate these new learning environments.

In his presentation, “Using Augmented/Mixed Reality for Medical Education,” guest speaker Ted Dinsmore, Business Technologist and Co-Founder of SphereGen in Connecticut, focused on the evolving work in applying technology to learning in the medical education arena. He covered the basics of understanding what is virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, and how it is used throughout life currently and what the future of this technology looks like. Additionally, Mr. Dinsmore discussed how medical schools are using this technology and how it is being used in hospitals by doctors from surgery to collaboration boards. Lastly, attendees were given a demonstration of how the anatomy of a heart can be taught using a mixed reality device with the assistance of Dr. Mark Clunes, Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences.

“My presentation is all about getting people to try out the new technology. If you’ve played Pokémon Go, you’ve used augmented reality,” stated Mr. Dinsmore. “We live in a physical world, but today’s kids and students live in a virtual world in that game where they’re enjoying that experience of being in their environment. So when we overlay the virtual world over the physical world, that is what we call augmented reality.

“Mixed reality is the blending of physical reality with a virtual program, a see-through effect which can be achieved through the use of many different devices on the market today,” added Mr. Dinsmore. “Movies such as ‘Minority Report’ were designed off of this technology. And now the profits from these movies are funding a lot of this technology today. One such device, the HoloLens, provides an untethered full physical PC on your head with all the technology you need in one unit.”

In addition to his more than 20 years in the field, Mr. Dinsmore’s company has developed mobile and web-based applications for SGU. He is also the co-author of the book “Partnering with Microsoft.” Other Tech Day presentations featured were “Video in Education” by rich media team members Dari Twum-Barimah and Kellidon Niles, and “3D Technologies” by Jessica Holland and Wes Price; Alyssa Bierzynski, an Instructor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, also gave a lively presentation on Social Media in Education, illustrating how easy it is to enhance the learning experience by incorporating elements of social media into the classroom.

“For more and more of our students, virtual reality is becoming the only reality they know,” said Ms. Bierzynski. “Many of today’s students have no idea what it was like to go to an encyclopedia for information. For today’s students, their source of information is Google.”

St. George’s University Educational Computing Team is committed to providing quality training and support to the faculty, staff and students at the University. Tasked with improving methods of teaching and learning at SGU, it promotes greater utilization of cutting-edge technology, so that the highest quality of education can be provided to the students that attend this institution.

Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Dean Delivers Annual Bourne Lecture at St. George’s University

Dr. Robert Johnson MD, Dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, delivers the 23rd annual Geoffrey H. Bourne Memorial Lecture.

The success of an institution and its personnel can hinge on the professional culture it creates, this according to Dr. Robert L. Johnson, The Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle Endowed Dean at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) and keynote speaker at the 23rd Annual Geoffrey Bourne Memorial Lecture.

Dr. Johnson, who also serves as Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at NJMS, gave the presentation titled “Professionalism in Health Care” at Charter Hall before dozens of hospital administrators who were attending SGU’s annual clinical meetings.

“I think that in these days, it is one of the most important things that we can do,” Dr. Johnson said. “We need to be in charge of that. Many of the things that we used to be in charge of, we aren’t in charge of anymore. Only the profession can adequately define professionalism, set the standards, and make sure that we all adhere to them.”

The Latin phrase “primum non nocere” – or “first, do no harm” – is still the bedrock of the profession, but increased attention is devoted to creating and maintaining a professional workplace, and teaching the principles outlined in “Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter,” a groundbreaking research study conducted by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation, the American College of Physicians (ACP)-American Society of Internal Medicine (ASIM) Foundation, and the European Federation of Internal Medicine in 2002. The Charter consisted of three fundamental principles – primacy of patient welfare, patient autonomy, and social justice – as well as 10 commitments ranging from honesty and confidentiality to professional competence and improving access to care.

Such commitments to the profession start at the top and are passed down to students not only through communication but observation, what Dr. Johnson called “the hidden curriculum.”

“What students really learn from their professors is not only based on what they say but what they do,” Dr. Johnson said. “They learn to be doctors as a result of mimicking what you do – how you talk to your patients, how you handle problems, how you handle mistakes, and how you talk to each other.”

He also stressed the importance of setting expectations for students through ceremonial events, written documents, and training, with assessments and remediation done based on their performance.

“People come to us with a variety of experiences and backgrounds that determine how they will acquire and administer new material,” Dr. Johnson said. “You must have a process for identifying problems and remediating them.”

In addition to his roles at NJMS, Dr. Johnson chairs the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and Related Blood-Borne Pathogens, as well as the Newark Ryan White Planning Council. He has previously served as the President of the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, the Chair of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Council on Graduate Medical Education. Dr. Johnson joins a decorated list of Bourne speakers that includes Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and neurology pioneer Lord Walton of Detchant. The lecture series is named for St. George’s University’s first Vice Chancellor, Dr. Geoffrey H. Bourne, an educator, scientist, writer, and visionary who helped guide the University in its early development.

St. George’s University Approved by Georgia Composite Medical Board

The Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) has approved St. George’s University, allowing its third- and fourth-year medical students to conduct their clinical training in the Peach State. In addition to the GCMB endorsement, SGU has created a partnership with DeKalb Medical Network, an agreement that facilitates clinical education opportunities at the organization’s three Atlanta-area hospitals.

“We are excited to continue expanding our network of affiliated hospitals in order to offer our students an array of clinical experiences,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President and CEO of St. George’s University. “This approval and this new partnership represent key cogs in our growing educational network.”

The Georgia Composite Medical Board licenses physicians and other medical professionals within the state. GCMB representatives visited the True Blue campus for four days in August, evaluating the University’s mission, programs, facilities and more. With its approval, Georgia becomes one of 12 US states in which SGU clinical students can obtain training, joining Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, and New Jersey, as well as Washington, DC. Outside the US, clinical rotations are available in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Grenada.

“SGU students can benefit greatly from rotating in a wide variety of locations and fields,” said Dr. Daniel Ricciardi, MD SGU ’81, Dean of Clinical Studies at St. George’s University. “By learning from leading physicians across several different state-of-the-art facilities, they can gain experience and perspective that, upon graduating, will only enhance the quality of care they provide in their own practice.”

In addition to its approval from the GCMB, SGU has created a partnership with DeKalb Medical Network, which opens up clinical education opportunities to the University’s third- and fourth-year students. DeKalb’s hospitals have more than 600 acute care beds and provide specialty care through an emergency department as well as cancer, orthopedic, and wellness centers.

“Our partnership with DeKalb Medical Network will provide hundreds of our students the opportunity to learn and practice medicine at a very high level,” said Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean of St. George’s University School of Medicine. “These hospitals are ideal environments for young doctors to take on their first responsibilities in the field.”

Through these clerkships, students can obtain hands-on exposure to all medical roles in a hospital. Each clinical center can accommodate as many as 100 students, who can enroll in sub-internships, up to five rotations, and elective courses.

British Monarchy Honors St. George’s University Clinical Professor for Outstanding Service to Grenadian Health Care

Dr. Beverly Nelson, MD SGU ’86 and Clinical Associate Professor, is awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Beverly Nelson, MD SGU ’86, an Associate Professor at St. George’s University and a pioneer in pediatrics in Grenada, was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Charles, Prince of Wales, on February 3 at Buckingham Palace.

Dr. Nelson is the founding Chairperson of the Children’s Health Organization Relief and Educational Services (CHORES) support group in Grenada, which has arranged physician visits to provide sub-specialty care for the community since 1989. CHORES collaborated with the Grenada Heart Foundation to eradicate rheumatic fever, which once had a high incidence in Grenada.

Dr. Nelson also serves as Co-Chair of Pediatrics and Consultant Pediatrician for Ministry of Health Grenada, while also teaching SGU medical students as a Clinical Associate Professor. In spite of her lengthy service to her country and alma mater, she described herself as being “awe-struck” last June when she was hand-delivered a letter from the office of the Governor General of Grenada, Dame Cécile La Grenade, and learned of her selection for the CBE.

“I was shocked,” Dr. Nelson said. “I get up in the morning, and I do what I do because I love it. I never expect any credit, certainly not of this magnitude.”

Last month at Buckingham Palace, Dr. Nelson joined 16 other awardees at the investiture ceremony, as well as one of just two women. Prince Charles presented her with a medal for the CBE, which ranks behind only knighthood (KBE) and damehood (DBE) among Order of the British Empire honors.

“He was so cordial and welcoming,” Dr. Nelson said of the prince. “He asked me about Grenada, thanked me for coming a great distance, and said he wanted to return to Grenada. He also spoke about Prince Harry’s recent visit. The conversation was so comfortable.”

Dr. Nelson attended St. George’s University on full scholarship beginning in 1982, and graduated in June 1986. She completed her pediatrics residency at Brooklyn Hospital in New York, finishing as Chief Resident, before returning to Grenada to begin her pediatrics career.

Noticing a drastic lack of sub-specialty care, Dr. Nelson met with CHORES members in Jacksonville, Florida, and was able to arrange the first CHORES visit to Grenada in 1989. Four years later, CHORES Support Grenada was formed in 1993, with Dr. Nelson serving as Chair. More than three decades later, CHORES continues to welcome specialists to Grenada three times per year, providing no-cost health care – including cardiology, surgery, pediatrics, prosthetics, and more. It also raises funds for patients to fly to the United States for additional care.

“CHORES hasn’t prospered because of myself alone. It has been a team approach,” Dr. Nelson said. “Together we have recruited the support from local persons and businesses to support the endeavor, and because of this conglomerate of persons coming together, we’re still here today.”

On a broader scale, Dr. Nelson points to the rheumatic fever eradication as CHORES’ and Grenada’s crowning achievement.

“We recognized we had to do something, so we joined forces with the Grenada Heart Foundation and worked hard to sensitize the nation as a whole through media and billboards to make sure that persons knew that sore throats can kill or change lives forever. Sore throats must be treated,” Dr. Nelson said.

Dr. Nelson is “very thankful” for her country’s acknowledgment of her contributions to medicine in Grenada. From 1994-1999, she was the only pediatrician on the island, and served terms as President and Secretary of the Grenada Medical Association (GMA), orchestrated with members on the new adoption law as part of the Adoption Board, and is a current member of the Grenada Medical and Dental Council. Her honor comes a year after Dr. Chamarthy Subbarao, Professor of Clinical Skills at SGU, was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his service to Grenada.

More Than 860 St. George’s University Graduates Garner US Residency Positions on Match Day 2017

Match Day was yet another success for St. George’s University and its graduates, with more than 860 students and alumni securing first-year residency positions at highly competitive programs across the United States through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).

SGU alumni will report to PGY1 residency programs in the following specialties this summer: anesthesiology, child neurology, diagnostic radiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/neurology, internal medicine/pediatrics, neurological surgery, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, pathology, pediatrics, pediatrics/emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, surgery, thoracic surgery, urology, and vascular surgery. Residencies were secured across the United States as well as in the District of Columbia. In addition to Match Day, one student matched in January’s San Francisco Match, and seven more through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) earlier this month.

“We applaud the 2017 class for its dedication and drive, from the first day of basic sciences to their clinical rotations,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President and CEO of St. George’s University. “We look forward to seeing them enjoy long and successful careers in their chosen field, providing high-quality health care for communities throughout the United States and Canada. I also wish to congratulate the hundreds of graduates who are planning to train internationally.”

Many SGU graduates obtained positions in their top-choice positions and at highly competitive programs. Among them was Spencer Leong, who matched into the internal medicine residency program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“I would have been happy going to any of the programs I had on my rank list, but Tennessee was my first choice,” he said. “It’s a great IM program in a beautiful city along the river, and it’s just two hours from where my parents live. I’m really excited to officially finish my rotations in five weeks and to get started.”

Sannoor Surani described herself as “absolutely ecstatic” shortly after learning that she had secured an anesthesiology position at her top-choice program – Boston University Medical Center. Although she grew up in Texas, she looks forward to practicing in a city that she calls “the hub of medicine.”

“So many innovations come out of Boston, and the environment is so stimulating with so many brilliant minds,” she said. “It’s where I wanted to be, and I couldn’t be happier. If not for SGU, I wouldn’t be here because it gave me an opportunity that I didn’t otherwise have. It was a great experience, and it gave me all the tools and resources I needed to be successful.”

On Match Day, Dan O’Connor discovered that he will return to his native Minnesota this summer to begin a family medicine residency at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He had enjoyed his medicine rotation at St. Cloud, and interviewed for a residency position before leaving. It was and has always been his top choice.

“From when I first went to SGU, this has always been my dream,” O’Connor said. “I’ll be around my family and friends, and I’ll be doing what I love, so I’m very happy about it.”

Since opening in 1977, St. George’s University has graduated more than 14,000 physicians who have gone on to practice in all 50 US states and more than 50 countries worldwide. According to published information, SGU has placed more doctors in first-year postgraduate positions than any medical school in the last six years combined, including more than 880 placements at US and Canadian residency programs in 2016.

Stay tuned as SGU is learning each day about more postgraduate positions gained through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) or outside of the Match entirely. For a complete list of 2017 residency appointments to date, visit the SGU postgraduate appointment page.

St. George’s University Welcomes Newest Class of Future Doctors at Spring 2017 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony

An ocean away and in a two-week span, the Spring 2017 class of St. George’s University took their Oath of Professional Commitment, the first step in their journey to becoming physicians, at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies in the United Kingdom and Grenada.

Students in the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program ushered in the spring term with a ceremony held at Domain Hall on the campus of Northumbria University on January 13. They will spend their first year of Basic Sciences in the UK before joining the Grenada class in Spring 2018.

Delivering a touching keynote address to this year’s entering class was Dr. Gerard Corcoran, recently retired Lead Clinician for Cancer Services at Aintree University Hospitals in the UK. He reflected on the growth of SGU, having arrived in Grenada in 1979 and working one year in the General Hospital and at St. George’s University School of Medicine.

“Back then as a young 28-year-old, many of the students at St. George’s were my age and I was really impressed by all of their varied backgrounds,” Dr. Corcoran said. “Some had previous occupations, others had military experience, some had not studied sciences and others had endured quite a lot of hardship before coming here. But rather than looking at this as a disadvantage and a roadblock to their progress, I actually think that, for the future doctor, this different life experience was an advantage and not only for themselves but for our profession. It has been delightful for me to watch the University flourish over the years, and so in this its 40th year, I hope the Class of 2017 will continue to prosper.”

“Please take an interest in each other and share your experiences,” he added. “While in Grenada try to gain some insight on what it means to provide healthcare in a low resource country. And, never forget that universal access to health care is something that still has not been attained. There is a worldwide shortage of primary care physicians and also health professionals and SGU is to be commended for its efforts in trying to offer up opportunities for people from different countries to train here to become doctors.”

Also present at the ceremony was the Honorable Mr. Nickolas Steele, Minister for Health and Social Security. He welcomed the newly enrolled medical students and congratulated them on their choice of such an admirable profession. The Minister implored the students not only to work hard to acquire their degree but to also take the opportunity to make a difference to Grenada because their time spent in the Spice Isle will surely make a difference to them.

In Grenada, students and their friends and families filled Patrick F. Adams Hall for the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony on January 27. Dr. Bruce Bonanno, MD SGU ’83, a member of the fifth entering class at SGU, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. In addition to his professional career as an emergency medicine physician at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, NJ, Dr. Bonanno has a second career as a media personality. He hosted a 30-minute medical television show and was the Chief Medical Consultant for a New Jersey station for more than 10 years.

As an alum, his involvement with SGU has included interviewing candidates for admission, teaching students and residents, and becoming re-involved with the SGUSOM Alumni Association two years ago when he was elected President. He arrived in Grenada 38 years earlier, and never ceases to be amazed at the development of both the country and his alma mater.

“Although many things have changed since I was a student at SGU, one thing has remained constant and that is you, the students,” said Dr. Bonanno. “We all arrive here with a chip on our shoulder because of those that said we couldn’t do it. But I’m here to show you that you can do it and you will do it.”

The School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony has coincided for the sixth straight term with Beyond Spice Family Weekend at SGU. Students’ family members enjoy a fun-filled weekend of activities, exploring Grenada’s rich cultural heritage and getting a taste of life at SGU before attending the special ceremony, which serves as an affirmation of commitment to their studies and marks the beginning of their medical career.

Dr. Kenneth R. Bridges, Expert in Sickle Cell Research, Delivers Annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture

More than 100 years ago, sickle cell disease was discovered while two doctors examined Grenadian-born Walter Clement Noel. One of the world’s leading authorities on the disease, Dr. Kenneth R. Bridges, Founder and Director of the International Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation, delved into this disease, and its treatments, in his keynote address at the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture on January 18 at St. George’s University’s Bourne Lecture Hall.

“Sickle cell disease is the world’s most common single gene disorder,” said Dr. Bridges in his address. “However, the disease is not simply a blood disorder but a systematic disorder that affects every part of the body. Tell me which area of the body you’re interested in studying and I will tell you what sickle cell disease does to it.”

Sickle cell disease is a disorder of the blood caused by an inherited abnormal hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein within the red blood cells) that causes distorted (sickled) red blood cells leading to tissue and organ damage and chronic pain.

The current treatment of sickle cell disease focuses on treating symptoms while the more challenging and expensive treatments like disease modification therapies remain underutilized, including a promising new drug treatment called GBT440, which causes the inhibition of polymerization of deoxygenated sickle cells.

“The GBT440 drug was specifically and carefully designed to fit into this one area of the body where it stops the abnormal hemoglobin cells from sticking together in the first place, which is at the very start of the problem,” explained Dr. Bridges. “Now with the help of our colleagues here in Grenada, we’re hoping to recapitulate this treatment in a much more profound way and to really deliver on the promise made to Walter Clement Noel 100-plus years ago in that we will now be able to effectively treat this disorder.”

Dr. Bridges received the MD degree from Harvard Medical School, and subsequently trained in internal medicine and hematology in Boston, at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, respectively. Following medical subspecialty training, Dr. Bridges worked on the biology of cellular iron metabolism for three years at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. He later returned to Harvard as a member of the Hematology Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he reached the faculty rank of Associate Professor of Medicine. During this time, Dr. Bridges also maintained active clinical work and established the Joint Center for Sickle Cell and Thalassemic Disorders at the two aforementioned Boston-based institutions, emphasizing bench-to-patient translational research.

WINDREF and St. George’s University have long attracted world experts on climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions, among other topics to its various lecture series. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.

The annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture is named for SGU’s second Vice Chancellor, whose vision and dedication to the international growth of St. George’s University led to the creation of the Windward Island Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) in 1994; was instrumental in instituting the School of Arts and Sciences in 1996; and whose memory was honored with the creation of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program and the establishment of Keith B. Taylor Hall on the True Blue campus in 2007.