SGU Collaborates with Stanford University and WINDREF on Research Examining Long-Term Impact of Chikungunya Virus

St. George’s University, in partnership with the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) and Drs. Clare Heath and Desiree LaBeaud of Stanford University, has embarked on a study to learn more about the long-term health consequences of the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) following infection.

sgu collaborates with stanford university

Recently awarded the prestigious American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Robert E. Shope International Fellowship in Infectious Diseases, Dr. Heath partnered with SGU and WINDREF faculty, research scientists, and students to conduct the study in Grenada through the end of 2015.

“Not only is this a very prestigious grant to have received, it is also the type of high-value project that fits in perfectly with SGU’s Global Health Initiative,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of Research, St. George’s University. “SGU’s capacity to help develop research protocols to understand the long term impacts of CHIKV will certainly be of importance regionally but will also have global relevance.”

The Robert E. Shope International Fellowship in Infectious Diseases was established in honor of Robert E. Shope, one of the world’s foremost authorities on insect-borne viruses. The fellowship provides support for international training opportunities in arbovirology and emerging diseases for postdoctoral researchers.

“Worldwide, the Chikungunya virus is relatively understudied, the genetics, the epidemiology, and certainly not how it affects people over the long term,” added Dr. Heath. “Grenada offers a location where the virus infected a large number of immunologically naïve people over a short time period. The people in Grenada had never seen the virus before.”

This research will build on a screening program put in place through a partnership between the Ministry of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, SGU’s Department of Microbiology, the University Clinic, WINDREF, and the US Navy, which aimed to confirm transmission and associated symptoms of CHIKV in Grenada during the outbreak.

A year has passed since the CHIKV epidemic struck the Caribbean, yet much remains unknown about the long-term health consequences following infection.

The aim of this new collaborative study is to follow up with many of the 450 infected patients to determine if they’re still being affected by symptoms of the disease. If the intricacies of this disease can be better understood, an effective treatment and management program to improve the health of the patients may be possible.

“Our partnership with Stanford, with Grenada’s Ministry of Health, and with local physicians and the community is essential, as SGU hopes to be at the cutting edge of research into this emerging disease,” said Dr. Macpherson. “This project is a good example of our focus on global health because CHIKV is found throughout the tropics, has spread rapidly in the Western Hemisphere, and today poses a threat to the US and other areas where it has not occurred to any great extent. Ultimately, this is a global initiative looking at a global problem through partnerships.”

New pediatrician joins team of local practice 11/9/15

Alexandra McCollum, MD SGU ’05, joined Larchmont Pediatrics in her home state of California, and will split time between private practice and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

A New Clinical Affiliation in Nevada

St. George’s University Students Can Now Complete Rotations in 11 US States and Washington, DC

To set the course for their medical careers, St. George’s University medical students can complete their clinical rotations at more than 70 affiliated hospitals and clinical centers, including in Nevada, the most recent state with which SGU has formed a pipeline.

new clinical affiliations in nevada

With an agreement signed this year, SGU medical students can partake in fourth-year electives at Renown Health in Reno, NV, and can conduct third-year clerkships starting in Summer 2016. In addition, students can continue to obtain in-network clinical training in 10 other states – California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio, as well as Washington, DC – as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Grenada.

“It has always been our priority to provide our students not only with high-quality clinical training venues but with a variety of opportunities as well,” said Dr. Charles Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “We are thrilled to have created a relationship with Renown Health, which will allow St. George’s University students to learn from outstanding physicians and with state-of-the-art technology as they prepare for their own medical careers.”

Renown Health is northern Nevada’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system, made up of a wide network of hospitals, urgent care centers, and lab and imaging services throughout the region, including Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown Children’s Hospital.

“We’re proud of the network of hospitals and clinical centers that has been created, and proud of those who gain valuable experience at these institutions each year,” said Daniel D. Ricciardi, MD SGU ‘81, FACR, St. George’s University Dean of Clinical Studies for the United States. “Our students are in great hands, and we’re confident that Renown Health and all of our academic affiliates will find these students to be highly skilled and highly knowledgeable.”


Local UH branches welcome two new doctors 10/27/15

University Hospitals Conneaut and Geneva medical centers welcomed Pranav Periyalwar, MD SGU ’09, to their medical staffs.

NHRMC has new stroke program medical director 10/11/15

The New Hanover Regional Medical Center Physician Group welcomed vascular neurologist James S. McKinney, MD SGU ’04, who will care for inpatients at the medical center’s main campus and will also serve as the medical director of the NHRMC stroke program.

Continued Friendship in a New Frontier

Three Friends Begin Medical Education Journey at St. George’s University

Three lifelong friends from Branson, Missouri, US, have begun the next exciting part of their lives together at St. George’s University’ MD program. Childhood friends Maggie Givens, Joe Keller, and Alec Zimmer feel lucky to have all started their medical education together at St. George’s University this fall.

branson friends

Ms. Givens was the first of the trio to discover SGU. She visited the campus to help her decide, a choice that assisted in selecting SGU over the other schools to which she was accepted. For Ms. Givens, Grenada was undeniably different than her hometown, which is located on the border of Arkansas and inhabits about 10,000 people.

“As an athlete, I’ve learned that when you get outside your comfort zone, that is when the best things happen to you,” she said.

Although she briefed her friends , they decided to conduct their own research before applying. Mr. Zimmer sought the mentorship of his career counselor at school while Mr. Keller consulted St. George’s University graduates. Each was accepted, and upon their arrival, they were especially impressed by the school’s diversity.

“It’s very comforting to be able to learn alongside so many different ways of thinking, moral codes, and belief systems,” Mr. Zimmer said. “Being on a campus that is this diverse is definitely going to shape and change us for the better.”

“The student body is different from anything I’ve experienced before; everyone is nice and seems almost eager to help and be your friend,” added Mr. Keller. “This experience is a big culture shock for me, and every day I seem to learn something new and fun about the university and the island.”

They have been drawn to medicine for different reasons, and after graduating from SGU, they expect to follow different career paths. Mr. Zimmer, whose mom works in the health care field, was inspired by volunteer doctors at a local camp. “I fell in love with that lifestyle and my passion has grown since then,” he said. He has not settled on a specific career in medicine, but looks forward to seeing what field he is naturally drawn to during his studies.

As the daughter of a urologist and a nurse anesthetist, Ms. Givens has long known she wanted to pursue a medical career herself. “I grew up seeing what they did, how it impacted the community, and how rewarding of a career it is,” she said. Ms. Givens is considering a career in internal medicine or family practice but, like Mr. Zimmer, plans to keep an open mind.

“I have seen health care from both sides,” said Mr. Keller, who aspires to become an endocrinologist. “I worked in hospitals as a phlebotomist, lab technician, and volunteer, but I’ve also been a patient, and have seen subpar patient care. I hope to make a difference and to be able to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

They have all turned to SGU to provide a sturdy foundation for their careers in medicine, and they’re happy to have each other along for the ride.

“We’ve been friends for a really long time, but this experience has really brought us closer together,” said Alec. “Despite the stresses of school, our friendship is carefree and full of fun and laughter, which is the perfect kind of dynamic to complement the challenge we’re going to be facing over the next few years.”

KBTGSP Students Obtain White Coats – and Some Perspective – at White Coat Ceremony

Five Narratives Illustrate the Power of the White Coat to Fall 2015 Entering Class

To welcome the newest class of students at the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program White Coat Ceremony in August, they were told of five narratives that summarize the history and the future of their newest attire – the white coat, a symbol of the profession they were entering and to which they committing their future.

kbtgsp students obtain white coats

In the words of the evening’s keynote speaker, Dr. Arthur R. Derse, Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, and Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the story of the white coat begins, naturally, at the beginning. Physicians’ switch from black coats to white coats occurred fairly recently, with the white coat serving as a symbol of scientific medicine. Surveys have since shown that patients prefer caretakers who wear white coats as opposed to scrubs.

Through time, Dr. Derse said as he began the second narrative of the white coat, the rise of scientists dramatically improved medicine, whether it was John Snow, the father of modern epidemiology, Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to earn an MD, or global health ambassadors such as Keith B. Taylor, for whom the Global Scholars Program is named, and Partners in Health founder, Paul Farmer.

Works of fiction, the third narrative, have also helped mold medicine, from that of Leo Tolstoy and Albert Camus to popular television shows such as “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Although they shape the populace’s expectations and often aren’t realistic, they nevertheless hold truths, proclaimed Dr. Derse.

Patients also tell their own stories, and it is up to physicians to listen with empathy. Doing so can start the patient on their journey back to comfort or a cure through prognosis and treatment. In hearing the entire story, physicians absorb the values embedded in those stories and can also sometimes treat with greater efficiency and compassion.

Finally, Dr. Derse stated that the tale of the white coat continues into the fifth narrative with each present student who wears his or her white coat for the first time. The ceremony marks the first chapter in students’ path toward their MD and their professional lives in which they will work hard to develop their knowledge, clinical skills, and character, all for the sake of their future patients.

As part of the Global Scholars Program, these students will spend their first year of basic sciences in the UK, follow it with a year in Grenada, and complete their medical education with two years of clinical training in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, or Grenada. Since its Charter Class in January of 2007, the program has seen more than 900 students go on to earn their MDs from SGU.

New OB/GYN physician in Knox, La Porte an advocate for adolescent, women’s health 9/13/15

Ashley Kirkwood, MD SGU ’11, opened up her own private OB/GYN practice serving the Knox and La Porte communities in Michigan.

St. George’s University Fall 2015 Class Presented with White Coats as First Step into the School of Medicine

An important symbol of a student’s induction into the medical profession, this year’s class of newly enrolled medical students donned their white coats and took the oath of Professional Commitment on the True Blue Campus in Grenada. They joined their fellow students from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who also began this noble journey in Northumbria, UK last month.

som wcc fall 2015

The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was SGU’s own Dr. Hanson Cummings, MD SGU ’04, who a decade later has gone on to serve as a registrar in internal medicine at the General Hospital, Grenada. Dr. Cummings credited hard work, sacrifice, and the love of a supportive family as the means of realizing his dream of becoming a physician. Born and raised in Grenada, he returned to his native land after completing his postgraduate training in internal medicine in Barbados, where he also attended a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) conference in 2012 and was the representative clinician delivering numerous lectures on both chikungunya and dengue.

Having been in their shoes not too long ago, Dr. Cummings advised the matriculating class to “hit the floor running and not let work accumulate; to challenge themselves to be better by always pursuing knowledge as medicine is a dynamic field where things are constantly changing; and lastly with perseverance and hard work they will accomplish their goal of joining the medical fraternity.”

The students were also welcomed and congratulated by the Chancellor of St. George’s University, Dr. Charles R. Modica, and the Prime Minister of Grenada, the Right Honorable Keith C. Mitchell. The Chancellor also introduced the newly appointed and first-ever President and Chief Executive Officer of SGU, Dr. Richard Olds. The founding Dean of University of California Riverside Medical School, Dr. Olds remarked on how wonderful it was to be joining a university that’s already doing great things. “Tonight is your night and I’m excited for all of you on taking the very first step in your professional career as physicians,” said Dr. Olds.

Delivering this year’s keynote address was Dr. Hugh Montgomery, a Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at University College London, and Director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance. Centering his address on the importance of humanity, knowledge, and skepticism to the practice of medicine, Dr. Montgomery counseled students to do all the little things because you never know if they will make the difference between life and death.

“There’s nothing too small for a truly big man,” said Dr. Montgomery, recalling the advice he received from his father many years ago. He also spoke of gaining knowledge as a way of showing compassion, saying that “Knowing more than anyone else and studying hard so you can make a faster diagnosis is a great way to show you care.” He cautioned the students, however, to remember that no one knows everything and advised them to challenge everything and to always seek a second opinion. “Work hard, work with positive people, question everything, act with kindness and compassion, and treat each patient like family.”

For Genevieve Jankowski, who just celebrated her 102nd birthday, the thrill of witnessing her granddaughter Paige Dubin’s entry into the medical profession was one momentous occasion she just couldn’t miss. Ms. Jankowski trekked more than 3,000 miles from California to Grenada to be with her granddaughter. After the ceremony and her brief visit of the campus, the spirited centenarian asked “so where do I get an application?”

The School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony has coincided for the fourth 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 very beginning of their medical career.

American University of Nigeria and St. George’s University Enter into a Joint Program leading to the Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Students of the American University of Nigeria now have the opportunity to pursue medicine and veterinary medicine studies at St George’s University, Grenada, West Indies (SGU), after completion of their studies at AUN.

This new cooperative venture is open to students who meet all the requirements for enrollment in the combined programs leading to the pursuit of a career in medicine. Such students must successfully complete the relevant combined courses in the pre-medicine and pre-veterinary medicine programs in AUN’s program in Natural & Environmental Sciences major.
They must also show a competitive grade point average while in the science major at AUN Upon meeting all AUN and St George’s admission criteria, they will then proceed to the SGU Schools of Medicine or Veterinary Medicine to obtain the MD or DVM degree.

At the SGU School of Medicine, admitted students will complete the first two years of medical study in Grenada and then the final two of this combined program in clinical rotations at affiliated hospitals in the US and or the UK. Students who qualify for veterinary medicine will be eligible to complete the first three years of study in SGU and their final clinical year at affiliated veterinary schools in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, or Ireland.

“We are pleased to have an opportunity to welcome students to SGU from the American University of Nigeria,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor at St. George’s University. “This collaboration between SGU and AUN further supports our mission of academic excellence and global medicine as we prepare these students to excel in their studies and in their careers.”
For more information please visit the AUN and SGU websites.

St. George’s University is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from over 140 countries to the island of Grenada, West Indies. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University has contributed over 15,000 physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals who are studying across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities. For more information, visit