St. George’s University Announces New Commonwealth Jubilee Scholar

yavani choudree

Yavani Choudree from Durban, South Africa, has been awarded a Commonwealth Jubilee Scholarship by St. George’s University on the Caribbean island of Grenada. A graduate of Crawford College La Lucia in Durban, South Africa and the University of Technology in Mauritius, Ms. Choudree’s scholarship will cover her full tuition fees and enable her to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree.

This is one of 60 Commonwealth Jubilee Scholarships to be awarded by St George’s University in commemoration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 – marking her 60th year as the Head of the Commonwealth of Nations. The scholarship program was launched by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, in 2013 and a special message from the Queen was received in support.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me,” says Ms. Choudree. “When I return to South Africa as a health care professional, my concentration will be on primary health care, particularly maternal and child health, and research into the diseases that impact so heavily on the statistics of maternal and neonatal deaths in South Africa.”

Cancer center welcomes new oncologist 9/2/15

Medical oncologist Amir Harandi, MD SGU ’02, joined the Dyson Center for Cancer Care at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. Harandi has been a medical oncologist and hematologist since 2009, most recently at the Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also served on the faculty at the University of Louisville.

St. George’s University Names Magnifico School of Medicine Assistant Dean

1997 SGU Graduate and Southside Hospital Physician Joins Dean’s Office

A 1997 St. George’s University graduate and longtime physician and educator at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, NY, Chris Magnifico has been appointed Assistant Dean of St. George’s University School of Medicine.

christopher magnifico

“We are excited to officially welcome Dr. Magnifico to the dean’s office,” said Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean, St. George’s University School of Medicine. “As an SGU graduate himself, he has navigated the course from student to physician, which gives him the ideal vantage point from which to help lead the University in the coming years. In addition, his background in technology and computer programming will prove to be a tremendous asset for us as we integrate the newest and most exciting technological advances into our curriculum.”

In addition to his role as a Hospitalist and Hospice and Palliative Care Committee Attending, Dr. Magnifico is the Director of Hospital Medical Education and an Associate Professor of Family Practice at Southside, a 341-bed hospital that is part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Health System. As Assistant Dean, Dr. Magnifico hopes to develop the technological aspects of the medical curriculum, making coursework and evaluations more computer-based, and strengthening the third- and fourth­ year core training.

Over the years, Dr. Magnifico has given back to his alma mater, teaching scores of SGU clinical students and residents. He looks forward to helping set the course for students to develop their skills and knowledge on their way to making an impact on health care.

“SGU has done wonders for me,” Dr. Magnifico said. “Without SGU, I would not be in the position I am today, truly enjoying life, teaching new doctors and residents, and giving optimal care in a primary care setting. I wish that for each and every student that pursues a career in medicine, and look forward to working with Dr. Weitzman and the University’s faculty and staff to continue providing an experience for students that will prepare them for their futures in health care.”

Dr. Magnifico came to SGU from Stony Brook University, from which he earned his Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. After two years of basic science training, he went on to complete his clinical rotations in New York at Jamaica Hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, as well as at Southside. He continued on with Southside thereafter, completing his family practice residency there in 2000.

Having been with the hospital for more than 18 years, Dr. Magnifico has valued the opportunity to treat members of the community in which he was raised.

“As a primary care doctor, I’ve taken care of family members, friends’ family members, staff members in the hospital, and tens of thousands of community members,” he said. “You really get to know your community.”

In addition to working at Southside, Dr. Magnifico has been an Associate Professor and HIV Specialist at Brentwood Family Health Center, and treats patients at the Momentum Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. He is board certified by the American Academy of Family Practice and by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association.


More Than 900 Graduates Bestowed MDs at 2015 Commencement

Newest Crop of St. George’s University Physicians Represents 41 Countries

At the 40th St. George’s University School of Medicine commencement ceremony on June 17, more than 900 students were conferred Doctor of Medicine degrees at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. The Class of 2015 represents 41 countries, including 39 US states, the newest physicians joining more than 12,000 SGU graduates who have been licensed to practice medicine in more than 50 countries around the world.

“When we first met you at your White Coat Ceremony in Grenada, we felt that each and every one of your had the capability and capacity to fulfill your dreams,” said Dr. Charles R. Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “You persevered, you stood fast, you studied hard, and you didn’t let go, and as a result, here you are. We are very proud to be here with you today, and know that you will continue to make a difference in health care.”

Although commencement marked the end of one chapter in their journey, Allen Pensick, St. George’s University Provost, encouraged the graduates to use it as a foundation for the rest of their medical careers.

“Today is a celebration of you now being equipped with the basic skills that you will need for the world you are entering,” Dr. Pensick said. “It’s up to you to continue learning to keep pace with the rapidly changing world around us. You must demonstrate your ability to learn in the fields that you choose. Today is about recognizing the ability to embrace the opportunities that are ahead of you.”

Mohammed Elshorafa, MD SGU ’15, is excited for what lies ahead. He will begin a child neurology residency at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System this summer. He reveled in the moment with his family outside Lincoln Center.

“It’s more than just four years; it’s an entire life building up to this one moment,” Dr. Elshorafa. “It’s great to be here with family because they were right there with me every step of the way. There were some ups and downs, but it was an amazing experience to live and study in Grenada, and that we’re here at this point is just overwhelming.”

For Parker Jenkins, MD SGU ’15, the SGU experience has very much been a family affair as well. His wife, Ashley, earned her MD from SGU in 2013 and is now completing her residency in internal medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center Mountainside. Originally from Denham Springs, LA, Dr. Jenkins and his family, including daughter Jolee and Job, spent two years in Grenada during his basic science training.

“I learned a lot about medicine and a lot about patient care, and moreover, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m capable of,” Dr. Jenkins said. “I’m blessed to have had this opportunity and to have had my family with me to experience it.”

Astha Muttreja, MD SGU ’15, and Amika Bahri, MD SGU ’15, became friends through SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, for which students spend the first year of their studies at Northumbria University in Newcastle, United Kingdom. Dr. Muttreja returns home to begin an internal medicine residency at Stony Brook University, and Dr. Bahri will do the same, starting her family medicine residency at the University of Toronto.

“Stony Brook Hospital is great, so I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Dr. Muttreja said. “It’s such a blessing. There were times where you weren’t sure if you were going to make it, so to be standing here is amazing.”

“That we were able to experience three different health care systems over the course of our medical education was really invaluable,” Dr. Bahri said. “Getting to go back home was something I only dreamed about when started school at SGU, so to have it all work out in the end means everything to me.”

Before conferring Doctors of Medicine to the graduating class, SGU presented Honorary Doctorates of Human Letters to two American pioneers – Ellen Ratner and James Pinkerton. Dr. Ratner has been a longtime supporter of SGU, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF). She founded the non-profit organization Goats for the Old Goat, aimed at helping families in need in South Sudan. Dr. Pinkerton has been a political commentator, columnist, and White House advisor since the early 1980s, and serves as a member of the board of the Institute for Human Virology (IHV). In addition, he is an advocate for the Cure Strategy, a platform to encourage public policies that advance medical innovation and the development of lifesaving treatments.


St. George’s University Graduate’s Creation Streamlines Health Care Access for Chicagoans

Pardeep Athwal, MD SGU ’10, Unveils Orunje, A New Way for Patients to Be Seen Quickly

Patients can log in, explain what’s troubling them, and have an in-home appointment booked in minutes. That’s the basis behind Orunje, the new on-demand emergency health care website created by Pardeep Athwal, MD SGU ’10, that crowdsources physicians and nurse practitioners in Chicago so that patients are seen quickly and conveniently, without lengthy emergency room waits.

orunje feelbetternow logoai

It’s motto? Feel Better. Now. Launched in March 2015, the Orunje network has already grown to approximately 40 physicians and nurse practitioners in downtown Chicago. Dr. Athwal and his team are hoping to expand it even further within the city as well as beyond city limits, providing 24-7 service in every major city in the United States.

“You can find a date, have a hairstylist come to your home, and even get on-demand cookies; why shouldn’t you be able to get on-demand health care at your convenience?” said Dr. Athwal, Orunje’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

The idea for the service stemmed from Dr. Athwal’s own experience. He graduated from St. George’s University in 2010, and during his diagnostic radiology residency at the University of Connecticut, he had hoped to book a standard physical with a nearby physician. However, with the heavy workload and odd hours that come with residency, he found it difficult.
“I didn’t know what to do, and I’m a physician, so I imagined a lot of other people had the same dilemma,” he said.


That’s when the pieces for Orunje began to come together. For its development, Dr. Athwal sought the assistance of another SGU graduate, Dr. Rajbeer Sangha, MD SGU ’10, and a PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut, Jiangwen Sun. Now with the program launched, those seeking medical attention can log on to, and submit an appointment request. Upon doing so, Orunje automatically notifies every provider within its network, increasing the likelihood of a patient securing a prompt, in-home appointment with a qualified physician or nurse practitioner. During the appointment, providers can address acute issues as well as refer the patient for bloodwork or to a specialist. Results from each appointment can be forwarded to the patient’s primary care physician upon request.

“Having that ability aids with the continuity of care, benefitting both the patient and the providers,” Dr. Athwal said.

For providers, Orunje exposes them to new patients and allows them to earn extra money without having to rearrange their schedule or career. An added benefit is that Orunje provides malpractice coverage for all providers at no additional charge.

To market the product, Dr. Athwal has leaned on the business experience he earned at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA), with an emphasis on health care leadership.

“Health care is a business, and it’s important to at least have a core understanding of the basic principles of business, whether it’s negotiations, finance, leadership management, or human resources,” Dr. Athwal said. “Getting an MBA really gave me a good foundation for knowing how to communicate with management and others who are on the patient care team.”
He is thankful for the foundation that St. George’s provided in helping build his career as a radiologist. With Orunje, he believes a new frontier in health care has been introduced to the city of Chicago.

“St. George’s University was a great opportunity to live abroad and to pursue my dream of becoming a physician,” Dr. Athwal said. “It prepped me well for my radiology residency, and I met some of my closest friends there. I really wouldn’t trade my experience at SGU for anything.”

SGU to Confer Two Honorary Degrees

Ellen Ratner and Jim Pinkerton to be Conferred Degrees at School of Medicine Commencement

St. George’s University (SGU), the pioneering medical school in Grenada, which has done much to expand access to medical education around the world, announced today that it will confer an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to two American pioneers, Ellen Ratner and James P. Pinkerton at the June 17th Commencement Ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Ellen and Jim have much in common. They share a common interest in health issues and work tirelessly to help get medical care to those in need. In addition, Ellen and Jim are Fox News Channel Contributors – on opposite sides of the political spectrum; Ellen on the political left and Jim on the political right. Indeed, for more than a decade, Ellen and Jim were paired on “Fox and Friends,” the Fox News channel’s perennial #1-rated morning news program. Their running segment was known as “The Long and Short Of It,” playing Ellen’s petite physical stature against Jim’s large frame. Despite their disagreements on many issues of policy and politics, Ellen and Jim are close personal friends who have always celebrated each other’s professional success.

ratner ellen

Ellen Ratner is a long time friend and ally to St. George’s University, having visited the campus as a prospective medical student way back in 1978. At the time Ellen had a successful career in mental health with a focus on psychiatric day treatment, and addiction and recovery and decided that, instead of medicine, she would use her MA in Education, Harvard, to focus on mental health and adult education. In 1990 she authored The Other Side of the Family, which led to her current profession as a White House Correspondent and Bureau Chief for The Talk Radio News Service and twenty years as a news analyst on Fox News Channel. She has also covered the White House, over two decades and three presidents, but her passion is making the world a better place.

It is for her continued focus on adult development and education that SGU honors her. Ellen has invested in diverse populations, beginning with co-founding an Education Center for post-Katrina survivors in DeLisle, Mississippi. More recently, she launched a non-profit, Goats for the Old Goat, aimed at helping the people in South Sudan. The charity, launched on Ellen’s 60th birthday, has donated over 5000 goats, which help sustain families in need. Thanks to her work as a WINDREF Board member she has helped to spearhead St. George’s University’s Peace Through Medicine initiative for South Sudan. St. George’s University educated a dozen pre-medical students from South Sudan, and recently launched an initiative to deliver some undergraduate and basic sciences course content to students in South Sudan. These students have no library or consistent lectures. Ellen delivered 115 e-tablets with the St. George’s University physiology course to South Sudan. The students, learning starved, were astounded that an organization would go to the trouble and expense for people they didn’t know in distressed, war-torn South Sudan.” This Cleveland Ohio native has taken the St. George’s University motto of Think Beyond one step further to Go Beyond.

pinkerton james

Jim Pinkerton is known for being a man of big ideas who has given lectures at St. George’s University. He has been a political commentator, columnist, and White House advisor since the early 1980’s. He has been a contributor to the Fox News Channel since its inception in 1996. Well known around Washington by both political parties as an innovative thinker, since 2009 he has devoted much of his time to the “Cure Strategy,” aimed at changing the way American policy makers think about disease. His Cure Strategy redirects our focus from treatment to a cure. His personal mantra is, “A cure is less expensive than care. It’s cheaper to beat than to treat.” Jim believes that America has untapped potential for greatness and should follow in the footsteps of President Franklin Roosevelt when the 32nd President called for Americans to send in their dimes to the White House to cure polio which became the famous, long-lived and resoundingly successful March of Dimes.

In addition, Jim serves as a member of the board of the Institute for Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he offers public-policy advice to the medical and scientific team at IHV led by Dr. Robert Gallo, the co-discoverer of the AIDS virus. He is also the author of What Comes Next: The End of Big Government–and the New Paradigm Ahead (Hyperion: 1995). Married to the former Elizabeth Dial, he is a graduate of Stanford University.

St. George’s University is both proud and honored to have both Ellen and Jim as friends of the school.

PR Newswire: – See more at:

Education Department Re-Approves SGU Clinical Clerkships in New York State

St. George’s University Students Approved for Clinical Training in New York State for Additional Seven Years

Thousands of St. George’s University School of Medicine graduates have completed their clinical rotations at New York hospitals on their way to their degrees and a career in medicine. This March, the New York State Board of Regents approved SGU for long-term clinical clerkships in New York for an additional seven years, assuring that University graduates will continue to make an impact on health care in the state.

“The state of New York is close to our hearts, with more than 2,000 of our graduates practicing in New York City alone,” said Charles R. Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “After two years of basic science training in Grenada, that we can continue to send our students to the state’s finest hospitals and medical centers assures that they will receive the best clinical training as well.”

St. George’s University students can currently complete their clinical core rotations at 17 hospitals in New York State, including: Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Brooklyn Hospital Center, Coney Island Hospital, Flushing Hospital and Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Kings County Hospital Center, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, Lutheran Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Montefiore Mount Vernon, Montefiore New Rochelle, New York Methodist Hospital, the Queens Hospital Network at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Richmond University Medical Center, Southside Hospital, and Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.

In addition to New York, SGU medical students may conduct clinical rotations in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington DC. In addition, rotations can be done in the UK, Canada, and Grenada.

The University’s connection with New York continues to students’ residency years. In 2015 alone, more than 275 SGU students and graduates matched with residencies in the Empire State, including in all five boroughs as well as hubs such as Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Long Island. St. George’s University and New York Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) also have created the CityDoctors HHC Scholarship Program, for which each recipient pledges to give back to the city by working as a primary care attending physician at one of HHC’s 11 New York hospitals and diagnostic centers.

Ghaemmaghami Receives Prestigious Honor 5/17/2015

Masoud Ghaemmaghami was one of two San Joaquin General Hospital internal medicine residents to have been honored by the American College of Physicians as a 2015 “Young Achiever in Medicine.”

Alumnus to Lead Ebola Diagnostic Research in Sierra Leone

Public Health England Selects Jonathan Ashcroft, MD/MSc SGU ’10, to Direct 12-Person Research Team

The fight against the Ebola virus continues in West Africa. Although the number of cases has dropped significantly since 2014, its treatment and containment remain a focal point of the World Health Organization (WHO).

jonathan ashcroft

One of St. George’s University’s own will be on the front lines of health care efforts in Sierra Leone this spring. Jonathan Ashcroft, MD/MSc SGU ’10, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Cambridge University in the UK, has been selected by Public Health England (PHE) to lead a team of 12 individuals at diagnostic research laboratories in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, just outside the country’s capital, Freetown. During the five-week stint, he and his team will obtain samples and swabs that will determine whether patients are suspected of having contracted Ebola as well as testing for malaria, the features of which resemble the early symptoms of an Ebola infection. Based on the results, at-risk patients will be referred to the area Ebola treatment center while no-risk patients will return to their community.

“The number of cases has decreased remarkably because they are doing well with increased education and containment of the virus,” Dr. Ashcroft said. “The trouble with Ebola is that as soon as you stop worrying about it, it can crop up and spread rapidly, overwhelming local health care facilities.”

In order to prepare for the trip, Dr. Ashcroft and other participating virologists entered weeklong intensive training with Public Health England featuring lectures and mock labs that ran them through the entire process of testing for Ebola. According to Dr. Ashcroft, he and his team will process samples and ship them to the WHO, which will send them out on a case-by-case basis to high containment labs throughout the world.

According to the World Health Organization’s weekly Ebola situation report from May 6 , there were 32 “confirmed, probable, and suspected” cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone in the 21 days prior to its issuance. This is a dramatic reduction from the alarming epidemic which took place throughout 2014. All together, 26,593 Ebola cases have been reported between the three most affected countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, with almost half of all cases being reported from Sierra Leone. The deadly, highly contagious virus has now claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa since its outbreak in a rural village in Liberia in December 2013. The virus is thought to have originated from a fruit bat, which are common in that area. Vaccine trials are currently being undertaken.

“A virus is something that’s so small and so simple, yet it’s able to bring down a complex organism like a human,” Dr. Ashcroft said. “Ebola can absolutely devastate developing countries, in terms of the population’s health as well as causing political and economically issues.”

Dr. Ashcroft came to St. George’s University after earning bachelor’s degrees in biology and history from Colby College in Maine. He enrolled at SGU in 2006, taking advantage of a unique dual degree opportunity, pursuing not only a Doctor of Medicine but a Master of Science in microbiology. He also utilized the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) institution located on the True Blue campus. He believes that his research experience factored heavily in being accepted to Imperial College, from where he obtained a PhD in molecular virology in 2014.

“Before I committed to doing full-time research, at SGU I was able to see that medicine and research interplay nicely,” Dr. Ashcroft said. “When I applied for my PhD program, having a research background along with my MD was a huge feather in my cap. It definitely made me a more attractive candidate.”

His career in medical research well underway, Dr. Ashcroft is excited to have the opportunity to do his part in the fight against Ebola.

“We’re going to do what we can to understand how the virus works and how to best treat and control it in the future,” he said.