Joseph Feldman, MD SGU ’89, Chairman of Emergency Services at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, says his team is prepared to treat patients afflicted with infectious diseases, including Ebola.
Dr. Verma has been appointed the medical director of the new sleep center at OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, IL. She completed her residency at the University of Illinois College of Medicine before doing a sleep medicine and pulmonary/critical care fellowship at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Students from 36 countries were inducted into the profession of medicine at St. George’s University School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony on August 29, while many family members watched with pride and joy.
The theme of the evening was framed by the keynote speaker, Susan Cohen, MD, Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program at Bellevue Hospital in New York who used the symbolic white coat itself as treasure trove of metaphors for a well-lived professional life. The white coat has many pockets in which practicing doctors keep essential items. She urged the incoming medical students to also keep in their pockets the essential qualities of a good physician – intellectual curiosity, humility, determination and empathy.
“Be sure that even if your white coat covers your heart, it does not close your heart to the experience of your patients,” she said. “Sometimes you will need to think outside the box and get creative. When you are challenged about what to do, dig deep into your white coat pockets and you will find the way.”
The master of ceremonies for the evening, Dr. Jonathan Ashcroft, MD SGU ’08 vividly remembers his own White Coat Ceremony at SGU exactly eight years ago. He shared an enlightening experience in his medical career where a patient’s hospitalization following an accident led to the fortuitous early detection and successful treatment of a rare and potentially lethal cancer.
“Chance favors the prepared mind. The education you receive at SGU will prepare your mind,” he said. “Take advantage of all the opportunities open to you here. Challenge yourself, learn from each other, and enjoy your journey. The best is yet to come.”
Chancellor Modica urged the incoming students to take advantage of the enormous opportunity they had. “I want you to realize and cherish the fact that you will be working, living, and studying with people from all countries, faiths, and backgrounds,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “You will become a family and you will leave here with so much more than your degree. You will leave here with a greater respect and understanding of the people of the world.”
Three alumni – Charter Class graduate Paul Verona, MD SGU ’81; Joe Behymer, MD SGU ’87; and Michele Belding, MD SGU ‘82 – each had children following in their footsteps and continuing their SGU legacy. As alumni, they each had the special honor of robing their children on stage at the ceremony. In addition, the White Coat Ceremonies punctuated the first full day of activities of the University’s bi-annual Beyond Spice Family Weekend, enabling students and family members to soak up nature and culture in Grenada prior to students’ first steps into the medical profession.
The students entering the MD program in Grenada form the majority of a class which includes SGU students who began their journey in medical education at Northumbria University, UK as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program on August 15. After one year, these students will join their peers in Grenada for the completion of their basic sciences curriculum.
News 8 WROC Rochester brought in Mila D’Cunha, MD SGU ’13, as an expert on childhood obesity.
The international experience at St. George’s University just got a boost with an agreement with the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in Karad, India, that allows SGU basic sciences students to complete a two-week selective at KIMS where students will gain exposure to a variety of medical specialties and to the practice of medicine in an alternate medical system. The partnership also encourages mutual visits from faculty and students and joint research activities.
The KIMS experiences joins more than 40 selective courses offered in the basic sciences, including in Grenada and the Caribbean region, as well as Kenya, Sweden, India, Thailand, and the Czech Republic.
“When students apply for residency programs outside of the US, it is a plus to demonstrate international experience,” said Dr. Shivayogi Bhusnurmath, Dean of Academic Affairs and Chair of SGU’s Department of Pathology. “It improves their candidacy and compares favorably to those getting experience only in the US.”
St. George’s University students are eligible to complete two-week selectives in medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, pediatrics, radiology, radiotherapy, intensive care, alternative medicine, and casualty at KIMS an institution that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Ariel Breitbart and Terra Wilkins, both first-year students in SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, returned from the Krishna selective in the winter and spoke highly of the experience.
“This experience is one that will change the perspective of all medical students,” Ms. Breitbart said. “In addition to the medical experience in the hospital our eyes were opened to culture that we never would have experienced otherwise. ”
“This selective gives you everything it advertises and so much more,” added Ms. Wilkins. “My hope is that more students utilize this opportunity for what it is, a selective that provides truly remarkable insight into the astounding profession we’ve chosen, the colleagues we share it with, and for many of us our first real taste of medicine.”
In addition to the two-week selectives, as of July 2014, SGU students can complete a one-month tropical medicine elective at KIMS. It will include didactic lectures by clinicians related to patient management, examination of patients with tropical diseases, and hands-on experience with labs that support diagnosis of these diseases. As international students comprise approximately 30 percent of SGU’s student body, in many cases they return to their home countries to practice medicine upon earning their MDs. In the tropical medicine selective, students can not only learn about patients suffering from malaria, leptospirosis, or even a snake bite in lecture is one thing, but visit with them in a clinical setting.
The selectives further bolster St. George’s University’s pipeline with KIMS. In February 2013, the University established a one-month elective at the institution, the first such opportunity available in India for SGU’s fourth-year students. The experiences in India are just one aspect of SGU’s mission to provide students with the opportunity to learn from an international faculty and gain hands-on medical training in a variety of settings, thus affording them a unique global perspective as they continue their careers.
Graduates from 36 Countries Receive MD Degree
St. George’s University’s Class of 2014 rejoiced as they were recognized at their commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 14 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Doctor of Medicine degrees were conferred on over 900 graduates representing 36 countries, joining the over 12,000 MD graduates who have been licensed to practice medicine in all 50 US and in over 50 countries around the world, including Canada, the UK, and Grenada.
St. George’s University also bestowed Medals of Merit on Dr. Rebecca Smith, SGUSOM ’94 and Dr. Elizabeth Louie, SGUSOM ’90 in recognition of their dedication and service to the University community. Both have been actively involved as alumni since their graduation and serve as visiting professors in SGU’s Bioethics Department every term. Dr. Louie has also been instrumental in raising awareness of autism in Grenada, holding the first autism conference which led to the start of an ongoing autism project.
“Even after 12,000 graduates, this never gets old; it only gets more important,” said. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “Congratulations on reaching this memorable milestone. During your time with us, you have persevered and overcome numerous challenges, and in so doing have distinguished yourselves as being worthy of entering the noble profession of medicine.”
During the ceremony, the University honored Dr. Robert Veatch with the Distinguished Service Award for his years of service, having served as a visiting professor at St. George’s for the 25 years. Dr. Veatch is Professor of Medical Ethics and the former Director of the Kennedy Institue of Ethics at Georgetown University. He holds an appointment as Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Georgetown Medical Center.
Families and friends came from near and far to be with their loved ones on this gorgeous day – from New Jersey to Nigeria, from Florida to Japan. Graduates hugged families and one another as they got ready to disperse across the country and the world for the next phase of their dream.
Boasting a strong background in vascular and endovascular surgery, Richard Di Fiore, MD SGU ’01, joined the team at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, NJ.
When a friend from her monthlong trip to Southeast Asia fell from double-decker taxi, suffering a skull fracture, internal bleeding, and five broken ribs, Dianna Sholomon, MD SGU ’14, and her boyfriend sprung into action.
Recently St. George’s University’s Director of Research was named to be part of a team created to strengthen and reorient the region’s public health research agenda through the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Calum NL Macpherson, public health researcher and parasitologist, was named to serve on its Research Advisory Board, a group specifically created to oversee CARPHA’s research mission, review grants awarded by CARPHA, review abstracts and papers for the annual research conference and to help mentor young public health research scientists in the region.
CARPHA will hold its annual conference in Grenada in April 2015 through its local hosts, the Ministry of Health, and the assistance of SGU. The annual conference is preceded by a meeting of all the Chief Medical Officers from throughout the region, so the conference, which was last held in Grenada in 2004, brings together policy makers and public health experts from across the region.
“I am honored by and appreciative of the opportunity to help with the public health research agenda to address the issues facing the region,” Dr. Macpherson said. “Of the three public health priorities listed in the report by the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development, remarkable advances have been achieved against HIV/AIDS and the focus on the non-communicable diseases and obesity must be maintained whereas more research is required on the health and economic burden caused by violence and injuries. The coordination by CARPHA will harness the regional knowledge and resources in an effort to attenuate the numerous existing and potential public health threats.”
Established in 2011, CARPHA combines the functions of the Caribbean’s five Regional Health Institutes – the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI), the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), the Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), and the Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL). Headed by Dr. C. James Hospedales, the Chief of Non-Communicable Diseases at Pan-American/World Health Network, CARPHA examines and addresses the breadth of public health issues in the region.
In addition to being the Director of SGU’s affiliated Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), Dr. Macpherson is the University’s Vice Provost for International Program Development. In his time, SGU has become a national and regional leader in public health education and research. In 2013, SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM), led by Dr. Omur Cinar Elci, MD, PHD, FRSPH, was named a World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Collaborating Center for Occupational and Environmental Health. Later in the year, WINDREF and the DPHPM were selected by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a Caribbean Regional Collaboration Center, only the third such center in the world. A grant from the Canadian International Development Research Center on the obesogenic environment was recently awarded to the DPHPM and WINDREF, and earlier this year, Dr. Cheryl Cox Macpherson, chair of the Department of Bioethics, and collaborators received a 1.1 million USD grant from the NIH to strengthen the regional capacity in Bioethics.
“These developments provide dynamic and exciting opportunities for partnering with other public health professionals in the region and beyond on some of the major issues, such as obesity, climate change and ethics,” Dr. Macpherson said.
CARPHA’s Deputy Director is Dr Donald T. Simeon (Research Training and Policy Development) and other directors include Dr. Babatunde Olowokure (Surveillance, Disease Prevention, and Control), and Mr. Jenner Caprice (Corporate Services). The headquarters are based in Port of Spain in Trinidad.
$1.1M Grant From Fogarty International Center to Enhance Research Ethics in Region
Dr. Cheryl Cox-Macpherson, Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation Senior Research Fellow, and Chair, SGU Bioethics Department, together with colleagues Dr. Sean Philpott of Union Graduate College in the United States and Dr. Robert Hall of Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Mexico, have been awarded a $1.1 million USD grant from the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, to increase research ethics capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Cox-Macpherson has been selected to lead the “Caribbean Research Ethics Education Initiative (CREEi)”, a five-year initiative designed to increase the limited number of professionals trained in research ethics and research ethics education in the Caribbean basin. The program will develop and sustain a Caribbean cadre of graduate level teachers of research ethics; a Caribbean research ethics network; an English-speaking center of excellence in research ethics at SGU, and a Spanish-speaking center of excellence at UAQ. These centers of excellence will house related resources, technology, and expertise for use by program faculty, trainees, alumni, and others. Through relationships with national and international organizations, governments, and professional societies, the Program Directors will recruit promising candidates from the Caribbean. Those selected will become part of a ‘train the trainer’ process to ensure sustainability of the program.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for capacity building for research ethics in the region, and for being part of the partnerships and networks that emerge during the process,” Dr. Cox-Macpherson said. “Expertise in this topic is vital to protecting health in today’s world, and is also evidence of the ability to think rationally and objectively about other issues affecting Caribbean health and wellbeing.”
The recent growth in the number of clinical trials and other human subject research studies being conducted in the low- and middle-income countries that border the Caribbean basin illustrates the need to continue developing research ethics capacity and infrastructure.
“Failing to do so puts the 260 million residents of the region at risk, as their safety and rights as research subjects are likely to be compromised unless there is a robust system of regulatory review and oversight,” said Dr. Philpott.
Unfortunately, there are currently only a handful of regional programs that provide investigators, ethics committee members, and other stakeholders with the necessary training in bioethics and research ethics. Through this initiative, the three institutions will work together to train and support a cadre of fellows from the region to function independently or collectively as research ethicists, bioethics educators, and policy advocates.
The program will be managed by Dr. Philpott, while Dr. Hall will head up training for Caribbean Spanish-speaking trainees and Dr. Cox Macpherson for the Caribbean English-speaking trainees. The program is crafted to run sequentially, training students from a less to a more complex curriculum, which allows them to progress in their capabilities through distance learning and on-site modules that allow for maximum contact with minimum cost. Eventually, the initiative will become self-sustaining by transferring the training responsibilities to local institutions and faculty members.
This program is a natural evolution for WINDREF, which established one of the first Institutional Review Boards (IRB) in the region 20 years ago. In response to a rapid increase in research activity, St. George’s University took over the responsibility of the WINDREF IRB in 2002. It remains the only IRB in the region that is registered with the Office of Human Research Protections at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The timing for a regional ethics initiative is ideal, as WINDREF has recently engaged in discussions about setting up a region-wide IRB with the Director of Research Training and Policy Development at the Caribbean Public Health Agency, Dr. Donald Simeon. Through these initiatives, we look forward to working with our partners to take the next step in promoting research in the Caribbean basin.