St. George’s University Establishes Peace Through Medicine Scholarship Program

South Sudanese Medical Students Escape War-Torn Country to Begin Medical Course at St. George’s University, Grenada

NAIROBI, KENYA (January 10, 2014) – An exciting collaborative program will allow 11 students from the South Sudan to study medicine at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies. St. George’s University is offering free tuition, housing, and a special program to prepare the students for the study of medicine. The Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) will support the students living expenses for the duration and the government of Northern Bahr el Ghazal is helping the students families while they are studying.

These 11 students were carefully chosen for their academic achievement under extreme adversity and their commitment to return to their home country upon graduation to help build its medical infrastructure.

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We are so happy to be able to offer this scholarship and to work with WINDREF and the government of Northern Bahr el Ghazal to ensure the students are able to take advantage of this opportunity, especially at this time, said St. George’s University Chancellor Charles R. Modica. St. George’s has a long history of commitment to public health and I see no better way to expand that mission than by educating and preparing students from conflict-affected countries to become MDs who can then return to rebuild the health infrastructure of their countries.

The outbreak of hostilities threatened student participation in the program in mid-December, but all students have now reached Nairobi and are on their way to Grenada. The inaugural group is comprised of students from both the Dinka and Nuer communities, and all students are grateful to be able to continue on their path to become a physician. Among them is one student from Jonglei State who was delayed by three weeks and forced to shelter in the UN compound in Juba before being able to leave. Despite losing all his possessions, he shares his fellow students enthusiasm for the start of their studies.

The scholarship had been in the planning stages with officials at St. George’s University, WINDREF, and Minister Tong Deng Anei, Minister of Health for South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state since late last year and was brought to fruition just days before fighting broke out.

Gift from the heart: Couple journeys from Grenada to Decatur for cardiac implant

Jason Finkelstein, MD SGU ’96, and the medical staff at Wise Regional Health System helped breathe new life into one Grenadian through performing a heart procedure free of charge.

SGU Student Takes First Place in American College of Physicians Competition

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A research poster on medical overuse to treat headaches assembled by St. George’s University clinical student Tanvir Kahlon took first prize in the medical student category at the 2013 American College of Physicians (ACP) Michigan Chapter Scientific Meeting, held at Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire, MI, in October.

“Those on the judging team are all in academia, and for them to recognize my work as something important to the medical field is a great feeling,” said Ms. Kahlon, who is currently rotating at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. “This topic may have resonated with the judges because it’s a widely applicable case that is overlooked so frequently. It’s important to address because patients with chronic pain are often disregarded as drug-seeking patients.”

Her presentation, “Considering Medical Overuse Headache with an Underlying Etiology of Headache,” was selected from hundreds of abstracts submitted for the meeting. It stemmed from the treatment of a female patient at St. John in 2012, Ms. Kahlon’s first clinical year. The patient was in her 30s and experiencing chronic headaches, a predicament that had been addressed both medically and surgically with the insertion of a shunt to drain spinal fluid. Despite continued medical intervention, the headaches persisted. Ms. Kahlon met with the patient and learned that she had been taking analgesics too frequently and a long-acting opiate only intermittently. When her pain medication prescription was lessened and taken correctly, the headaches subsided.

“She responded very well,” Ms. Kahlon said. “All she needed was supportive care and for someone to talk to her about pain management and the side effects of pain medicine.”

Ms. Kahlon was born and raised in India before she and her family moved to Michigan when she was 13. At the University of Michigan, she earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science, but medicine didn’t enter the picture until she began taking care of her ill grandmother.

“My grandparents contributed a lot to my life and my education, and through taking care of her, I wanted to pursue medicine and I began looking for where I could pursue that dream,” she said. “SGU was the perfect option.”

Ms. Kahlon took advantage of the wealth of international opportunities at SGU, completing selectives in Kenya and India, and attending conferences in Canada, Denmark, and India as a member of SGU’s International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFSMA) chapter. Ms. Kahlon credits the IFSMA experiences with helping her gain confidence when presenting to large audiences, confidence she drew on when speaking at the ACP conference.

Now in her final year, she looks forward to starting an internal medicine residency in the Midwest upon graduating next June.

“It has been a great experience,” Ms. Kahlon said. “SGU has prepared me not only from a knowledge standpoint but in helping me become a well-rounded person and clinician.”

Alumni Mentor Scholarships Open Door for Med/Vet Students to Attain SGU Education

They used St. George’s University as a springboard to their own success, and in August 2013, four graduates helped pave the way for select MD entering students to achieve their own goals through the University’s Alumni Mentor Scholarship Program.

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The first class of students to receive Alumni Mentor Scholarships, all nominated by SGU graduates, took its first step toward becoming doctors at August’s White Coat Ceremonies. As recipients, they had demonstrated the commitment and dedication necessary to achieve academic success, as well as the passion and drive to become physicians.

“In these students, our graduates see the same qualities that have made them successful in their own medical careers,” St. George’s University Chancellor Charles R. Modica said. “We look forward to equipping these highly promising individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive as future doctors.”

Among the Fall 2013 recipients was Moeed Chohan, who worked alongside his mentor, Dr. Omair Chaudhary, MD SGU ’11, in the Department of Emergency Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Thanks to a partial-tuition scholarship, Mr. Chohan can gain a strong medical education at SGU at a lower cost.

“I was overjoyed and very thankful to receive such a scholarship out of all the qualified applicants,” said Mr. Chohan. “To use a metaphor, it’s like the passing of a torch, as if by receiving this scholarship, I have to live up to my mentor’s name.

“This scholarship also goes to show how much SGU values the opinions of its graduates,” he added. “I appreciate the generous ‘gift’ by SGU towards my education and I owe it to SGU to give back to such an exceptional medical school both through my practice of medicine in the near future and throughout my time here at SGU.”

First-term MD student Martik Tahmasian was nominated by Fred Berlin, MD SGU ’07, a vascular and interventional radiologist at Imaging Subspecialists of North Jersey.

“Financially, the scholarship helps alleviate some pressure, and academically, it pushes me to step up my studies to an even higher level,” Mr. Tahmasian said. “The education I receive at SGU will be the foundation for my career, for which I hope to practice medicine not only in the US, but around the world.”

If you would like to nominate a promising medical student for an Alumni Mentor Scholarship, visit

Eight-Week Course Focuses on Changing World of Global Medicine

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St. George’s University will offer its first massive online open course (MOOC) on Monday, November 4, with an introductory One Health One Medicine course designed to introduce students to this exciting developing field. The course is free and open to the public.

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, will lead the eight-week online course, which was designed by Jonathan Modica of Nutmeg Education. Its focus is One Health One Medicine, a concept that is changing the way we perceive and tackle the world’s health problems.

“With 75 percent of all human infections derived from animal origin, there is a critical need to integrate the common problems for human and animal health to determine common solutions,” Dr. Bidaisee said.

Divided into seven sections, this course highlights One Health One Medicine in a variety of topics, including emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, food safety, environmental health, and international health.

SGU is a leader in promoting Once Health One Medicine, so it’s appropriate that it provides one of the first master’s level public health MOOC courses on the concept. Students enrolled in this course can expect to spend about two hours working toward completing each section, including case studies, discussion topics and assignments.

“A MOOC by nature is designed to make available educational opportunities to the large number of students, and with medicine, veterinary medicine and public health being the interests of large numbers of students around the world, there is a direct need that MOOCs can address,” Dr. Bidaisee said. “SGU’s One Health One Medicine course integrates medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health for students from around the world to identify and apply its concepts globally.”

Advanced courses will soon be developed to build on students’ knowledge and application of the concept of one health one medicine in their respective fields of health care. In addition, the introductory course will be offered again this spring.

To register for the One Health One Medicine course, visit

Ad Campaign Highlights St. George’s University’s Impact on Our Health Care

Doctors don’t often bear their team colors, and thus the extent of St. George’s University’s contributions to health care worldwide might not be evident. The truth is, however, that many people have been treated by, or are in some way connected to, an SGU MD graduate.
That notion is at the core of the University’s new campaign, “Chances Are,” which launched in Fall 2013.

“St. George’s University graduates are practicing in all 50 states and in over 50 countries of the world,” said Margaret A. Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning at SGU. “We couldn’t be more proud of what our graduates have gone on to accomplish, whether it be in an emergency room, clinic, medical school classroom, or your child’s pediatric office.”

Since its establishment in 1976, St. George’s University has graduated more than 11,000 physicians. In the US alone, it has placed more doctors into the health care system that two-thirds of US medical schools according to an American Medical Association source in 2010. SGU alumni’s impact is felt from New Zealand to New York, from Lebanon to the UK.

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To develop the campaign, the University worked closely with its longtime marketing partner, The Halo Group, whose clients have also included Marsh & McLennan, Hess Express and Liebherr.  “SGU’s impact on global health care is undeniable, and the ‘Chances Are’ campaign brings that fact to the surface,” added Denise Goodwin Pace, co-founder of The Halo Group.

Chances are, too, that you’ve seen the campaign, which has appeared in such publications as The Princeton Review, The New York Times, and The New Physician magazine, and online on sites like and In addition, “Chances Are” has also been featured nationwide on ABC television affiliates and a wide range of radio stations throughout the fall.

In addition, the ads will be featured on mobile billboards in most US and Canadian info session markets, as well as on posters throughout college campuses.

To see where else SGU alumni have gone on to practice, visit the SGU website.

Interoperability: The Reality

In a guest column for Healthcare Technology Online, SGU graduate Linda Girgis, MD SGU ’94, writes about how health care providers are slowing the advancement of technology in the medical field.

St. George’s Partnership Opens Door for Franklin Pierce Alum to Pursue MD

Craig Weeks is turning his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor into reality through a partnership between his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University, and St. George’s University.

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Since September 2011, Franklin Pierce students have had the opportunity to enroll in a program that enables them to pursue a career in medicine at SGU upon successful completion of their undergraduate premedical program at Franklin Pierce. The agreement is one of nearly 20 international affiliations with undergraduate institutions leading to a pathway to either the SGU School of Medicine or School of Veterinary Medicine.

Mr. Weeks, who obtained his Bachelor of Science in biology from FPU in 2006, was one of the first FPU graduates to continue his medical career at SGU. Now a fourth-year MD student doing his clinical rotations at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, Mr. Weeks, is a strong advocate for the affiliation, and even delivered a presentation on it to science students at Franklin Pierce last spring. He believes that he has been very well prepared for this phase of his medical education by SGU and FPU.

“Franklin Pierce teaches students to think rather than memorize and regurgitate, and at SGU, you do a lot of self-guided learning,” Mr. Weeks said. “This really prepares you for clinical rotations and your career in medicine. I’ve always been fascinated by science and medicine. The field constantly evolves and advances and there are always new things to learn.”

Coming into SGU, Mr. Weeks optimized his international experience by joining the University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), in which SGU students spend their first year of the MD program at Northumbria University in the UK.

“It is great to be exposed to so much diversity,” he said. “You learn about communicating with people from different cultures, as well as relevant health care issues in your classmates’ home countries.”

Over 80 Global Scholars Celebrate White Coat Ceremony in UK as St. George’s University Ushers in New Class of Medical Students

On the first step of their path to becoming an MD, 782 incoming students took part in the St. George’s University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, with 86 Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars taking part in the ceremony at Northumbria University, Newcastle on August 15, 2013. Baroness (Ros) Howells of St Davids, the only Grenadian in the House of Lords, was guest of honor at the ceremony.

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Addressing the new intake, Baroness Howells said she envied the students for “the wonderful years you will spend in Grenada, not least after your experience in this modern and progressive city of Newcastle – and at such an outstanding university as Northumbria.”

She congratulated them on having “chosen a great and noble profession.”

Baroness Howells is a trustee of St George’s University’s UK Trust and serves on the board of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the research institute situated on St George’s University’s True Blue campus.

At the ceremony, Kenya’s Joyce Mbogo – a former St George’s scholar and now paediatric endocrinology lecturer at Nairobi’s Aga Khan University Hospital – introduced keynote speaker Leslie Hamilton, consultant cardiac surgeon with the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle; and Ian Postlethwaite, Northumbria’s Deputy Vice Chancellor.

After the students had been robed with their symbolic white coats, Dr. Mbogo led the students in stating their professional commitment to work alongside colleagues and professors “with tolerance, compassion and honesty.”

About the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program.
The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) provides students accepted to St. George’s University School of Medicine the unique opportunity to spend their first year of Basic Medical Sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, followed by study in Grenada and clinical rotations in the United States, United Kingdom, and Grenada. Students follow the same curriculum as Grenada and are taught by SGU faculty while in the United Kingdom. The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) provides an opportunity for medical students to students to take their first year of basic sciences at Northumbria before moving to St George’s University, Grenada, to complete their preclinical training.

St. George’s University Ushers in Class of 782 Medical Students

In their official welcome to the medical profession, 782 incoming students took part in the St. George’s University School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony, taking their first step toward becoming doctors. The True Blue Campus in Grenada welcomed 696 students while 86 Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars took part in the White Coat Ceremony at Northumbria, UK.

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Dr. Fred Jacobs, St. George’s University’s executive vice president and chair of its Department of Medicine, as keynote speaker at the Grenada ceremony, shared some experiences from his early years in the profession which had taught him significant lessons. “Always, the inspiration that comes from your patients will be the greatest lesson,” he said. “They will guide you in your path towards realizing your dream of becoming a doctor in the greatest sense.“

Dr. Jacobs recalled the ”magical moment” when he first knew he was a doctor, going from being scared and uncertain about facing his first patient to realizing he had the necessary training and knowledge. He also recalled learning that all patients had a right to the truth about their diagnosis and a right to share in decision making, and learning the importance of the relationship between a patient and doctor.

“The doctor-patient relationship is not based on knowledge or authority,” he said. “It is based on trust and human connection. It is the expression of humanism in medicine.”

Kara Schnarr, MD SGU ’11, master of ceremonies for the evening, told of her hopes and fears as a student, her love for Grenada, the UK and the US and her development into a global doctor because of her experiences at SGU. She encouraged the students to truly experience Grenada and its culture, to make friends and build a medical school family, and to persevere in their studies.

“The main difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back out there,” she said. “The road ahead of you is a challenging yet exciting one.”

The students were also welcomed and congratulated by Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University and Dr. the Right Honorable Keith C. Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada.

This year, the School of Medicine introduced its Alumni Mentor Scholarship Program recipients, who are nominated by graduates of the School of Medicine based on their academic excellence and commitment to the medical profession. Also, of the parents on hand to watch the ceremony, seven had participated in this very ceremony at SGU as first-year students some years before.

The alumni whose children are continuing their legacy at SGU had the unique opportunity to robe them in their white coats.

The Fall 2013 White Coat Ceremony in Grenada marked the 20-year anniversary, to the day, of the first-ever White Coat Ceremony, held on August 20, 1993, at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, as arranged by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. SGU held its first White Coat Ceremony, which emphasizes the importance of compassionate medical care, in 1996.