The healers: Vazzana & Bogin: Docs who deal with matters of the heart

By Marjorie Hack

Dr. Thomas Vazzana, SGUSOM 1985, says he sees the deterioration of human health on a regular basis as a partner at Vazzana and Bogin Cardiology Associates in Staten Island and cardiology division director for the Staten Island Physician Practice. Fast food and a sedentary lifestyle have taken their toll on many of his patients.

How SGU Clinical Students are Making an Impact on Health Care in Brooklyn

news making impact healthcare brooklyn

St. George’s University students are well known for their philanthropic efforts in Grenada – and this doesn’t stop once they leave campus. SGU School of Medicine students Mila D’Cunha and Mathew Lopez, while on clinical rotations at Lutheran Medical Center (LMC) in New York, established the SGU Medical Student Outreach program (SGU MSO) to help address the need for basic health care and education for underrepresented citizens in Brooklyn.

Its debut event, “Go Red Day,” was held in February at LMC. The organization’s volunteers screened approximately 100 individuals; among tests performed were for vital signs, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, as well as the administration of breast exams. They also asked individuals whether they were up to date on their mammograms and colonoscopy screenings, as well as informed them how to live a healthier lifestyle through exercise and an improved diet.

“A significant number of individuals do not readily seek medical attention,” Lopez said. “Oftentimes, patients seek medical care after they have become symptomatic or developed a chronic illness. We think it’s very important to catch these individuals early because they don’t necessarily know that they have these issues.”

With the help of Dr. George T. Martin, Chair of Medicine at LMC, and marketing coordinator Kathy Johannesen, SGU MSO has spread the word about its mission. Other events have included a visit to an independent living facility to screen senior citizens, another to The International School of Brooklyn to educate children about the negative effects of obesity and benefits of a healthy lifestyle, as well as an Arab-American symposium at Bay Ridge Manor, where Dr. Salman Azhar, the director of LMC’s Stroke Center and chief of rehabilitation services, spoke on the symptoms of and ways to prevent stroke. Dr. Azhar’s presentation was actively translated in Arabic and over headphones made available to those who attend.

The organization will aim to host two events each month, and Lopez said it has set a goal of screening “at least 1,000” people this year. Two central issues on which the group educates the public are hypertension and diabetes.

“These are common chronic illnesses,” D’Cunha said. “Many people have it and there isn’t necessarily a physical sign yet they’re underlying causes for heart problems and many other conditions.”

As SGU features a faculty, staff and student body comprised of individuals from 140 countries, University medical students have learned to communicate with a diverse group of people. While on the True Blue campus, D’Cunha and Lopez had screened Grenadian citizens at health fairs through the American Medical Student Association (AMSA).

“They were a great teaching opportunity for medical students who volunteered because of all the patient interaction,” she said. “They allowed you to practice those skills and I think Mathew and I were both really prepared by the time we got to New York.”

SGU MSO has more than 40 volunteers who have committed to the program.

“We’re very happy is the interest from our fellow classmates,” D’Cunha said. “They’re very enthusiastic. It’s very nice that we can all get together and reach out to the Brooklyn community.”

St George’s University to Bring its Graduation Celebrations to Botswana for the First Time in its 35 Year History

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The Gaborone International Convention Centre will host the inaugural St. George’s University commencement ceremony in Botswana on May 21.

St George’s University, a center of international education based on the Caribbean island of Grenada, will host an inaugural commencement ceremony for its Batswana graduates and alumni on Monday, May 21 at the Gaborone International Convention Centre in Botswana. This is the first time in its 35 year history that the University has held a graduation ceremony outside the United States or Grenada.

The ceremony will celebrate the entrance into the Batswana workforce of more than two dozen Batswana St George’s University graduates of the Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Graduate Studies Program. It will also honor the University’s alumni who are currently working to deliver better healthcare in the country.

The celebration follows two agreements which were signed last month between the Government of Botswana and St George’s University, to mark the 21st anniversary of their strong and long-standing relationship.

We’re delighted to be able to celebrate the hard work of our Batswana graduates and to be able to honor our alumni here, said Dr. Charles Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. I look forward to the expanded partnership between St. George’s and the Botswana government and I am especially proud of the increased opportunities that our recent agreement will bring to the Batswana people.

In one Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the University pledged to reduce the fees by 10 per cent for students currently enrolled at the institution and by 30 percent for those who will enroll in August 2012 if there are forty students in an intake. In the second MoU St George’s University agreed to seek ways of collaborating with the University of Botswana’s medical school to extend enrollment capabilities, as well as working with the Ministries of Education and Health to help position Botswana as an educational powerhouse at a regional and international level.

“The partnership between St. George’s and the Government of Botswana has stood the test of time, said Ambassador Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, Ambassador of Botswana to the US. As we now move the relationship to new heights and congratulate the University for holding the graduation in Botswana, we call on all stakeholders to act swiftly and diligently bearing in mind that we stand to benefit more through partnerships. On behalf of the staff at the Embassy of Botswana in Washington DC, and indeed on my own behalf, we congratulate the graduates for a job well done and their families for the support that they continued to give them to date. To the graduates, let us all remember we are where we are because we have been given an opportunity that others can only dream of. So let us give back to the country and appreciate the opportunity we received by humble service. Well done to our graduates.”

The signings took place at a media conference held in Gaborone on Monday 12 March, following a week-long exploratory mission from Washington led by Ambassador Tebelelo Seretse, who has spearheaded the country’s mission to become an educational and medical hub, with the full support of the Ministers of Health and Education in Botswana, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana.

St. George’s University draws its students and faculty from 140 countries to the island of Grenada, in the West Indies. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University’s over 11,000 graduates have taken the school’s philosophy of global education and applied their training as doctors, veterinarians, scientists, and public and business professionals across the world.. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities. For more information, visit

South Korean Team of Maritime Specialists Visits St. George’s University

news korean windrefOn April 12 at the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) Institute, a team of South Korean scientists from the Korean Maritime Institute met with faculty from the St. George’s University Schools of Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine to discuss the potential for collaborative projects to help develop a national policy for the integrated management of coastal zones, in partnership with the Government of Grenada.

This visit sought to explore potential research synergies, and promises the exchange of expertise, as well as the opportunity for four persons to travel to South Korea in June 2012 to see the operations of similar projects developed.

According to Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of Research at SGU, “This collaborative project has the potential to involve our students and faculty from all Schools at St. George’s University in a range of research activities.” The project will include marine investigations into coastal elevation, water quality and physical oceanography.

It was the third visit by the South Korean experts, following a signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Grenadian and Korean Governments on the team’s second visit in December 2011. The research project, titled “Research on the South and Southeast Coast of Grenada,” will span from Telescope in St. Andrew to Point Salines, St. George.

The yearlong project is budgeted at $500,000 and is funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

Reid, SGUSOM ’02, Named to Faculty at Loyola University Chicago

Infection Control Today

Dr. Gail Reid, a 2002 graduate of the St. George’s University School of Medicine, has been named an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago. She will have a role within the Stritch School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, as well as a clinical role at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, IL.

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St. George’s University Appoints Fred M. Jacobs, MD, JD, Chair of the Department of Medicine

news jacobs chair somFred M. Jacobs, MD, JD, has been appointed by St. George’s University to the Chair of the Department of Medicine. Having formerly served as a member of the University Board of Trustees and as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at St. George’s, Dr. Jacobs returns to St. George’s to build on the University’s unique clinical training program.

“When you are training students over eight time zones, not just two or three zip codes like many other universities, the evenness at which a program is administered is critical to its success,” remarked Dr. Jacobs when asked about his goals in the upcoming year. “Therefore, ensuring St. George’s presents a comprehensive medical curriculum at our affiliate sites is instrumental to the continued success of our students.” The St. George’s University approach to clinical education provides students with the opportunity to learn medicine in some of the best and best-known hospitals in the US, UK, and Canada.

Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean of the School of Medicine, looks forward to the experience Dr. Jacobs will bring to his new position. “We welcome Dr. Jacobs back to St. George’s University,” Dr. Weitzman said. “We’re looking forward to drawing upon his expertise and commitment.  I’m confident that his efforts will serve to improve the clinical training program and the already impressive performance of our students.”

Although a critical component of measuring program success, Dr. Jacobs is looking not just to student performance markers, but at ways to help clinical faculty more effectively impart their knowledge to medical students. “Licensure represents a public trust – a trust that physicians will maintain all competencies they had when their training was complete,” said Dr. Jacobs. “Keeping that public trust by recruiting the best clinical faculty – and helping our best clinicians become more effective teachers – is at the core of what we do at St. George’s.”

Among Dr. Jacobs many plans for the clinical program includes designating more time for small group discussion. “Medicine moves very fast, and it is no longer enough to just see a lot during a clinical program, cautions Dr. Jacobs. “We need to teach students to think like doctors and give them time to for intellectual growth.”

In addition to his role as Chair of the Department of Medicine, Fred M. Jacobs, MD, JD, is University Executive Vice President and has held many faculty positions, including Clinical Professor of Medicine at St. George’s University School of Medicine where he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees. In 1990, Dr. Jacobs graduated from Rutgers University School of Law in Newark and is admitted to the Bars of New Jersey and Florida. Prior to returning to St. George’s, Dr. Jacobs held the position of Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services under Governors Dick Codey and John Corzine and was President of the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners from 1993-1995.

Dr. Jacobs earned his three degrees at Colgate University, the University of Miami School of Medicine, and Rutgers University School of Law. He trained in internal medicine at Maimonides Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and completed a pulmonary research fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and a chief residency in pulmonary disease at Kings County Hospital Center in New York. He is board certified in both internal medicine and pulmonary disease. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the American College of Legal Medicine.

SGU Med Students Take Urban Children Under Their Wing

news med students urban children under wingSince its founding in 2009, Urban Humanitarian Projects (UHP), a New York-based non-profit organization comprised of St. George’s University medical students, has concentrated its activities on serving underprivileged children in New York City.  Its latest venture, the Urban GURUS Project, was formed to combat high dropout rates in the city’s public high schools by introducing students from Park Slope Collegiate High School in Brooklyn to college and career opportunities.

It began with the wildly successful Urban Santa Project which delivered gifts to more than 1,000 underserved children in New York City on Christmas morning.  GURUS, which stand for “Guidance, Unity and Resources for Urban Success,” followed it up by hosting a Build-a-PC workshop on Saturday, January 7.

Twenty-eight computers were donated by for the Build-a-PC event, during which mentors and mentees worked to construct a computer from scratch. Upon its completion, mentees were allowed to keep the computers they helped build.

“We wanted to make sure that it was a challenge,” UHP founder Santhosh Cherian said. “Working together to solve a problem or puzzle builds a stronger bond and we’re hoping this bond extends beyond this single event.”

Maria Lagopoulos and Irem Kaplan coordinated the GURUS Project which will run through this academic year and resume in September with another class of students. GURUS works in conjunction with high schools and the New York City Department of Education.

According to reports from BoostUp, a national high school dropout prevention campaign, 32 percent of high school students in New York State either drop out or do not graduate in four years. At the root of the GURUS Project’s mission is the belief that two central facets form the foundation for educational success: guidance and resources.

“Not only is education important, but with access to technology, students have unlimited potential,” Cherian said. “It’s not that we’re trying to promote college necessarily. When they graduate from high school we just want them to have considered that as an option or, if they want to open their own business, to have the resources available to do that.”

Cherian, a third-year medical student who is rotating at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, started UHP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in 2009 while on the University’s True Blue campus in Grenada. The first GURUS meeting took place this past December when mentors and mentees spent three hours wrapping gifts in preparation for Urban Santa.

Of the 19 mentors, all of which are based in New York and New Jersey, 16 are third- and fourth-year SGU students. GURUS plans to host group meetings monthly, and mentors and mentees are committed to getting together at least twice a month for activities of their choice.

St. George’s Chancellor Charles R. Modica, who advocated for the inclusion of high school students as part of the organization’s initiative, donated $6,000 to launch the program.

Stephen Scarantino, MD ’91, Acknowledged by The Global Directory of Who’s Who

Stephen E. Scarantino, MD ’91, who practices obstetrics and gynecology at The Women’s Health Pavilion in Westbury, New York, has been recognized by The Global Directory of Who’s Who. The annual publication acknowledges professional men and women for their outstanding achievements and leadership within their industries. In addition to his practice, Dr. Scarantino is a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead, New York.

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Medical Students Kick-off New HS Mentorship Program by Teaching Mentees

On Saturday, January 7, Urban Humanitarian Projects (UHP), a nonprofit organization comprised of St. George’s University medical students, will host a Build-a-PC workshop during which high school students in Greater New York City will be instructed how to assemble a desktop computer from scratch.

The workshop will be held at Park Slope Collegiate High School in Brooklyn, New York. In conjunction with, the workshop’s sponsor, UHP will supply the high school with five high-end computer systems that students can use year round.

“We want each of mentee to develop a deep appreciation for computers because a tech-savvy student in today’s society has a world of resources at their fingertips,” said Santhosh Cherian, Executive Director of UHP. “Mastery of computers and the internet will allow our mentees to find and open new doors for themselves.”

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Pt. Loma doctor named team physician for hungry U.S.A. rugby sevens squad

By Scott Hopkin

Dr. Joseph Allen, SGUSOM ’99, will serve as USA Rugby’s team doctor during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ’16 Games will mark the first time that rugby is an Olympic event for nearly a century (1924, Paris)

The U.S. Olympic Committee screened and certified Dr. Allen, who is a partner at Point Loma Family Practice and Sports Medicine in San Diego, California. Dr. Allen then flew to Australia for the first stop on the HSBC Sevens World Series tour, which makes six stops in four continents between February and May of 2012.

Dr. Allen is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in both family medicine and sports medicine. In addition to his practice, he is the team physician for the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club Rugby team, one of the premier rugby clubs in San Diego……