St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine Reports First Successful Isolation of “Pigeon Pox Virus” in Grenada

After many laborious months of research, the SGUSVM Department of Paraclinical Studies confirmed that a poxvirus of the genus Avipoxvirus of the Poxviridae family has been isolated from a naturally infected pigeon.  Avian pox viruses infect both domestic and wild birds.  They do not produce productive infection in humans and other mammalian species.  This study is significant, reporting the first successful isolation of a poxvirus from a pigeon in Grenada.

On February 6, 2007 a female domestic pigeon was submitted to the Diagnostic Laboratory at SGU by a client who requested that it be necropsied and diagnosed.  The pigeon was found alive in the backyard of the client, apparently ill and unable to fly.  It was euthanized and a complete necropsy was performed.

SGUSVM student from Dr. Tripathy's research class candling the egg after the inoculation of virus suspected material

SGUSVM student from Dr. Tripathy’s research class candling the egg after the inoculation of virus suspected material

Gross lesions consisting of mild to severe raised crusts were seen on the comb, eyelids and bill.  Virus isolation was done by a standard technique involving the inoculation into the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of chicken embryos with the putative virus in the cutaneous lesions, because the CAM of developing chicken embryos is one of the sensitive hosts for avian poxvirus isolation. Although the use of embryos from a specific pathogen free (SPF) flock is recommended, in the absence of SPF eggs in Grenada, eggs from a local hatchery (ALS Hatchery in St. George’s, Grenada) were used. This hatchery obtained the fertile eggs from CWT Farms, Gainesville, Georgia, US.  Although information on the specific pathogen free status of these eggs is not available, it is interesting to note that all the embryos were susceptible to the virus that resulted in the development of lesions.

This study provides the first evidence of the avian poxviruses in the bird population in Grenada. In September 2003, a poxvirus infection in a canary, based on gross and microscopic lesions, was observed in Grenada, but virus isolation was not attempted.

Upon completion of the report, public service announcements were arranged to inform the Grenadian community of the presence of the “Pigeon Pox” infection in pet birds.  Pet bird owners were also advised to use the “Pigeon Pox Vaccine.

Further studies on the genetic and antigenic characterization of the virus are in progress.  This study was a collaborative effort between Dr. Ravindra N. Sharma (Associate Director of Research, SGU), his research team (Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Bhaiyat, Dr. Alfred Chikweto, and Ms. Vanessa Matthew, Department of Paraclinical Studies, SVM, SGU) and Dr. Deoki N. Tripathy, Visiting Professor in Veterinary Virology.

dr-tripathys-research-studentsDr. Tripathy is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois, Urbana, US.  He is a pioneer researcher on pox viruses and since 1984 has been a member of the pox virus study group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Pox Viruses.

Both Dr. Tripathy and Dr. Sharma recognized the value of this research study as a powerful tool for teaching as well.  SGU students in term 4 of the DVM curriculum witnessed first hand the virus isolation techniques using chicken embryos and the lesions produced by avian pox virus in embryos.

The Avian Poxvirus Isolation Study will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Published 12/21/2007

“One World, One Health, One Medicine” Clinic a Success

group picture of one health one medicine 2007On Saturday, November 10th over 60 medical and veterinary medical students joined forces to assist the community of Dierre Morne, St. David in Grenada. “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Project was the University’s first health clinic providing both human and animal health care to those who attended.  The event was the brainchild of third term vet student Brittany King, who was inspired by a woman who attended a previous vet clinic. While appreciative of the care her pet received she expressed concern that the health care and education of the pet owners themselves was being overlooked.

Brittany took these remarks to heart.  As a class representative for the Student Affiliate of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAAVMA), Brittany is well aware of the convergence of animal, human and ecosystem health and the importance of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” concept.  Armed with the belief that improving health care worldwide is a collaborative effort, she approached American Medical Student Association (AMSA) President Asad Bandealey about a health clinic that would address the needs of both humans and animals.   Enthusiastic about this initiative, both began to solicit volunteers from their respective schools, raise money, seek donations and select a location.

With the help of SGU faculty, student volunteers and clinicians from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH), an impressive health clinic for humans and animals was successfully created.  One week prior to the event, local radio, television and print advertisements promoted the event. SGU’s Communications Office facilitated this by producing the flyer, scripting and placing the radio and television advertisements and inviting the media, as is the case with every health fair.  “This,” said Brittany “was critical to the success of the health clinic.”  One local television station actually attended the event.

Proudly wearing bright green t-shirts designed by King, all volunteers began their day with enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference. Two tremendous tents were erected, accommodating medical and veterinary medical student volunteers and their patients.  Medical students also used the Parish church to ensure privacy for patients during medical exams and screenings.

Throughout the day, 40 medical student volunteers treated 140 patients, including 20 senior citizens at a local nursing home and five home-bound patients.  Tests were administered for blood pressure, blood glucose, eyes and hearing.  Breast cancer screening and self-examination techniques, along with patient education and children’s health were also part of the day’s activities.  AMSA was joined by IEA, the SGU academic honor society, SGU’s Pediatrics Club and Women in Medicine (WIM), a group under the AMSA umbrella.  According to Stephanie Muriglan, the President of WIM, her group’s mission is not just medicinal: “At these health fairs, WIM has set a goal to bring awareness to women about the importance of these clinical measures. Knowledge and control over their reproductive health is an important form of empowerment.”

Twenty veterinary medical students and seven clinicians from the VTH treated more than 60 dogs and cats through a variety of treatments including oral dewormers, mange treatments and vaccinations.  Brittany explained that they used a new three-year continuum DAP-R vaccine from Intervet, which will keep the animals protected from distemper, rabies, adenovirus and parvovirus longer than the previous one-year vaccine.   The animals’ owners also received Banfield leashes, collars and bandanas, in addition to a wealth of information about the health of their animals.  The veterinary medical students were surprised but not daunted by the attendance of six goats joined together by a rope.  With no large animal vaccines available, volunteers did their best to examine the animals and educate the owner about their care.

The impact of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair has reached beyond Grenada. Intervet, the supplier and sponsor of the veterinary vaccine DAP-R, matched the 200 vaccines used at St. David with a donation of 200 vaccines for animals in Africa.   This is proof that a unified effort within the broader health science profession is the most powerful and effective tool in improving health care worldwide.

For more photos of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair….

Published on 12/10/07

Special Public Lecture Series at the KBT Global Scholars Program in UK

ian elvin dr michael chewThe KBT Global Scholars program is designed for students who wish to spend all or part of their professional lives in developing nations or in underdeveloped areas of developed nations. SGU has introduced this special public lecture series to reinforce the international aspects of the KBTGSP.  One or two lectures a term will be presented by professionals well versed in a variety of health related global issues.

On September 20th at the Newcastle Upon Tyne campus of NU, Sport Northumbria kicked off the series with a lecture on sport and health.  Ian Elvin, Director of Northumbria University Sport addressed his audience with a presentation titled “Developing Community Health through Sporting Partnerships: The Global Vision.”   Professor Elvin believes strongly in the power of sport as an instrument of both personal development and social change.  Teaching the rudiments of health can be a real resource for developing communities.   Through his efforts, Sport Northumbria is involved in a number of local and international community sport projects,  providing a unifying platform in areas which include the Caribbean and Zambia.

Now ten years old, Sport Northumbria offers a myriad of competitive and social sport opportunities to the international community of Northumbria University (NU).  Ian Elvin has worked at NU since 1979; he was Program Head for Sport Management before becoming Director of University Sport in 1995.  In this capacity he is responsible for the planning, delivery and management of all sport facilities, programs, clubs and services at NU.

Ian was a Board member of the European Association of Sport Management from 1992 – 2003 and has been Chairman of Sport Newcastle since its inception.  He is also Chairman of the English Student Rugby Union’s Development Committee.

The second lecture was given on October 22nd by  Dr. Michael Chew, a Science Program Officer at the Wellcome Trust – one of the largest biomedical research charities in the world.  He presented a lecture on “Diseases of Poverty: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”  Dr. Chew’s life achievements and focus have been devoted to studying those diseases which target people who are living in poverty.  Many of these diseases can be prevented with a community’s dedication to public health issues.

Dr. Chew’s responsibilities include receiving and processing research grant applications in the areas of immunology and infectious disease, advising scientists about their research and careers in this area, and ensuring that funds awarded by the Trust are used appropriately.

Dr. Chew travels extensively, usually to remote and impoverished places, as most of these research projects are conducted in the developing world where ‘diseases of poverty’ such as malaria, TB and HIV are pervasive.  Prior to joining the Trust in 1997, Dr Chew worked as a research scientist at the Institute of Child Health, London, and Imperial College, London after completing his PhD in Parasitology at Imperial College in 1981.

SGU and NU look forward to the continued success of the KBTGSP lecture series which will provide students with information on public health issues much needed in today’s globalized society.

Published 11/13/2007

Phi Zeta Selects St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine’s Dr. Rhonda Pinckney as President-Elect

dr sis shakes hands with dr pinckneyDr. Rhonda Pinckney, SVM Assistant Dean of Students, has recently been selected by unanimous decision as President-Elect for the Society of Phi Zeta. Established in 1925, Phi Zeta is a US based Honor Society of Veterinary Medicine that is internationally recognized and promotes research and scholarship in areas of animal welfare and disease.

Dr. Pinckney’s appointment as President-Elect is a great honor for her individually, and allows SGU to bask in her elevation to this post.  This is the first time that a faculty member of a school outside of the US has been elected to this influential position.

Dr. Pinckney became aware of her nomination during an unexpected meeting with long-time friend and colleague Dr. Charles Hendrix, the outgoing President of Phi Zeta.  Dr. Hendrix, whom Dr. Pinckney had not seen in 13 years, was among the honored guests at the spring ’07 induction ceremony of twelve Phi Zeta students into the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Society. In 2005, SGUSVM’s Alpha Delta Chapter became the first international chapter of The Society of Phi Zeta and the 28th chapter to be formed.

Dr. Hendrix explained that he was impressed by the University, its students and faculty, and the Island.  He continued to say that he had high hopes of SGU becoming more involved in Phi Zeta, and that there are plans to incorporate more international veterinary schools into the Society. Dr. Pinckney’s role as President-Elect is a significant step toward that goal.

While both the nomination and appointment came as a surprise, Dr. Pinckney is proud and excited to begin her position as President.  Her two-year appointment becomes effective in 2010.

As Professor of Parasitology and Assistant Dean of Students, Dr. Pinckney maintains a rigorous schedule.  She teaches six hours of lab per week, 41 to 44 lecture hours per semester and advises two graduate students.  Her upcoming role in Phi Zeta will require significant planning, as she expects to be traveling extensively throughout the US, presiding over Phi Zeta meetings, attending AVMA conferences and visiting schools represented by the Society.

A top priority for Dr. Pinckney is to assist SGU with its efforts to acquire accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and expand its research efforts.  She is confident that her role as Phi Zeta President will be influential in the University’s endeavors.

Dr. Pinckney was born and raised in New York.  She attended Purdue University as an undergraduate, received her DVM at Tuskegee University, her PhD at Auburn University and her Master’s of Parasitology from Oklahoma State University.  Prior to her position at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Pinckney was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Published on 10/25/07

Dr. Mahr’s School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony Keynote Address

Dr. Roger K. Mahr, Immediate Past President of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), inspired a new class of 82 veterinary medical students during his keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony held at St. George’s University on August 21st, 2007.

Congratulations as you enter the veterinary medical profession!

As a student at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, and as you now receive your white coat, you are a part of the veterinary medical profession.

It is indeed a privilege for me to bring greetings and congratulations on your achievement from the 75,000 members of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

In a few short years you will be stating the following words: “I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society”.

Those words are part of the Veterinarian’s Oath, and you will repeat those words as you receive the value of a lifetime…the value of your veterinary medical diploma.No other profession, I believe, has a comparable value to society.

No other profession for sure has as much impact on the health of both animals and people.

Acquiring that value and entering the veterinary medical profession is a great privilege.

You are indeed privileged.

With each privilege…and with each value… comes responsibility.

This evening as I welcome you into the veterinary medical profession, I would like to share with you a quote which has formed the basis for my outlook on life, and in particular my career in veterinary medicine.  It is by a philosopher named Huston Smith, and he states:

“Infinite gratitude towards all things past;
Infinite service towards all things present;
Infinite responsibility towards all things future.”

“Infinite gratitude towards all things past”.

As colleagues, you and I can be justly proud of our rich heritage.

Think about your past, your achievements, and your experiences that have led to this day.

I am grateful for my roots growing up on a dairy farm and for those life experiences that I had prior to becoming a veterinary medical student at Iowa State University.

Like most of you I sought to become a veterinarian because of an early human-animal connection.

My first bonding was with a Guernsey calf.  I still recall the thrill of participating in my first pet parade.  With a bottle of milk replacer, I proudly led my calf around the hometown square with a sign on my back, “June is Dairy Month, We Drink Milk”.

I know each of you have stories that you can share as well…Experiences that have brought you to this achievement of becoming a student of veterinary medicine.

As fitting as it is to reflect on our past and express our gratitude, I believe that it is more important to look to the future, knowing that our past will always be a part of our future.As we look to the future of the veterinary medical profession, the necessity for unity of our profession is apparent.

Veterinary medicine is a small profession with great responsibilities and vast opportunities.Companion animal practice, food supply veterinary medicine, public health, and biomedical research are only a few of the career opportunities that will be open to you.

It is this diversity of expertise combined with a commitment to working together that defines our veterinary medical profession.

The AVMA is that unified voice and unifying voice of our profession.

We are all partners in striving to fulfill the AVMA Mission, “Improving Animal and Human Health, Advancing the Veterinary Medical Profession”.

“Infinite Service towards all things present”.

Your first and primary service now is to make the most of your educational opportunities here at St. George’s University.

Utilize your excellent resources, including your professional educators and facilities, to develop your knowledge and skills.

I encourage you to become involved with your student organizations, and specifically invite you to become actively involved with the Student AVMA, to help shape the future of our profession.  Serve your profession now by joining together with your colleagues, fellow students and veterinarians alike.

Your education provides you with the knowledge necessary to become a veterinarian.  But lifelong friendships and relationships built through Student AVMA and AVMA activities, and other organizations, will also provide an unlimited source of knowledge as well as professional strength and satisfaction.

“Infinite responsibility towards all things future”.

You are the future leaders of the veterinary medical profession.

The AVMA recognizes and values your role in the future of the veterinary medical profession as a leader.

The AVMA strives to nourish that leadership development by supporting Student AVMA activities and having students serve in the AVMA House of Delegates and as valuable members of several AVMA committees.Your voice is needed to address the important issues facing our profession now and in the future.

It was my privilege to have served last year with Dr. Kara Tassone who graduated this year from St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine.  Kara served as president of the Student AVMA.

As SAVMA president Kara served in the AVMA House of Delegates, served on the AVMA Legislative Advisory Committee, and attended all AVMA Executive Board Meetings.
Leadership from the veterinary medical profession is critical to the future well being of our global society.

Consider these facts:

  • 75% of all emerging diseases in people in the past 25 years are zoonotic


  • 21 billion animals were produced for food and fiber throughout the world last year alone
  • 38,000 animals cross the US borders every day

Animal health and public health are truly at a crossroads.

The convergence of animal, human, and ecosystem health dictates that the One World One Health One Medicine concept must be embraced.  Avian influenza, tuberculosis, HIV, West Nile Virus, monkey pox and many more certainly underscore the one health concept.

As veterinarians, and as veterinary medical students, collaborating and cooperating with our colleagues in human medicine, public health, and the environmental sciences is imperative.

Together we can accomplish more to improve health worldwide than we can alone…and we, as the veterinary medical profession have the responsibility to assume a major leadership role in that effort.

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend the White Coat Ceremony for the School of Medicine.  In a short time they too will acquire the value of their lifetime…the value of their medical diploma.I encourage you to collaborate, cooperate and communicate with the other health science professional students here at St. George’s University.

I would further encourage you to take the leadership initiative to enhance that relationship.  In closing, let me return to where I started… Value…Privilege…Responsibility

I challenge you to periodically ask yourself the question…What is my value and responsibility as a veterinary medial professional?

It is my fervent hope and vision, that we as veterinary medical professionals, together with our other health science professional colleagues, will assume our collaborative responsibility…to protect and promote our immeasurable value, to utilize that value to its fullest, and to make sure that our future is a promising future…a future of even greater value.

Congratulations again, as you embark on your professional career in veterinary medicine!

Published 10/2/2007

School of Veterinary Medicine Welcomes Incoming Students at White Coat Ceremony

roger k mahr portraitDr. Roger K. Mahr, Immediate Past President of the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), inspired a new class of 82 veterinary medical students during his keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony held at St. George’s University on August 21st, 2007.  Dr. Michelle Cook, SGUSVM ’05 alumni and a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was the Master of Ceremonies and introduced the speakers.  Chancellor Charles R. Modica graciously welcomed the students and encouraged them to pursue their profession with integrity and commitment.  Dr. Raymond Sis, Dean, SVM, expressed the importance of continuously upholding standards in a profession they are privileged to serve.

As he addressed his audience of students, family, friends and SGU faculty, Dr. Mahr drew upon an impressive 34-year career in small animal practice and his experience as 2005/06 President-Elect of the AVMA.  Dr. Mahr emphasized the critical role veterinary medicine plays in securing the health and welfare of both people and animals.   “No other profession, I believe, has a comparable value to society,” he expressed.

Dr. Mahr shared a quote from contemporary author, scholar and philosopher, Huston Smith:

“Infinite gratitude towards all things past;
Infinite service towards all things present;Infinite responsibility towards all things future.”

“This,” said Mahr, ”formed the basis for my outlook on life, and in particular my career in veterinary medicine.”  He continued to define the relevance of this to his audience.  “All things past” referred to the motivation that led to this day.  Dr. Mahr spoke of his youth, being raised on an Iowa dairy farm, which supremely influenced his pursuit of a career in veterinary medicine.

While the past will always remain a part of our lives, Dr. Mahr stressed the importance of looking toward the future, as “veterinary medicine is a small profession with great responsibilities and vast opportunities.”  He spoke of the need for unity in the profession, and the role the AVMA plays as that singular voice.  He encouraged each of the students to serve the profession by building relationships through both the Student AVMA and AVMA activities, mentioning recent SGUSVM grad and Past President of the Student AVMA , Dr. Kara Tassone, who actively served in various AVMA capacities.  “You are the future leaders of the veterinary medical profession,” said Dr. Mahr.  “Your voice is needed to address the important issues facing our profession now and in the future.”

In his closing remarks, Dr. Mahr discussed the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” concept whereby animal, human and ecosystem health converge.  He stressed the critical role that leadership plays in the future well being of our global society.  It is the responsibility of today’s veterinary medical students in collaboration with other health science professional students to assume this role in the years ahead.

A native of south-central Iowa, Dr. Mahr received his veterinary medical degree from Iowa State University in 1971.   Following graduation, he moved to suburban Chicago where he established, owned and directed the Meadow View Veterinary Clinic in Geneva, Illinois, an accredited hospital member of the American Animal Hospital Association from 1974 to 2004.  Dr. Mahr has been active in organized veterinary medicine his entire career, holding many influential positions at regional and national veterinary organizations.

SGU was privileged to have Dr. Mahr speak at the University.

Read Dr. Mahr’s complete keynote address.

Published 10/2/2007

Vetsim Quiz Winner Praises St. George’s University Vet Summer Academy

kimberly noonKimberley Noon is a nineteen year old student studying Animal Science at the University of Nottingham.  Kimberley was one of over 5,000 A-level students who attended the popular UK Vetsim and Medsim (short for simulation) conferences.  The Vetsim 3 Day Course, which Kimberley attended, offers students who intend to study veterinary medicine the opportunity to experience the clinical practice of veterinary medicine, practical sessions and animal contact first hand, significantly strengthening their knowledge and skills.  Students have the opportunity to be on-call and work under pressure, supervised by veterinarians and senior veterinary students.  Medsim offers potential medical students a similarly challenging and rewarding experience.

For seven years, SGU has participated at both Vetsim and Medsim.  As part of the conferences, SGU prepares a quiz for students based on lectures attended and SGU’s own presentation.  Each year SGU awards three students with the highest scores complementary attendance to the Med/Vet Summer Academy in Grenada.   Kimberley was the only winner in the veterinary medicine category.

Now in its fifth successful year, the Med/Vet Summer Academy customizes its academic program to both premedical and preveterinary medical students of high school and college age groups.

While attending Vetsim,  Kimberley learned of the Vet Summer Academy at SGU. Although she was familiar with the University’s medical school, she was not aware that SGU had a veterinary medical program.  Her first visit to Grenada and the True Blue Campus left quite an impression as she settled in for the 10-day course she was so eager to start.

Each day was filled with informative lectures, labs and activities that exceeded her expectations.   Kimberley was most influenced by the labs held at the University.  “I feel you learn a lot by watching other people work, and then trying it on your own,” she said.  “The labs provided helpful notes, and question and answer sheets at the end of each session.  The small group problem-solving sessions were also extremely beneficial.”  She was impressed by the facilities both on and off-campus, saying that the state-of-the-art laboratories and lecture rooms were second to none, and the visits to the Small Animal Hospital and the farm were “inspirational.”  In addition, the quality of the professors and the organization of the staff helped make her experience invaluable.

While the amount of free time was limited, many of the off-campus activities provided a rare opportunity to experience the island.   “Although our schedule was full academically, we also had the opportunity to see the beauty of Grenada first hand.  In fact,” said Kimberley, “my first time snorkeling was off Grenada’s exquisite coast line.”  Other off-campus activities included hiking in the rain forest, dolphin watching and an evening ocean cruise.

Kimberley said that one unforeseen benefit to the program was the friendships she developed with several of the other students in the program.  “Even though we were in Grenada for a short time, I  will continue to keep in touch with many of the new friends I met on the Island.”  Overall, Kimberley’s experience at the Vet  Summer Academy was one she will not forget, as it enhanced her knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and offered her a tremendous opportunity for personal growth.

Kimberley is preparing for a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Nottingham, a leading research and teaching university regularly ranked among the top ten higher education institutions in the UK.  She plans to focus her studies on wildlife and zoo animals.  She considers herself fortunate to have experienced the Vet  Summer Academy, as it reinforced her passion to practice veterinary medicine, a dream she has had since childhood.   Now that Kimberley has seen what SGU has to offer, she said, “I will certainly consider SGUSVM for my continued education.”

Published on 8/20/07

School of Veterinary Medicine Grads Achieve Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Membership

svm graduates that passed the rcvsSix graduates from St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine have passed the Statutory Membership Examination of the UK’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). 44 veterinary graduates in all took the RCVS this time; SGU’s successful examinees represent fully one half of the total number that passed.

SGU graduates Fiona Dobbie, Emily Jubert, Claire Lambourn, Jonathan McCotter, Jenni Mason and Peter James Burnett were among 12 candidates worldwide.  In the presence of their friends and families, RCVS President Dr. Bob Moore presented the accomplished graduates with certificates at a Ceremony of Admissions at the RCVS in London.

In order to practice veterinary surgery in the UK, all graduates with foreign or Commonwealth qualifications must pass this exam which consists of two days’ written papers in London, followed by clinical, oral and practical exams at a UK veterinary medical school. As a statutory regulator, the RCVS undertakes the responsibilities to maintain a register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practice in the UK; to regulate veterinary medical education and to regulate professional conduct.

Many of the graduates have set the wheels in motion for a career in the UK.  Jonathan McCotter, Claire Lambourn and Fiona Dobbie are eager to begin their careers in mixed animal practice.  Each of these graduates has been inspired in their youth by family members who similarly chose veterinary medicine as a profession.

According to Fiona Dobbie, “Veterinary medicine is not a career, but a way of life.”  Fiona was influenced by her veterinarian grandfather, and as a very young girl, dreamed of working with animals.  Fiona has accepted a position in a small country practice in Northern England, where she and her colleagues will cover approximately 100 square miles of farm land.  Dr. Dobbie reflects upon her experience in Grenada with admiration for the University’s faculty and administration.  She believes the intimate class size at SGUSVM combined with the hands-on surgical experience and wet-labs significantly contributed to her confidence with patients.  She believes SGU students have a tremendous advantage in the practical stages of veterinary medicine, over programs in the UK.  Dr. Dobbie hopes to return to Grenada at some point in her career and practice the skills she acquired at SGU.

Dr. Jonathan McCotter, whose father is a veterinarian, will be joining his family’s five-person mixed animal practice in Cornwall.   When asked about his experience at SGU, Dr. McCotter stressed that the standard of teaching at the University, with faculty from Grenada, UK and the US, is exceptional.  “While the semester’s academic pace was intense,” said McCotter, “the program was well laid out, offering invaluable hands-on experience.”
Dr. McCotter also praises his fellow students, explaining that while the academic environment is extremely challenging, the genuine camaraderie and mutual respect amongst the students was invaluable.  Fiona Dobbie is in agreement, emphasizing that her class of 40 students “bent over backwards” to help each other succeed.

For Claire Lambourn, her choice to practice veterinarian medicine skipped a generation.  Claire recalls wanting to be a veterinarian, like her maternal grandparents, from a very young age.  She was inspired by her grandmothers pioneering career path as the first female veterinary surgeon in Malaysia, where she traveled with her husband the late Major Witherington OBE.
While Claire is impressed by the caliber of the SGU professors, it was the life experience and lessons she gained from Grenada that left the most significant mark.  She arrived at the SGU campus a young 18 year old student and left more mature, confident and focused than ever thought possible.  Claire credits the University and its staff for their continuous guidance and encouragement.

Jenni Mason, who was in New York and unable to attend the ceremony, holds the distinction of being the first graduate from the joint program between SGU and the University of Nottingham.  Peter James Burnett is presently teaching at SGU in Grenada.

SGU has 25 British students enrolled in veterinary medicine, and looks forward to an increasing number of them practicing in the UK upon graduation.

Published on 8/20/07

School of Veterinary Medicine Graduate Featured on Animal Planet

dr steven berkowitzDr. Steven Berkowitz, recent SGUSVM alumni, will be featured on seasons 5 and 6 of Animal Precinct on Animal Planet.   Steve, a native of New Jersey, is currently an intern in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in New York City, where the episodes are filmed.  He will appear on several episodes of Animal Precinct during the next year. The first episode aired on Thursday, June 14th.

Animal Precinct is a powerful reality show that follows the animal cruelty agents from the Humane Law Enforcement department (HLE) of the ASPCA as they advocate for animals, sometimes removing them from dangerous situations and pursuing arrests of those cruel to animals. There are currently only 20 agents with full police powers for the entire city and state.

The episodes track the progress of the animals, specifically dogs and cats, from initial care at the hospital to their ultimate adoption.  According to Dr. Berkowitz, “Appearing in the episodes was a rewarding and unbelievably unique experience.”  He continued, “Since the ASPCA is not-for-profit, there are no monetary limitations to getting these animals back to health.”  He is continually amazed by the recovery many of these animals make, often after severely damaging injuries and abuse.  He believes Animal Precinct helps increase awareness of the scope of animal abuse.

Animal Precinct was the first show created by Animal Planet as part of an “umbrella rotation” of shows known collectively as “Animal Planet Heroes”, and its success led to the development of similar shows set in Detroit, Michigan (Animal Cops Detroit), Houston, Texas (Animal Cops Houston), Miami, Florida (Miami Animal Police), San Francisco, California (Animal Cops San Francisco), and Phoenix, Arizona (Animal Planet Heroes: Phoenix).  The show appears on Discovery Channel networks worldwide.

Dr. Berkowitz plans to stay close to home after completing his internship.  He is currently investigating opportunities in emergency medicine in hospitals in the tri-state area.

We will keep you updated on air dates of future episodes which feature SGU’s televised veterinarian.

Published 6/20/2007

Public Health Study Boost to ’07 School of Veterinary Medicine Graduate

rivkah bradsky with reindeerRivkah Bradsky graduated last week from the SVM, having recently been recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP).

Rivkah was one of 10 students awarded the AVMA Externship Stipend Program for her commitment to public health veterinary medicine.  Rivkah’s experience has clearly proven her dedication to the field.  She has interned at several research facilities including some work in Grenada with Dr. Ravindra Sharma on toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the single-celled parasite toxoplasma gondii.  Also, at the time of application, Rivkah had already received a highly sought after appointment as an extern with the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).  The strong support of SGU’s Dr. Buxton Nyack and Dr. Nicoletti, along with Dr. Linda Detweiler of the USDA program, were crucial to her successful application.  Rivkah completed her experience in NY at the Animal Import Center for animals entering or transiting through the US.  In this capacity, she worked directly in quarantine and control of infectious diseases from abroad.

The AVMA Stipend Program, which began in 2004 with five stipends at $1,000 each, has recently approved a significant increase in funding due to the success of the program.

This year there were 39 applicants, 10 of whom were selected to receive stipends for completing externships in Public Practice and Corporate Veterinary Medicine (examples of these externships locations would be, but are not limited to, Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Johns Hopkins University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of Agriculture, research labs, wildlife and pharmaceutical companies).

In response to the shortage of food supply veterinarians, the AVMA recently expanded the program to include five additional $1,000 stipends specifically for students participating in externships in food supply veterinary practice. The AVMA now funds the externship stipend program for 15 students, at a total of $15,000.

In addition, Rivkah is one of only two recipients selected each year for the AAAP Foundation Kenneth Eskelund Preceptorship Grant.   Rivkah was selected for her interest in poultry medicine, most specifically in areas of infectious disease and biosecurity.  At the time of application, she had completed an externship with Tyson Foods, Inc. where she was directly involved in biosecurity analysis, control and prevention of infectious disease in turkey and chicken operations within the tri-state area of Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the development of proactive strategies with area poultry veterinarians in infectious disease prevention, above and beyond government regulations.  Rivkah’s experience in poultry medicine as it relates to infectious disease was inspired and supported by SGU’s Dr. Sharma.  The externship was arranged through the help of Dr. Daniel Shaw and Dr. Alex Bermudez of the University of Missouri, where she spent her clinical year.

The AAAP Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation engaged in charitable, scientific and educational activities. The Foundation annually awards preceptorships up to $1,200 to veterinary students for the purpose of helping them defray housing, living and travel expenses incurred while attending poultry medicine training programs under the auspices of their veterinary medical schools.

Dr. Eskelund, who has had a successful career in the poultry industry and has been an ardent supporter of the AAAP, provided the capital funds to establish this program in 1988. His intention was to encourage veterinary students to consider careers in poultry medicine.
The American Association of Avian Pathologists has solicited the cooperation of its members in establishing a variety of training sites including universities, diagnostic laboratories, poultry production companies and poultry breeding companies.
Rivkah is proud of the education and experience she gained at SGU, both in the classroom and in the workplace.  She plans to pursue a career in public health veterinary medicine, with an emphasis on infectious diseases.  Her ultimate goal is to work with the US government in handling disease outbreak.  She is currently considering advanced degree programs in infectious disease and comparative medicine.

Published 6/20/2007