Equity in medicine the focus of new SGU scholarship

St. George’s University’s new scholarship program—the Equity in Medicine scholarship—focuses on developing strong physician pipelines in underserved areas by recruiting students from these areas and encouraging them to return home to practice.

According to Health Resources and Services Administration, medically underserved areas are areas designated as having too few primary care providers and other factors.

Read about two Equity in Medicine Scholarship recipients who are committed to working in areas where care is needed most.

Anders Grant

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Her commitment: Primary care on Native American reservation

Anders Grant spent more than 20 years as a dietitian on the East Coast and in Texas. Years later, after raising her own children, she began working with various tribes on the Native American Reservation—where medical school called out to her.

In her three and a half years there, she “fell in love with the communities and the people.” Aided by the Equity in Medicine scholarship at St. George’s University, Ms. Grant is committed to returning to the reservation—a medically underserved area—when she becomes a physician.

“The people were so interested in teaching me their ways, and because I love languages, I immediately tried to learn the Navajo language. It was very reciprocal,” she said. “Once I showed that I wanted to learn their culture, that I wasn’t someone who said a casual hello, we became more like a family.”

Healthcare access and education is limited in and around the various Reservations. According to Ms. Grant, it takes upward of an hour to drive to visit with a healthcare professional, and even then, staff and resources are limited.

Ms. Grant is especially focused on the treatment and prevention of diabetes, working closely with children and families on the reservation to address the root of the problem—obesity. As an ultra-marathon runner, she offered diet and exercise programs for children that yielded tremendous results and was soon adopted by many parents.

“What I really emphasized was moving,” she said. “They saw me running out there every day, which showed that I practice what I preach. If I can get the children to start improving their health now, oh my goodness, the future is unlimited.”

Using the foundation she receives at SGU, Ms. Grant is committed to making a lasting difference in returning to the Native American Reservation.

“I can’t wait to get back,” she said. “I want to prove to them in person that you can never give up. It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.”

Taylor James

Hometown: Forest City, NC

Her commitment: Rural medicine

In rural America, state-of-the-art technology and a wealth of resources may only be found at a great distance. Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina, Taylor James has seen the consequences of such deficiencies firsthand—and they have shaped her career path.

When she was just four years old, her father passed away after a medical mishap during a surgical procedure on his hand. According to Ms. James, the anesthetic was administered in a blood vessel, inadvertently numbing his heart, and no available medication could reverse the effect. She attributes the mistake, in part, to a lack of resources at her local hospital.

“I didn’t really recognize it until I moved away and saw what other places are like,” said Ms. James, now a first-term student at St. George’s University. “As I grew older, I better understood what happened to my dad, why it happened, and now I want to figure out how to combat these problems in small towns like mine.”

She has been laser focused—graduating a semester early from North Carolina State University, with a degree in human biology. During her studies, she gained valuable clinical experience at the University of North Carolina’s emergency medicine department as well as WakeMed Cary Hospital.

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As a Spanish minor, she also completed a doctor shadowing assignment in Spain, an experience she said: “instilled the importance of cultural competence.” She has used her bilingualism to communicate with—and ease the minds of—Spanish-speaking patients.

While she is keeping her options open, Ms. James is leaning toward a career in primary care, to become a valuable resource in a community that needs it. She even foresees opening up her own family medicine clinic and is grateful for the financial flexibility she has to do so through receiving the Equity in Medicine Scholarship from SGU.

“I was so shocked and so thankful to receive the scholarship,” she said. “I have really enjoyed my first few weeks at SGU. It’s a lot of studying—which I expected—but I don’t think I expected the overwhelming amount of resources and support SGU provides to ensure that we’re successful.”

– Brett Mauser

US News and World Report Highlights SGU’s CityDoctors Scholarship Program

US News and World Report recently featured St. George’s University medical student Tim Malone and the University’s CityDoctors program in an article that discussed scholarships for medical school.

“Malone says his full-tuition scholarship via the St. George’s CityDoctors scholarship program for future urban doctors makes it easier for him to consider the possibility of becoming a pediatric oncologist, despite the fact that salaries within that specialty are lower than within other fields of medicine,” the article stated.

 

New On-Campus Lab Strengthens Diagnostics, Education, And Research In Grenada

With the development of a state-of-the-art diagnostic molecular facility on campus, St. George’s University has assured its community and the country of Grenada that SGU will be prepared to do its part should another infectious disease outbreak surface in the near or distant future.

The laboratory is housed in the on-campus Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) building, and was constructed to meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

“By upgrading our laboratory, we can now provide a long-term diagnostic molecular facility that could provide timely and appropriate diagnostic services for the University and potentially the region,” said Dr. Calum Macpherson, director of research at SGU. Previously, most diagnostic testing had to be sent outside of Grenada for analysis, often creating longer lead times for receiving results.

In addition to diagnostics, the lab will serve as a teaching facility for graduate and undergraduate students interested in molecular technology elective courses. It will also be a resource for faculty and students to conduct research on emerging and re-emerging vector-borne diseases and other infections.

By demonstrating the capacity to accurately and safely test hundreds of cases each week, Dr. Macpherson envisions that the lab will further enhance international and regional partnerships with such groups as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and universities worldwide.

We can now provide a long-term diagnostic molecular facility that could provide timely and appropriate diagnostic services for the University and potentially the region.”

 

Commitment to accuracy and efficiency

SGU’s molecular lab will be overseen by Elsa Chitan, the head of the WINDREF laboratories, and will be initially utilized to conduct all COVID-19 testing on campus. Vanessa Matthew-Belmar, MSc ’16, a lab technician in the School of Veterinary Medicine, will use the lab to conduct her PhD studies on COVID-19 at SGU.

“The molecular lab will provide a diverse group of students and faculty with a molecular facility, which is increasingly the Gold Standard for diagnosing infectious diseases,” said Dr. Trevor Noël, director of SGU’s field research studies in the Office of Research and deputy director of WINDREF. Since its founding in 1994 as a non-governmental organization in Grenada and as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation, WINDREF has been committed to health and environmental development through research and education programs, by promoting collaborative relationships between internationally recognized scholars and regional scientists, and by adhering to the highest ethical research and academic standards. WINDREF’s current donors include the NIH, Grand Challenges Canada, Nature Conservancy International, FAO, The Spencer Foundation, Global Challenges Research Fund, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Water Partnership, and many other entities.

SGU’s molecular lab in the School of Veterinary Medicine served as Grenada’s initial national SARS-CoV-2 testing site at the onset of the pandemic last year. It was one of approximately 250 quality control labs around the world overseen by the WHO. Its results were in 100 percent concordance with the expected test results from the WHO. The national testing laboratory located at the Grenada General Hospital continues to collaborate with WINDREF personnel on best diagnostic practices.

PCR testing continues at SGU’s Open Modica Hall, where Dr. Kathy Yearwood, director of University Clinical Services and Dr. Jennifer Solomon, chair of nursing and allied health science, join staff from the University Clinic, nursing program, and WINDREF COVID-19 team, have been testing the SGU affiliated community and contractors. The program has tested almost 8,000 individuals over the past year with the majority of the results returned to those tested within eight hours. A rapid turnaround is essential for the test to be useful for epidemiological surveillance, and its success played a significant role in limiting the numbers of COVID-19 infections in Grenada over the past year.

Dr. Trevor Noel receives his COVID-19 vaccine as part of Grenada’s initial rollout.

SGU faculty step forward in Grenada vaccine rollout 

Drs. Macpherson and Noël were amongst the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford/AstraZeneca SARS-CoV-2 vaccine on February 12. They joined the Grenada Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell; Minister of Health the Hon. Nickolas Steele; and a number of cabinet members, senior administrators from the Ministry of Health, and some frontline workers.

“In Grenada, non-pharmaceutical measures have been in place from the beginning, whether it’s a limited curfew, the mandatory wearing of masks in public, frequent washing of hands, physical distancing, along with a rapid test, trace, and isolate and quarantine program, all helped to maintain the low numbers of COVID-19 infections in Grenada,” Dr. Macpherson said. “As a result, we have had so few cases, which means that almost everyone is immunologically naïve and susceptible to infection. The vaccine is the final piece to protect everyone in Grenada.”

 

 

Both Dr. Macpherson and Dr. Noël reported having only transitory mild side effects from the first of two vaccine shots. The immediate rollout of the vaccine will be administered by the Community and Public Health nurses of the Ministry of Health at the Grenada General Hospital. Dr. Yearwood and members of the SGU clinical team and WINDREF COVID-19 team were among those to receive the vaccine early in its rollout.

“The strong partnership between the Ministry of Health, SGU, WINDREF, PAHO/WHO and the participation of the people of Grenada with the non-pharmaceutical measures allowed Grenada to limit the number of cases of COVID-19 in Grenada to extremely low levels,” said Dr. Macpherson. “It has been a pleasure for us to be a part of this remarkable public health achievement.”

– Brett Mauser

 

The News Stories that Defined the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2020

top vet stories of 2020

From being on the front lines of animal care during the COVID pandemic to discussions on diversity and equality within the veterinary field, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine students, faculty, and alumni made their mark in 2020.

In early June, 180 SVM graduates joined the network of more than 1,900 Doctors of Veterinary Medicine making an impact through veterinary medicine around the world. Many of these graduates took the next step in their careers as aspiring veterinarians by matching into highly competitive postgraduate positions.

When it comes to the ongoing COVID pandemic, it’s not just human healthcare that has been dramatically impacted—animal medicine had its own challenges and some surprising opportunities for veterinarians, including in zoos and aquariums. In Grenada, School of Veterinary Medicine also sprung into action as the country’s national testing site at the onset of the pandemic.

It was also a year in which diversity and equality was brought to the limelight. The University had frank discussions with its entire community about the importance of listening, learning, and supporting, not only in the current climate but going forward.

These are the stories that underscore the School of Veterinary Medicine’s strengths and define us as a University as we aim to enhance student success and grow the number of animal health professionals around the world. Read on to see the top SVM news stories of 2020 on SGU.edu.

SVM Commencement 2020

The School of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its 17th annual commencement on June 6, with 180 students from nine countries and 39 US states graduating from the school. For the first time in history, the ceremony was held virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many SVM alums began highly competitive postgraduate positions in a variety of clinical specialty areas such as orthopedics, cardiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, immunology, diagnostic imaging, and pathology, matching into positions at reputable veterinary hospitals throughout the US and Canada.

 

Dr. Heather Douglas, DVM ’06

How COVID Impacted Veterinarians

It’s not just human healthcare that has been dramatically impacted as a result of the COVID pandemic—animal medicine had its own challenges and some surprising opportunities for veterinarians.

Heather Douglas, DVM ’06, for example, discussed how the disease is changing the way that small animal veterinarians treat patients and interact with pet owners.

“Initially, businesses like my own were slow when lockdowns were in place,” said Heather Douglas, DVM ’06, owner of Douglas Animal Hospital in Osseo, MN. “Then in mid- to late-April the floodgates opened. This influx was due to clients waiting to bring their pets in during lockdown, clients paying more attention to their pets while at home for extended periods so that illnesses were being detected much sooner, and people adopting new pets to decrease loneliness and feelings of isolation at home. … I’ve had to become more efficient and spend more time communicating with owners.”

 

SGU's Large Animal Resource Facility

A Look Inside SVM’s Large Animal Resource Facility

SGU’s Large Animal Resource Facility (LARF) is a one-acre farm that is home to the equine and bovine teaching herds that students of the School of Veterinary Medicine use to gain crucial large animal clinical skills prior to their fourth year.

Dr. Inga Karasek, director of the Large Animal Resource Facility, was one of a handful of SGU staff who remained on the island to care for the animals during the early days of the global pandemic. In this video, she shared why the farm’s ecosystem—even while students are learning remotely—is important to studying veterinary medicine at SGU.

 

The Laboratory Personnel Behind SGU’s COVID Testing Site

Even before the coronavirus disease reached the shores of Grenada, the School of Veterinary Medicine, together with the Government of Grenada and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), were prepared for it. With the proper equipment and a team led by two staff members—both SGU graduates—in the SVM’s molecular virology lab, served as Grenada’s national testing site at the onset of the pandemic.

The effort facilitated testing for more than 2,000 SGU students, faculty, and staff, over 1,200 members of the Grenadian community, as well as individuals arriving in Grenada via plane or cruise ship.

 

VOICE SGU chapter

VOICE Seeks to Champion Veterinarian Diversity at The Student Level

It’s no secret that Black and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented in the veterinary profession. Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment, or VOICE, a national organization with student chapters across US and Caribbean veterinary schools, seeks to increase “awareness, respect, and sensitivity to differences among all individuals and communities in the field of veterinary medicine.”

VOICE SGU chapter and its current president, Antonia Nickleberry, MBA, a Term 2 student in the School of Veterinary Medicine, discussed with SGU News why diversity in the field matters and how SVM students can get involved.

“The world around is us diversifying rapidly,” Ms. Nickleberry said. “Veterinary medicine seems to have a delayed response to this diversification and therefore, those within the profession are not as aware as they should be. This can lead to major sensitivity issues between classmates and colleagues that can be avoided by educating and empowering those in this profession, starting with the students.”

The News Stories that Defined the School of Medicine in 2020

2020 Top News Stories

For a wide range of reasons, 2020 is a year that we won’t soon forget—from the heroism on the front lines of medicine, powerful demonstrations surrounding racial equality, and the change to our day-to-day lives and our perspectives.

It was a monumental year in so many ways for St. George’s University School of Medicine, its faculty, staff, and students. SGU made history when students and graduates secured 1,124 residency positions across the US and Canada in 2020—a 95 percent residency placement rate for eligible 2020 US graduates who applied for US residencies* and a record for the University. Over the summer, approximately 450 of those grads began their residencies in New York-New Jersey area hospitals, some of the hardest-hit hospitals in the nation during the early days of the COVID pandemic.

SGU profiled many alumni across specialties and locales who tirelessly donated their time and services to help those suffering from the disease, some of those who sacrificed seeing their own families to help the sickest of COVID patients.

It was also a year in which diversity and equality was brought to the limelight. The University had frank discussions with its entire community about the importance of listening, learning, and supporting, not only in the current climate but going forward.

These are the stories that underscore the School of Medicine’s strengths and define us as a University as we aim to enhance student success and grow the number of healthcare professionals around the world. Read on to see the top news stories of 2020 on SGU.edu.

*SGU student data as of November 2020

Match Day 2020

Match Day 2020

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SGU students and graduates were called on to assist in the fight against the virus. On Match Day 2020 in March, they learned of where they would begin their career as physicians. Positions were secured across a wide range of specialties—including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, pathology, and many more—and spanned across the United States.

All told, 1,124 SGU graduates had started residency in the US and Canada in 2020, which equals a 95 percent residency placement rate for eligible 2020 US graduates who applied for US residencies*—a record for the University—including some 450 SGU grads in New York-New Jersey area hospitals. They joined a proud network of 18,000 SGU physicians who have made a difference in healthcare around the world.

*SGU student data as of November 2020

 

A Conversation on Diversity in the Medical Profession: Thoughts from SGU’s Student National Medical Association

With the tragic deaths of people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, and as social justice events were held around the world, SGU News connected with SGU chapter members of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The national organization is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students by addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of “clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians.” SGU chapter members shared their perspectives on the world around us, the importance of the SNMA’s mission, and how students can get involved.

 

Wyckoff Hospital

SGU Adds New US Clinical Sites for Medical School Student Core Rotations

SGU’s clinical network is growing. This fall, seven US hospitals joined the SGU family, including several in California as well as a new venue into the South that allow third-year medical students to receive core clinical training during a crucial time in healthcare.

These hospitals included:

  • Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Baton Rouge, LA
  • Doctor’s Medical Center in Modesto, CA
  • Hemet Valley Medical Center in Hemet, CA
  • MacNeal Hospital in Maywood, IL
  • Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, CA
  • Westchester General Hospital in Miami, FL
  • Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY

 

Georgios Mihalopulos, MD '18

True Calling: From the Navy to the OR

Critical problem solving. A wide array of challenges. The operating room was exactly the type of workplace atmosphere that Georgios Mihalopulos, MD ’18, set out to find when he began working toward a career in medicine. It also mirrored his life as an officer in the Canadian Navy, a position that he held before and during medical school.

“I always say I love stress and I hate sleep, so that’s why surgery is the perfect field for me,” said Mihalopulos, now a third-year surgery resident at Waterbury Hospital in Connecticut. “It just seemed like the most natural thing in the world for me to do.”

 

SGU and Grenada partner to address COVID-19 pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world, SGU and the Government of Grenada worked hand in hand, developing and operating a COVID testing facility, and bringing in new devices to treat ill patients.

SGU President Dr. G. Richard Olds Publishes Op-ed on IMGs Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

An op-ed by SGU President Dr. G. Richard Olds was recently featured in The Orange County Register.

The article, “Physicians educated abroad can fill COVID-induced doctor shortage,” outlines how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the country’s looming shortage of physicians. Many doctors are choosing to retire early, either out of concern for their health or financial struggles. This disproportionately harms rural areas, many of which already face provider shortages. Dr. Olds explains that internationally trained doctors can help meet these communities’ healthcare needs.

“International graduates also have a history of practicing in high-need areas,” he said. “Compared to doctors trained at US schools, IMGs are typically ‘more likely to look after underserved populations and to live and work in rural areas.'”

He argues that graduates of St. George’s are playing a particularly significant role in meeting the country’s current—and future—healthcare needs.

“Thousands of promising students graduate from international medical schools each year,” Dr. Olds said. “More than 1,100 graduates of the school I lead, St. George’s University in Grenada, began residencies in the United States this past summer.”

SGU President and Graduate Discuss Caribbean Medical Schools on Forbes.com

In the article “5 Things to Consider Before Selecting a Caribbean Medical School” on Forbes.com, St. George’s University President Dr. G. Richard Olds and alumna Gaelle Antoine, MD ’19, were shared why SGU offers an excellent “alternative pathway for US students to study medicine.”

The article, written by college counselor Kristen Moon, explains that schools like SGU provide fantastic opportunities and support to their students. She also highlights an interview she conducted earlier this summer with Dr. Antoine, a 2019 graduate of St. George’s.

“According to Moon Prep’s interview with Dr. Gaelle Antoine, SGU graduate and current anesthesiology resident at Brown University, St. George’s University provides endless research opportunities for students … She even took advantage of a six-week study abroad program in Europe to see how healthcare worked in a foreign country.”

SGU Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Liebowitz Featured in KevinMD

An op-ed by SGU Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Liebowitz about the importance of internationally trained doctors within the U.S. physician workforce was recently featured in KevinMD.

In the article, “We need more doctors. International medical schools can provide them,” Dr. Liebowitz outlines the increasingly competitive nature of U.S. medical schools. He explains that although our country’s doctor shortage is growing rapidly, these institutions have been unable to respond to the increase in demand. U.S. schools received almost 900,000 applications in the 2019-2020 cycle, but enrolled less than 22,000 new students.

“Consequently, thousands of promising U.S. students who would make excellent doctors are victims of a cruel numbers game,” he writes. “According to a 2019 survey from U.S. News and World Report, the average acceptance rate at 122 U.S. medical schools was just 6.7 percent. And the odds of admission could grow even longer, as the pandemic motivates people to consider careers in medicine.”

Dr. Liebowitz outlines how top-tier international medical schools are resolving this educational bottleneck — and producing the doctors of the future.

“Already, thousands of U.S. citizens head abroad for their medical training. And that number has been growing in recent years. Three-quarters of students at the school I lead are U.S. citizens. Most of them return home to the United States to practice; more than 1,000 started residencies in the United States this summer.”

For a full list of the 2020 residency matches, visit our residency archive. More information about SGU’s admissions deadlines and scholarship programs can be found here.

A First of its Kind: SGU Launches Center for Integrative Medicine

 

Amid a global pandemic, St. George’s University’s School of Medicine recently launched the Center for Integrative Medicine—the first of its kind for the University and the island of Grenada. The virtual center aims to broaden patient-care training for SOM clinical students by teaching them non-traditional methods of care.

Officially launched on September 14, clinical students can learn non-surgical, non-pharmacological, alternative therapies like tai chi, qigong, yoga and meditation for chronic healthcare concerns including cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, osteoarthritis, and musculoskeletal ailments such as back pain.

While SGU has always offered courses on non-traditional medicines as selectives, the establishment of the Center for Integrative Medicine provides a look at all alternative methods of patient care.

“Our mission is to teach medical students how to offer alternative therapies to patients who are ill or want to stay healthy,” according to Dr. Stephen Weitzman, dean of the School of Medicine. “It is important for our students to know and understand how to use all different kinds of therapy and that integrative medicine exists in order to best treat and care for their patients.”

Instrumental to the establishment of the Center is Mr. Michael Weitzman, director of Thai Services, and Dr. Robert Hage, a senior professor of anatomy, who also is the Center’s director. Both lectured integrative medicine selectives to clinical students in the past.

“Our mission is to teach medical students how to offer alternative therapies to patients who are ill or want to stay healthy.”

– Dr. Stephen Weitzman

 

“The Center was created to ensure that students can receive training in a group of therapies that are essential today,” said Mr. Weitzman. “The biggest health issues of our times can have these eastern self-care healing therapies as part of the treatment process—from stress, obesity, back pain, and cardiovascular disease to lowering one’s risk of dying from COVID. The four modalities I teach in my selectives should be an essential aspect of any medical students training.”

Students have demonstrated significant interest in non-traditional patient care methods. “This past summer, I taught two online selectives—Tai  Chi and Qigong, and Yoga and Meditation as Integrative Medicine,” said Mr. Weitzman. “Over a period of six weeks, there were approximately 200 students who registered and participated in the Yoga and Meditation selective alone.”

To learn more about the SGU’s Center for Integrative Medicine, register for a virtual information session, which features a live question-and-answer segment featuring current students and alumni.

– Tornia Charles

World Health Organization redesignates collaborating center at SGU

As public health has become even more of a focus with the emergence of COVID-19 worldwide, St. George’s University continues to be a beacon for education, research, and service collaboration in the Caribbean. The World Health Organization (WHO), together with its regional representative, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), recently re-designated SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) as a Collaborating Center (WHO CC) on Environmental and Occupational Health through August 2023.

Such centers are established to support global health initiatives implemented by the WHO, for the benefit of all member countries. The designation provides a foundation for collaborating centers to develop partnerships with national and international authorities, as well as to generate resources from funding partners.

Dr. Christine Richards

“The continued efforts by faculty and students as well as civil society, governmental and international partnerships demonstrate the benefit of collaboration in public health, which the WHO CC symbolizes,” said Dr. Christine Richards, DPHPM interim chair, who leads the Collaborating Center with SGU faculty member Odran Nigel Edwards.

The WHO CC was originally established on the SGU campus in 2012. The DPHPM, together with the Windward Island Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), also located on SGU’s campus, are uniquely positioned to lend support, having collaborated on several environmental research programs that addressed occupational health among nutmeg workers and health care workers, renewable energy, land degradation, food and water borne diseases, and zoonotic diseases and presently the response to COVID-19.

SGU’s DPHPM, along with WINDREF, also serves as the Caribbean’s only United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) since 2013. The UNFCCC RCC’s primary goal is to work with public and private sector organizations, as well as government agencies, to enhance the implementation of clear technology activities for the Caribbean the region in order to achieve carbon reduction targets to mitigate climate change.

– Brett Mauser