Zi Yuan, MD

Zi Yuan, MD ’22, originally from China, is a graduate of St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine and a general surgery resident at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. She is also enrolled in SGU’s Master’s in Public Health program. Dr. Yuan’s desire to pursue medicine stems from her fascination with the workings of the human body. She is also passionate about helping people and positively impacting their lives. Working as a medical professional will now allow her to satisfy those passions, she said.

Dr. Yuan shared her SGU experience and advice for students looking to start their journey to becoming physicians.

SGU: What were your motivations for pursuing a career in medicine?

Dr. Yuan: I enjoy the challenge and complexity of medicine and the fact that it is a constantly evolving and advancing field. Medicine is a fulfilling and rewarding career that will allow me to make a meaningful difference in the world.

SGU: Why did you choose general surgery as a specialty?

Dr. Yuan: I am drawn to the diversity of surgical cases I am exposed to and the ability to make a significant impact on patients’ lives through surgical interventions. As a general surgeon, I will be able to treat a wide range of conditions, from routine procedures to complex operations, and work with patients across the lifespan. I am also attracted to the intensity of surgical practice and the opportunity to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care for my patients. Additionally, I enjoy the technical aspects of surgery and the opportunity to use my hands and mind to solve problems and ultimately make a difference in patients’ lives.

SGU: How did you feel when you learned you matched?

Dr. Yuan: Hearing the news that I was matched into a general surgery residency was an incredible moment that I will never forget. I felt a mix of emotions—excitement, relief, and gratitude. All the hard work, long hours of studying and training, and sacrifices I had made over the years finally paid off. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a surgeon and to begin this next chapter in my career. At the same time, I was humbled by the fact that I had been selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants and grateful for the support of my family, friends, and mentors who had helped me along the way. Overall, it was an amazing feeling that I will always cherish.

“The University’s campus was vibrant and welcoming, making it an ideal place for me to call home. The SGU community is a diverse and inclusive one, welcoming students from all over the world.”


SGU: How did you feel about Grenada as a study destination for the basic sciences?

Dr. Yuan: SGU is located on the beautiful island of Grenada, and it offered me a unique cultural experience and tropical environment perfect for my learning and relaxation. I found that the University’s campus was vibrant and welcoming, making it an ideal place for me to call home. The SGU community is a diverse and inclusive one, welcoming students from all over the world.

SGU: What advice would you give to students (especially international students) who are coming to Grenada for the first time to study at SGU?

Dr. Yuan: Studying in a new environment can be overwhelming, so staying organized and managing your time effectively is important. Create a schedule for studying and other activities and stick to it as best as you can. Taking care of your physical and emotional health is equally important, including getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and seeking help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

SGU: Now that you’ve completed your education and are on the next step of your journey as a physician, what are your ultimate career aspirations?

Dr. Yuan: I am currently interested in pursuing a fellowship program, but I haven’t decided on a specific area yet. However, I do have an inclination towards surgical oncology. Additionally, I am keen on getting involved in academic pursuits.


Alicia Persaud, MD/MPH

Canadian resident, Alicia Persaud, MD/MPH ’20, has always dreamed of being able to practice medicine near loved ones and family in Ontario. As a dual degree graduate of St. George’s University, Dr. Persaud completed residency at Queen’s University family medicine program in June 2023. She is now an attending physician in family medicine.

Recently, Dr. Persaud shared her SGU experience with aspiring physicians as part of a panel discussion at SGULive: Toronto. The event, which took place on October 29, featured representatives from SGU’s Offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Scholarships, as well as SGU School of Medicine graduates who took part in a panel discussion to share their personal journeys from med students to practicing doctors in Canada. More than 160 prospective students and guests attended the event to learn more about attending SGU.

Learn more about an upcoming SGULive or in-person SGU information session 


Dr. Persaud elaborated to SGU News on why she chose SGU, how she was able to succeed in medical school and return home to Canada to practice, and what motivates her as a family medicine doctor.

“SGU gave me the opportunity to learn medicine and excel. I learned how to overcome challenges and obstacles, become resilient and resourceful. These are skills I apply daily as a physician,” Dr. Persaud said.

Read more about Dr. Persaud below.

SGU: Why did you want to become a doctor?
Dr. Persaud:
Like many of my colleagues, I knew I wanted to become a doctor from an early age. I had a strong drive to care for others around me and that only grew with time. I was always drawn to the sciences, and so medicine became a natural path to align my personal interests, values, and career goals.

SGU: Why did you choose SGU?
Dr. Persaud:
I chose SGU for a few reasons. My uncle was an alumnus who studied there back in the 1980s and now runs a successful practice in the US. Second, I was given a great scholarship upon acceptance. Thirdly, I wanted to go abroad and experience living on my own. I felt that among the Caribbean schools I was interested in, SGU had the best reputation and could offer the most. It didn’t hurt that it’s located on a beautiful island with lovely people!

SGU: How did SGU prepare you for residency back in Canada?
Dr. Persaud:
SGU was able to prepare me for residency by granting me many clinical rotation opportunities across the US. The basic sciences portion of the MD program was also robust, and help was always available if needed.

SGU: How did a dual degree help you when seeking residency?
Dr. Persaud:
 I believe completing the MD/MPH dual degree program gave me an edge with residency programs simply by having an additional degree. It was reflective of my commitment to medicine and healthcare in general. Completing my MPH in Grenada gave me a unique insight into the global public health sector and also gave me crucial research experience. I was able to apply both degrees to my research projects during residency. While in Grenada, I completed my thesis project on ‘Texting and Driving in Grenada’, analyzing how traffic accidents/ incidents have increased secondary to texting. It highlighted a need for legislation on texting while driving among several Parishes. While in residency, I worked on a Lung Diagnostic Program QI study at Queen’s University. I also completed a literature review on Adverse Childhood Experiences and how this impacts the development of adult obesity later in life.

sgu live toronto - 845

SGULive: Toronto, took place on October 29, 2023, and featured representatives from SGU’s Offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Scholarships, as well as SGU School of Medicine graduates who took part in a panel discussion to share their personal journeys from med students to practicing doctors in Canada. More than 160 prospective students and guests attended the event to learn more about attending SGU.

SGU: What do you like about family medicine?
Dr. Persaud:
I learned quickly that in Ontario, there is much flexibility within this field. You can choose to subspecialize or focus your practice if desired. Family medicine encompasses a broad range of topics and is ‘cradle to grave’ oriented. This allows me to provide comprehensive care for a wide array of patients. You always see something new in this field of medicine—it is rewarding and fascinating!

SGU: What motivates you in the morning to go to your job?
Dr. Persaud:
 What motivates me is patient need. I am excited to go to work and make a difference in the lives of everyday people. I think about my own family and how doctors have impacted them by being available, advocating for and advising them throughout each stage of their lives. As a result, I am a strong believer in patient safety and education. I hope to provide a level of care to my patients that they can be confident in and satisfied with.

SGU: What advice do you have for SGU students who are hoping to practice in Canada after graduation? 
Dr. Persaud:
 For students of SGU who aspire to complete a Canadian residency, I advise that they complete as many rotations (electives) in Canada as possible. It is also recommended to obtain reference letters from Canadian preceptors that students work closely with. I would also suggest finding IMG residents in the program of interest and asking for advice/review of applications and your CV, as this can be different than what is used for the US. It is important to keep up to date on Canadian requirements (exams, CARMS process, etc.) as you go through the process. Remember, if you need information, always go to the direct source. Stay organized!

SGU: What is the biggest piece of advice you have for aspiring physicians considering SGU or the application process?
Dr. Persaud: Applications can be daunting to any school as lots of moving parts are involved. Set up a ‘to do list’ and work through the items in a priority sequence. Anticipate that things may take longer to prepare than others and tackle them first. Stay organized with a calendar, and use technology to help you! Create a drive and save important documents onto it; this will come in handy as you progress through your applications and schooling.

SGU: Is there anything else you would like to say about SGU?
Dr. Persaud: Take advantage of all the opportunities the school has to offer!


This graduate profile was published in November 2023. 

Adria Rodriguez, DVM, MSc

Dr. Adria Rodriguez, DVM ’08, MSc ’10 in Marine Medicine, MS TCVM, ACC, is an associate professor of small animal medicine and surgery, and professional development in St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. She received her dual DVM and MSc from SGU. She also has a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (MS TCVM) from Chi University in 2020 and is Certified Holistic Life, Career, and Executive Coach, Associate Certified Coach within the International Coaching Federation, and a practitioner in team coaching.

SGU: How are you using your degrees today?

Dr. Rodriguez: I supervise Term 5 SVM students in the Junior Surgery and Anesthesia Laboratory, who are learning small animal surgery, specifically on dogs. The MSc expanded my knowledge in research methods, statistics, and other fields, which has helped me in my role as an educator, clinician, and researcher.

In addition to teaching, I am involved in curriculum mapping, outcomes assessments, student and faculty affairs, and wellbeing. Other professional and research interests include professional development with a focus on wellness, leadership, individual and team coaching, integrative veterinary medicine, small animal surgery, and marine mammal medicine.

My dual degree was the start to the path that my professional career has taken, and I could not be happier.



SGU: You chose to specialize in marine medicine. Why does that field appeal to you?

Dr. Rodriguez: Marine mammals have been my favorite animals since I was very young. My favorite animal is the manatee. My dream was to be a veterinarian in an aquarium or anywhere marine mammals were kept. Ocean Spirits, Grenada-based organization, monitors and does research on leatherback, green, and hawkbill turtle populations. Other marine medicine opportunities include microbiology and shellfish, which was the focus of my research.

Life led me in another direction, yet I still believe that I will be able to work with marine mammals in the future.

SGU: How do you feel your dual degrees give you a unique advantage over other veterinarians?

Dr. Rodriguez: The skills and knowledge gained in performing evidence-based research by doing a dual degree are unique. These tools widen the lens and perspectives of practicing veterinary medicine. Not only have my dual degrees helped me to expand my knowledge of research but allowed me to mentor students and faculty who are pursuing their graduate degrees and gaining experience in research—as well as the bonus of having attained a requirement for promotion in academia.

SGU: Which faculty members were instrumental in helping you get to where you are today?

Dr. Rodriguez: Dr. Ravindra Sharma (former chair of SVM’s Department of Pathobiology) made it possible for me to be able to find a suitable project on the island and supported me throughout the process. Dr. Sharma opened the door for me to become a faculty member at SGU back in 2008, and I am still here today. I will be forever grateful to him.

SGU: What advice would you give to students considering this route?

Dr. Rodriguez: When considering a dual degree, be clear on your why, and make sure that it aligns with where you see yourself professionally. Do it because you want to do it and be realistic with your time management skills and finances. Will you be able to allot the time necessary to pursue both degrees and take care of your well-being while pursuing them? The dual degree curriculum is rigorous, and self-care is of utmost importance on your path to success.

Aaron Logie, MBA

When Grenadian Aaron Logie received his Master of Business Administration from St. George’s University in 2009, he was one of several charter graduates of the University’s new MBA program that had started two years earlier.

According to Mr. Logie, the program had a profound impact on the course of his career. Today, he serves as the executive manager of finance at the Grenada Co-operative Bank Ltd., where he is in charge of investment portfolios, liquidity management, and regulatory reporting for the institution. In addition, Mr. Logie expects to complete his doctorate in finance from SGU later this year, giving him a unique perspective on the banking sector in the Caribbean.

He shared with SGU News why he chose to complete his MBA degree at SGU and how it aided his career development in business and finance.

St. George’s University: What inspired you to pursue business and finance as a profession?

Mr. Logie: The primary motivation that has driven me along my career path was my love for utilizing logic and reasoning to find solutions to problems. I discovered this early on as a student of accounting. Soon after I took my  Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) exams. During my career I have held several roles in the field of finance and accounting prior to joining the Grenada Cooperative Bank Ltd., which prepared me for the role I am in now and the challenges in managing the finances of a bank.

SGU: Why did you choose to enroll in SGU’s MBA program?

Mr. Logie: The launch of the MBA program by SGU in 2007 was a watershed moment in Grenada for higher education and for the field of business management. No longer did one have to travel to another country at significant cost and inconvenience to achieve an MBA or settle for a corresponding degree.

The interactive nature of the program afforded several advantages that attracted me in addition to it being an inexpensive program. Importantly,  being in the charter class has allowed me to network with fellow business professionals who received their degrees from SGU.

SGU: How do you think SGU aided you in your career development? 

Mr. Logie: I believe that attaining my MBA at SGU enabled me to broaden my perspective of the business environment, particularly the intangibles and qualitative aspects that are not within the domains of the accounting practice.

SGU: What are some major takeaways from your MBA education that continue to resonate in your job today? 

Mr. Logie: Obtaining my MBA encouraged me to hone in on my presentation and team-working skills, since most courses at the MBA level required students to make presentations as part of group projects. This enhanced my confidence and skills in making presentations at board and senior management meetings.

SGU: Why did you return to SGU for your PhD and how will the advanced degree impact your work at the bank?

Mr. Logie: I think it will expand my knowledge. My thesis has a specific focus on the banking industry in the Eastern Caribbean. To be specific, the topic is “Sustainability of the Indigenous Banking Sector in the Eastern Caribbean.” Hence, it will allow be to make an important contribution to not only the bank where I work, but to the entire industry in the Eastern Caribbean.

SGU: Do you still communicate with other MBA graduates from your class?

Mr. Logie: Yes, and we all feel that SGU was a special place.

SGU: What advice would you give both to new students and those about to graduate from the School of Graduate Studies? 

Mr. Logie: Ultimately, the goal of higher education should be to empower one in his or her thinking. Obtaining the certificate or diploma should not be the end game. Rather, getting the degree will enhance one’s ability to utilize a body of knowledge acquired to help shape decision making process that will result in superior results and a better world.


Myanna Charles, MD, MPH

As acting senior medical officer and member of the National COVID-19 Sub-committee in Grenada’s Ministry of Health, Myanna Charles, MD ’16, MPH ’21, responded to the call to serve her country at a very critical time.

Tasked with limiting community spread and preventing as much suffering as possible caused by the COVID-19 virus, Dr. Charles recalled the long days and late nights spent working to ensure that Grenadians had the tools and education necessary to stem the impact of COVID.

Even though there were many challenges, she shared with SGU News that being able to provide technical support and advice in such an influential capacity to a people and a country that has given her so much is what continues to fuel her dedication to her job and to give back to Grenada.

St. George’s University: What motivated you to step up during such a crucial time in your country?

Dr. Charles: This might sound very cliché, but I am a child of the soil. Although it was a heavy call, I responded because I’m dedicated to serving the Grenadian people. In the height of the outbreak, there was no rest, our team was working seven days a week to keep our citizens safe. This country and University have afforded me the opportunity to study and practice medicine and public health. It seems only natural that I would want to give back without hesitation to the people, who have allowed me to achieve my dream of becoming a physician.

SGU: What are some of your responsibilities as part of Grenada’s COVID-19 public health response?

Dr. Charles: In collaboration with and under the leadership of the chief medical officer, Dr. Shawn Charles, MD ’17, MIB ’07, MBA ’08, I provided technical advice on public health measures at the ports of entry and in the community. These included testing requirements, entry forms for travel authorization and health declaration, and quarantine requirements for travelers. I also helped put into place measures to curb community spread, address vaccine hesitancy, and increase uptake in vaccinations. I also assisted with curfew measures, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation recommendations.

SGU: What do you find to be the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Dr. Charles: Being able to practice an upstream approach to medicine and doing so in my own country. This approach has given me the opportunity to look at and address the root causes and social determinants of health. In doing so, I’m able to improve health and outcomes at a community and country level rather than at an individual level through policy and program management. Instead of treating the disease of individual patients and sending them back to the same environment, I am now able to look at where these patients are coming from and why they have a particular ailment—so that it never happens again. Preventive medicine is dear to me but being able to do so in my home country and for my people means everything to me.

SGU: How well has SGU prepared you for your journey as a physician?

Dr. Charles: My experience at SGU has been instrumental in who I am today. I particularly recall my clinical years in the United Kingdom. The experience there was integral to building up my interpersonal skills but also implanted that preventive approach to medicine in me. It also allowed me to cultivate a network of amazing friends and colleagues throughout the region. Networking is extremely important and I’m now able to tap into many of those resources today.

SGU: Any plans or future projects you’d like to share?

Dr. Charles: I intend to pursue my PhD and to continue my research on carcinogenic exposures. My hope is to improve health literacy in Grenada through effective health education one day, which can have a huge impact in disease care and prevention. People need to be more aware of their health and the importance that lifestyle measures play in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

SGU: What advice would you give to anyone considering becoming a doctor at SGU?

Dr. Charles: I want to encourage others to be more open to new experiences within the field of medicine. There is so much to explore so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Andrew Kowalski, MD/MPH

Andrew Kowalski, MD/MPH ’12, knows Chicago. He grew up in the Second City suburbs, went to college at Loyola University Chicago, and now works as an interventional nephrologist and assistant professor at MacNeal Hospital—the Illinois-based hospital where he was born and where he volunteered prior to becoming a medical student at St. George’s University.

Like in many American cities, kidney disease is a widespread issue in Chicago, which is where Dr. Kowalski comes in.

St. George’s University: How big of a problem is kidney disease in America?

Dr. Andrew Kowalski: More than one in seven people in the US have kidney disease—that’s about 15 percent of the population. Of those people, nine out of 10 have no idea they have any sort of disease, and two in five aren’t aware that they have severe disease and are very close to initiating dialysis. I see it a lot. I will tell some patients about significant issues that they face and they’re shocked.

I practice both general and interventional nephrology. As a general nephrologist, I see these patients and discuss ways to change their lifestyle, augment risk factors, and create treatment plans to move forward. Oftentimes we can put in 110 percent into a patient and, for whatever reason—likely their genetics—they still progress to requiring dialysis.

SGU: How closely is kidney disease associated with socioeconomics?

Dr. Kowalski: The majority of kidney disease patients have some issue with diabetes and/or high blood pressure. And it’s usually uncontrolled. Much of this closely relates to socioeconomics; those in the poorest communities tend to not have adequate access to healthcare, or whoever they see might not be the best. A lot of them have advanced conditions and complications that come with them.

Also in the mix, albeit less frequently, are patients from affluent neighborhoods. You see the same diabetes and high blood pressure, but the disease is more related to medications, drug use, and genetics. These patients feel like they know more and tend to try to treat themselves.


“SGU blew my mind in terms of the resources that were available, the culture there, the people there. It was fantastic.”


How did you get into nephrology?

Dr. Kowalski: What drove me into nephrology was meeting my mentor, Dr. Edgar Lerma. The way that he practiced, the way he carried himself and interacted with patients, it was really something I wanted to emulate. He wasn’t a very tall man, but he had a presence about him. He never spoke at the patients but always spoke with them. By the end, you would think you were speaking to a friend and bouncing ideas off of him. They truly trusted him and knew that they were in the right hands.

Nephrology has many avenues too. As an interventional nephrologist, I get to use both my hands and my head. As an interventional nephrologist, I see these patients and plan and manage their dialysis access. I would place their hemodialysis catheters, peritoneal catheters, and manage their fistulas and grafts so that they are receiving adequate dialysis treatment.

SGU: What’s your favorite part about your job?

Dr. Kowalski: I love teaching residents. I love explaining something that has a reputation of being difficult and seeing light bulb go off in their heads.

SGU: In addition to your MD, you obtained your Master of Public Health from SGU. How has that factored into your practice?

Dr. Kowalski: When I went to medical school, I wanted to have as many career options available as possible, and it helped not only with that, but it made me more well-rounded. I use the principles and practices that I learned in the MPH program more than I thought I ever would have. The coursework for that degree dove into many aspects of medicine that I was unaware of. We had in-depth discussions about population’s access to care, the influence of insurances, and the thought process that patients go through about their diagnosis and overall patterns of disease. An MPH degree gives you more options, and taking into account what you’re taught and the fact that it’s just one additional year, I think it’s extremely valuable to have.

SGU: How would you describe your SGU experience?

Dr. Kowalski: Going to SGU was much, much better than I thought it was going to be. It blew my mind in terms of the resources that were available, the culture there, the people there. It was fantastic. And time really flew by. During the week, you got a top-notch education—it really was phenomenal what we learned. And then every weekend it was like you were vacationing at a beautiful resort.

SGU really set me up for success. A lot of it had to do with riding on the shoulders of the giants who came before me who built a culture where everyone works together and helps each other out. We’re all on the same team, and our goal is to be better and do better as a whole.

– Brett Mauser

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Karin Schiøler, PhD

The daughter of a Grenadian, Karin Schiøler, PhD ’06, frequented the Spice Isle as a child, visiting her grandfather and family in La Digue, St. Andrew’s. Yet there was a period of 18 years where her life and studies brought her elsewhere. She didn’t return until the early 2000s when, while living in Martinique, she first realized that a curious mosquito-borne disease was posing a serious public health threat to the Caribbean and other tropical regions.

Dr. Schiøler seized the opportunity to undertake a research project on dengue in Grenada and simultaneously earned her PhD from St. George’s University, the second such degree to be awarded by SGU’s School of Graduate Studies. She has gone on to study mosquito-borne diseases primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is currently an associate professor in the Global Health section at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

SGU News reached out to Dr. Schiøler to learn more about the research she has done, specifically on dengue, and how it applies to the current healthcare situation surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19).

St. George’s University: According to the CDC, up to 400 million people worldwide get infected with dengue each year. Why is the disease such a challenge to control?

Dr. Schiøler: The disease is difficult to control because it is transmitted by a mosquito that is extremely well adapted to the domestic environment of most tropical areas. In other words, it lives in and around our houses. We provide the water containers for its larvae and the blood for its egg production—a rather smart setup, at least for the mosquito. Eliminating the mosquito in an environmentally safe way has proven very difficult. At the same time, vaccine development has taken decades, and although a dengue vaccine was recently marketed in some countries, its wider use is limited as it is deemed safe only for those who have already had dengue at least once.

SGU: What parallels can you draw between dengue and what’s taking place with COVID-19?

Dr. Schiøler: Dengue epidemics are acute in the sense that they erupt more or less unexpectedly, rage through the population and then disappear again after weeks or months. The real problem is not as much the experience of the disease, but when all of a sudden a large proportion of the society has it and are home sick or hospitalized, then you have to worry not just for the individual but for society at large in terms of social and economic consequences. What we are currently experiencing with COVID-19 at a global level, many countries have experienced previously due to dengue. That is a healthcare system under siege and the disease taking hold of the entire society, often triggering a health emergency or even a state of emergency declaration.

About a third of those who are infected by dengue virus experience symptoms, and a fraction of those people die from dengue. In between, dengue may cause a range of different symptoms and severities, just like COVID-19. So another parallel that can be drawn is that of human behavior—risk understanding and risk perceptions. How do people perceive COVID-19 and the risk of infection, and how does that affect their behavior? How much can you control this behavior if people don’t feel at risk? In a way, I think COVID was due to happen one way or the other. It’s a large-scale version of what we see with national or regional epidemics, like dengue, where efforts to control the disease by targeting the mosquito often falls short as risk perception is relatively low among homeowners compared to the efforts required to keep the mosquito out of our houses and lives.

“What We Are Currently Experiencing With COVID-19 At A Global Level, Many Countries Have Experienced Previously Due To Dengue.”


SGU: How have you addressed the persistence and spread of dengue?

Dr. Schiøler: My colleagues and I focus on understanding the dengue mosquito and its habitat, from the household to a wider community level including institutions and specific commercial settings. I believe that this understanding remains the key to dengue control. One of the projects that I’m directly involved with in Zanzibar, Tanzania, is an effort to integrate dengue control into primary school curriculum so that children can learn and execute mosquito control adapted to the realities of their household and wider community. It’s a mixed-methods study where we aim to determine how the children perceive dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, what they can and can’t do as children in terms of control activities, and what’s actually accepted in that particular society. In another study, also on Zanzibar, we are working in collaboration with the tourism sector to replace the heavy reliance on chemical insecticides with environmentally sustainable mosquito control measures at hotels.

SGU: How would you describe your experience studying dengue in the Caribbean?

Dr. Schiøler: My thesis focused around understanding who the main risk groups are when an arbovirus like dengue is transmitted in the population. I studied how it spread and how a local active surveillance system worked to address it. In collaboration with both public and private health care providers, I actively went out and pursued cases and set up a system with rapid diagnostic turnover and response to the health authorities.  The aim was to predict outbreaks by picking up on the early cases, and then activate vector control and public dissemination before epidemic onset. My study showed that, after diagnosing the index case, there was a seven to eight week lull before a full-blown epidemic. We learned how to react to the risk of a new virus and how it is likely to spread through a small-island population. This experience was groundbreaking for me in that it gave me the first experience of working across disciplines and with different institutions and actors from the nurses and doctors forming the frontline of Grenada’s health care system and officials at the Grenada Ministry of Health to researchers at the CDC in Puerto Rico, who helped me set up advanced diagnostic techniques in Grenada.

SGU: What led you down the path to becoming an infectious disease researcher?

Dr. Schiøler: For me, research has always been about curiosity. Why is dengue even a public health problem? Why has nobody solved this problem already? Of course, the reason is that dengue is a complex disease—it’s not that easy to solve. You may get a few answers to the problem, but that will create new questions, and you keep seeking new answers for these questions. It’s perhaps frustrating at times, yet very rewarding. I started out fairly narrowly in terms of an immunological interest in dengue symptoms, but that interest lead me in into new directions, where today my primary focus is more on the entomological aspects of disease transmission and the inclusion of the community and other stakeholders in finding sustainable solutions to mosquito control. It’s the prospect of change that makes it exciting, and the realization that there isn’t necessarily a simple biomedical answer to diseases such as dengue. One can argue the same in the case of COVID-19.


Published November 2020


SGU graduate Karin Schiøler, PhD, with Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Calum Macpherson.

Nathan Kwablah, MD, MBA

Nathan Kwablah, MD ’11, MBA ’12, is the very embodiment of individual hard work and dedication, and St. George’s University’s commitment to global medicine.

Born and raised in Ghana, Dr. Kwablah attended SGU on a merit-based scholarship offered to qualified students from Commonwealth countries. He dreamt of becoming a doctor since he was a teenager, inspired by his father, who was a biomedical scientist, as well as the American TV show, ER. When it came time to choosing a medical school, St. George’s University was a highly desirable choice.

“SGU appealed to me because of the learning structure and the opportunities I knew it would give me,” he said. “A family friend had also studied there and highly recommended it. The scholarship offer was the deciding point and I’m delighted at the path I chose.”

The SGU Commonwealth Scholarships are offered to students who demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to their chosen discipline. They are primarily granted to students from countries where the need for trained professionals is high.

“I knew I’d want to return to Ghana and practice medicine after I graduated,” Dr. Kwablah said.

After earning his Doctor of Medicine at SGU, he stayed in Grenada to complete a Master of Business Administration in Multi-Sector Health Management. His education prepared him well for his return to Ghana, where he currently serves as medical director at Action Clinic in Accra, with designs on becoming a specialist in family medicine.

“There is so much work to be done in Ghana,” Dr. Kwablah said. “We have very capable doctors but limited resources and the country’s medical services are behind in terms of technological advancements. Most doctors are based in urban areas which means medical support for people living in rural areas is hard for them to access.

To resolve this issue, Dr. Kwablah aims to develop health technology in Ghana. He currently is part of a telemedicine initiative that provides a low-cost medical advice service by phone for people who are unable to visit with a doctor. It has proven to be especially beneficial for low-income individuals and families, particularly those residing in remote areas.

“I’d like to do more research in this field and I feel well equipped to take on its challenges after having the advantage of a global education at SGU. The exposure I had during my clinical placements in New York City and California really helped shape my mindset, and I apply the principles from my learning in my day-to-day work.

“As well as a fantastically well-rounded medical education, SGU taught me skills in clinical research, medical education, data analysis, and public speaking, all of which have helped me get to where I am today.”


Published September 2019

Annie Le, MD/MPH

When one considers the path that Annie Le, MD ’18, and her family have taken, it’s a marvel to see just how far she’s come—and the places she’s sure to go.

“Coming to the US, we pretty much started from scratch,” said Dr. Le, who started her family medicine residency at Borrego Health in California this summer.

In the 1970s, with Vietnam on the precipice of war, her family immigrated to California, settling in a refugee community in San Diego. She lived with her entire extended family in a single home and in poverty. However, she said the experience “built up a lot of character and grit” that helped shape her work ethic and goals.

That includes in medicine, a field she has eyed from a young age. Now as a physician, she is committed to treating underserved communities.

“Being from a refugee community, I witnessed inequality in healthcare firsthand,” she said. “The cultural barriers took a negative toll on my family.”

Dr. Le’s journey toward becoming a doctor began when she obtained her Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), becoming a first-generation college graduate. In addition to her studies, Dr. Le developed a strong research background, first as an undergraduate within UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine’s Department of Hematology and Oncology, and then at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where her responsibilities included coordinating all pediatric brain tumor and central nervous system disease-related clinical trials. As a result, she has been published and mentioned in several research articles.

Still, she felt limited in what she could provide for her patients.

“I knew that a step above, to be able to implement the research and be on the front lines, was to be a practitioner,” she said.

After completing postbaccalaureate courses at UCSF, Dr. Le applied to US medical schools but was waitlisted. Instead of waiting a year to start her journey toward becoming a physician, she applied to St. George’s University at the behest of a UCLA colleague who had taken a similar path.

“Looking back on my clinical years, I really appreciate the fact that I was exposed to so many different communities, different hospitals, and the different ways that they do things. You adapt to each location, and gain knowledge and skills from each experience.”

“I saw how successful she was going through it, and it was an opportunity to start sooner,” Dr. Le said. “Also, during undergrad I had wanted to study abroad but never did, so this was my opportunity to live in a different culture. Even though I went to UCLA and live in California where it’s diverse, SGU gave me a different level of diversity that allowed me to learn from people from different backgrounds from all over the world. It’s something that I really appreciated.”

While at SGU, she was a member of the Student Government Association (SGA), mentored students, and volunteered at several student organization health fairs. She was also appointed by her peers as project coordinator of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), an organization that recognizes students who demonstrate compassionate and patient-centered care.

Dr. Le’s clinical training took her to locations throughout the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

“Looking back on my clinical years, I really appreciate the fact that I was exposed to so many different communities, different hospitals, and the different ways that they do things,” she said. “You adapt to each location, and gain knowledge and skills from each experience.”

Among her stops was Borrego Health, which is part of SGU’s vast network of clinical training sites. Through that experience, she built a rapport with attending physicians and staff, making it an easy decision to rank the facility as a top choice for residency. She joined its inaugural residency class on July 1, 2019 and as the first SGU graduate selected for the program.

“In my fourth year, it felt like I was an intern already,” she said. “The relationships that were developed prior to the match allowed me to foresee what the experience would be like working there. I had such a positive experience, so it really felt like home.”

After earning her Doctor of Medicine from SGU and receiving all four honor cords in leadership/academics/humanism/research, Dr. Le added a Master of Public Health, with a focus on preventive medicine, to her resume, further preparing her for a career in family medicine. She will begin her residency at Hemet Valley Medical Center, one of two residency locations underneath the Borrego Health umbrella. Like she grew comfortable at Borrego, Dr. Le hopes that her patients—from wherever they come—feel welcome coming into her office.

“When I was young, I wanted to change some parts of medicine but didn’t have the capacity to do so. But now I do,” she said. “Seeing how hard my family worked has motivated me to push for equal healthcare access for every individual and community.”

Published July 2019

Michael Sanwald, MBA

As a veterinarian, Michael Sanwald was trained to treat a wide array of animals, and to create happier and healthier families as a result. But to run a practice of his own, it required more than that. He needed some business sense.

For that, he turned to St. George’s University, from which he earned his Master of Business Administration in 2013. Now the Co-Founder and Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of Fetch My Vet, Dr. Sanwald has found that the experience has made a significant impact on his veterinary practice.

“My MBA and DVM dovetail into every portion of my role as CVO. I am involved in all aspects of the company, from recruiting veterinarians into our network to being the in-house expert when it comes to the business of veterinary medicine for our team,” stated Dr. Sanwald. “Therefore, my MBA plays an invaluable part in what I do, including developing marketing programs for our clients and even working on the financial aspects with our accounting department to set reimbursement rates on the wellness plans we designed. These are all aspects of everyday life in which my MBA is utilized.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Findlay in Ohio, Dr. Sanwald made his dream of becoming a veterinarian a reality in 2003 by obtaining his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State University. He later moved to Virginia, where he spent more than a decade at the Banfield Pet Hospital, earning national merit awards for Best Growth to Plan in 2007 and 2010. In setting off on his own, Dr. Sanwald’s focus swung to the business side of veterinary medicine, prompting him to pursue an MBA from SGU.

“I chose SGU for my MBA because of the unique offering in Multi-Sector Health Management and because it caters to the specifics of medicine and veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Sanwald. “The program was 90 percent online, which allowed me to run the practice that I currently owned, while getting my degree. Additionally, I would have the opportunity to fulfill my two residency requirements on the island, and I felt that since SGU was one of the world’s largest medical schools, the exposure to the resources used to teach their medical students would be a great addition to my current knowledge base.”

Even though he specialized in small animal medicine, Dr. Sanwald didn’t want to limit himself and now treats patients ranging from exotics to traditional pets. He also recruits and trains veterinarians to provide care to client’s pets in their homes throughout Florida, the Southeast, and even nationwide.

Currently, Dr. Sanwald’s plans surround launching a nationwide in-home veterinary service throughout the United States, but he often finds himself thinking of ways to retire to Grenada and become part of the SGU community. He visualizes one day working with the veterinary community both on the island and the University to improve the overall health care of the region and support its veterinary medicine and MBA programs.

“While on the island, experiencing the local culture was absolutely incredible. Grenada is beautiful and its people are nothing short of that,” praised Dr. Sanwald. “Over the period of my two residencies, I was on the island for two weeks each time but I wanted to explore more of it and stay longer. My time there also left me trying to understand ways in which we can give back to areas in this world that don’t have the medical access and benefits that we take for granted in the US. Giving back and being part of a community were themes that I left the island wanting to explore more of in whatever avenues life took me.”

– Ray-Donna Peters