Veterinary Student Research Initiative (VSRI) | St. George's University

Veterinary Student Research Initiative (VSRI)

  • Mentorship program with SVM faculty
  • Flexible time commitment
  • High academic standards (min cum GPA 3.3)
  • Formal research presentation (oral presentation at SGU Research day or equivalent)
  • Credits earned (12 credits required over 3 years)
  • Final portfolio
  • “Distinction in Research” on Diploma

How to apply:
The following should ALL be included in 1 pdf document sent to

  • Resume
  • 2 short letters of recommendation (from SGU or elsewhere where they can describe your character such as attitude, responsibility, etc)
  • 1 page describing previous experience, interests and expectations

Requirements for distinction:

12 credits (reading, writing, fieldwork, labwork) and a final Portfolio which will include:

  • A) Short review on the topic and explanation of the project on their own words
  • B) Lab book containing protocols, experiments, log of hours
  • C) Powerpoint slides from their oral presentation at SGU research day/or equivalent
  • D) A 1 page description of their experience in the program and their contribution to the project
  • E) A letter from the mentor describing the students’ achievement and expressing their support for the student’s distinction in research

For more information please contact Dr. Cheetham at

See below for summary of project description

Molecular detection of zoonotic Leptospira spp. in bats in Grenada

Principal investigators:
Diana Stone, MPH, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVPM. and Sonia Cheetham Brow, DVM, PhD

Research topic:
Leptospira infection in bats

Project summary:
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of humans and animals caused by several pathogenic species of Leptospira. World wide leptospirosis is the most commonly diagnosed zoonotic disease. Tropical regions have the highest human incidence. Historically rats have been considered the main reservoir host for Leptospira species that are pathogenic for humans. Of interest is that recent studies have identified bats as a reservoir for some Leptospira bacteria. What is not known is whether bats in Grenada are infected with Leptospira and, if so, are they infected with human pathogenic species of Leptospira. Leptospira target the kidneys. We have over 100 kidneys from Grenada bats available for testing. To determine Leptospira infection status of bats in Grenada and the Leptospira species involved, we will test these kidneys for Leptospira DNA by using Leptospira species-specific primers and real-time PCR. Results will provide evidence of the possible role of bats as a reservoir host for human Leptospira organisms.

The epizoology and clinical features of canine cutaneous vascular tumors in Grenada.

Principal investigator:
Brian Butler, DVM, MPH, PhD, Dipl. ACVP

Research topic:
Canine skin cancer

Project summary:
Dermal hemangioma (HA) and hemangiosarcoma (HSA) are relatively common cutaneous neoplasms in the dog. Interestingly, these canine dermal lesions occur at a higher frequency in Grenada than they do in North America. Moreover, cases of dermal HSA observed in Grenada more frequently present with multicentric lesions and severe clinical outcomes which is not commonly reported elsewhere in the world. The goal of this retrospective investigation is to identify the epizootiologic features and clinical outcomes of canine dermal HA and HSA in Grenada. Results from this study will be compared to other regions in the world. Future studies will examine the histopathological features and molecular characteristics of canine vascular tumors in Grenada in an attempt to better understand the pathogenesis of this disease.

Molecular detection of Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya in mosquitoes of Grenada.

Principal investigators:
Sonia Cheetham Brow, DVM, PhD and Dan Fitzpatrick

Research topic:
Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya in mosquitoes

Project summary:
Mosquito-borne viruses are important health threats to Grenada. Large outbreaks of alternating serotypes on Dengue occur in a cyclic fashion in addition to small number of yearly cases. Large outbreaks of Chikungunya and Zika occurred when these viruses first entered the country. We are conducting a biweekly molecular survey in mosquitoes to see which virus agents are circulating in mosquitoes over time. We place mosquito traps at dawn and pick them up at dusk and later sort the mosquitoes by genus and species (Aedes Aegypti, Culex spp. and Anopheles spp. etc). RNA is extracted from the Aedes and Culex and tested by real-time RT-PCR.

Development of a sustainable tilapia breeding and rearing program in Grenada

Principle Investigator:
Dave Marancik

Research topic:
Breeding Tilapia in Grenada

Project summary:
There is currently a collaborative endeavor by non-profit and for-profit entities to develop tilapia aquaponics in Grenada. Tilapia will be farmed as a food fish and fish waste will be used as a fertilizer to grow vegetables and commercially important products such as chocolate. The Aquatic Animal Medicine Research Laboratory (AAMRL) has been approached to support this project, including development of a disease-free stock of fish that can be used in production environments. The goal of this VSRI project is to create a sustainable strategy for breeding tilapia in the AAMRL in support of these objectives. Student responsibilities include learning methods to sex fish, researching and developing a strategy for selecting and conditioning broodstock for breeding, collecting offspring, and defining optimal culture parameters and diet to rear fish to market size. This project is expected to set the foundation for increased food security while promoting the sustainable use of resources in support of ecosystem and human health. Additionally, these fish will serve as a laboratory and teaching model in the AAMRL to help improve breeding genetics, disease dynamics and our ability to provide evidence-based aquatic medicine.