Ross University Blog

STUDENTS: This Ross Student Was a Winner at ACP

November 14, 2016

Fourth-year Ross student Melissa Woo

Fourth-year Ross student Melissa Woo

Fourth-year Ross student Melissa Woo was selected as the single, top overall student winner of the medical student poster presentations at the American College of Physicians (ACP) Michigan Chapter Annual Scientific Meeting held on October 1 in Acme, Michigan. The title of her poster is Alcohol Withdrawal or Stimulant Overdose: CIWA to the Rescue.

CIWA, or Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol, is a well-validated scale that was created in the 1980s and it is used to quantitatively and reliably assess and re-assess the severity of acute alcohol withdrawal and to help determine and adjust its management.

Melissa, who earned her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, will now be going on to the ACP National Internal Medicine Meeting in San Diego to present the same winning poster. That event will be held from March 30-April 1, 2017. Melissa is currently finishing her rotations at Cleveland Clinic Florida. She applied for MATCH℠ 2017 for Internal Medicine.

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ACADEMICS: Second-Year Ross Student Presents at AMSA Conference

November 07, 2016

Second-semester Ross student Doan Nguyen

Second-semester Ross student Doan Nguyen

Congratulations to second-year Ross student Doan Nguyen on delivering a popular presentation at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) conference held in Puerto Rico on Oct. 15 and 16, 2016. Doan was invited to lead a session titled Arterial Blood Gas Sampling and Identification. More than 200 people attended this presentation.

The highlights of the AMSA conference include bringing together physicians-in-training and expert facilitators. Attendees spend two days exploring current issues in medicine, building clinical skills, and connecting with peers.

Doan earned a BA from University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam and BS degree in respiratory care from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas. He is currently a licensed respiratory therapist, and had practiced in this field for nine years before enrolling in medical school at Ross.

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FACULTY: Dr. Ann Gillett-Elrington Shares her Research Internationally

October 14, 2016

Ross faculty member Dr. Ann Gillett-Elrington

Ross faculty member Dr. Ann Gillett-Elrington

Ross University School of Medicine faculty member Dr. Ann Gillett-Elrington has been very active recently in sharing her exciting research. She is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine on the Dominica Campus. Dr. Gillett-Elrington was a presenter at Research Day on the Dominica campus on September 16, and she presented a poster at the Ross Leadership Conference in Cancun September 22-24.

The theme of the Research Day symposium was “Human factors in healthcare: A systems approach to understand medical errors.” The other Research Day presenters were Dr. Jawahar (Jay) Kalra, Professor of Pathology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Kathryn M. Kellog, an attending physician in Emergency Medicine, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and a clinical safety scientist, National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare. In her lecture, Dr. Gillett-Elrington used her experiences as an OB/GYN to illustrate how medical errors can happen and talked about the responsibility of the health system for patient safety.  She said that system-wide data helps with root-cause analysis, but physicians must also exercise “reflection in action and continuous learning.”

Her poster at the Leadership Conference was titled, “A Comprehensive Proposal to Reduce Preterm Birth Disparities in Detroit, Michigan.” Michigan is a state where African American babies are born prematurely at a disproportionately higher rate as compared to the overall rate. Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. She discussed non-maleficence, or ‘do no harm.’ “That we appreciate the magnitude of the impact of medical errors is imperative,” she said.

Dr. Gillett-Elrington said she saw Leadership Conference as a good opportunity for engagement with colleagues working across different stages of medical education. After one year of teaching at RUSM, she believes students are getting “a world class education at Ross.” She said an awareness of health disparities, like the subject of her poster, and of patient safety are an integral part of Ross's curriculum. It’s critical “for the students to realize that this is not an elective way of behaving. It’s a part of the competencies we want to hone.”
As a Fulbright scholar, Dr. Gillett-Elrington earned a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Emory University. She holds an MD from Wayne State University and a Master’s in Public Health, Policy and Management from Harvard University.  She is a native of Belize. 

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STUDENTS: Top 3 Winners from the Ross Leadership Conference Poster Contest

October 10, 2016

Three Ross University School of Medicine students won the top awards in the poster competition at Ross’ Leadership Conference, held in Cancun September 22-24.

Here are the top three results!

First Place

Elizabeth Capt
Student Perceptions vs. Utilization of Video Recorded Lectures and Other Resources

First-place winner Elizabeth Capt (from left), Dean Joseph Flaherty, and Dr. Alan Bateson

Elizabeth is currently studying in London as part of the United Kingdom and New Jersey clinical track. She earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Biology from West Texas A&M University. After completing medical school, she said that she intends to pursue a residency in family medicine. She has a growing interest in medical education research. 

Second Place

Eliza Slama
Use of a Mock Deposition Program to Improve Resident Understanding of the Importance of Documentation

Second-place winner Eliza Slama (from left), Dean Flaherty, and Dr.  Bateson

Eliza is a fourth-year student at Ross. She earned bachelor’s degrees at Florida State University in both biology and Spanish, with a minor in chemistry. She has developed an interest in global health and has participated in mission trips to Peru, India, and the Dominican Republic.

Third Place

Jacob Hayden
Effect of Hospital Intervention on Smoking Cessation 30 Days After Admission for Acute Coronary Syndrome

Third-place winner Jacob Hayden (from left), Dean Flaherty, and Dr.  Bateson

Jacob is a fourth-year student at Ross. He earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Missouri State University, where he was presented with the department’s outstanding thesis/research award and graduated magna cum laude. The research he conducted there has been published in several peer-reviewed journals.

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ALUMNI: 2009 Graduate Treats NFL Players as Orthopedic Sports Medicine Specialist

November 09, 2015

Sommerhalder and Veatch, RUSM alumni
RUSM graduate Filippo Chillemi, MD (Class of 2009), sports medicine physician

It’s a Sunday, and Filippo Chillemi, MD (RUSM Class of 2009) is waiting in a private hangar at Pensacola International Airport. He’ll board a private jet bound for Washington, DC where, upon arrival, he and his colleagues will be whisked from the airport to a special entrance at FedExField, home of the Washington Redskins.

It might sound like the route taken by a professional football player or halftime show star. In reality, Dr. Chillemi is part of a team of independent medical advisors hired by the Redskins to consult as well as evaluate and treat players. “Before each game, we head to the locker room to evaluate any active injuries, and give clearance on whether players are going to play or not,” he says. “Then, when the game stats, we head to the sidelines.”

After the game, you’ll find him consulting on tests and screenings, or evaluating any bumps and bruises that may not have been disclosed to the medical staff during the game. When all is said and done, he and his team return to the plane, fly back to Florida, and spend the week following up with these and other athletes who seek out their advice on surgeries, treatments, and ongoing care.

Plan A Was Soccer—Plan B Was Medical School

Dr. Chillemi has always been interested in sports. In fact, in high school, he was a star soccer player, traveling the world to compete in youth world cups and other international events. Upon graduation, he accepted a full scholarship to play for Notre Dame’s top flight soccer team. “I had a plan A and a plan B,” he says. “Plan A was to play soccer: go to Europe, and play until I couldn’t play anymore. If I couldn’t play soccer, plan B was to go to medical school.”

So when he injured his ankle, plan B quickly became the only plan worth pursuing.

My brother went to RUSM, and to be honest, I didn’t apply anywhere else,” he says. “Going into medical school I knew I wanted to be an orthopedist, and I knew it would be competitive. So I worked hard, became valedictorian, and scored very high on my exams so I would be a competitive applicant. It worked out.”

How He Launched His Career as a Sports Medicine Physician

Indeed, it did. Dr. Chillemi scored a residency at the University of South Alabama, which had just started its NCAA Division I football program. Working alongside just two other residents, Chillemi followed the team to every home and away game, training, and practice, gaining the one-on-one experience he needed to launch his career in sports medicine.

Today, Dr. Chillemi is an orthopedic sports medicine fellow at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, FL, treating baseball and football players ranging from high school students right up through the pros. The Andrews Institute was founded by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, MD, who is widely known nationally and abroad for his contributions to knee, shoulder, and elbow injuries.

"The Pensacola Blue Wahoos minor league baseball team comes to us, and on Fridays, we cover a bunch of local high school football teams,” he says. “Saturdays, we cover Auburn University—we fly up on the private jet for home and away games. And on Sundays, we’re with the Redskins.”

Leading the Charge on Important Medical Research

Between this busy schedule, Dr. Chillemi and his team are spearheading advances in stem cell research, particularly as it pertains to cartilage growth. “There’s no way to regrow particular cartilage once it’s been damaged, but we’re hoping stem cells are the answer,” he says. “It’s not proven yet—we’re still working on it—but we go in and expose the bone, we drill a hole, and inject stems cells into it. The hope is that the cells realize they’re in an area where they’re supposed to be cartilage, and grow into cartilage.” He hopes that this technology will eventually help the myriad players coming in with common sports injuries, like ACL and SLAP tears.

“As advisors, we’re not on the teams’ medical staffs,” he says. “And that’s important, so the players know we are unbiased. We want them to feel free to come to us and talk to us, and know that what we do may not be the best thing for the team, but it will be what is best for the athlete.”

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YEAR IN REVIEW: RUSM Campus News Highlights

January 08, 2015

It was an exciting year on the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) Dominica campus -- three productive semesters, packed with academics and activities to enhance the learning environment and the student experience. Here are just a few of the highlights of 2014.

The White Coat Ceremony: A Rite of Passage for RUSM Students


Each semester’s new cohort of students attends the White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passing marking the beginning of their medical education. Traditionally, RUSM alumni return to Dominica to address the new students, share their experiences, and provide sage advice.

In January, RUSM alumna Sherri D. Onyiego, MD, PhD, (RUSM 2005) delivered the keynote address. Dr. Onyiego is Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Medical Director of the San Jose Clinic in Houston, Texas. She is also a provider for Harris Health System's Thomas Street Health Center, a  comprehensive HIV/AIDS clinic.


In May, the keynote speaker was Cheau Williams, MD, MS (RUSM 2006) who was accompanied by his wife, RUSM alumna Dr. Betty Koukis, whom he met while both were medical students in Dominica.

Dr. Williams is the director of urogynecology and female pelvic reconstructive surgery at Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, GA.

CheauSeptember’s guest speaker was Jenny Han, MD (RUSM 2005). She is a pulmonary and critical care specialist who is currently the director at Grady Memorial Outpatient Pulmonary Clinic in Atlanta, GA. She is also an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Han is married to Nazario Villasenor, MD, an anesthesiologist who is also an RUSM graduate.

 Research Day Events Showcase Advances in Medical Knowledge

Research Day

Three Research Day events are held annually on RUSM’s Dominica campus to showcase advances in medical knowledge and provide students with exposure to research methods and projects. The 50th Research Day symposium was held in January and was dedicated to the event’s founder, Dr. Gerald Grell, RUSM’s dean for clinical and community affairs. Chaired by Dr. Paul Ricketts, it was titled “The Heart of Medicine” and featured three internationally recognized speakers: Dr. Dale Abel (University of Iowa), Dr. Laurence Sperling (Emory University), and Dr. Rainford Wilks (University of West Indies).

The timely topic of “Developing Medications to Treat Addiction: Challenges for Science and Practice” was the focus of the 51st Research Day at RUSM in May. It was directed by research committee vice-chair Dr. S.J. White, and organized by Dr. Vicki Coffin. The presenters were Dr. Peter Kalivas, Distinguished Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, University of Texas Medical Branch and Director of Center for Addiction Research; and Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Chief of National Institutes of Health Section on Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology.

"Specialized Healthcare: A focus on the LGBT community" was the theme of RUSM’s 52nd Research Day program, held in September. Fourth-semester student G. Travis Wagner organized the event, which focused on best practices in individualized care for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population. The presenters were Erika Austin, PhD, Health Service Researcher, Birmingham, VA Medical Center, and consultant, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Medicine; Rixt Luikenaar, MD, FACOG, Founder, Rebirth Clinic; Dayne Law, MS, Transgender Program Coordinator, Utah Pride Center; and Steven Jenison, MD, private consultant.

Safety and Security

More Safety and Security Enhancements on Campus

Four emergency call boxes were installed on campus in a continuing effort to improve safety and security. The tall, blue call boxes have a blue light on the top which is clearly visible during day and night, and the word “EMERGENCY” in capital letters written vertically along the structure. Plans call for more emergency call boxes to be placed in strategic locations throughout the Picard community. 

New Departmental Chairs

Alan Bateson, PhD

Alan Bateson, PhD was appointed chair of the RUSM Pharmacology department and Sheila Nunn, PhD was appointed chair of the Anatomy department, as of Oct. 1. They had served as interim chairs of their departments from January to September of this year.

Dr. Bateson joined RUSM in September 2011. He currently teaches cardiovascular and renal pharmacology and neuropharmacology and serves as Chair of the Faculty Appointments and Promotions Committee. He is also a member of the Curriculum Committee and the Clinical Curriculum Subcommittee. He was awarded his PhD in 1987 from the University of London (King’s College), UK, in biochemistry and molecular biology. He has published numerous peer-reviewed papers as well as reviews and book chapters, primarily in the area of GABA-A receptor neuropharmacology, and other channels important in cardiovascular function.

Research Day

Dr. Nunn received her BSc with honors in Microbiology in 1987 from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.  She then studied at The Queen’s University of Belfast where in 1992 she was awarded a PhD in Anatomy.  She then spent two years at RUSM as an Assistant Professor of Anatomy. She returned to the UK in 1995 to become a Lecturer in Anatomy at the University of Leeds, where she was primarily involved in teaching medical students, in addition to carrying out research in the field of Helicobacter pylori. Dr. Nunn relocated full time to RUSM in September 2013, having maintained the role of Visiting Professor of Anatomy since 1995. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals in the fields of gastrointestinal anatomy and pathology and medical education.

Student Appreciation Dinner, Sports Events, Holiday Celebrations and More

Activities on campus included Dean’s Honor Roll ceremonies, Independence Day and Creole Day celebrations, the student culture show, Student Government Association events, Student Appreciation dinner, the fourth semester banquet, and sports events.

Research DayAn Education Summit was held in Dominica on Feb. 21-22. Physicians from RUSM’s affiliated teaching hospitals in the US travelled to the campus for a meeting with our Dominica faculty. The Summit’s aim was to explore ways to increase clinical correlations within the basic science education. A future conference will look at ways to integrate basic science teaching into the clinical years. A Residency Fair followed the Education Summit, with about 200 RUSM students taking the opportunity to meet with residency program directors from hospitals throughout the U.S. Dean, Joseph Flaherty, also participated, and held a session to advise students who are interested in a psychiatry residency, while Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Wm Lynn Weaver, was there to offer guidance to those interested in surgery.

The Salybia Mission Project (SMP) 10th anniversary 5K run on April 4 inaugurated the new recommended jogging route of about 1K that was completed on campus. Three security stations along this route will help to ensure that runners stay safe. SMP is a non-profit, non-religious, student-run organization designed to provide meaningful health care to the indigenous peoples of Dominica through student-run health clinics, and more.

New tennis and basketball courts were constructed and opened for play in May. They are well-lit and widely used during the day and after dark.

The inaugural Professionalism Conference was held on May 23 and 24. The first day was geared to students, and the second to faculty. The two nationally renowned speakers were Avarita L. Hanson, JD, Executive Director, Georgia Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and William Alexander, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Amerigroup Community Care of Georgia, a wholly owned subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc.

The Annual Ceremony of Thanks was held on December 1st to honor those who have donated their bodies so that RUSM’s students might learn to become physicians. They are the students’ first patients. The ceremony included students’ reflections on their experience of using cadavers as part of their anatomical education, student readings and music, and a dance performed by the Karina Cultural Dance Group. The highlight of the ceremony was the lighting of a candle for each of the 84 donors by those students who had used the donor’s body during anatomy labs. Present at the event were students, faculty and staff, and some Dominican residents who have arranged to donate their bodies to RUSM when they pass away.

Leadership Transitions

There was a transition in leadership on the RUSM Dominica Campus at the end of the year. Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Wm. Lynn Weaver, transitioned into a new role in the US, due to his need to focus on the health of a close family member. He will take on the position of Interim Senior Associate Dean, Clinical Sciences, based in Miramar and overseeing clinical sites. Stan White, PhD, Associate Dean, Center for Teaching and Learning and Professor of Physiology, took on the interim role of Senior Associate Dean, Dominica Campus.

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STUDENT SUCCESSES: RUSM Student's Clerkship Leads to Poster Presentation, Publication

November 24, 2014

RUSM clinical student Adam Hines
Adam Hines (above), RUSM
Clinical Student

An experience with a difficult patient during a psychiatry rotation became an opportunity for a Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) clinical student to publish and present new research based on the case. 

Adam Hines was completing a rotation at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY, when an 84-year-old woman was admitted. “She came in with irritability, depression and delusional behavior, but did not seem to have typical dementia,” he said. “She needed to get neuropsychological testing. She was very difficult to deal with, but I was able to build a rapport with her. The way I approached her was by trying to get to know her on a personal level.” A CT scan revealed that the patient had two calcified meningiomas (tumors). 

Hines drew on the experience as co-author of Meningioma and Psychiatric Symptoms: A Case Report and Review, a poster presented at the annual meeting of the Institute of Psychiatric Services of the American Psychiatric Association held in San Francisco in October. A paper on this topic has also been accepted for publication in The Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. “The poster presentation was a really great experience,” Hines said. “I was able to present to prestigious people and to discuss the case with them.”

A graduate of West Virginia University, Hines enrolled in RUSM in January 2012, after working for two years in a senior position at a home health agency. “I made a lot of sacrifices to go to medical school,” he said. “I gave up a good job. I was married, and I initially moved away from my wife. It was a culture shock to arrive in Dominica, an unfamiliar place. But once orientation started, it was game time, and I hit the ground running.” His wife later joined him, and became involved in the RUSM Spouses Organization. 

Institutional leadership, including RUSM's dean, had kind words for Hines. "We heartily congratulate Adam Hines on his remarkable achievement at this stage of his medical career," said Joseph A. Flaherty, Dean and Chancellor.

"We're glad that Adam's education at St. John's Episcopal has resulted in this poster presentation and the article being accepted for publication," added Gary Belotzerkovsky, Senior Director for Clinical Student Affairs. "These will be great additions to his CV when the time approaches for the Residency Match."

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At RUSM Research Day, Renowned Experts Discuss Developing Medications to Treat Addiction

June 09, 2014

Group: Dr. Vicki Coffin, left, Dr. Wm Lynn Weaver, Dr. Kathryn A. Cunningham, Dr. Peter W. Klivas, Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, and Dr. Stanley White, at Research Day.

Group: Dr. Vicki Coffin, left, Dr. Wm Lynn Weaver, Dr. Kathryn A. Cunningham, Dr. Peter W. Klivas, Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, and Dr. Stanley White, at Research Day.

The timely topic of Developing Medications to Treat Addiction: Challenges for Science and Practice, was the focus of the 51st Research Day at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) on May 23, 2014. Some of the questions addressed by the three renowned guest speakers were: Why is addiction so hard to treat? What are the predictors of who will become addicted to a drug? How can pharmacotherapies be combined for the management of alcoholism?

The presenters were Dr. Peter Kalivas, Distinguished Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Neuroscience, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. Kathryn Cunningham, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, University of Texas Medical Branch and Director of Center for Addiction Research; and Dr. Lorenzo Leggio, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Chief of National Institutes of Health Section on Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology.

“Personalized medicine is quite important; the combined pharmacotherapies for management of alcoholism,” said Leggio. Yet, during a panel discussion among the presenters it was agreed that many physicians do not know that there are medications they can prescribe for patients, and so they don’t even ask questions that would identify alcoholics.

Directed by research committee vice-chair Dr. S.J. White, and organized by Dr. Vicki Coffin, the symposium also featured a poster session by students, based on their research activities. Fourth-semester student Matthew Gardy, and a group of his peers, created a poster on a discovery they made in the anatomy lab. “There was a tumor encapsulating the entire heart,” Gardy explained. “Most of these types of cancer are not known until the autopsy. They are extremely rare.”

The winner of the student poster competition for research conducted at RUSM was, "A Clinical Pathologic Study of the Identification, Diagnosis and Treatment of a Lymphangioma" by Afshan Ahmed, Aparna Reddy, Stephanie Riviere, Selvin Jacob, Ankit Bhandari, Amir Asaseh & Richard Hanley. For research conducted prior to coming to RUSM the winner was, "Separation of Mechanisms in Kidney Podocytes: Mechanical Stretch Sensitivity vs Endogeonously Activation in TRPC6 Calcium Currents" by student Justin Khine, M. Anderson, and S.E. Dryers.

In his closing remarks, RUSM’s Dr. Gerald Grell, dean for clinical and community affairs, said, “We want our students to feel that they are in an institution that encourages research activities.”

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