Ross University School of Medicine 50th Research Day Dedicated to Dr. Gerald A.C. Grell


(Standing, L-R)   Dr. Rainford Wilks, Dr. Laurence Sperling, Dr. Gerald A.C. Grell, Dr. Dale Abel, and Dr. Paul Ricketts.
(Seated, L-R) Natalie LaCorte and Kristyn Galbraith.

(Standing, L-R) Dr. Rainford Wilks, Dr. Laurence Sperling, Dr. Gerald A.C. Grell, Dr. Dale Abel, and Dr. Paul Ricketts. (Seated, L-R) Natalie LaCorte and Kristyn Galbraith.

The 50th Research Day symposium was held at Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) on January 24. 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. Semester 4 students Kristyn Galbraith and Natalie LaCorte were the session facilitators. Three Research Day events are held annually on RUSM’s Dominica campus.

This Research Day was dedicated to the event’s founder, RUSM’s dean for clinical and community affairs, Professor Gerald A.C. Grell, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.A.C.P., D.T.M. & H., M.R.C.P. (UK), MB. His office collaborates with the Dominica Ministry of Health and other organizations providing continuing medical education, and community health outreach activities to health professionals and citizens of Dominica.

About 150 people attended the half-day program, including students, faculty, staff, and guests from the health centers around the country. Semester 2 student Jasmine Jones said, “Right now I’m doing the cardio block, and I thought ‘The Heart of Medicine’ would be relevant to what I’m learning.” Continuing Medical Education credits were awarded to those attending.

“This is a significant event, with world-class speakers, in honor of Dr. Grell, for all that he has done for this school and this country,” said Senior Associate Dean Wm Lynn Weaver, MD, FACS.

“This symposium was another great example of how our students can become exposed to world-class research and see how it translates to have an impact for medical practice,” said Stanley White, Ph.D., RUSM’s associate dean for the Center for Teaching and Learning, and vice-chair of the research committee.

The focus of the symposium was on chronic non-communicable diseases. Dr. Abel called diabetes mellitus “the epidemic of the 21st century” and said that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients who suffer from it. He said that it was imperative to reduce complications from the disease, prevent and delay its onset, and “translate research into clinical practice that makes a difference to patients.”

Dr. Rainford Wilks began his presentation by asking participants to “reorient your mind from the lab to the community” and spoke about the behaviors that contribute to otherwise preventable heart disease, diabetes and cancer, including poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco, and harmful use of alcohol. He advised medical students that they “need to recognize the public health component of what you do.”

Dr. Laurence Sperling stated, “The future of cardio-vascular medicine will be a focus on cardio-vascular health and prevention. One concept you’ll see more and more is ‘lifetime risk.’” He also stated that, “cultures of health need to be designed, to make the healthy choice the easy and safe choice” for example by creating “a pedestrian and bike-friendly environment.”

RUSM students submitted roughly a dozen posters as part of the symposium. One was based on research done in the semester 2 anatomy lab. Eric Rutkowski, Yagneshkumar Parekh and Byoungchul Kim found evidence that confirmed a recent study showing that the pathology in the brains of Parkinson’s patients can also be found in one of their main salivary glands. These students hope to publish a paper about this research.

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