Vet Students Present Findings at World Health Organization's Initiative to Estimate Global Burden


(North Brunswick, NJ)—In November, three “young stars in science” from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine presented data at the second annual meeting of the Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG) in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO).

Food safety touches all of our lives and threatens international public health security and economic development. As trade, travel and migration increase, so does the spread of dangerous contaminants and pathogens in food across borders; however, the full extent of the burden and cost of unsafe foods is currently unknown, WHO officials note.

In an effort to fill the current data vacuum, the WHO launched the Initiative to Estimate the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases, which considers all major causes of foodborne diseases. In 2007, the FERG, comprising the world's leading experts in the area of food safety, was established to act as the technical advisory body to the Initiative.

The second meeting of the FERG took place from November 17­­–21, 2008 with the main purposes of (a) providing the opportunity for members to meet and discuss the progress made over the last 12 months and (b) reviewing and revising the work commissioned according to the FERG Task Forces’ work plans.

“As in 2007, the FERG meeting was again an occasion for exceptionally talented students to participate and contribute to the expert discussions,” WHO officials said.

Representing Ross University were Krista Keller, Melissa Magnotta and Natalie H. Raglan-Beckford, who presented the findings of their review work on alveolar echinococcosis (AE), a serious zoonotic disease that affects many areas of the world. These students have been working as research assistants to Dr. Paul Torgerson, professor of epidemiology and public health and member of the FERG, who was appointed by the WHO to undertake a study on the global burden of AE.

“The FERG meeting was a very eye-opening and rewarding experience. We were given the opportunity to present our research, to sit in on meetings, and offer our input on a variety of topics,” Natalie said. “It was such a pleasure to represent Ross University and meet professionals from all over the world. Being that I am interested in the public health field, I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and hope to pursue this area in the future.”

Krista commented, “I was very excited to take part in this project and even more excited to see firsthand how research can affect policies enacted in our field. I was able to take the entire semester off in order to work on the project full time, and found it to be an invaluable experience that allowed me to explore the fields of public health and epidemiology. I feel very lucky to have been able to develop my research skills while working on this project and to have met a unique set of individual scientists from around the world. My advice for a newly entering medical or veterinary student is to watch for opportunities and grab them when they come. For me, it has made all the difference in how I view my future career.”

“We are very proud of each of these students,” Dean DeYoung said.

About Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Ross University was founded in 1978 and is a provider of medical and veterinary education offering doctor of medicine and doctor of veterinary medicine degree programs. The School of Veterinary Medicine is located in St. Kitts. The School of Medicine is located in Dominica, West Indies, with a new clinical education center in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
The first seven semesters of pre-clinical training at the School of Veterinary Medicine are taught in St. Kitts over a 28-month period. Semesters eight through ten are spent completing clinical studies at one of 22 Ross affiliated, AVMA–accredited U.S. veterinary schools. Ross University students are held to high standards and must pass the same licensing exams as graduates of United States schools.
Ross University’s administrative offices are located in North Brunswick, NJ. For more information about Ross University, visit or call 732.509.4600.

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