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Want to be a Class Act?

Shukri W. David, M.D. (’83) Cardiology/Cardiovascular Disease Heart Cardiology Consultants Privileges with Providence Hospital Southfield, MI ABMS Board of Internal Medicine ABMS Board of Internal Medicine Cardiovascular Disease ABMS Board of Internal Medicine Interventional Cardiology AUC Alumni Volunteer

You can help make the second AUC reunion an unforgettable experience!

The Alumni Association is planning our second Alumni reunion in South Florida in September 2008. The reunion—which will also celebrate the school’s 30th anniversary—will be a great time to meet with old friends and share memories of your medical school days in Montserrat or St. Maarten. By volunteering as a Class Leader, you can help plan, promote attendance for reunion activities, encourage participation and raise funds for your class gift. Don’t miss out on the chance to make your reunion a memorable one.




Office of Alumni Relations 305-446-0600, ext. 1047

To find out more, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 305.446.0600, ext. 1047, or via e-mail at

Winter/Spring 2008 Number 5

Departments Campus




News Gallery 10

Class Notes






16 Beyond Primary Care

Feature Photos by Ara Howrani

From the Vice President of the Alumni Association Dear Alumni, When a few of my friends and I started the AUC Alumni Association along with the school in 2004, our goal was to provide an informative resource and network for everyone. We strived to build an organization to honor the University's unique heritage and foster lifelong connections and a spirit of loyalty and fraternity among graduates, students, faculty, staff and friends of the school. Now, nearly four years later, the Alumni Association has progressed tremendously. Recently you may have noticed that we have a brand new Web site available at The site includes a “News” section where you can read about graduates who are making headlines, as well as residency and fellowship placement sections listing a sample of the programs alumni have successfully completed. There is also information on volunteering and an online store with Alumni Association merchandise for sale. A new executive committee for the Alumni Association will be introduced at the beginning of 2008. This is an exciting time for us because it will be the first Board of Directors elected by the membership. A student representative position will also be added in order to strengthen the relationship between the association and students on campus. Fundraising and establishing scholarships and more involvement with the campus are a top priority for this term. The New Year will mark the school’s 30th anniversary. We have seen the institution change drastically over the decades. Graduating close to 4,000 physicians is a remarkable achievement. For many of us, the occasion will spur fond memories of Montserrat, St. Maarten, Belize and our journey to our chosen careers. To our newest generation of medical students, this event is even more meaningful not only because of our personal success but also as an indicator of their future. Each one of you has blazed a path for them to aspire toward. A special commemorative edition of AUC Connections will be published next fall. This issue will take readers on a historical journey back to life on Montserrat, how the eruption of Soufriere Hills volcano changed the school forever, and some of the major achievements it took to get AUC to where it is today in St. Maarten. Alumni Reunion 2008 will be held in September in Miami, Florida. More information on the event will be provided during the next year, so be on the lookout. We hope that you will come and celebrate being an AUC alumnus once again—the reunion in 2006 was a wonderful experience! Thank you to everyone for your loyal support. Sincerely,

Faith Dillard, M.D. (’99) Vice President, AUC Alumni Association

Editor’s Note When we sent out a mass e-mail to our alumni asking for submissions for publications, awards and resumes, we did not expect to receive such an overwhelming response. Not only the quantity, but also the quality of the submissions were astounding. Our mailbox was inundated with announcements of alumni publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, grants to conduct important medical research, and news of accomplishments and awards in medicine. This is solid proof that our school has been turning out amazing graduates who are more than ready to compete with the best and brightest in the world of medicine, and succeed. For our main feature in this issue, we decided to profile four physicians who went above and beyond primary care and reached the pinnacle of their respective specialties. These doctors show that through hard work, dedication and a solid medical education, international medical graduates can—and do—excel in competitive specialties. We would like to thank all of the alumni who sent us updates and kept us abreast of your accomplishments, and encourage you to continue dropping us a line every so often to let us know how you’re doing. We are so proud of you!

AUC Connections Editorial Board


to the Editor

Winter/Spring 2008, Number 5 Director of Alumni Relations Maria Gracia Mazzotti


“I have been receiving your magazines since you started them, and have been very im-

Paula Distefano D.F. Jones

pressed with the content, articles and pic-

Copy Editors

practice together in Bakersfield, California. I graduated in

Gabrielle Dorsey Rayme Samuels

1993 and my brother, Stephen Strategos, M.D., in 1994. I was

Contributing Writers

Texas, then back to Montserrat again. I will write a complete

Karen Joslin Brenda Maya Christin Tinkle

tures. My brother and I attended AUC and now

on Montserrat for Hurricane Hugo, and was relocated to

account of my time at AUC, and give an update on our practice here in Bakersfield.”

Graphic Designer Alicia Viera

Emmanuel Strategos, M.D. (’93)


Contributing Designer Tamara Cedre

“Just wanted to let you know, I got a chance to read the new

Contributing Photographers Kathryn Behrisch Ara Howrani

Editorial Office AUC Connections Office of Alumni Relations Medical Education Administrative Services 901 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Ste. 700 Coral Gables, FL 33134 Phone 305.446.0600, ext. 1013 Fax 786.433.0974 E-mail Web

issue of AUC Connections and it was awesome! Keep up the good work!”

Rizwana Fareeduddin, M.D. (’01)


“I just got my copy of AUC Connections. What can I say? It is awesome! The layout and the photos complement the article so well. I am delighted with the results of your efforts. I can’t wait to show it around to my family.”

AUC Board of Directors John Byrnes, M.D. Robert Chertok, Ph.D. The Rev’d Jeffrey L. Hamblin, M.D. (‘92) Ronald Harden, O.B.E. Carol Holden, Ph.D. Richard Kitch, J.D. Frank Marsh, F.R.C.P. Robert Sokol, M.D.

Alumni Association Executive Board Tarik Haddad, M.D. (’01) President Faith Dillard, M.D. (’99) Vice President Rizwana Fareeduddin, M.D. (’01) Secretary Ronald Schneider, M.D. (’02) Treasurer Please send all questions, comments and suggestions to the address or e-mail listed above. AUC Connections editors reserve the right to edit all print submissions for length and clarity, and assume no responsibility for unsolicited submissions. Reproduction for publication without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed are those of the editorial staff or contributing writers and do not necessarily represent the official positions of Medical Education Administrative Services, American University of the Caribbean or the AUC Alumni Association. AUC Connections is printed biannually by Color Express Printing at 7990 West 25th Court, Hialeah, FL 33016. If your address or other contact information has changed since you last updated it with AUC, please submit your new information to the address above or online at:

Joe Sciammarella Jr., M.D. (’85)


“I have been enjoying seeing my peers in the magazine. Thanks for your hard work!”

Steven E. Brooks, M.D. (’05)


We mistakenly listed Robert Louis’s graduation date as 1997 in “Louis matches into neurosurgery at UVA” (AUC Alumni Connections, edition 4). Robert Louis, M.D. graduated from AUC in 2007.



Photo by Kathryn Behrisch

Welcome to three exceptional professors who have joined the American University of the Caribbean Basic Medical Sciences Faculty


Faculty News

Fernando Gomez, M.D., Pathology Fernando Gomez is a board-certified pathologist who comes to AUC with a background in forensic pathology and community hospital experience. He has teaching experience as a clinical educator at NOVA Southeastern University, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Gomez received his medical degree from Wayne State University, in Detroit, and completed his residency in combined anatomical and clinical pathology at William Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak, Mich., in 1992. His last position was staff pathologist at Bethesda Memorial Hospital, in Boynton Beach, Fla. Gomez says he hopes to highlight the importance and application of pathology in clinical practice.


Joseph Ichter, MHA, Health Systems Research Joseph Ichter received a Master of Healthcare Administration degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is expected to complete his Doctorate in Public Health from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health in 2008. His last position was executive director of the Santa Fe Project Access at the University of New Mexico Family and Community Medicine. At AUC, Ichter will develop a portfolio of community-based research projects to help medical students understand the interface of health systems, health policy and how socioeconomic factors may affect patient care and outcomes. “My involvement with AUC students will be to educate them on their responsibility in the community not only as a physician, but [also as] a public health advocate,” he said.

Nathalie K. J. W. McDonell, M.D., Ph.D., Cell Biology Nathalie McDonell joined AUC in November 2007. She is a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in human genetics from the University of Paris. She has been published several times as a co-author of studies dealing with genetics and has translated the "Genetics and Disease" chapter of Fauci-Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine from English to French. McDonell has worked as a research scientist for the National Cancer Centre in Tokyo, and at Roche Vitamins, in Basel, Switzerland. She believes that an early introduction of clinical scenarios will be a positive development for AUC medical students.

Dean’s list In recognition of high academic achievement through the Basic Medical Sciences portion of the curriculum, the American University of the Caribbean acknowledges students who have excelled at the end of each semester. To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must carry a credit load of at least 15 credits and have earned a semester cumulative average grade of at least 87. Congratulations to the outstanding students who have made the May/August 2007 Dean’s List! (In alphabetical order) Brandie Baker Amit Borah Sylvia Boules Lyndsey Burnett Allison Chen Aalok Dave Sama Ghali Brian Goodman Sarah Hashmi Sameer Hassamal Marcella Houser Amanda Howard Aliya Ladha

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Jason Laney Brian LeDuc Vanessa Lesher John Lidvall Andrew Marshall Mary McClelland Alexander Morf Son Nguyen Jared Noroozi Emad Nourollahzadeh Christopher Ouimet Dexter Overbay Montu Parekh

27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Husein Poonawala Anna Rybka Basil Saour Dominic Semaan Micheal Sharghi Jonathan Staidle Brittany Stam Krystal Till Janki Trivedi Samir Turakhia Laura Wake Boris Yaguda

AUC Connections

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Brian Tyson and daughter Mahkenna. Opposite page: Cambodia mission snapshots. Pictured on bottom right: (clockwise from top) Skyler, Thomas, Christopher (baby) and Mahkenna.

A Family


brings medical relief to Cambodian village


Profiles he one thing Brian Tyson, M.D. (’02) says he remembers the most about his weeklong medical mission in Cambodia are the local people’s faces. “The faces of gratitude, of being thankful for whatever we were able to give them, I will take with me forever,” he said. Tyson, a family practitioner, joined 15 volunteers from Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, to offer free medical care to villagers in Cambodia. During their stay there in late August 2007, the group was able to see over 1,000 patients and donate $25,000 worth of medications—all financed through the church, fundraisers and personal contributions. It was the group’s fourth mission to Cambodia and Tyson’s first. But definitely, he said, not his last. “It is an absolutely incredible feeling to help someone who has never seen a doctor,” said Tyson. “It takes you back to the basics of being a physician, to teach, give back, and help those in need without attaching a price tag to it. It reminds you of the kind of care, the quality of care, that we are able to provide in the United States compared to other countries.” What the Temecula, Calif., doctor encountered in Cambodia, a nation still suffering from the devastating effects of decades of civil war and genocide, were disheartening conditions unimaginable to mainstream American physicians. Most illnesses are the result of poor living conditions. Parasite infections, nutritional deficiencies and tropical diseases abound, and a poor water system, which has one of the highest arsenic levels in the world, is a main source of contamination. The missionary group has been working with engineers and the Cambodian government to build water filtration systems, but simple steps like educating people about boiling water can accomplish a lot, Tyson explained. However, there is still a long way to go, as the majority of people have little or no access to medical care. “The health care system there is a fraction of what we have in the United States,” said Tyson. “They have makeshift clinics in the cities, you’re lucky to have one in the main cities. They’re mostly three-cot kinds of clinics, where you pay money up front to be seen; if you need medications, you need to purchase them yourself and bring them back to the clinic. If they don’t have money, they don’t get treated.” And for people whose average monthly income is around $10, and the cost of seeing a doctor is $10-$20, he said, it can be a life or death situation. That is especially true for the vulnerable elderly, who Tyson said are commonly euthanized


if they develop too many health problems. The Immanuel missionary group set up two mobile clinics in houses on stilts in Kanpong Cham (a town in south-central Cambodia that lies on the right bank of the Mekong River), northeast of the national capital Phnom Penh. Despite no support from the Cambodian government and hostile local doctors, the population received them with open arms, Tyson said. “It was a really humbling experience. To see kids laughing, playing games, playing with crayons—they thought that was incredible, the crayons and the colors. It was just fun to hear the laughter, to see everybody have a good time despite their condition.” Back in Temecula, Tyson, who says he chose family medicine, “just ‘cause it’s family,” is in a group practice that allows him plenty of flexibility to spend time with his own expanding brood. He and wife Cathy, who have a 6-year old daughter, Mahkenna, at home and Cathy's son Nick, who's in college, are in the process of adopting their three foster children, ages 10, 8, and 2. And he says he hopes to take them all with him on his next Cambodian mission. The family-oriented and charitable doctor credits much of his philanthropic successes to the education he received at AUC—both in, and outside the classroom. “A lot of people ask me what it is like going to a Caribbean school, and I stress that the education is the same as you get in the States. But I really let them know that going to an island, and in my case, to Ireland for my third year [clinicals], is what allowed me to go and help in Cambodia,” Tyson said. “That whole fear of leaving the country, of the unknown, coming from a Caribbean school, you have already been through the experience. It helps you grow as a person.” Paula Distefano


Stephen Brown poses with professional boxer Antonio Tarver after Tarver knocked out Roy Jones Jr. to win the WBC/WBA Light Heavyweight title on May 15, 2004, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.

The right

Combination Winter/Spring 2008

Internist Stephen Brown doubles as ringside doctor for big Las Vegas fights


Profiles hile most doctors may spend their weekends relaxing and taking a break from the stresses of medicine, Stephen M. Brown, M.D. (’86), an internist who runs his own practice in Minden, Nev., has chosen to use his free time a little bit differently. As an official ringside physician, Brown travels to Las Vegas and Reno to monitor professional boxing matches and mixed martial arts contests about 15 times a year. The position gives him one of the best seats in the house, and while things can get dangerous in this high-energy atmosphere, Brown and his colleagues are there to ensure the fighters’ safety. “Our main objective as ringside physicians is to protect the unarmed combatants in the ring,” Brown explained. “Some of the decisions we’ve made in the past have not been popular with the crowd since they want to see blood and gore, and I’m not going to allow someone to continue if it’s going to be injurious to his or her health.” Brown has served as a ringside doctor for more than nine years and officiated some of the largest boxing and Ultimate Fighting Championships in the world appearing on HBO, Showtime, ESPN and Pay-Per-View. He was part of the last Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather bout in May of 2007, where some tickets were going for around $15,000 according to Brown. He has also officiated fights includ-


ing Antonio Ferrara, Roy Jones Jr., and Antonio Tarver as well as mixed martial arts featuring Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. “It’s a dangerous sport. You have two unarmed combatants getting in the ring and striking each other so whether it’s fixed martial arts or boxing, there’s an inherent danger or risk to be injured or killed,” Brown said. Ongoing seminars and training keep doctors up-to-date on how to treat certain kinds of injuries. Brown says that cuts are easiest to judge, while head injuries remain the most difficult. “If a fighter gets hit hard enough and enough times, and he is not mentally with it, then usually he won’t hold up his hands to protect himself. Then, obviously, the fight will get stopped,” he explained. In Nevada, only the referee can end the fight. However, he asks the ringside physician to evaluate the athlete and almost always accepts the recommendation. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) sanctions the ringside physicians and the referees. Twelve doctors are part of the commission: nine are from the Las Vegas area and three, including Brown, are from the north Reno area. Not just anyone can apply and be granted the opportunity to serve as one of these special physicians; requirements include approval by the governor of Nevada and a recommendation by the NSAC. “It’s a pretty big deal, and it’s prima-

rily a job that’s a labor of love because we don’t make a lot of money,” Brown said. “We make a little bit of money to cover our expenses. It’s certainly a labor of love. It’s a huge honorary position.” Aside from being a ringside doctor, Brown also spends a lot of his spare time hunting. He has been to Africa twice on safari as well as to California to hunt for turkey, Canada for bear, Wyoming for antelope and Colorado for elk. He is currently preparing for an expedition to British Columbia to hunt for moose. What’s interesting, though, is that Brown no longer hunts with a rifle. Nowadays, because guns have become so accurate, he has opted for a different method–one that sometimes puts him as close as 30 yards away from extremely dangerous animals. He uses a bow and arrow. “The bow became much more challenging and much more rewarding because you can see the animal, hear and smell it taking steps and be face-to-face with it,” Brown said. His wife Teddy, and son Josh, 8, have also embraced the sport so the entire family can take hunting expeditions together. “Teddy has become quite an accomplished bow hunter now,” he said. “Josh recently shot his first turkey in California, which was a big accomplishment.” D.F. Jones

Brown and his family. From left, step-daughter Sarah, wife Teddy, and son Josh.

AUC Connections


News Awards In April 2007, Cheryl Kennedy, M.D. (’87) was honored with the American Psychiatric Association Bruno Lima Award from the New Jersey Psychiatric Association for outstanding contribution in crisis/disasters. The award “recognizes outstanding contributions of district branch members to the care and understanding of the victims of disasters.” Kennedy is an associate professor of psychiatry/preventive medicine and community health and also serves as vice-chair of the psychiatry department at the New Jersey Medical School. She was published twice in 2006. Brian Patterson, M.D. (’97) is on the editorial board of Urgent Care: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine and edits the publication’s Radiology Quiz section. The journal won first place for the best new publication in the 2007 American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors awards. Patterson has published over 20 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, and works in Orlando, Fla., as an urgent care physician. He completed a fellowship in spinal cord injury at Harvard Medical School. Scott Phillips, M.D. (’84), associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center was awarded the Physical Exam Instructor award for the Foundation of Doctoring Program for 2007. Phillips was published three times in 2007.

Winter/Spring 2008



Katrina Nguyen, M.D. (’02), a pediatric gastroenterology fellow at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., has received a Dean’s Initiative Pilot Project grant from the center for $28,500 to fund her current research, “Inflammatory mediators of esophagitis.” Nguyen works in a lab that focuses on a cell cycle regulator protein called p27, which determines whether cells transition from G1 to S phase. Low levels of p27 have been shown in colon, gastric, and breast cancers. Her project focuses on esophagitis that can be the result of bile acid injury, acid reflux or allergic GI disorders. A precursor to esophageal cancer is Barretts esophagus, where normal esophageal cells undergo intestinal metaplasia and over time patients can develop esophageal cancer. Her current basic science lab research focuses on looking at p27 levels after esophageal non-cancerous and cancerous cells are exposed to bile acids and other inflammatory mediators (cytokines) and seeing their effect on p27 levels. Nguyen aims to transition the experiments into human esophageal endoscopic biopsy samples in one year.

News Gallery

ork W erit: Hard



Zangeneh soars to new heights in endocrinology


physician,” Gharib said. Zangeneh and Gharib continue to work closely together as active members of the AACE Board of Directors. Initially as a fellows-in-training representative on the Board in 2002, Zangeneh was re-elected as a non-fellow in March. “Dr. Zangeneh is very active and a team player,” Gharib added. “He is very thoughtful and is constantly providing good suggestions.” Zangeneh may have strengths as a team player, but he also has demonstrated his ability to be a team leader. In 2005, he started the Endocrine, Diabetes and Osteoporosis Clinic in Sterling,Va., and serves as its medical director. Zangeneh didn’t wait until he entered the professional world to become a leader and a starter. During the last year of basic medical sciences, he was president of the student government association. However, it wasn’t just his class title that made that year memorable. In 1995, the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted on Montserrat, interrupting the semester and chasing the students out of the university. Despite that traumatic event, Zangeneh has nothing but praise for his alma mater. “AUC taught me ambition,” he said. “My fellow classmates and I would gather in our study room, which we referred to as the ‘war room,’ and compare our syllabus against other universities in the United States, such as Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University.” The young doctors were making sure that they could be competitive against graduates from those schools. Zangeneh assures that the AUC curriculum is competitive, but he urges students not to forget the role they play in their path to success. “The current students at AUC need to know that you can get there from here. It is merit, knowledge, and hard work that will open the doors.” Christin Tinkle

AUC Connections

nce a month, Farhad Zangeneh, M.D. (’97) takes off his stethoscope and white coat and puts on his traveling shoes. Since his position as assistant clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine keeps him busy, you might think that Zangeneh’s getaways are all about fun. You would be wrong. In addition to being a professor, conducting research and running an endocrine, diabetes and osteoporosis clinic, Zangeneh also gives talks all around the world about his specialty—endocrinology. A month after a September presentation in the Middle East, Zangeneh took off for Guangdong Providence, China, squeezing in a telephone interview with AUC Connections en route to the airport. “Endocrinology as a whole is exciting,” said Zangeneh. “It’s like being in the coolest of all clubs. Everything new comes through this field.” Since leaving AUC, Zangeneh, 39, has formed an impressive resume. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. From 2000 to 2003, he also completed a clinical and research fellowship in diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic and Foundation for Medical Research in Rochester, Minn. “The Mayo Clinic was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Zangeneh said. “It was my ‘mothership’ so to speak.” As a result of his research on the natural history of Type 2 diabetes at Mayo, Zangeneh was awarded the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ (AACE) Young Investigator Award. He also received a research grant from Endocrine Fellows Foundation in 2003. While at Mayo, Zangeneh worked alongside Hossein Gharib, M.D., a veteran researcher who has been performing research at the Mayo Clinic for almost 40 years. “Dr. Zangeneh is a first-rate endocrinologist with good common sense and is an extremely competent and compassionate


News Publications Robert Louis, M.D (’07), neurosurgery resident at the University of Virginia Health System co-authored a study published on the cover of the Journal of Neurosurgery in May 2007, “Surgical anatomy and landmarks for the basal vein of Rosenthal.” Louis has published over 40 research papers during his time at AUC through his work with Marios Loukas, M.D., and the Clinical Research Society. Nisha Chhabria, M.D. (’05) has been published in Applied Neurology in May 2006 with “Management of acute ischemic stroke: Reviewing the options,” an article she co-authored with Michel T. Torbey, M.D. In November of the same year, the article was republished in Consultant magazine under the title “Acute ischemic stroke: Update on new therapies—and the implications for primary care.” Chhabria is a neurology resident at the University of Vermont, in Burlington.

effort during his residency training at Michigan State Medical School. John J. Millichap, M.D. (‘04) was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in January 2007 with the study “Spinal cord infarction with multiple etiological factors,” co-authored with B.T. Sy and R.O. Leacock. On September 2006, Pediatric Neurology published his study “Role of viral infections in the etiology of febrile seizures.” Millichap is an internal medicine-pediatrics resident at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C. Elie Zoghbi, M.D. (’99) was published as first author in the International Journal of Cardiology in January 2007 with a case report entitled “A young female with an unusual cause of dyspnea.” Zoghbi, a cardiologist, is an ER attending physician at the American University of Beirut Med-

Winter/Spring 2008

Wayneinder “Winnie” Singh Anand, M.D. (’99), has published three abstracts and case reports during the past year, one of which, “Hot tub lung associated with mycobacterium chelonae,” was presented at the American College of Chest Physicians International Conference, Chest 2007. Anand is on staff at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he recently completed his pulmonary and critical care fellowship.


S. Sohal, M.D. (’02) has done research with Mass General Hospital which was published in the March 2006 edition of the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, “Three-dimensional analysis of pulmonary venous ostial and antral anatomy: implications for balloon catheter-based pulmonary vein isolation.” Sohal was one of the primary authors in a collaborative

ical Center, in Lebanon. Future plans include a private cardiology practice at Abu Dhabi. Dan Feinstein, M.D. (’98) was published in Critical Care Medicine in a landmark study on the importance of rapid antibiotics and source control on septic shock. The study, “Rapidity of source control

implementation following onset of hypotensions is a major determinant of survival in human septic shock,” coauthored with other researchers, was part of the largest database in the world for septic shock. Feinstein is the assistant director of the internal medicine residency program, as well as the director of hospital procedure service at St. Agnes Hospital, in Baltimore. Steven J. Nelson, M.D. (’85), chief medical examiner of Polk, Hardee and Highlands Counties in Florida has had a ‘rapid communication’ published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, entitled “A marked increase in cocaine-related deaths in the State of Florida: precursor to an epidemic?” Steven E. Brooks, M.D. (’05) has had his study “The uncut Roux-en-Y with jejunal pouch: a new reconstruction technique for total gastrectomy,” published in the July 2007 edition of Surgery as well as “The effect of methylprednisolone on warm ischemia-reperfusion injury in the liver” in the March 2007 edition of the American Journal of Surgery. He was honored as the resident teacher of the year award at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, where he is completing a general surgery residency. Fernando Gamarra, M.D. (’05) and brother Roberto Gamarra, M.D. (’01) work side-by-side at Providence Hospital: Fernando as a second-year internal medicine resident, and Roberto, as a thirdyear gastroenterology fellow. The siblings have recently been published on the Web site E-Medicine with the study “Impact of GERD on quality of life and the role of medical and surgical therapy,” co-authored with Luis Carlos Maas, M.D. The article was sent to over 100,000 site subscribers.

News Gallery

Succeed A drive to

Hebbeler-Clark gets inducted into medical honor society


“It was a great cultural change,” Hebbeler-Clark said. “I already had a public health degree so it was a major shock, because of the poor medical infrastructure there.” Adding to the academic and cultural stressors, a very active hurricane season ripped through the island, which had to undergo a rebuilding process. Although difficult, her medical school experience was one she said she would not change. “From my perspective, it only compelled me to work harder to achieve what I wanted.” And the stigma of having attended an offshore medical school, which some colleagues said they experienced, never affected her, she said. “[Caribbean medical students] are more aggressive and work harder. We are generally more mature than U.S. students, because we are not pampered—coming out you have to do it on your own,” she explained. Currently at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, HebbelerClark is pursuing a fellowship in infectious diseases, a subject that sparked her interest during work at the micro lab as an undergrad and at AUC. Her research interests include anything that affects clinical medicine as well as quality and performance improvement issues driving patient care. Her ultimate goal, she said, is to stay in academic medicine as a clinical educator in charge of infection control and hospital epidemiology. To unwind, Hebbeler-Clark turns to classical dance, which she started at the age of three and continued through high school. Nowadays, since her hectic fellowship schedule won’t allow for uninterrupted classes (a requirement for advanced professional dancing companies), she continues to dance for stress relief—in her basement. Overall, it seems like Hebbeler-Clark’s childhood dreams of becoming a doctor not only came to fruition, but surpassed expectations. “I am happy to be going to work, no matter what the stressors and other issues are,” she said. “The fact that I am there to take care of patients everyday is what I enjoy. It is a privilege not to be taken for granted.” Paula Distefano

AUC Connections

lthough too busy to fully pursue her other life’s passion— classical dancing—Renee Hebbeler-Clark’s, M.D. (’04) hard work and dedication to medicine are bearing fruit. Her induction into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, Zeta Chapter, in May 2006 is just one in a series of recognitions she has received since starting her medical career. As an internal medicine resident at the Canton Medical Educational Foundation, she was granted the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine internal medicine scholarship—for which most residents apply and only a few are selected—three years in a row. In June of 2006, she won an excellence in teaching award, voted for by the medical students that rotated in her department. And she was also honored with the internal medicine Research Day awards both in 2006 and 2007. The medical honor society induction is a distinction given to medical students, graduates, alumni and faculty whose academic knowledge, interaction with patients and dedication to teaching are exceptional. Demurely, Hebbeler-Clark says she was “humbled” by the nomination. “To have fought so hard to make it to where I was and to be thought of enough by fellow colleagues and AΩA members was amazing,” she said. “I understood the importance of the society and was honored to have been selected. I also took it as a responsibility not just as a physician but as a clinical educator and humanitarian toward patients.” Hebbeler-Clark’s path to medicine started early. Growing up with a mother in the health care field, she says she knew, at the tender age of five, that she wanted to be a doctor. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry at Texas Woman’s University, in Denton, Texas, she stayed on to complete her Master’s in community and public health education. During her graduate studies, she received a grant funded by the Texas Department of Health, with which she assisted in the design and application of a wellness program at a North Texas hospital. The hospital’s atmosphere—her office at the time was down the hall from the ICU— invigorated Hebbeler-Clark’s desire to go to medical school. Enrolling at AUC was an easy decision, she said, albeit not devoid of challenges. Already married at the time, she and husband Brian, a pilot, sold their house and made the move to St. Maarten.


News Broadening a medical student’s horizons: Clinical rotations in the United Kingdom nyone who has been through medical school agrees it is challenging. Long hours are spent poring over books, studying, memorizing and learning difficult concepts. Inarguably, being away from home— albeit on the beautiful island of St. Maarten— compounds those difficulties. But while attending school overseas may be seen by some as a hindrance, others see the exposure to other cultures as an opportunity to grow both as an individual and as a physician. A number of AUC students take this opportunity even further by choosing to complete their core clinical rotations in the United Kingdom. “Doing my third year in England was one of the best decisions I [made] in medical school,” said Clara Cabrera, M.D. (’04), who attended Epsom Hospital and St. Helier’s NHS Trust for clinicals. “I think that having an experience abroad, whether in Ireland or [England] is a lifetime opportunity for American medical students to be exposed to a different system of learning and practicing medicine.” There are eight AUC-affiliated sites in England and one in Ireland at which students may complete their core clinical rotations, and if they choose, extend their time on a few clinical electives. All the hospitals are approved for resident training and offer advanced educational centers with a plethora of learning opportunities. The five cores are available at all of the sites, although in a couple of hospitals it might be necessary to travel up to 10 miles for some rotations; namely pediatrics, psychiatry, and OB/GYN. After completing their cores, students return to the United States for electives in order to become familiarized with the slight differences between the U.S. and U.K. systems, and to network for future residency positions, explained Douglas Model, M.D., AUC dean of clinical studies for Europe. According to Model, medicine in the United Kingdom is very similar to that of the United States and is based on work by small groups of doctors and students. One main difference, however, is the U.K.-medical system’s emphasis on history-taking, physical diagnosis



and hands-on performance, as opposed to heavy reliance on technology—something that students see as positives. “Most definitely, the best aspect of the British medical system is the emphasis on bedside learning,” said Cabrera, who is now an internist in private practice at Aberjona Internal Medicine, at Winchester Hospital, in Winchester, Mass. “Britain is lucky to have a national health system in which documentation is not a big burden like in our system, so most of the time is actually spent going over different cases and working on clinical skills, especially data gathering and physical exam techniques,” she explained, adding that students get a chance to perform medical procedures ranging from simple phlebotomies to inserting central venous lines—which U.S. doctors only learn during residency. Damien Marycz (’08), a medical student who completed his rotations at Ealing in 2007, agrees. “Once the residents and attending [physician] see that you are competent and willing to learn, they will teach you and allow you to practice procedures on patients,” he explained. “The physical examination skills I learned in England will be carried with me throughout my career.” Current and past medical students who rotated in the United Kingdom also report that patients are very receptive to American medical students. “Most of the patients I encountered were very encouraging and curious to find out more about our backgrounds and future career plans,” said Cabrera. “Many patients would actually talk about a recent trip to the United States or a relative who lived ‘across the pond.’” One of the disadvantages of going to the United Kingdom for clinical rotations is the price tag. The cost of living in Britain is higher than in the United States, as costs are generally comparable to St. Maarten. Room and board expenses vary between locations, but can be expensive (though some of the hospitals

offer cheaper accommodations). Going to the United Kingdom, however, affords priceless travel and cultural opportunities that most students would not get to experience otherwise. “I was able to travel all over Europe on long weekends and bank holidays,” said Ranjan Avasthi, M.D. (’04), currently a psychiatry resident at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Savannah, Ga. Avasthi said he got to visit Scotland, Germany, Holland and Denmark during his tenure at Ealing Hospital. The proximity to other European countries is not the only plus: England is a country ripe with history, and leisure and cultural activities abound—plus most can be done on a budget. Theater tickets range from $20-$60, and there are numerous walking, hiking, and sightseeing sites around the countryside that can be enjoyed for free. At most of the hospitals, there is easy access to central London by public transportation. Alex Shalshin, M.D. (’04), now a pulmonary disease and critical care medicine fellow at Winthrop University Hospital, in Mineola, N.Y., recalls his time at Epsom Hospital as “an amazing experience.” Among the things that made it so, he said, were the opportunities to “travel cheaply in Europe, hang out in pubs, drink good beer, learn proper English, and [be exposed] to the culture first-hand.” Overall, the ability to experience another country and culture and the hands-on quality of European medicine are the biggest draws to AUC students who decide to rotate in the United Kingdom—and it is an experience that is not easily forgotten. “Personally, I have tried to take all the positive aspects of my British training and integrate them into my U.S. training—both in fourth-year electives and residency,” summarized Cabrera. “It sure gave me an extra edge on the challenge of practicing in a multicultural system as well.” Paula Distefano


News Gallery

UK Clinical sites Queen’s Hospital, Blackburn Number of beds: 650 Facilities: Situated in the northwest of England, near Manchester—a city of 3 million people with a modern center and many attractions. The hospital has many new structures and sits on a hilltop overlooking the town of Blackburn. Distance from London: 200 miles northwest Course organizers: Dr. Damien Lynch, Dr. Jennifer MacDowall Ealing Hospital Number of beds: 400 Facilities: A modern complex situated among suburban houses, serving a racially mixed population that provides a broad spectrum of clinical experience. Distance from London: 8 miles Course organizers: Dr. Stephen Ash


Epsom Hospital Number of beds: 320 Facilities: Popular 1930’s hospital with a large new wing in an affluent area on the southwestern edge of London. It has been described by students as being “just like suburban New York.” Distance from London: 20 miles Course organizers: Dr. Shakil Rahman, Mr. Stephen Rosan

Northern Ireland

Princess Royal Hospital Number of beds: 350 Facilities: Fairly new hospital in an affluent commuter town surrounded by beautiful countryside. Pediatrics is off-site and students are required to travel to and stay in Kingston for this rotation. Distance from London: 35 miles Course organizers: Dr. Mark Jackson Kingston Hospital Number of beds: 500 Facilities: Situated in an affluent area southwest of London and nestled in lush surroundings. Pediatrics is off-site at Chertsey Hospital and students are required to travel each day to the rotation. Distance from London: 15 miles Course organizers: Mr. Saeed Moalypour, Mrs. Margaret Johnson Queen’s Hospital, Romford Number of beds: 850 Facilities: Large, busy hospital located in northeast London providing a wealth of clinical experience in a dynamic setting. Distance from London: 15 miles Course organizers: Dr. Shukri Shami, Mrs. Susan Coull Waterford Hospital, Ireland Number of beds: 475 Facilities: Popular site in a thriving town surrounded by lovely country. Distance from Dublin: 2.5 hours by car Course organizers: Dr. Kevin Ward Wexham Park Hospital Number of beds: 400 Facilities: Modern hospital situated in the beautiful countryside on the edge of Slough—a large manufacturing town west of London (near Windsor Castle and the River Thames). Distance from London: 30 miles Course organizers: Dr. Zilla Huma

DUBLIN Ireland England


Worthing Hospital Number of beds: 650 Facilities: Large, modern complex situated on the south coast of England in a holiday seaside town surrounded by beautiful hills. Distance from London: 60 miles Course organizers: Dr. Gordon Caldwell, Mrs. Margaret Patching

gre by Paula Distefano and D.F. Jones Photos by Ara Howrani

reat expectations Going beyond primary care


ccording to a June 2007 report by the Center for Studying Health System Change, international medical graduates comprise nearly 25 percent of the primary care physician workforce and practice in primary care at higher rates than U.S.-trained physicians.

Although a large number of AUC medical graduates still go into primary care, the winds are slowly changing. More AUC graduates have been entering so-called “competitive� specialties like plastic surgery and radiation oncology than ever before. Not only that: a large number of them are program directors, respected faculty members and researchers. Are there still more obstacles for Caribbean graduates to enter these fields than their Americantrained counterparts? There are. Are there more hurdles to jump through and more challenges throughout the way? Certainly. But it can be done. It is being done year after year after year. These four AUC doctors are the cream of the crop in their specialties. They are respected clinicians, researchers, faculty members and family men. They have worked tremendously hard and through their commitment to medicine, have reached the top in their respective medical fields.

These are their stories.


Daniel Yip gets a check-up from daughter Catherine, 11, and son Stephen, 16.

 I am 44 years old, and think I feel 44  Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi!  On my days off, I love to just relax and spend time with my family  Last album I purchased was the complete works of J.S. Bach  I drive a 2003 Infiniti G35  If I weren’t a physician, I would love to be a pilot  Three things I can’t live without are God, family and my friends  My biggest pet peeve is people not doing what I ask and not telling me that they are not doing it  The last book I read for enjoyment was “Harry Potter”  If I could pick one place on earth to visit, it would be anywhere historical  My favorite T.V. show is Heroes  Disney World or Epcot? Neither, I’ve been there too often … but forced to choose, I would choose Epcot  Five years from now, I want to be able to do a hobby!  Aisle or Window seat? Window!  First concert I ever attended was “The Commodores,” in 1980  Three things I am thankful for are my family, friends and colleagues

Daniel Shing-Yen

M.D. (‘89)

AUC Connections



Heart Have a

Winter/Spring 2008



well-regarded transplant cardiologist and professor of medicine, he was instrumental in starting a heart transplant clinic at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in 2001. And yet, as a medical student, Daniel Shing-Yen Yip, M.D. (’89), says he “hated” cardiology. “My very first rotation was medicine at Providence [Hospital], and I remember taking care of a patient who had an EKG done,” Yip said. “I had to describe it to the attending physician and the residents and I really had no idea what I was seeing and saying, and I don’t want to say they hung me out to dry, but they hung

me out to dry!” He overcame that initial experience during his fourth month as an internal medicine resident at St. Louis University, when he was on the floor at the cardiology service and was able to observe the very hands-on interaction that cardiologists have with their patients. “I had a wonderful attending physician who was very compassionate, very knowledgeable, a wonderful teacher and physician, and he was sort of my role model,” he said. Yip stayed on to complete fellowships in cardiovascular diseases and heart failure and transplantation, which sparked his interest when he treated a transplanted young man during residency. “Unlike other areas of cardiology, like invasive cardiology, what we do is we get to follow patients for years and years and years and get a relationship established with them, with their families, and it’s that kind of humanistic relationship that really attracted me.” Yip became chief resident and later chief fellow, and was appointed assistant professor of medicine during his tenure at St. Louis University before being recruited by Mayo, where he is medical director of the transplant clinic—which now counts 14 staffers, including two cardiologists and two surgeons, and performs around 20 procedures per year. His job, Yip said, brings him much satisfaction. “In some ways, we are giving [heart transplant patients] and their families their lives back,” he explained. “Yeah, there’s sort of continued inconveniences to their lives, but they’re able to carry on with their activities, to see their children or grandchildren grow up. So you’re taking somebody who was very ill and not able to do much and who can now fully participate in society, and that is most rewarding, it has to be most rewarding.” Yip is also actively involved in clinical research and resident teaching. His story is a testament to how dedication and talent can pay off, despite difficulties along the way. His first choice for residency was a combined med-peds program at Wayne State, where Yip recalled the unsuccessful interview with the program director. “He said to me, ‘you look like you’re a great guy and seem really interested, but we don’t really take foreign medical graduates for the med-peds program, but maybe we can introduce you to the internal medicine or pediatrics director and they’ll probably take you if you want to do straight medicine or straight pediatrics.’” The med-peds program wound up not getting completely filled and a furtively glad Yip was recruited by St. Louis. Though he says things are now different and AUC graduates are welcomed by many programs in competitive specialties, Yip believes it all comes down to how badly one wants to be a doctor. “I think if you’re persistent and smart, doing extra rotations in places where you could potentially get a residency, you are going to have a chance.” With a busy schedule that includes being on call every other weekend, Yip spends every free moment he has with wife Terry and their two children—Stephen, 16, and Catherine, 11. Balancing both schedules is not always easy, he said. “If I didn’t have such a loving, wonderful, supportive family, there is no way it would work out. So I’m very blessed.”

Vital Signs Name: Daniel Shing-Yen Yip, M.D.

Title: Medical Director - Heart Failure and Transplantation, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Fla.

Residency: (1989-93) Internal Medicine: St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.

Fellowship: (1994-97) Cardiovascular Diseases: St. Louis University School of Medicine (1997-98) Advanced Heart Failure and Transplantation: St. Louis University School of Medicine

Board certification: Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease

Licensed in: California and Florida

Beyond Primary Care

Specialty: Cardiology

Radiation Oncology

James Fontanesi blows off steam at a glassblowing studio in Michigan.

 I am 50 years old, but some days I feel 18, others 51  Coke or Pepsi? Caffeine-free diet Pepsi...please  On my days off, I love glassblowing and doing things with the kids  Last album I purchased was “Blues from around the world”  I collect old cars (I have 9), but day-to-day I drive a PT Cruiser  If I weren’t a physician, I would love to be a glassblower or farmer  Three things I can’t live without are family, good cigars, sunny Saturday afternoons with my cigar  My biggest pet peeve is scheduling at the office  The last book I read for enjoyment was Joseph Persico’s “11th month, 11th day, 11th hour”  If I could pick one place on earth to visit, it would be South Georgia Island  My favorite T.V. show is anything on the Discovery Channel  Disney World or Epcot? Disney  Five years from now, I want to be happy, healthy and with my family. I still love to work  Aisle or Window seat? Aisle… I am about 265 lbs.  The first concert I ever attended was “Seals and Croft” as a sophomore in high school  Some days it feels like I can see things about cancer that are more instinct than hard facts


M.D. (‘82)

AUC Connections



Vital Signs Name: James Fontanesi, M.D.

Beyond Primary Care

Specialty: Radiation Oncology Title: Staff Radiation Oncologist - William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich.

Internship: (1982-83) Ellis Fishell State Cancer Center, Columbia, Mo.

Residency: (1983-84) Radiation Oncology: University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital (1984-86) Radiation Oncology: West Coast Cancer Foundation, San Francisco, Calif.

Fellowship: (1986-87) Brachytherapy: University of CaliforniaDavis/Veterans Administration Hospital

Post-graduate: (2000-07) M.S., Economics: London School of Business

Board certification: Radiology (Therapeutic Radiology) Licensed in: Michigan, California and Tennessee

Radiating success ames Fontanesi, M.D. (’82) is proof that foreign medical graduates can rise to the very top of their profession. A prolific researcher, esteemed professor, respected clinician and recognized expert in the field of radiation oncology—he says that rather than a burden, attending AUC was a stimulus. “I never limited myself. To be considered equal to American medical students, I had to do ten times the work. But at the same time, I acquired ten times more ability.” Following the completion of his fellowship, Fontanesi spent the next seven-and-a-half years at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., his first real clinical experience as an attending physician, and one he calls “nothing short of a miracle.” “[St. Jude’s] is truly a family situation; doctors were there for each other, nurses were there for each other, it is truly a team. It gave you the essence of what medicine used to be.” During his tenure there he sharpened his skills in the treatment of pediatric tumors and was a pioneer in establishing brachytherapy in the treatment of children. He also took an active role in national studies for brain stem glioma, pediatric nasopharyngeal and retinoblastoma malignancies and worked with a renowned eye group that dealt with eye tumors in adults. The decision to become an oncologist came during rotations in medical school, he said, when he discovered that understanding cancer came easily to him and also because the practice encompassed several medical specialties—geriatrics, orthopedics, pediatrics, and so on. After years of practice, he says that giving people hope is the most rewarding part of his job. “Some patients are critically ill, with a disease that will kill them, but the ability to make their lives at the end more pain free, more enjoyable, is very rewarding. I like to come to work every day.” In 1994, at the age of 38, when many physicians are just getting their feet wet, Fontanesi was recruited by the Detroit Medical Center for a full professorship. There, he became the principal investigator for the radiation therapy oncology group and ultimately was named interim chairman in the department of radiation oncology. Subsequently called to be head of radiation oncology at Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Fontanesi was instrumental in the development of MammoSite brachytherapy for breast cancer, and the use of high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy for head and neck cancers. In 2004 he moved to the University of Mississippi, where he became the first chairman for the newly created department of radiation oncology and co-director of the Thad Cochran Cancer Center, where he also taught. He is currently a staff radiation oncologist at William Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak, Mich. Aside from clinical practice, Fontanesi is involved in research in the use of Cf-252, a neutron brachytherapy source, and in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease using stereotactic radiation as well as in the treatment of the wet form of age-related macular degeneration—and teaching, an activity he says he “still loves.” Despite a busy schedule, Fontanesi makes time for his favorite hobby: glassblowing, which he became fascinated with at the age of 12, on a visit to Murano, Italy. Fontanesi is married to Lisa and has four children—James, Giovanni, Bergen and Siena—ranging in ages 5 to 15, with whom he tries to spend as much time as possible. “It’s all about setting time limits,” he explained. “I try to leave work early, not travel as much, take time off to make sure I’m there. It’s priorities. If you’re not there, you missed their day.”


AUC Connections


Plastic Surgery

Jaco Festekjian’s surgical hands at work during a bicycle outing in California.


Festekjian M.D. (‘93)

 I am 41 years old, but feel like I’m 29  Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi  On my days off, I love to ride my bike and hang out with my girlfriend at the beach  The last album I purchased was Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love”  I drive a BMW M3 (I’m a sports car freak!)  If I weren’t a physician, I would love to be a soccer pro  Things I can’t live without are family and friends  My biggest pet peeve is hypocrisy  The last book I read for enjoyment was ”The Zahir” by Paulo Coelho  If I could pick one place on earth to visit, it would be Italy  My favorite T.V. show is House  Disney World or Epcot Center? Epcot Center  Five years from now, I want to have kids  Aisle or Window seat? Aisle

 Some days it feels like the sky is the limit

AUC Connections

 First concert I ever attended was Van Halen


on the



aco Festekjian, M.D. (’93) says he knew he wanted to be a doctor since the age of five, but it wasn’t until the fourth year of his general surgery residency that he decided to specialize as a plastic surgeon. “That’s when everything blended in for me,” he said. “Plastic surgery allows you to work all over the body as opposed to other types of surgery where you only work certain parts, so it is very varied and diversified. And you have to be innovative with every case.” Festekjian is a clinical professor in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the prestigious David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, a position he was recruited to right after finishing his fellowship. Teaching is an activity he says he loves. And it shows—during the 2003-2004 year, he was awarded the clinical faculty teacher award. “It’s a full-time job. You’re teaching while you’re operating, teaching in a classroom setting, teaching in a laboratory setting with anatomy dissection, and that sort of thing,” he said. “And they like me here at UCLA and I like them, so I don’t intend to give it up.” Festekjian’s clinical expertise and practice encompass both cosmetic as well as advanced reconstructive surgery, including microsurgery—which is what he completed his fellowship in and says he considers his “little niche.” The majority of Festekjian’s reconstructive work is dedicated to the breast, including free DIEP flap, free TRAM flap, latissimus dorsi flap and tissue expander/implant reconstruction. He performs anywhere from four to 10 procedures a week, averaging 500 a year—80 percent of which is breast reconstruction. “My reconstructive part [of the practice] is the most rewarding,” he said. “You see a mangled face, leg or other body part eaten away by cancer and you are able to reestablish that form. On the first postoperative visit, when I see the expression on the patient’s face, I cannot trade that for anything.” Although he practices in Los Angeles, arguably the vanity capital of the United States, if not the world, he says he believes ethics within the specialty is a priority. Festekjian for one won’t perform elective cosmetic procedures on patients younger than 21, unless there is a congenital deformity. He also warns patients to do their homework before choosing a plastic surgeon, and to make sure the physician they choose is board certified. “I think the plastic surgery foundation is trying to achieve that, to have board certified physicians performing plastic surgery and not any Joe Schmoe operating,” he said. “Patients are the best judges of who a good plastic surgeon should be. I think a plastic surgeon should be judged first on their humanity, and second on their expertise. So I usually tell my own patients who just met me to talk to my old patients, even the ones who have complications because in the end, the ones who have complications usually become my closest friends.” And even though he has been featured on Discovery Channel television shows twice, in 2004 and 2006, Festekjian says he believes the proliferation of plastic surgery programs on television and the hype surrounding them has not been altogether positive. “It is unsafe to do some of the things they do on TV, like that show where they operate for eight to ten hours and then send the patient to go recover at a hotel,” he said. “I think the message has to go across that safety is first.” Festekjian is currently writing a review book for plastic surgery residency study that he is hoping will be published at the end of 2008. His professional and personal goals include continuing in academic practice and getting married and starting a family—“that is a priority,” he said.

Winter/Spring 2008



Vital Signs Name: Jaco Hagob Festekjian, M.D., FACS Specialty: Plastic Surgery Title: Assistant Clinical Professor - Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Residency: (1993-99) General Surgery: Kern Medical Center, Bakersfield, Calif. (1999-01) Plastic Surgery: Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Ind.

Fellowship: (2001-02) Advanced Aesthetic and Microsurgery: Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Board certification: Surgery and Plastic Surgery

Licensed in: California

Beyond Primary Care


Stephen Soloway and his two treasured collections: Corvettes and baseball cards.


Soloway M.D. (‘88)

 I am 44 years old, but I feel like I’m 20  Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi  I drive a Corvette  If I weren’t a physician, I would love to be a professional baseball player  Three things I can’t live without are steak, Mets games, fast cars  My biggest pet peeve is nail biters  The last book I read for enjoyment was “Marquis De Sade”  If I could pick one place on earth to visit, it would be to return to London  My favorite T.V. shows are Melrose Place, OZ, All in the Family, I Love Lucy  Disney World or Epcot? Disney World  Five years from now, I want to have my real estate income surpass my practice income  Aisle or Window seat? First class  The first concert I ever attended was the B52s  Some days it feels like I’m the president AUC Connections

 Three things I am thankful for are my parents, AUC and my rheumatology fellowship (Bruce Hoffman)


Vital Signs Name: Stephen Soloway, M.D., FACP, FACR, CCD Specialty: Rheumatology Title: Physician - Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates, Vineland, NJ

Residency: (1988-91) Internal Medicine: Mercy Catholic Medical Center, Philadelphia

Fellowship: (1991-93) Rheumatology: Medical College of Pennsylvania/Veterans Administration Medical Center, Philadelphia

Board certification: Internal Medicine and Rheumatology

Licensed in: Florida, Pennsylvania and

Beyond Primary Care

New Jersey

No Bones about it tephen Soloway, M.D. (’88) says he has the largest solo rheumatology practice in the country equaling nearly 50,000 patients, and close to 16,000 clinic visits annually. It hasn’t always been this successful, though. Soloway has been in practice for almost 15 years, but he admits building a business from the ground up was extremely challenging. “I’m one of the last pioneers,” he said. “I simply finished my fellowship, and I picked a town that did not have this specialty.” Since starting his practice in 1993, Soloway says there hasn’t been a day where he hasn’t seen at least one patient. As the practice grew and more staff was needed, he developed a system to streamline the office experience without sacrificing time with the patients. It now seems the sky is the limit for Soloway and his booming practice in South New Jersey. An office-based dual-energy X-ray absorpitometry (DEXA) facility and one of the largest solo practice infusion centers in the country has helped him put the needs of his patients first, he said. “Everything I have at my office offers another advantage because it’s another thing that a person does not have to travel to get,” Soloway said. X-rays are performed on site and blood work is completed while patients are there too. The DEXA facility has performed 100,000 scans in the past 12 years, which is more than any center in the United States, according to Soloway. He also owns the building and rents space to other practices. This approach has been largely successful for Soloway and people have noticed. For the past two years, Philadelphia Magazine has named him Top Doctor in his specialty—the only doctor outside of Pennsylvania to achieve that honor in rheumatology. Castle Connolly has also awarded him with the distinction as one of America’s Top Doctors for the past two years as well. Soloway says he enjoys giving back to his community in a variety of ways. He has been instrumental in establishing the Stephen Soloway Scholarship Award at Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J. The award is given to the top X-ray student and presented by Soloway each year. “Because my practice is so large and we deal with so many X-ray technicians and personnel, we wanted to give something back to the community,” Soloway explained. “We wanted to set up this fund up in conjunction with [my practice] becoming a teaching site for the college, which we are.” He also employs many of the students that graduate from the college. Currently, he has six certified X-ray technicians that have all come through the institution. Being so involved with his work, it’s hard to imagine that Soloway has time for much else. Interestingly enough, he is an avid baseball card collector and holds the honor of being inducted as only the fifth member ever to the Sports Card Collectors Hall of Fame. He has complete team sets from 1887 to 1969—a distinction that very few people, if any, can boast. “My desire and passion for baseball and collecting never seemed to wane,” he explained. Soloway has also found time to start a large real estate firm with properties in seven states and Canada. He is particularly fond of condominium hotel suites and was one of the first to invest in Donald Trump’s 57-story residential and luxury hotel tower in Toronto. “It’s like owning a bond you can sleep in,” he said. Additionally, Soloway collects vintage corvettes and has an honorary black belt instructor degree from the state of New Jersey. He is a single father of two children—Jake, 11, and Alyxandra, 14.


AUC Connections




1980s Sylvia W. Horsley, M.D. (‘81), an OB/GYN, has been in private practice alongside a midwife and a nurse for 20 years. She completed her residency at the State University of New York-Buffalo in 1986, and

is licensed in New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Indiana. She has four children—Nelson, Kent, Emma, and Molly—and lives in Nashua, N.H.

Reva Dubin, M.D. (’82) is the

Thomas M. Kowalak, M.D. (’81) is a family physician who

Richard Callery, M.D. (’83)

specializes in emergency medicine. He and wife Diane have two children—Stephanie and Alexis—and live in Grand Island, N.Y.

medical director of emergency services at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.

has been reappointed to a second 10-year term as Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Delaware and director of the state's crime lab.

Ronald Huet, M.D. (’83) is an emergency medicine physician. He lives in McDonough, Ga., and has two daughters—Brittany and Bethany.

Winter/Spring 2008

Robert A. Massaro, M.D. (’83) has retired from 20 years


J. Timothy Tolland, M.D. (’81) completed his residency in general surgery at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa., in 1988, and his fellowship in colon and rectal surgery at the Baylor University Medical Center, in Dallas, Texas, a year later. He is a partner in a colorectal practice in Ormond Beach, Fla., and a staff member of Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach and Florida Hospital, where he completed a twoyear term as chief of staff. He and wife Lori have seven children ranging in ages from 23 to 13—Christopher, Lori-Ann, Kimberly, John, Patrick, Kelly and Marlena.

of OB/GYN private practice to become vice chair and co-director of the OB/GYN residency at Monmouth Medical Center. He is also associate clinical professor in OB/GYN for the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia and has received their Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence as well as the Dean’s Special Award for Academic Teaching for five consecutive years. He was also awarded a CREOG National Faculty Award for Excellence in Resident Education in OB/GYN. He and wife Laura have two daughters—Alexandra and Jacqueline—and live in Freehold, N.J.

Sam J. Borrelli, M.D. (’84), a family physician, practices in the South Bend, Ind., area where he is chief of staff for Elkhart General Hospital. He and wife Rosemary—who ac-

companied him to Montserrat during his medical studies and helped with the typing and printing of note services—have been married for 27 years. The couple has four children— Stephanie, Gabriella, Samuel, and Joseph—and lives in Bristol, Ind. They recently traveled to Cabo, Mexico, which Borrelli said reminded him of the island of Montserrat.

Charles L. Glace, M.D. (’84), a Spartanbug, N.C., family practitioner, is the president of the Spartanburg County Medical Society, a group that has approximately 525 members.

Cherie E. Hinchliffe, M.D. (’84) is a board-certified internist and runs a solo private practice in Laguna Beach, Calif. She is an active member of the Rotary Club and loves to travel.

John P. Reilly, M.D. (’84) is director of internal medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, N.Y. He and wife Jean have two children, Meghan and Lauren.

Phuong-Thuy T. Le, M.D. (’84), a psychiatrist in private practice, has published four books on relationships (written in Vietnamese), and is conducting—also in Vietnamese—four weekly live radio talk shows on mental health issues. She and her husband, Francis Lu, M.D., live in San Jose, Calif.

Julio H. Lesmes, M.D. (’85) and fellow AUC graduate

Liliane (Lily) Kovacs-Lesmes,

Class Notes

M.D. (’85) have been married for 25 years. Julio has a large cardiology group practice in Lake County, just outside of Orlando, which is affiliated with two hospitals. Liliane is working part-time as a pediatrician after ten years of full-time solo practice. The couple has three boys—Matt, Eric and Andrew— and lives in Heathrow, Fla. The family enjoys skiing in Colorado every winter and exploring a new place every summer. Ronald E. Battiata, M.D. (’86), a board-certified family practitioner, has been in a group family practice in rural Southeast Michigan since completing his residency in 1989. His federally funded health care center serves the needs of low-income

patients. He also supervises residents once a week at the Bon Secours Residency Outpatient Training Center. Battiata has been married to wife Carol— who accompanied him to Montserrat—for 26 years. The couple has three children— Scott, Matthew and Angela— and lives in East China, Mich.

Joseph W. Heflin, M.D. (’86) is medical director of Village Health Association of Santa Rosa Beach, of the Gulf Coast Narconon, and of the Destin Fire District AED program. He is also a hospitalist and emergency physician with Fort Walton Beach Medical Center in Destin, Fla. He was in private practice in Nevada for 13 years before moving to Florida five years ago. Heflin completed a

Physician Executive MBA at Auburn University in May 2007. He and wife Pamela have two children, Parker and Kelsey. Heflin said he would like to hear from old friends and invites them to the coast to fish with him.

been married to Francis Oglethorpe of Montserrat since 2004, and has two twin sons— James and Giovanni—born in December 2006. The family lives in Clarksville, in rural Ohio, where LaRuffa works in private practice.

James Krag, M.D. (’86) became president-elect of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia. He will become president next spring for a three-year post, during which he will serve on the board and plan one of the two annual meetings.

Sharon M. Plank, M.D. (’86)

Catherine LaRuffa, M.D. (’86) is board certified and recertified in family medicine and also a board-certified mastectomy prosthesis fitter. She has

is co-founder of Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, a program that combines yoga, meditation and nutrition for those suffering from metabolic syndrome. She is specialized in acupuncture and integrative medicine, having completed her fellowship training at the University of Arizona under the directorship of Andrew Weil, M.D., and has worked extensively in the areas of prevention and management of heart disease and osteoporo-

James H. Hollingsworth, M.D. (’86) practiced in Johnstown, Pa., since completing his residency in internal medicine. He was forced to retire 5 years ago due to severe back pain. He and wife Dorothy have five children— Rachel, James Henry, Thaddeus, Anna and Sarah Katherine—and two grandchildren. The couple lives on a small farm in the Laurel Highlands, in Pennsylvania. AUC Connections

Above: The Hollingston family at James Henry’s wedding. Left to right: Sarah Katherine, Thaddeus, James Henry, Kristen, Dorothy, James, Rachel and Anna. (Not pictured: Rachel’s husband Ben Parker and her children Elianah and Simeon.)




sis as well as women’s health problems. Plank is married to Alan McNamara and has two children, Maggie McNamara and John David Bruer.

William Gregory Berkley, M.D. (’87) is board certified in nuclear cardiology and internal medicine. Vice president of Medical Associates of North Georgia, he is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a clinical instructor at the University of Georgia. He and wife Marie Elizabeth have been married 18 years and have two children—Ryan and Holly. The family lives in Roswell, Ga.

Debra G. Cudnowski, M.D. (’87) is a board-certified family

has been in private practice as a pediatrician for 11 years. She lives in Houghton, Va., and has been remarried for the past five years to internist E. Alan Webb, M.D. Fakner has two daughters—Margo, 11, and Claire, 3.

Gary D. Schwartz, M.D. (’89) has recently opened his own “concierge micropractice” in internal medicine and was named medical director for the hospitalist program at Hackensack University Medical Center, in Hackensack, N.J.

Joseph Todd Joyner, M.D. (’99) is board certified in inter-

medicine at St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, W.Va., where he served as chief of staff in 2006. Dasaro is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the Society of Hyperbaric Medicine.

nal medicine. He trained at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1999 to 2002. He is currently director of inpatient medical services at MetroHealth and assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Joyner has one daughter, Molly.

Frank J. Newlands, M.D. (’96) is board certified in internal medicine and is the director of Presbyterian Inpatient Care Specialist in Charlotte, N.C. He is also the health care director for Vendormate, a technology and analytics company. He and wife Anoma have three children—James, Daniel and Lauren.

Stephanie Spytek, M.D. (’99) is an OB/GYN in private practice in St. Petersburg, Fla. She and husband Joe have three children—Sophia, Sydney and Joseph. Spytek and family moved to Perth, Australia, after her graduation, where she practiced medicine for a year.



Michele Johnson-Towson, M.D. (’87) is a board-certified

Andrew Hear, M.D. (‘95)

Arun Chauhan, M.D. (’00) is

pediatrician and has been in private practice since 2000. She and husband John have been married for 20 years and have two sons, Devin and Ian. They live in Tampa, Fla.

was appointed chief of staff at Fort Hamilton Hughes Hospital, in Hamilton, Ohio. He previously served as chief of medicine and vice president of the executive committee at the same facility.

Geoffrey K. Turner, M.D. (’87) is a partner and owner of

William D. Clark, M.D. (’96)

Brian D. Dieterle, M.D. (’88), Winter/Spring 2008

Regina Fakner, M.D. (’89)

Anthony P. Dasaro, M.D. (’96) is director of hospital

practitioner and medical director of the University of Minnesota Health Services. She and husband Dennis Leahy live in Duluth, Minn., with their daughter, Basia Colleen.

a multi-specialty group with several offices in Michigan, where he works approximately 20 hours per week. He has a son—Zachary—and likes to spend his free time skiing, cycling, kiteboarding and hanging out with his two dogs, Koan and Rhys. He lives in Benzonia, Mich.


is president of the MitchellYancey Counties, North Carolina Medical Society.

an internist, is certified in hyperbaric medicine and completed a fellowship in cardiology. He has a daughter—Andrea— and lives in Branson, Mo.

Douglas A. Shields, M.D. (’89), an emergency physician,

completed his pediatrics residency at St. John Hospital in Detroit and his neonatal/perinatal fellowship at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He is board certified in pediatrics and neonatal/perinatal medicine. He has been the attending physician at the department of neonatology at Oakwook Hospital in Dearborn, Mich., since 2002. He has authored numerous publications and was awarded with the Young Investigator Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2001, and with the Arnold J. Rudolph Award for outstanding fellow in neonatal/perinatal medicine in 2002.

board certified in internal medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. He and wife Ana have one child, Jayna. The family lives is Danville, Calif.

Samuel Joiner Evans, M.D. (’97), is an intensivist with Aloha Critical Care Associates, medical director of the ICU at Kuakini Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine, pulmonary and critical care at the University of Hawaii. He was elected a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians in 2007. Evans and wife Crystal Lee have three children— Kalia Ann, Mika Lea and Maile Marie—and live in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Rene Gonzalez, M.D. (’03), is a board-certified pediatrician and medical director of the KHEIR-S. Mark Taper Foundation Community Clinic in Los Angeles, Calif.

Class Notes


Monet Sayegh, M.D. (‘99)

AUC Connections

After years of dedication to research, Monet N. Sayegh, M.D. (’99) says he feels fulfilled as a clinical scientific consultant with Siemens Diagnostics. “Working for such a large and respected company and as my passion continues to grow, I’m committed to take each opportunity to provide our physicians the education and the best clinical diagnostic solutions that our company provides that will ultimately benefit our patient care,” he said. Sayegh, who is board certified in clinical immunology and a hematology specialist, said he believes that the research and development facet is a continuum that complements clinical practice and assists to better understand disease processes, providing knowledge and new technologies to patients for better quality of life. At Siemens, he identifies key disease areas in the market and collaborates with scientists to create pharmaceutical products. He provides long-term scientific and clinical input into the strategic planning process for disease panels and participates in major in vitro diagnostics (IVD) research, medical meetings and expositions. He also provides technical support for field personnel, internal and external clients. He is frequently invited to lecture to key opinion leaders, academic institutes, laboratory personnel and doctors. Sayegh is married to Inam, and has four children—Nadene, 14, Natalie, 12, Nasser, 11, and Nadia, 7. The family lives in Simi Valley, Calif. Brenda Maya



Notes Spotlight

Richard L. Morrison, M.D. (’05), got accepted

Winter/Spring 2008

Paul R. Signorino, M.D. (‘00)


Hard work and dedication are finally paying off for Paul R. Signorino, M.D. (’00), who joined the Central DuPage Surgical Consultants at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., in 2007. Though exhausted from years of grueling medical studies, he said he is glad to be entering a new chapter in his life. “At the end of the day, I became a general surgeon, trained at an excellent academic institution, and landed a position with an excellent practice,” he said. Signorino finished his general surgery residency in June 2007 at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, where he pursued academic research and successfully completed a two-year fellowship in genomic research involving acute lung injury. “Research allowed me to see medicine from a 360 degree view; to understand the validity of studies and how they could pertain to changing clinical practices versus therapies that are not ready for prime time yet,” he said. As a senior resident, Signorino received the Traveling Resident rotation and was able to travel to Exeter, England, for six months, where he performed at the level of specialist registrar. He was presented the Distinguished Resident Teacher Award by the medical students upon his graduation from the residency—something he said was “quite an honor.” According to Signorino, his studies in England gave him an extra boost of confidence with problem-solving skills. Ready for the next stage of his medical career, Signorino is thankful for his training and experience at AUC. “The road is long and hard and the sacrifices are enough to break a person,” he explained. “My time in St. Maarten really opened my eyes to what is out there in this world, and my residency in Milwaukee was ‘the best and worst of times’ and a huge source of accomplishment for me personally.” Brenda Maya

to a pulmonary/critical care fellowship at LSU and was named chief resident at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga internal medicine program. Morrison had a research poster initially accepted and presented at the Tennessee American College of Physicians meeting and subsequently to the national meeting, in San Diego, Calif.

Paul R. Nielsen, M.D. (’06), pre-matched into a family medicine residency at Barberton Citizens Hospital in Ohio. He and wife Christine have three children—Lauren, Matthew and Samuel.

Class Notes

Aggie M. Hewitt, M.D. (’00) completed a residency in family medicine and is now a hospitalist with Rothman Orthopedics in Philadelphia. An enthusiastic traveler, she has been to Europe, Venezuela and India. Hewitt is engaged to be married in 2008 and has two “wonderful sons who are happy to have their mom home from medical school.”

Rajan Merchant, M.D. (’00) is a boardcertified allergist and immunologist. He completed an internal medicine-pediatrics residency in 2004 and an allergy and immunology fellowship in 2006. He now works full-time in Sacramento, Calif. Merchant and wife Priti have one child, Shaan.

Julie A. Muché, M.D. (’00) is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain medicine. She lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Christopher Shane Sonnier, M.D. (’00), an endocrinologist, is clinic director at Carilion Endocrinology Associates in Christianburg, Va. He completed his internal medicine residency at the UVA RoanokeSalem program and his fellowship in endocrinology at the University of South

Carolina School of Medicine, in Columbia. He is board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and is licensed in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Shantanu S. Naik, M.D. (’01) is board certified in pulmonary critical care medicine. He completed a fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He and wife Zita Samuel have one child, Shreyus. The family lives in League City, Texas, with their dog Dingo—“the jumping wonder.”

Sherwin P. Schrag, M.D. (‘01) was chief administrative surgical resident at St. Luke’s Hospital at the Temple University clinical campus in Bethlehem, Pa. He is currently a traumatology and surgical critical care fellow at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville, Tenn.

Amesh A. Adalja, M.D. (’02) is chief resident at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he is pursuing a combined internal medicine/emergency medicine program. He lives in Butler, Pa.

Jonathan R. Mann, M.D. (’02) completed his internal medicine residency training at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., in 2005. He is a boardcertified internist and is in group practice in Norfolk, Va. He was awarded a certificate of merit for research and scholarly activity. He and wife Jennifer have two children, Charlotte and Davis. In his leisure time he enjoys sailing, golfing, and participating in community activities with his church. Nikolaos Hatzis, M.D. (’03) and Olga Kouruklis, M.D. (’03) both completed their residencies in internal medicine at the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. Hatzis is now a pulmonary & critical care fellow at SUNY Downstate and Kouruklis is an attending in internal medicine with the department of Veterans Affairs, in New York.

Paul K. Nanda, M.D. (’03) has recently traveled to Zimbabwe and Belize to do volunteer work in remote medical clinics. He has accepted a faculty position in Columbus, Ohio, with the Ohio State University Department of Family Medicine as director of

Photo of members of the class of 1982 who trained at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., a hospital that is no longer in existence. Please write to us if you recognize classmates in the picture.

Photo submitt ed by Eileen Kelly-G redone, M.D. (ʻ82), first woman from le ft AUC Connections

If you have an old photo you would like to share with your fellow classmates, send it to to have it published in our AUC Connections alumni magazine



Notes Spotlight From the ma ilbag

Winter/Spring 2008

in, v l o C David ) 5 0 ‘ ( . M.D


Las icine in of Med ten—and l o o h c r vada S t. Maa y of Ne e while at S iversit ic n v r U e e s Unih t anford ed note s with e at St o the bay diatric a—who work in e ic p d e in t g em ency ndre ical car We are movin and trepir resid wife, A tric crit ors 08. ia tched fo side with my 0 m a d 2 e u m r p nts in , I s 5 e stude oition in o start amut of fear ntly re In 200 l futur hip pos Alto, Calif., t g m ia I curre yellow lab). s t e y w e n b h r o e t e t ll d h o gh w lo lpe a fe dp t and a Vegas e throu ffered l) in Pa ent an othing but he stitutions s" (a ca I was o en's Hospita r. Having gon let the curr t in en s n e o b d r our "kid past month o e e t d s ved t h il a anted t chap rd Ch inty h ed at one of t he time we li s This -Packa start the nex al school, I w and uncerta t ga in le h e a il V is r c t r u e in y ic (L lt ch to ar you're if versity few months aribbean med think the fe be sub-specia other way. I p u a .I C ny ill ok me area in attending a ut in the end one it a that I w ars. Lo o of r. Now uldn't have d e first two ye k e r n d o r io t w a a l h d o il h th 5) hat it w ork that muc eople that I w ose I met in .D. (‘0 know t to w h th ell p olvin, M t e it C w m ly t id s g s v d e n Da tivatin y, I hon still best frie countr luck! d am in the n d o a o d g n isla s and on the month next six e h t in

Class Notes

international medicine, where he served as co-chief resident during this past year.

Sameer Patel, M.D. (’03) is completing

Mississippi and Wisconsin and is planning to start a cardiology fellowship upon completion of his residency.

his fourth year of diagnostic radiology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. He will start a fellowship in body imaging at the University of California-San Diego in July 2008.

Salahuddin I. Syed, M.D. (’04), a psy-

Kate Hadden, M.D. (’04) recently graduated from an internal medicine residency at Hennepin County Medical Center. She is currently working as a hospitalist in Minneapolis. Hadden is happily married with three beautiful and healthy daughters.

Wael S. Mourad, M.D. (’04), a family

chiatrist, received the Distinguished Service and Resident Teacher of the Year awards in 2006. Syed and wife Saba were married in December 2006 and live in Chicago, Ill.

Donny R. Stokes, M.D. (’04) is a third-

practitioner, started a maternal/obstetrical and child health fellowship at West Suburban Hospital, in Chicago. Wael received the McGovern Tracy Scholarship award for community service, given by the University of Wisconsin department of family medicine to medical students and residents.

year internal medicine resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. He was named “Intern of the Year” during his first year and was resident of the month twice in 2006. He has been selected to be chief resident. Stokes is licensed in

Erika P. Dudley-Watkins, M.D. (’05) is completing her third year of residency in psychiatry at the Jackson Memorial Hospital, in Miami, Fla. She and husband David have two children—David Jr. and Sean

Alexander—and live in Sunrise, Fla.

Harish Manyam, M.D. (’05) is a thirdyear internal medicine resident at Allegheny General Hospital and will be chief resident in 2008. Manyam is a recipient of the Golden Apple from Drexel University for teaching and has presented at the American Heart Association in November 2007. Lisa M. Tomasello-Otten, M.D. (’05), is currently a PGY-3 anesthesiology resident at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She was married to Hendrik Otten in 2007 and plans to return to Florida upon completion of residency. Victor M. Vargas, M.D. (’06) was recently commissioned a captain in the U.S. Air Force and will report to duty in July 2009 after completing his family practice residency program at Northeast Medical Center-Cabarrus in Concord, N.C.

AUC Connections


Island Guavaberry A singular taste of the Caribbean


istorically, the world's peoples have brewed alcoholic concoctions by using indigenous plants. Guavaberry liqueur is one of the most unique examples of this universal endeavor. Made in a number of places in the Caribbean, the concoction is usually associated with St. Maarten, where it's considered the national drink.


ing. High winds and insects can lessen the amount of fruit the trees produce; in fact, the trees are so susceptible that some years they don't yield any berries at all. The berries themselves ripen to either yellow-orange or dark red verging on black, and are about half the size of cherries. On St. Maarten, the trees bear fruit at different times from year to year, but only when conditions are just right.

The Plant The Drink Despite its name, the guavaberry comes from a different plant family than the guava. It's actually a closer relative to clove and eucalyptus. Guavaberry trees grow wild in the Caribbean islands and a few areas of South and Central America. The fruits, sometimes called rumberries, have also been introduced to Florida, Hawaii, Bermuda and the Philippines. Because the trees grow best in rocky, difficult terrain, and their fruit grows out of reach, harvesting the berries is challeng-

Beginning centuries ago, Caribbean islanders created their own guavaberry liqueurs by combining guavaberries, rum and sugar cane. A profitable business even sprang up in the Virgin Islands in the late 1800s, exporting guavaberry wines and rums to Denmark. But its market never broadened, and currently it is hard to find outside of the Caribbean.

Montserrat’s Governor Opens the Gates of Old Towne

fter months of closure, Old Towne unlatches its gates and welcomes back residents and visitors to this historic section of Montserrat. Peter Waterworth, Montserrat’s governor, with the support of the members of the Volcano Executive Group (VEG) announced that, as of Wednesday, Aug. 22, all of the properties in this community of Montserrat could be officially reopened for business and residential life. “The rebirth of Old Towne is certainly good news for Montserrat and for tourism,” commented Ernestine Cassell, the island’s director of tourism. “We look forward to welcoming residents and visitors back to Old Towne where they will discover Montserrat’s history and charm.” Located on the Western side of the island, Old Towne houses over 60 properties including the historic Vue Point Hotel. Renewed access to Old Towne means restored employment opportunities for many of the taxi operators, restaurateurs, gardeners and housekeepers who were instantly unemployed when the area was deemed unsafe by volcanic experts several months ago. Montserrat, the lush green and mountainous island of approximately 39 square miles, lies in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Known fondly as the “Emerald Isle” of the Caribbean, it is a traveler’s paradise for nature lovers, divers, adventurers, family and villa vacationers, and honeymooners. The British overseas territory boasts the spectacular Soufrière Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried former capital city Plymouth, alongside green mountains, world-class nature trails, deserted dark sand beaches, untouched reefs and a quiet friendly charm reminiscent of the way the Caribbean used to be.

Winter/Spring 2008



Historic District deemed safe according to volcano officials


The Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company is the premier manufacturer of guavaberry liqueur nowadays, keeping the legendary beverage alive. Their Guavaberry Emporium in Philipsburg offers free samples of their wide assortment of liqueurs. With their vintage varieties and hand painted bottles, they've perfected the guavaberry liqueur like no one else. They also sell rums, barbeque sauces, guavaberry honey and similar items. Located in a quaint old house on Front Street, the Emporium is a popular stop for tourists to the island. While travelers are most likely to encounter the Sint Maarten's brand, handmade guavaberry liqueurs still exist. In the Virgin Islands, Ashley Nibbs (also known as “the Bush Tea Doctor") brews his own small brand, A. Nibbs Sons & Daughters, according to family tradition. And in the Dominican Republic, people often make their own guavaberry liqueur by filling a jar with guavaberries, pouring in rum to cover, and then burying the jar for a year.

Dominican Republic likewise associate the spirit with Christmas festivities. Many people prefer to mix guavaberry liqueur in drinks rather than drinking it straight because of its sweet, fruity taste. It's considered especially delicious as a colada, made by mixing guavaberry liqueur, coconut cream and pineapple juice. A small amount of the liqueur added to sauces or desserts lends a special flavor to the dish. Historically, guavaberries were used to make jams, juices, tarts, and cakes on various Caribbean islands. Those tasty treats can still occasionally be found by lucky travelers. Cubans savor the juicy, bittersweet fruits, eating them plain or making juice. They also make a guavaberry syrup, which is used medicinally for liver problems. Because of its rarity and uniquely pleasant taste, those who encounter guavaberry liqueur should be sure to give it a try. You might even be inspired to bring home a bottle to add to your own Christmas traditions.

Traditions Karen Joslin A treasured Christmas drink, guavaberry liqueur inspired holiday traditions. On St. Maarten, carolers would go from door to door, singing “Good morning, good morning, I come for me guavaberry." At each house, they'd receive a small sample from the owner's bottle. But this is not reserved for St. Maarten; residents of the Virgin Islands and the

Karen Joslin writes for Segisys © travel Web sites with articles like cuisine on and culture on ©2006, Interactive Internet Websites, Inc.

Photo Al Jac submitted by Back obs, M.D. (ʻ87) row, t hird fr om le ft

Picture of members of the winning AUC cricket team in Montserrat (class of 1987/1988). If you recognize yourself or your classmates, please send us an e-mail. If you have an old photo you would like to share with your fellow classmates, send it to to have it published in our AUC Connections alumni magazine

Photo by Jason Jones


Marigot Mall, St. Martin Twilight view of the shopping mall in Marigot, on the French Side of the island

Bienvenido a Miami Save the Date! September 5-6, 2008 Miami, FL







For more informa

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visit www. a

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AUC Connections: Winter/Spring 2008  

Beyond Primary Care: Four AUC physicians leave their marks in competitive medical fields