THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES' ST. AUGUSTINE CAMPUS
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
Medical research confirms that Cannabis
sativa has been used medicinally for thousands
of years, yet its prominence arose from use in its
marijuana or ganja form. Despite the controversies
surrounding smoking marijuana-it is illegal in
most countries-scientists have continued to look
at its properties and the impact on the human
Over the past four decades, research has come
up with many breakthrough findings, starting when
the primary active ingredient of cannabis, delta-
9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was identified in
the sixties, and then in 1990 when the first THC
receptor in the brain was discovered.
One of the lecturers in the Department of
Pre-Clinical Sciences at UWI St. Augustine,
Dr Farid Youssef, and Andrew Irving of the
Neurosciences Institute at the University of
Dundee, recently presented a review of some of the
latest developments in cannabis research, including
the identification of at least five endogenous
cannabinoid neurotransmitters in the body. These
endocannabinoids are widely distributed and
affect processes such as learning and memory,
regulation of appetite, immune function, and
reward pathways, for example.
"Numerous stereotypes associated with
cannabis, in addition to the well known adverse
health consequence associated with chronic
smoking of cannabis, does little to help sell the
concept of cannabis as a substance with enormous
therapeutic potential. Recent advances in our
understanding of the actions of cannabis and
related ligands on the body suggest that now is a
good time to change public opinion," they assert.
In our special focus on cannabis and its agency
on the human mind and body, Dr Youssef explains
some of the research and its potential effects,
while psychiatrist Professor Gerard Hutchinson
discusses how some people are genetically more
inclined to psychotic reactions, and psychiatrist
Dr Sandra Reid reviews the debate on whether
marijuana should be legalised.
* A Day of Sweet Delight
* Oncology Nurses get Cancer Training
Long Distance Link
* Primary School goes Online
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010 UWI TODAY 3
* APETT AWARD
Professor Clement Sankat, Pro Vice
Chancellor of The UWI and Principal
of the St Augustine Campus, received
the Award of "Career of Excellence in
Engineering" from the Association of
Professional Engineers of Trinidad
and Tobago (APETT) earlier this
At the APETT 50th Annual
Honours and Awards Ceremony, the
award was presented by feature speaker
the Honourable Mary King, Minister
of Planning, Economic and Social
Restructuring and Gender Affairs,
after which Prof Sankat addressed the
The Campus Principal has joined the
exclusive company of previous awardees,
distinguished professionals such as
Professor Kenneth S. Julien (1992),
Professor Ignatius Imbert (2001) and
Professor Gurmohan Kochhar (2003),
as well as APETT foundation members
FenrickR. De Four (1993) and A. Majid
* MEETING THE MINISTER
(From left) Mrs Margaret Richardson, Permanent Secretary in the Minister of Science,
Technology and Tertiary Education (STTE), Professor Clement Sankat, Pro Vice Chancellor of
The UWI and Principal of the St Augustine Campus, and the Honourable Fazal Karim, newly
appointed Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, share a moment during a
luncheon to welcome the new Minister, held on Wednesday 16th June 2010 at the Office of the
St Augustine Campus Principal. Members of Campus Management, Faculty Deans, and several
senior administrative members of staff attended the luncheon ceremony.
1 0 CAMPUS NEWS I
CLEMENT K. SANKAT
Pro Vice Chancellor & Principal
Dr Hamid Ghany, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences,
greets Mr Goolam Rajah at the function.
* LESSONS IN CRICKET
The Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI St.
Augustine recently hosted the Seventh
Annual Sonny Ramadhin Distinguished
Cricket Lecture, which was delivered by Mr.
Goolam Rajah, Logistics Manager of the
touring South African national cricket team.
Mr. Rajah has been in a management position
with the South African cricket team since
the end of apartheid, and is also currently
Manager of the Deccan Chargers in the
Indian Premier League.
Mr Rajah's lecture was titled
"Transformation over the last 20 years in
South African Cricket," particularly relevant
to West Indians seeking models upon which
to base the transformation of the region's
F7 7 EDITORIALTSEA
Professor Clement Sankat
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Mrs. Dawn Marie De Four-Gill
Ms. Vaneisa Baksh
The UWI Marketing and Communications Office
Tel: (868) 662-2002, exts. 2013. 2014
Or email: email@example.com
In the Service of National
and Regional Development
Immediately after the national election
0. results were revealed on May 24, the
SVice Chancellor and I offered formal
R.bW congratulations, on behalf of The University
4 of the West Indies, to the Honourable Kamla
Persad-Bissessar, the first female Prime
S Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and
Tobago, and an alumna of The UWI.
As Ministerial and other portfolios were
announced, it became clear that several
holders of these high offices, including those on the Opposition side,
are alumni of The UWI, and in some cases, also former staff members.
I am proud of them. The new Minister of Science, Technology &
Tertiary Education, the Honourable Fazal Karim, worked previously as
Business Development Manager at the St. Augustine Campus and we
are pleased that he found the time to visit so soon after his appointment.
Our conversation with him and the Permanent Secretary, Margaret
Richardson, covered many areas, and as time goes by, I look forward to
seeing the ideas and plans we discussed come to fruition for the benefit
of our students, staff and the advancement of higher education.
On reflecting on the significance of these appointments, it struck
me that it reinforces the point I have been making that this University is
creating abroad cadre of leaders who continue to rise to the challenges
of leadership in the region. I often say that building leaders for our
society is what distinguishes The UWI, and is one of the components
of development that the University endorses fully.
This is part of a wider vision that true development can only fully
be achieved if we embrace the view that national service is an important
element of personal and professional growth, which should be nurtured
in our young people and supported by the private and public sector. We
strive to create and support graduates who exemplify a strong sense of
civic-mindedness and who respond readily to the call to serve.
In light of this, I wish to thank the former administration for its
support of the regional university, to reiterate my congratulations
to our new administration and to pledge the University's continued
support towards building a more competitive Trinidad and Tobago
and Caribbean region.
4 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
Chow down at the
Did you know that the succulent Julie mango really comes
from Trinidad even though the world's mango family was
really born in India? At first blush, it sounds like the story
of indentured labour, but in truth, when you think about
the varieties of mango that have sprung up wherever there
is warm, dry weather in the world, it is really the tale of
globalization-everything is everywhere, just bearing the
stamp of its immediate environment.
Although nearly half of the world's mangos are
cultivated in India, there are innumerable varieties from
region to region. In the Caribbean alone several types can be
found and everyone has their favourite (and their favourite
way to eat them!). In Trinidad, the most popular ones are
the Julie and the Starch, which now fetch high prices at the
But how many can recall names like Long mango,
Rose, Hog, Calabash, Manzanilla Douxdoux, La Brea Gyul,
Turpentine, Mangotine, Graham, Ten-pound, Bastapool,
Belly-bef, Cedar, Cutlass, Peter, Vert, Zabrico; or traditional
Tobago fare like Ice-cream, Mango Mossy and John Buck
Mangoes in Moriah and Suppie Mango in Bon Accord, or
Button Mangoes in Charlotteville?
Well, the upcoming Trinidad and Tobago Mango
Festival offers a chance to discover or rediscover the pleasure
David Rudder invoked in "Song for a Lonely Soul" with the
lines, "A mind excursion it can take me/ To a far off country
road / Sticky mango juice running down my naked chest."
You might not get drenched in sticky mango juices,
but there is a lot to be had at this second edition of the day-
long Festival which takes place on Sunday July 25 at the
University Field Station in Mt Hope from 10am.
The day is full of activities meant to promote mango
as a business enterprise, to teach people about the various
features of mango life and to offer some tempting mango
delicacies and fruit. The day opens with a mango market,
and then a presentation on how mangos are used around
the world in various ceremonies. Just after lunch the formal
part kicks in, and this includes a tea party. Storytellers will
tell the tales of the mango at a specially set up storytelling
centre and of course, there will be discussions of the place
of the mango in Caribbean literature. Naturally, the day will
end with a chow-down of sorts: competitions to see who can
prepare the wickedest mango dish, who can smell and name
a mango, and who can produce the best display.
It is a richly textured day, fulfilling the challenge the
Network of Rural Women Producers Trinidad and Tobago
(NRWP) set for themselves when they decided to hold
the first festival in August 2009. Then they had dedicated
themselves to providing "a day of education about the values
of mangoes," said Gia Taylor, one of the key organizers.
Organising committee for the Mango Festival, finalizes plans: (from left) Kathryn Duncan (IICA), Yolande Selman (TDC), Rose Rajbansee (NRWP),
Gia Gaspard-Taylor (NRWP), Dr. Brian Cockburn (UWI), Shanae Bissoon (Intern, IICA), Sarissa Narine (Intern, IICA).
"It is still a day of fun, community education, including,
activities for all ages, story telling, 'smell and name the
mango' best mango chow, best mango display, grafting,
sweets jellies, cakes, teas, beauty products, religious cultural
uses, medicinal uses and more," she said.
This year, the Business Development Unit of The
Faculty of Science and Agriculture at The UWI has joined
with them, taking three booths, and adding such dimensions
that "business development and the educational aspect will
be given top billing this year," she said.
"We stake claim to the Festival as the original
organization to host the event,"' said Taylor. "Our partners
are The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) and Inter-American Institute for Corporation
on Agriculture, (IICA) The Ministry of Food Production,
Land and Marine Services, and we are very pleased have
UWI join us."'
Saying that she looked forward to the Tourism
Development Company listing this as an annual attraction,
she added that they hope to see the Festival grow to a two-
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
MANGO FESTIVAL 2010
Sunday July 25,2010
University Field Station, Mt Hope
Children over 12: $5,
Under 12: Free
0 CAMPUS NEWS
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010 UWI TODAY 5
A FIRST IN LONG DISTANCE WIRELESS NETWORKING
The official launch of the long-distance wireless network
link created from the UWI St Augustine Campus to the St
David's RC primary school in Kelly Village took place on
Friday 11th June 2010. A demonstration of the capability
of the wireless network was carried out in a classroom
setting at the school. Students used the internet on laptops
in a classroom to find information about hurricanes via the
National Geographic website.
The antenna set up at the St David's RC school to capture the Wi-Fi
signal from the UWI antenna.
This is the first time this type of low-cost long-distance
Wi-Fi based networking technology has been implemented
in the Caribbean. This technique can be utilized by newly
trained personnel at The UWI St Augustine to create and
maintain similar long-distance Wi-Fi network links to
service the rural areas of Trinidad and Tobago at a minimal
Earlier in the week, the Department of Mathematics
and Computer Science from the Faculty of Science and
Agriculture facilitated a wireless workshop on "Low Cost
Wireless Computer Networking." Dr. Donna Comissiong
and Mr. Naresh Seegobin were the principal organizers.
Ermanno Pietrosemoli and three of his associates from
the ICTP (International Center for Theoretical Physics,
Trieste, Italy) were the instructors. The funding agencies
that facilitated this along with The UWI were the ICTP,
EsLaRed, ISOC, NSRC and WirelessU.
During the training week, a Wi-Fi link between UWI's
St. Augustine Campus and the St. David's R.C. school was
activated. The basic infrastructure, including poles and
network connectivity, was set up during the first days of the
workshop. Later, adjustments to the antennae were made
and network routing configurations were validated.
The 158 Standard Three students who were exposed
to the demonstration were thrilled, particularly the boys
(there are one hundred of them), said Principal Kathleen
"In that group of children, I saw the change in attitude
in the boys," she said. "Not that the girls are not interested,
but the expression on the boys' faces was something."
Saying that one of the challenges they face is to find
strategies to keep the boys excited, she wished for more of
"I really want to see the technology in the classroom. I
can see our boys coming alive and they can do something
if they have the technology."
Lauren Winth sits next to Kaream Oliver, while Shemar Daniel leans
over interestedly as Standard Three students at the St. David's Primary
School learned about hurricanes via the National Geographic website.
They were using the new wireless link provided by a first-ever long-
distance link with The UWI St. Augustine Campus.
The transformation it can bring was tingling in their
eyes, and as Pierre-Holder beheld it, she was moved.
"It was an awesome moment," she concluded.
The purpose of this workshop was to train local staff
and graduate students to create and successfully implement
and maintain this low-cost Wi-Fi technology. Participants
are now fully prepared to train others to do the same. The
Department hopes to build on this initiative to create similar
wireless network links around the country, especially in
rural communities where internet connections are not
currently available. This initiative can later be expanded to
include the rural areas of Tobago, and later on, the rest of
the Caribbean islands.
PHOTOS: MARCO ZENNARO, ICTP
6 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
LISTEN TO THE DEAF
BY SAMANTHA S. P. MITCHELL
Although many Deaf receive an appropriate primary
school education, many do not go on to pursue secondary
and tertiary level studies. Recent studies continue to find
a positive correlation between tertiary education and wage
earning capacity, which points to the need for authorities to
provide opportunities for members of the Deaf community
and other Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to explore their
academic potential at the tertiary level. These issues were
the focus of the Seminar on Deaf Language and Culture
held on May 29th, at the Center for Language Learning,
UWI, St. Augustine.
An ILO Caribbean Regional Technical Meeting
in 1994 on National Dr,,,i'ii"y Policy and Legislation to
Promote Equality of Opportunity and Treatment in Training
and Employment of Disabled Persons called on regional
governments to "stimulate national awareness and action to
create training and employment opportunities for PWDs, by
organising national seminars involving the social partners
and organizations of PWDs in order to determine national
disability policy objectives and legislative needs."
Countries such as Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, St. Lucia
and Trinidad and Tobago, have completed consultations
and/or implemented recommendations towards developing
national disability policies. The Ministry of Social
Development of Trinidad and Tobago must be lauded
for its efforts through such initiatives as the collaborative
compilation of "The Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago
Signs: First Edition," and the use of interpreters for various
Co-organizer of the Seminar, Dr. Benjamin Braithwaite,
said the aim was to ensure that the Deaf spoke in their own
voice on issues pertinent to their advancement. He indicated
that much was happening in the area of Deaf language and
Selwyn Alleyne (right), Deaf participant, who was involved in the
compilation of the sign language dictionary.
Ryan Ramjattan (left), Deaf participant and interpreter, on the
importance of interpreters being highly skilled.
culture, such as the launching of the Trinidad and Tobago
Association of Interpreters for the Deaf (TTAID), the
publication of the dictionary, and the commencement of
new courses in sign language/interpretation at UWI.
Professor Valerie Youssef saw the forum and the
courses in Sign Language as a dream come true, following
almost five years of negotiations with the Ministry of Social
Development to set up a Caribbean/Trinidad Sign Language
programme. She said it was important not to simply
import or adopt a programme from a foreign university,
the emphasis of which would be American Sign Language
(ASL), to the detriment of Trinidad Sign Language.
Deaf participant, Ryan Ramjattan, spoke of the need for
interpreters to be highly skilled and to educate themselves
in various subject areas, so that they could be in sync
with the culture and signing styles of the Deaf person. He
lamented that the language barrier between hearing and
non-hearing persons was a disadvantage to the Deaf in
daily life, and even in job interviews where they appeared
to be uneducated. Azim Kallan shared his challenges as a
The Dept.of Liberal Arts will be offering a Diploma
in Caribbean Sign Interpreting programme for the
first time in the academic year 2010-11. This is a
first for us in several ways. It is the first time that
we have offered a substantial part of a programme
by video-conferencing with the Mona Campus. It
is also the first time we have been privileged to
offer a programme of direct benefit to the Deaf
Community of Trinidad and Tobago. And finally
it is the first time that Sign Interpreting has been
recognized as a necessity for consideration by the
hearing community, pushing back the barrier that
has separated the deaf from the hearing in the
Trinidad and Tobago context.
Jamaica has a large and vibrant deaf community
and the Mona Programme has been running for
some time. It was conceptualized and organized
there by Trinidadian Ph. D. student Keren Niles-
Cumberbatch who will be our main teacher of Sign
for the first running of our local programme. Our
own local staff members, Kathy-Ann Drayton and
Ben Braithwaite,have been studying Sign intensively
as well as collecting data throughout the country
on the varieties in use. Ferne Regis has also been
working on the latter exercise.
In Trinidad and Tobago our efforts have been
persistent over five years of liaison with the Ministry
of Social Development to bring us to a position of
readiness for offering the programme. We have
had to compete with US institutions far better
resource than ourselves but have maintained that
our students needed to have Interpreters workwith
our own Sign and not American Sign Language.
Frustrations have resulted from persons not fully
understanding the extent of difference among
different sign languages but finally we have been
able to prevail. We are now hoping only that our
trainee Interpreters may be GATE funded!This would
be a tremendous support as we pressforward in this
vital area of national engagement.
Prof Valerie Youssef is a Professor of Linguistics,
and Coordinator of Linguistics Graduate
Programmes, Liberal Arts Department,
Deaf student, saying that even though he was well educated
in his field, many persons still marveled at the fact that he
was so highly skilled 'for a Deaf person' He indicated the
need for hearing persons to change this perception, as the
Deaf are capable of performing competently alongside their
hearing peers, once provided with the necessary educational
opportunities and work support.
Cheryl Maniram stressed the need for a meshing of ASL
and Trinidad Sign Language into a mutually intelligible Deaf
language which would bridge the gap between younger and
older users respectively. Dana Smith shared the challenges
of pursuing a degree as a Deaf student at the University
of Trinidad and Tobago, and reiterated the importance of
having interpreters whose level of education was capable of
meeting tertiary level needs.
Nicole Fraser-Paul of the TTAID shared the group's
intention to pursue further training towards provision of
more quality services to the Deaf. Also highlighted was
the need for interpreters to specialize in various areas to
effectively serve in health, tertiary and judicial institutions.
Shawn Mitchell raised the issue of geographic differences
in signing between Tobago and Trinidad and various parts
of the islands, and advocated the need for standardization/
codification to mitigate these differences. An overarching
theme was the need for the Deaf to take responsibility for
their advancement and to stop blaming family or society;
rather, there was need for them to develop agencies to fight
for better resources, more teachers, more interpreters and a
more widespread acknowledgement of the importance and
role of their language.
While some may argue that scarce resources cannot be
further stretched to provide for the specialized educational
needs of the Deaf and by extension, other PWDs at the
tertiary level, it is important to provide means for those Deaf
who wish to pursue tertiary studies within the Caribbean,
especially due to the fact that while cases of congenital (from
birth) deafness have been decreasing mainly due to early
screening and immunization, sudden or acquired deafness
is on the increase, as a result of accidents and occupational
The Ministry of Social Development of Trinidad and Tobago
must be lauded for its efforts through such initiatives as the collaborative
compilation of "The Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago Signs: First Edition,"
and the use of interpreters for various public announcements.
The World Of Work Programme (WOW) is an annual professional
development series offered to all students of The University of the
West Indies (UWI) and focused mainly on providing career guidance
to final year students.
WOW 2010 kicked off on February 4th with the WOW Interview
Preparation and Resume Writing Workshop. Also in February, at
the WOW Seminar, student job seekers were coached on image
building, dressing for success, entrepreneurship and professional
work ethic by some of the nation's leading human resource
development experts. This year, the programme brought over 50 local
and regional corporate entity representatives together with more
than 1200 students at the highly anticipated WOW Mock Interviews
and WOW Recruitment Fair.
AC K N L) I E DG:Ml ENTS
The University is deeply grateful to Republic Bank Limited, the main
programme sponsor for the ninth consecutive year. Republic Bank's
contribution to WOW 2010 is a major part of the Bank's ongoing
social investment initiative "The Power to Make a Difference"-
which has embraced an overarching vision of youth empowerment
JWA I Republic Bank
S UGUS www.republictt.com
THE UWI ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
(Trinidad & Tobago Chapter)
8 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
The Cannabis sativa plant has had a long, colourful and
often controversial association with mankind. Originally
cultivated to make hemp, a soft and durable fibre that was
used extensively in the pre-industrial era for the production
of rope, textiles and paper, it is also one of the oldest herbal
remedies known to man, with texts from ancient China
and India detailing its use as a treatment for a variety of
illnesses. Even Queen Victoria of Britain is reported to
have used it as a preparation for the treatment of menstrual
cramps. Despite this wide variety of uses and its extensive
commercial production (up to today over 40,000 hectares
of hemp are under cultivation worldwide) cannabis is best
known for its psychoactive properties and its association
with recreational drug use (marijuana).
The Caribbean region, rightly or wrongly, has
anecdotally been associated with the use of cannabis for
such hedonistic purposes. The stereotypical image of a
Rastafarian resplendent with 'joint,' as often personified
by Bob Marley, is an iconic image of supposed Caribbean
life. Those of us who live and work in the region know this
demographic grouping actually represents the minority
and best estimates of regular cannabis use are less than ten
The smoking of cannabis can produce a number of
effects on the human body including disordered perception
relating to sights, sounds, touch and even time, short-
term memory loss and disruption of learning, a sense of
mild euphoria and a feeling of tranquillity, anxiety, loss of
motor skills, increased heart rate, pain relief, dry throat and
mouth. This list is by no means exhaustive, and for decades,
scientists have been intrigued by how this plant could have
such a wide and varied response on so many different
physiological systems. Research over the last 40 years has
begun to answer this question and in particular, discoveries
since 1990 have exponentially increased our knowledge and
understanding of cannabis, how it works and what effects it
has on the human body.
This new era of understanding began in 1964 when
the primary active ingredient of cannabis, delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was identified. Advances in
cannabinoid physiology proceeded slowly over the next two
decades but of note during this period was the contribution
made by two Caribbean scientists, Manley West and
Albert Lockhart. West and Lockhart started their journey
in cannabinoid research when they noted (i) a reduction
in glaucoma among Rastafarians who traditionally used
cannabis and (ii) persons from rural communities who
used eyewash purportedly derived from cannabis claimed
improved eyesight. This triggered ten years of pioneering
research that culminated with the development and patent
of a drug, Canasol, for the treatment for glaucoma.
In 1990, cannabinoid research really took off when the
first THC receptor in the brain was discovered. Very soon
afterwards another receptor was identified and scientists
believe there are at least two more cannabinoid receptors still
waiting to be fully characterized. Perhaps more fascinating
though was the discovery two years later that the brain
produces neurotransmitters itself that do the same thing as
THC. In other words the brain produces its own 'cannabis-
like substances'. The most common and first discovered
was named anandamide, derived from the Sanskrit word
ananda meaning bliss. These naturally occurring substances
produced by the body are called endocannabinoids.
Together with their receptors they form the framework of a
complex endocannabinoid signalling system which is found
in many regions within the central nervous system and in a
number of important peripheral tissues.
Given the widespread and complex nature of this
cannabinoid system it is not surprising that it has been
implicated in a number of physiological processes
including learning and memory, regulation of appetite,
immune function, regulation of pain and activation of
neuroprotective pathways. Knowledge of these processes
and how they can be manipulated is important as they offer
novel forms of intervention in diverse clinical scenarios.
At this point it should again be noted that researchers do
not advocate the imbibing of cannabis, via smoking or
otherwise, as an effective clinical intervention. What is
being considered though, is targeted drug delivery systems
through the development of specific compounds that
minimize unwanted side effects and maximize clinical
benefits. Some of the more interesting and relevant findings
to date are detailed below.
Cannabis, controversially, has long been used to treat
intractable pain. In fact cannabinoids have been shown to
be ten times more potent than morphine in some models
of pain. Emerging evidence from clinical trials suggest
there is much potential in the use of these compounds
although not all studies show a clear benefit. Indeed
in 2005 the drug Sativex was approved in Canada as a
prescription medicine for the treatment of pain associated
with cancer and neuropathic conditions. Sativex contains
both THC and its inactive counterpart cannabidiol and is
currently available in over twenty countries worldwide.
While results are promising, it should be appreciated that
effective therapeutic doses in humans still result in too
many side effects, mandating more targeted application of
cannabinoids be achieved.
One of the more remarkable effects of cannabinoids is
their ability to influence appetite by regulating a number
of important brain regions linked to food intake. These
include the hypothalamus (regulates the consumption of
food) and the reward centres of the brain (when activated
these give us the sense of pleasure associated with eating).
This data has resulted in a number of clinical trials with
a compound that blocks cannabinoid receptors called
rimonabant. Rimonabant was tested as an anti-obesity
medication, initially found to be highly successful and
eventually licensed within the European Union. Due to the
number of side effects, the medication was never approved
in the United States and was eventually removed from use
among European Union countries. Yet the evidence is such
that several drug companies continue to invest heavily in
this aspect of research.
The Caribbean region, rightly or wrongly, has anecdotally
been associated with the use of cannabis for such hedonistic
purposes. The stereotypical image of a Rastafarian
resplendent with 'joint,' as often personified by Bob Marley,
is an iconic image of supposed Caribbean life.
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010 UWI TODAY 9
The adverse effects of smoking cannabis on memory have
been repeatedly seen in chronic users. It is now generally agreed
that cannabinoids can modulate short-term memory but have
minimal impact on long-term memory. Impairment of memory
represents one of the side effects that must be avoided when
utilizing cannabinoids. However, there may be a potential role
for cannabinoids in Alzheimer's disease and this is emerging
as a new and promising area of research.
One of the very earliest accounts of the activity of
cannabis from ancient China highlights its ability to attenuate
rheumatism and thus its anti-inflammatory properties. These
effects on the immune system have perhaps been best harnessed
in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a chronic
autoimmune disease in which there is inflammation within the
central nervous system. In particular there is an attack upon
the fatty sheath that insulates brain cells leading to progressive
motor and sensory deficits often accompanied by pain ofvarying
severity. To date results have been mixed but encouraging
enough to suggest that cannabinoids do have a role to play in
the management of the symptoms of MS. Beyond managing
symptomology efforts are underway to determine whether or
not cannabinoids can actually slow disease progression.
A new era of understanding began in
1964 when the primary active ingredient
of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
Given the ubiquitous nature of cannabinoid receptors in the (THC) was identified. Advances in
brain they have widely been viewed as a fine-tuner of neuronal cannabinoid physiology proceeded slowly
function. Connected to this has been the suggestion that the over the next two decades but of note during
endocannabinoid system offers a means of neuroprotection this period was the contribution made bytwo
Caribbean scientists, Manley West and Albert
against a variety of different insults and pathological processes. Caribbean scientists, ManleyWest and Albert
This is a vast area of research including efforts to modulate Lockhart. Based at UWI's Mona Campus,
damage due to strokes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, West and Lockhart started their journey in
head injury and trauma. cannabinoid research when they noted (i) a
head injury and trauma.
In conclusion, our understanding of cannabinoids reduction in glaucoma among Rastafarians
has dramatically increased within the past 20 years. This who traditionally used cannabis and (ii)
understanding has shed new light on the numerous processes persons from rural communities who used
in which endocannabinoids are involved and offered new vistas eyewash purportedly derived from cannabis
for modulation of these same processes. Despite the tremendous claimed improved eyesight. This triggered ten
advances that have been made, successful interventions have years of pioneering research that culminated
yet to be fully elucidated. This is the 'holy grail' of cannabinoid with the development and patent of a drug,
research, the ability to develop compounds that disentangle the Canasol, for the treatment for glaucoma.
benefits of cannabinoids from their pitfalls and psychotropic
side effects. Until this is done, the full potential of harnessing
this system remains locked away, though results to date provide
ample incentive for those currently working in the field.
"I am in no form or fashion advocating the smoking
of cannabis, a practice that is associated with numerous
well documented severe health risks. Neither do I support
its legalization. However the effects of cannabis are the
result of the body, and the brain in particular, possessing
its own endogenous cannabinoid system.We are seeking U.
to understand this system, how its works, how it can be
modified and how targeted drug delivery systems can be
developed that maximize clinical benefits and minimize
unwanted side effects." -
Dr. F,n J Yn,., .fi a lecturer Department of Pre-Clinical Sciences,
Faculi) .j \I hI 5, ,,i ,,,i f i\'I, St. Augustine Campus.
10 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
Cannabis has long been a
potent symbol of rebellion for
adolescents and young adults.
i It is the most commonly used
illicit drug and controversy
has always followed its use
in contemporary Western
society. This is partly due to
its illegality but also because
of its alleged medicinal effects
a. and its use as a symbol of
resistance to the oppressive
e.. c nature of legal authority in
... e a these societies.
a 2006 British Journal of Psychiatry report from the
Netherlands where there are far more liberal laws with
regard to its use, suggests that adolescents who regularly
use cannabis are more likely to be aggressive and delinquent
compared with peers who do not engage in regular use.
Regular alcohol use was a confounding factor however,
suggesting that regular psychoactive substance use may be
a marker for aggression and delinquency in adolescence. A
survey among COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology
and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) students found
that approximately 44% use psychoactive substances as a
means to deal with stress.
The consecration of cannabis by Rastafarians and
the evangelical defence of its use by universally popular
Jamaican reggae artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and
even Trinidad and Tobago's Marlon Asher have served to
legitimize and celebrate it. This in turn has contributed to the
persistent debate about legalizing and/or decriminalizing
In ancient Indian and Chinese literature, cannabis was
referred to as the sacred grass, used through centuries for
medicinal and, presumably, its psychoactive properties.
It only became illegal in the 20th century and there are
various theories about what led to this designation driven
by the ethos of a repressed pseudo religious morality. One
of the postulated theories also suggests a socioeconomic
agenda to disadvantage the developing countries where it
is predominantly grown, but this requires more extensive
study and it is surprising that more has not been written
In Trinidad and the Caribbean, it was introduced by the
indentured migrants from India who used it in medicinal
and religious rites. It remained legal until the 1950s.
It is said to have medical benefits in asthma, glaucoma
and for treating intractable pain in terminal cancer patients
and there is some research literature to support its use in
these contexts, though mainly as derivatives. This has led
to the legal availability by prescription in some states of the
USA and in Canada for these purposes. Part of the problem
with its illegality is the variability in purity and quality
dispensed by its street dealers.
Its active psychoactive ingredient is delta-9-
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the medicinal varieties
are clear about the amount and nature of the psychoactive
Like any other drug, it is not harmless. A recent review
in Australia found that early initiation and regular use led
to impaired mental health, lower educational achievement,
risky sexual behaviour, delinquency and criminal offending.
Recent studies in the USA suggest that teen use of cannabis
predisposes to later depression in adulthood, a finding which
has also been reported from Trinidad and Tobago. It is also
associated with psychosis and schizophrenia, particularly
first episode psychosis. In Trinidad and Tobago, at least
three studies have confirmed that between 40-60% of first-
admission cases for psychosis are related to cannabis use,
particularly for males.
Another recent report from Britain suggested that high
potency cannabis use was more likely to be associated with
psychosis, especially in those who were daily users and had
been using for over five years. The emphasis here is on the
high potency, implying that the greater the presence of THC
the greater the risk of psychosis as a result of use.
This vulnerability to developing psychotic reactions
to cannabis seems to be a function of the genes we inherit
for the enzyme (Catechyl-O-Methyl Transferase: COMT)
which breaks down a certain group of chemicals in the
brain called catecholamines. There are two amino acids that
code for this gene and if you have the mixed methionine
and valine polymorphic allele you are more likely to
develop psychosis when exposed to THC. In other words,
your predisposition for developing psychotic reactions
to cannabis is dependent on the amino acid variant
combination you have inherited.
Evidence now suggests that it does have some addictive
potential because it does stimulate the release of dopamine in
the brain. The release of dopamine in particular areas of the
brain is thought to be the final pathway to the development
of addiction. The review from Australia noted that 10% of
regular users would become addicted to the drug, perhaps
another illustration of a genetic predisposition. This is less
than for other drugs like cocaine and heroin but similar to
It has long been associated with an motivational
syndrome which suggests that regular users lose their
initiative and drive and tend to withdraw from active
participation-and therefore contribution-to society. They
spend most of their time smoking or seeking out cannabis.
This maybe the way addiction expresses itself.
Still cannabis continues to be used and it is likely that
it has been used since antiquity, a point reinforced by the
presence of cannabinoid receptors all over our bodies,
including our gastrointestinal system. This partially explains
why its use sometimes alters the eating behaviour of the
A variety of sensory experiences are enhanced by its
use including body awareness and time dilatation. Sexual
reactions may also be enhanced which is another incentive
for use. Interestingly these are more powerful for women,
while long-term use in men seems to diminish erectile
Andreas Zimmer and his colleagues in Bonn have also
demonstrated that the body produces endocannabinoids
which are important in the mediation of allergic,
inflammatory and pain responses. This in part explains
the medical uses of cannabis, which include treatments
for glaucoma, vomiting, pain in cancer and HIV positive
patients, and increasing appetite in those who are anorexic.
There is active research trying to identify agonists and
antagonists to these endogenous cannabinoids in order to
generate a range of positive medical effects in many chronic
diseases where there are intractable symptoms in the areas of
pain relief, allergies and chronic inflammatory conditions.
The cannabinoid system is also a key mediator in
the neurochemical mediation of fear and anxiety. The
endocannabinoid system is a key modulator in the stress
response pathways in the brain and is also involved with
energy balance. When cannabis induces relaxation and
a feeling of euphoria or well being, it is a function of its
feedback relationship with the regulators of this system.
However, in some users it paradoxically induces panic
attacks, and this response may be genetically mediated.
These all indicate that like any other substance, there
are both positive and negative issues related to its use but
that some regulation and monitoring of its production and
distribution is likely to be beneficial.
Prof Gerard Hutchinson heads the
Department of Clinical Medical Sciences at the
Faculty oj .U /1. ii, Sciences, The UWI, St. Augustine
Campus. Chrisl Thomas is a postgraduate student.
-- .--- -. - ~
S1 VU -UUW U
Internationally recognized as a centre
of excellence on research and teaching
related to the Caribbean.
ST. AUGUSTMNE CAMPUS
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
I 11.1 is the primary source for teaching, research and expert advice on complex issues and ( i,.llt 'j' facing the
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12 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
a. By whatever name-ganja,
cannabis sativa is illegal in
Trinidad and Tobago. Classified
as a dangerous drug, marijuana
is included in the First Schedule
t. list of narcotic drugs. Under the
Dangerous Drugs Act, possession
of any quantity is an offence
liable upon summary conviction
to a fine of $25,000 and to
imprisonment for five years; and
upon conviction on indictment
to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for between five
and ten years.
Marijuana users experience the mind-altering effects
of tetra hydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical found
in the cannabis sativa plant. Reports describe sedation,
euphoria and heightened perceptions. The psychoactive
effects of THC are not neatly classified though, and include
hallucinogenic, stimulant and depressant actions.
Many consider the Act too punitive, arguing that
it subjects ordinary people to criminal punishment for
innocuous behaviour. Their argument is that maintaining
the classification of marijuana as an illegal drug may result
in unnecessary incarceration resulting in a permanent legal
record, especially harsh for young people who may run afoul
of the law during a period of short-lived experimentation.
To them, this wastes valuable law enforcement resources,
which at the extreme are expended in the unsuccessful
war to eradicate the production of marijuana and dry
up the supply of the drug. Dissenters suggest that the
criminalization of marijuana deprives people of its ascribed
Decriminalization of marijuana use would entail the
removal of prohibitions on the possession of small, specified
quantities of the drug for personal use. Decriminalization
may also be restricted to the use of specific amounts for
medicinal purposes only. Legalization of marijuana use goes
further and calls for the legal distribution of the drug, which
then becomes as readily available as alcohol or cigarettes.
A recommendation for the decriminalization of
marijuana begs the question will the ills of strict
prohibitions be replaced by the harm of increased use?
Rigorously conducted medical research has confirmed
a number of adverse health effects as a result of regular
marijuana use. Higher rates of chronic lung disease,
respiratory infections and pre-cancerous changes in the
lungs occur in smokers of marijuana. A June 2009 study
from the University of Leicester (reported in the journal
Chemical Research in Toxicology) suggested that marijuana
BY DR. SANDRA REID
smoke maybe as harmful, or perhaps even more toxic, than
tobacco smoke. Smoking three to four marijuana cigarettes
a day was reported to cause as much airway damage as
smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day. Another recent report
from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle
linked marijuana use to testicular cancer, especially among
those who began smoking before the age of 18.
"Just being a marijuana smoker seemed to carry a 70%
extra risk, while those who smoked it regularly, or had
smoked from an early age, had twice the risk compared to
those who had never smoked it," stated the report.
Harvard University researchers in March 2000 reported
that the risk of a heart attack is five times higher than usual
in the hour after smoking marijuana, (http://www.news.
a Columbia University study (1999) found that a control
group smoking a single marijuana cigarette every other day
for a year had a white blood cell count that was 39% lower
than normal, evidence of a damaged immune system which
would make the user more susceptible to infection.
Surveys of driving under the influence of marijuana
indicate a greater risk of accidents for users, as well as a
greater risk of fatality. The presence of measurable levels
of THC in the blood of drivers involved in motor vehicle
accidents, in the absence of alcohol or other drugs has
established marijuana intoxication in a causal role. This is
consistent with documented short-term effects of marijuana
use, which include distorted perception, loss of motor skills,
trouble with thinking and problem solving, and decrease in
By far the biggest adverse consequences of regular
marijuana use are the mental health consequences.
Marijuana affects thoughts, perceptions, and information
processing. Persons under its influence display diminished
capacity to learn and recall new information. However, there
is no definitive evidence that heavy long-term marijuana
use permanently impairs memory or other cognitive
The risk of addiction to marijuana is relatively low
compared with other psychoactive drugs but the reality
of marijuana addiction is scientifically supported by the
occurrence of loss of control over use, tolerance to the
psychoactive effects, associated hazardous outcomes
associated with use and the occurrence of withdrawal
symptoms, most commonly irritability, sleep disturbance,
nausea and anxiety, on stopping or reducing use.
Studies consistently show an association between
chronic marijuana use and the development of marijuana
psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder and panic attacks.
The linkbetween marijuana use and schizophrenia has been
documented in many scientific studies. A 2002 report in
the British Medical Journal, among 50,000 members of the
Swedish army, found that heavy consumers of marijuana
at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with
schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those who had
not smoked. It is estimated that between 8% and 13% of all
cases of schizophrenia are linked to marijuana/marijuana
use during teen years. The risk is particularly great among
those young people who possess a genetic high risk (positive
family history) for schizophrenia.
While the adverse effects of marijuana have been
scientifically established, there is less evidence to support
the medicinal value of smoked marijuana. Anecdotal
reports abound on its effectiveness in reducing the nausea
induced by cancer chemotherapy, stimulating appetite in
AIDS patients, reducing intraocular pressure in people
with glaucoma, relieving pain, and reducing muscle
spasticityin patients with neurological disorders. Anxiolytic,
antipsychotic, antispasmodic, antiemetic, antiepileptic,
antioxidant, analgesic and anti-tumor properties have all
been reported but mostly relate to the use of synthetic
cannabinoids or marijuana-based medicinal extracts. These
studies for the most part do not assess smoked marijuana,
have failed to compare marijuana with alternatives or
viable treatments, and claims of therapeutic effectiveness
are not based on the results of controlled scientific
studies. Following a comprehensive study (Marijuana and
Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, 1999), the Institute
of Medicine acknowledged the potential therapeutic value
of cannabinoid drugs but found little reason to recommend
crude marijuana as a medicine, particularly when smoked,
since smoking created risks that would not exist from other
forms of delivery. They concluded that the active ingredients
in marijuana could be developed into a variety of promising
pharmaceuticals and recommended that research continue
to look at the efficacy of THC for medicinal purposes. Such
research has determined that dronabinol (Marinol) is a safe
and effective treatment for nausea and vomiting associated
with cancer chemotherapy, and a treatment of weight loss in
patients with AIDS. Marinol is a synthetic THC drug which
does not produce the harmful health effects associated
with smoking marijuana. Initial enthusiasm for THC as an
antiemetic or to reduce intraocular pressure has waned with
the advent of new medications that provide superior medical
benefits with fewer adverse effects. Do the potential benefits
of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for medicinal use
outweigh the risk of increased use in the society?
Dr Sandra Reid lectures in Psychiatry at the
School oj .I, I, I Sciences, Faculty oj .U 11 il Sciences,
UWI, St Augustine Campus.
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010 UWI TODAY 13
To get a better understanding of the points made by Dr Youssef and Prof Hutchinson that the body produces endocannabinoids
and has cannabinoid receptors at various points, and that a variety of sensory experiences are enhanced by its use-including body
awareness and time dilatation-five cannabis users were asked to describe their sensations (the images are not the subjects).
FLEX: Has been smoking for 16 FIX: Has been smoking for eight 1PANDA: Has been smoking for four BEE: Has been smoking for a year MIJUIESH: Has been smoking for a
years. Smokes five or six times a day years. Smokes twice a day years. Smokes once or twice a day and eight months. Smokes three or year. Smokes one a day
four times a week
Well first off, you have to understand the different
types of high yuh does get with weed. You have
body high or what you call a body stoned,
where you smoke and you feel lazy. You just
want to lie down. You get that sleepy vibe, you
understand? Thas a body stoned. And then it
have a mental high where you just irie. It kinda
hard to describe. Some people expect ... (He tilts
his head and sticks his tongue out the side of
his mouth, making a dim-witted expression to
show what he means.) It aint nothing like that
dred, yuh understand? Yuh in that zone where
Yeah. Now you'll have the same stress, but
somehow you'll think it through and you'll see
a solution. You'll realise that it's just to put it into
gear and get on with things. Whereas when you
not high, everything is just gloom and doom.
Everything seems clearer. But if you have a lot
on your mind, you probably study it more. You
in deep concentration bout that.
PANDA: Sometimes it does make you start to think and
wonder. You block out everything else and just
think about one particular thing. But that one
particular thing does bring up a whole set of
questions. Real tings does go through your
FIX: Sometimes you smoke a weed and you get
paranoid. You feel jittery. But I believe that
stage over for me. I started to smoke in school
and I used to get paranoid to the point where
every time I come home from school, I takin
off my jersey and airin it out, trying not to smell
MIJIKESH: I get real paranoid. I could reach home an hour
from now and I will still tell myself I smellin
of weed and I doh really want to pass close to
anybody. I just run in my room and change my
I believe if you dwell on something that will make
you paranoid, you will get paranoid. You will.
Because your mind does be on it and when you
on weed, you get stupid.
Different times create different zones. Weed at
times can be an aphrodisiac. You smoke with
yuh chick and you find allyuh eyes lean the same
way and you start watching one another.
Weed makes sex feel good.
Because you feel more relaxed. It's not like it feels
better or anything, but the process is just more
fun I guess. I always want to have sex when I'm
Ganja makes it all better: food, conversations.
People you can't have a conversation with dred,
yuh could smoke a weed with them and realise
- aye, he not making any sense, but I high. Yuh
understand? The ideas behind conversations
when yuh high dred, does be different. Yuh doh
Your tolerance level is more too. You're more
tolerant about it because you just tend to brush
everything off. Whereas when you not high and
you find a man tell you sometin well doh talk
bout if yuh drink is bacchanal!
Yuh understand? As de man was sayin, different
weed different head.
If I in a dance, I'll smoke 10,000 weed, well thas
an exaggeration, but I could never really say
I get high, yuh understand? But watching TV.
Yeah, weed and TV go together real good with
me. You would watch the same show when you
not high and then watch it when you high and
really notice stuff and hear stuff that you weren't
aware of. Your awareness kick in nah, you know
what I mean?
I love to read when I high. I get so immersed in
the story it feels like I'm a part of it, like I standing
up right next to the characters when all the
action happens. I'm a part of their conversation,
you know? Like I can hear their words and see
their expressions instead of just reading it off of
Some people like weed and music. Me? I like
meh blunts while I vibesin meh songs. Before
I write I try to find that creative zone and it
does really put me there. When I learning an
instrumental, I blaze a couple and let the creative
juices flow. Weed does that. A lot of songs (he
points at himself proudly) thanks to weed. You
could listen to the same music but that music
gives you a different vibe, you could hear things
in the music that you would never hear before
because you in that zone where you could really
Stoned. Thas the easiest way to put it stoned.
But, not just stoned. Like when I feeling real tired
and stressed out, weed makes me calm. My mind
would be all over the place, because I'd have a
million things to do and I'll struggle to finish
them all at the same time and feel like I not getting
anywhere. But, if I smoke a weed, it'll calm me
down and help me to focus on just one thing.
PANI)DA: Well it could depend on your mood too eh.
Sometimes you get real happy dred and yuh's jus
be in a zone and everything does jus be funny.
(He recalls a wedding he attended recently.) I sit
down in the back eh, and everybody quiet while
they sayin their vows and ting. And I start to
laugh horse! Serious. I sit down there and start
to laugh. People was watching me and wondering
what I laughing for. Dat ting keep me high for de
For me, everytime I smoke weed I does get
munchies. But probably not right away. I will
be out a de house limin and from the time I
reach home I does want to eat out everything in
the place. Munchies is a normal ting.
Yeah. If it's one time I get hungry, it's when I
People tend to think that weed makes you stupid.
That weed smokers ... they doh have a life. But it
not like that. We smoke and we get a vibe yo. It
don't make me a different person. When I smoke
weed I doh want to go and rob or shoot nobody.
I just want to be around the people I care about
and just be in that vibe. And that vibe brings out
who you really are, because everything tends to
be relaxed dred, you talking and you free. The
stress of life, whatever you thinking bout, does
subside yo. Everything ... life seems sweeter.
14 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
Working with McMaster Health Sciences Library librarian Laura Banfield (second from left) are students of the University of the West Indies'
School of Advanced Nursing Education (from left), Shirley Benjamin, Paula Washington, Darron Singh and Kathy Ann Graham. The three-
year post-diploma, BScN-linked Oncology Nursing Program in Trinidad was developed in a partnership with McMaster University's School of
As a nurse, Shirley Benjamin always wanted to specialize
in the care of cancer patients, a passion fueled by observing
how many health professionals in Trinidad and Tobago left
their needs unmet.
Her passion for finding better ways to improve care
led her to enroll in a three-year post-diploma, BScN-linked
Oncology Nursing Programme in Trinidad developed by
McMaster University's School of Nursing in partnership
Students of the oncology nursing programme of the University of
the West Indies' School of Advanced Nursing Education, Kathy
Ann Graham, Paula Washington and Shirley Benjamin work in the
McMaster Health Sciences Library.
with the University of the West Indies (UWI's) School of
Advanced Nursing Education (SANE).
The goal of the capacity-building programme is to
prepare Trinbagonian nurses for leadership roles in cancer
care nursing in Trinidad and Tobago where cancer is a
significant health problem among its 1.2 million population.
The programme builds on an earlier eight-month experience
in 2001 when 12 Trinbagonian nurses participated in
McMaster's on-site oncology nursing programme and
became "formidable advocates" for nursing and cancer care
in Trinidad and Tobago.
Over the past three years, the programme was delivered
at SANE through a blend of face-to-face and distance
learning. At the start and end of each semester, McMaster
faculty traveled to Trinidad for two weeks to teach. For the
balance of each semester, McMaster faculty taught from
For the past month, Benajmin and three of her nursing
colleagues have been at McMaster where they have been
exposed to the latest advances in cancer treatment along
with first-hand experience in advanced patient care.
The oncology programme has received high praise from
senior government and nursing officials in Trinidad as well
as the nurses themselves.
Dr. Terry Mason, an oncologist and public health
commissioner in Chicago, described the programme as "a
model for the rest of the world." Dr. Meryl Price, director
of SANE, said it "signals a new level of nursing in Trinidad
Carolyn Ingram, an associate professor in the School of
Nursing and project co-ordinator, said the nurses strongly
value the programme and say it "will be tremendously
valuable in advancing their own practice and improving
cancer care delivery in their country."'
Paula Washington, one of the Trinbagonian nurses, said
the programme opened up oncology in a new way to her
by "changing my interactions with my patients, my children
and my family."
McMaster's involvement in the project is completed. In
keeping with its capacity-building goal, The University of
the West Indies will now assume full responsibility for the
programme and continue to run it independently this fall.
The goal of the capacity-building programme is to prepare
Trinbagonian nurses for leadership roles in cancer care nursing in
Trinidad and Tobago where cancer is a significant health problem
among its 1.2 million population.
McMaster University published this article on their website (May 31, 2010), featuring nursing students from
UWI's School of Advanced Nursing Education (SANE) (http://sta.uwi.edu/fms/sane/) It is reproduced with permission.
TWO NEW MEDICAL
The UWI Finance and General Purpose
Committee has endorsed the promotion to
the rank of Professor of two members of the
academic staff at the UWI St Augustine Faculty
of Medical Sciences. Dr Harrinath Maharajh,
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Clinical
Medical Sciences, and Dr Michele Anne
Monteil, Senior Lecturer in the Department
of Para-Clinical Sciences, have been promoted
to the rank of Professor, with effect from May
"I am delighted to be promoted to the rank
of Professor and I wish to thank The University
of the West Indies for conferring this singular
honour. I would also like to extend my gratitude
to the Dean and colleagues at the Faculty of
Medical Sciences for their continued support',"
said Dr Monteil.
Dr Monteil has taught Immunology to a
generation of medical students. She has also
Allergy clinic at
the Eric Williams
in the peer-
DrMicheleAnneMonteil research group
Dr Michele Anne Monteil has conducted a
survey of allergic
asthma, rhinitis and eczema among over 8,000
school-aged children in Trinidad and Tobago.
Their data have contributed to the International
Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood. She
has an ongoing interest in the effect of ethnicity
on the expression of clinical diseases such as
asthma and dengue virus infection, where the
patient's ethnicity is associated with difference
in clinical expression. She is also part a multi-
institutional collaboration on the potential health
impact of Saharan dust clouds on Caribbean
Dr Maharajh, who was awarded the
Chaconia Gold Medal in 2000 for his outstanding
in the field
as "very people-
focused" and said
that his greatest
has been the
to serve the
him. He enjoys
DrHarrinathMaharajh teaching and is
dedicated to the
instruction of students at all levels. He has
lectured extensively abroad, and has several
publications in reputable international magazines
and is the author of two textbooks, "Neurology
for Students" and "Social and Cultural Psychiatry:
Experiences in the Caribbean."
SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010 -UWI TODAY 15
UWI Students win
The UWI NextLab Team. Top, left to right: Kevon Andrews, Tremayne Flanders, Kim Mallalieu, Mark Lessey, Ravi Deonarine. Bottom, left to
right: Candice Sankarsingh, Yudhistre Jonas
A four-member team comprising two students from
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Department
of Electrical and Computer Engineering has won the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) NextLab
Award for Excellence in Technology Innovation. UWI
students Mark Lessey and Yudhistre Jonas, along with two
students from MIT's Sloan School of Business, won the
Innovation Award, one of three awards issued at MIT on
Tuesday 11th May, 2010.
"I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to
participate in the experience and am exuberant over the
success of all UWI participants, most notably Mark and
Yudhistre who were members of the winning team," said
an exuberant Dr. Kim Mallalieu, Head of the Department
of Electrical and Computer Engineering and local Team
The UWI students and their MIT counterparts
won the NextLab Award (http:\\nextlab.mit.edu) for the
development of a mobile phone application that tracks
package and courier activities and displays package locations
on maps in real time. The winning mobile application was
conceptualized, designed and developed by the UWI team
members while their MIT counterparts developed the
business case and managed the project.
The award ceremony, which took place on MIT's Campus
in Cambridge Massachusetts, was attended by industry
representatives and sponsors including Google, Estafeta,
Inter-American Development Bank, Medullan, SANA
and MIT Media Lab. The ceremony was the culmination
of the semester-long NextLab 2010 course, which focused
on the application of Information and Communication
Technologies for Development (ICT4D). The course was
delivered live by MIT to students in Cambridge, and via
weekly video conferencing to participants at UWI St.
Augustine and the Instituto Tecnol6gico y de Estudios
Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico.
"MIT's NextLab is a key model for the Next Generation
of learning: inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary,
collaborative, outcomes-based learning pivoted around
solutions to real problems, and facilitated by virtual spaces
and their enabling facilities," said Dr Mallalieu.
The Spring 2010 course focused on the global challenge
faced by logistics and distribution networks at the base of
the pyramid (BOP). Course participants contemplated and
implemented components of a solution for the mobile phone
in seven sub-challenges: Information Sharing, Marketing,
Matching, Route Planning, Tracking and Tracing, Billing,
and Platform Architecture.
The seven thematic areas were addressed by multi-
disciplinary teams comprising UWI, MIT and ITESM
participants. UWI team members, led by Dr. Kim Mallalieu,
included Tremayne Flanders (Route Planning); Kevon
Andrews and Ravi Deonarine (Matching); and Mark Lessey
and Yudhistre Jonas (Tracking and Tracing). Over the
course of the semester, components of the mobile logistics
application were built using Google's Android operating
system and cloud computing on a Service-Oriented
Architecture (SOA) platform.
Dr. Mallalieu indicates that she looks forward to
"continued collaboration between UWI, MIT and ITESM
over the coming months, with pilot deployments of the
logistics (mobile logistics) platform planned for Trinidad
and Tobago and Mexico in 2011." The UWI NextLab Team
thanks the International Development Research Centre
(http://www.idrc.ca/) for its support of UWI's participation
The UWI Percussion Ensemble will be introduced
to Trinidad and Tobago with the launch of their
CD project, which features "light classical"
music that audiences of all ages can enjoy. The
CD's musical selection demonstrates the wide
variety of instruments which the group hopes
to continuously augment as they explore more
The UWI Percussion Ensemble was started in
Semester I of 2003 with a set of instruments that
arrived in a container when Wisconsin-born Dr.
Jeannine Remy moved to begin her career at the
Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA)
at UWI, St. Augustine.
The Ensemble consists of pitched and un-
pitched instruments combined to give a potpourri
of interesting percussive sounds.
Students of UWI are auditioned to join the
UWI Percussion Ensemble, which currently acts
as both an Ensemble and option for students
matriculating in either the Music Certificate or BA
Degree in Music Programmes, with percussion as
the major instrument.
The group has performed at the Percussive Arts
Society International Convention in Austin, Texas,
USA, in 2008 as part of "The Rainmakers" Tropical
Journey in Percussion and Steel.
The Director, Dr. Jeannine Remy lectures
in Music at the DCFA. She teaches courses
in Percussion, Steelpan (arranging, history,
literature), World Music, and Musics of the
Caribbean. Dr. Remy first visited Trinidad in 1989
as part of her doctoral research at the University of
Arizona. She continues to be an active composer,
arranger, adjudicator and musical commentator in
cultural music. She has participated in Panorama
competitions, and took Sforzata Steel Orchestra to
win the Pan in the 21st Century 2010 final, at the
The CD was recorded by SANCH Electronix
in Daaga Hall, UWI, St. Augustine. Funds for the
sales of the CD are to help offset the group's cost of
performing as part of "The Rainmakers" entourage
at the Percussive Arts Society International
Convention in 2008.
The Cost of the UWI Percussion Ensemble
CD is $100. Additionally, persons interested in also
owning "The Rainmakers" CD Tropical Journey
in Percussion and Steel- can purchase that double
CD set at a reduced cost of $100.
Orders can be placed DCFA, UWI
Tel: 663-2141 or 662-2002 ext. 3622/2510
or email Josette.Surrey-Lezama@sta.uwi.edu
1 0 RESEARCH
16 UWI TODAY- SUNDAY 27TH JUNE, 2010
UWI CALENDAR ofEVENTS
JULY OCTOBER 2010
Thtisday 1 July to Sunday 4 July, 2010
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Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 Septembei, 2010
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UWI TODAY is printed and distributed for The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, through the kind support of Trinidad Publishing Co Ltd, 22-24 St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies.