St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago


Site: St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Focus: Non-Communicable Diseases (Diabetes, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease)

Affiliation: University of the West Indies, St. Augustine; Yale School of Medicine

Contacts: Rohan Maharaj, MB BS, MHSc, DM, FCCFP,; Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, M.H.S,

Project: This training site is located at the University of the West Indies, St-Augustine, one of four partnering institutions along with Yale University in the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN). The University of the West Indies (UWI), St-Augustine is one of four campuses that serve diverse communities across the Caribbean region and deliver high quality education, research and services. The University is committed to producing research that responds to priority areas in the Caribbean and international community.

Dr. Rohan Maharaj, primary mentor, is a senior lecturer in Family Medicine and a Fellow of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians. He coordinates the postgraduate program in Family Medicine at the Faculty of Medical Sciences- St. Augustine, which has trained over 100 family physicians. His main research interest has been mental health and chronic disease in the Caribbean primary care population. His work has led to over 40 journal articles. As an extension of his interest in mental health and chronic disease, Dr. Maharaj has been working since 2012 on alcohol issues in Trinidad and Tobago and with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition on alcohol policy in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, secondary mentor, is an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine and Public Health, Deputy Director for Health Equity Research and Workforce Development for the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Core Faculty in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program and Founding Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) at Yale University. Dr. Nunez-Smith’s research focuses on promoting healthcare equity for vulnerable populations with an emphasis on healthcare workforce development, patient assessment of healthcare experiences, and healthcare system strengthening to address chronic disease in low and middle resource settings.

Drs. Maharaj and Nunez-Smith independently are Principal Investigators (PIs) on several grants but collaborate on a U24 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Grant #:U24MD006938). ECHORN is a research infrastructure dedicated to advancing noncommunicable chronic disease (NCD) research, policy, and practice and to building a robust cadre of health sciences researchers across the Caribbean region. ECHORN’s inaugural members include: the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the West Indies-Cave Hill, the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine, the University of the Virgin Islands, and Yale University.

The ECHORN infrastructure supports several research initiatives including a population-based cohort focused on capturing surveillance data on hypothesized risk/protective factors and prevalence of non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs). The ECHORN Cohort Study examines the lifestyles, eating habits, health behaviors, and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer in adult men and women living in the islands of Barbados, U.S. Virgin Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, and Puerto Rico. At present, the ECHORN Cohort study is empaneled with 1900 participants.

Further, ECHORN supports the training and development of ten (10) post-doctoral and junior research faculty located across the four partnering institutions, Yale University and George Washington University.

Webpages for sites and research programs:
UWI-St. Augustine: