Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2017 Contents re-establish new homes on high-
er standards of care.
The recommendations would
have saved thousands of lives and
contributed to greater levels of
public health care for children.
T&T's turn came to receive the
benefits of the scientific medical
training, research and experience
of its own, David Picou. He ar-
rived home in 1978 after his long
learning and working sojourns in
the USA, England and Jamaica.
Coincidentally, the govern-
ment of the day and its new found
oil wealth and a prime minister
in Dr Eric Williams interested in
upgrading the health care facili-
ties and care at public hospitals
appointed Professor Picou as
chairman of the Task Force to
plan and implement the Mt Hope
Medical Complex in consultation
with the UWI.
Among other things, Professor
Picou utilised the opportunity
to introduce a new method of
teaching medical sciences in an
institution in which academic
staff could also see and admit
private patients and conduct
research all in one location.
"It was a glorious time; I
thought I accomplished what I
was asked to do, partly anyway,
not the implementing part but
getting the buildings done. We
had foreign visitors who came to
see this unique facility.
"The fact is that there is one
basic philosophy behind medi-
cine: whether you are doing vet-
erinary, dentistry or human med-
icine, there is one medicine; they
are all grounded on a scientific
basis and that could be taught
to all students at the basic level.
It was unique in the Caribbean,
never anything like this before,"
says Professor Picou.
What is significant about the
achievements of the boy from
the barrack yard on Charlotte St,
his other homes on Edward and
Borde Streets, and at Tranquil-
lity and Queen's Royal College
where he got his basic educa-
tion, is that, in his own words,
"...my environment never placed
any bounds on my ability to rise.
I played mas, Mavis Clown in an
elaborate clown costume, and
when I returned to Trinidad in
the 1970s, thereafter I made and
played mas for 40 years," says
His enduring legacy is in his ef-
forts to spread the research ethic
in medical sciences around the
Caribbean; but, he says, "much
more needs to be done and gov-
ernments have to invest more in
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Waterlow, returned to the UK in 1970.
The Unit was handed over to the
UWI. The MRC in London also agreed
to continue funding the Unit for a pe-
riod of time. The TMRU was by then
internationally recognised as a leading
centre of research in human nutrition.
Having taken over the Unit on the
departure of Professor Waterlow, Da-
vid Picou struggled against the odds
to convert the Unit into a Department
of the University of the West Indies,
while maintaining or even increasing
its research stature internationally.
The TMRU remains an internationally
renowned medical research centre.
One widespread and enduring con-
sequence of the continuance of the
TMRU is the MSc programme in hu-
man nutrition established by Profes-
sor Picou for professionals within the
Caribbean to enhance public health
nutrition programmes and to stim-
ulate research to identify and utilise
quality nutritional diets for people of
Professor Picou also pioneered at
his research station in Kingston the
use of stable isotopes in human ex-
perimentation. He developed the use
of the stable isotope N15 in the study
of protein metabolism in infants.
This involved the use of the mass
spectrometer, an instrument to de-
tect and measure substances labelled
with N15t. The paper which Professor
Picou wrote on the measurement of
protein turnover in infants is now a
"citation classic." This methodol-
ogy has been used to measure how
the body is utilising protein in peo-
ple recovering from surgery and in
"We have postulated that if we
could feed these patients protein
right after the operation then they
will not go into negative balance and
that will reduce the recovery period
of the patient."
In his work in Jamaica of the 1970s,
Professor Picou contributed signif-
icantly to the upgrade of Places of
Safety for children. After a tour of
such places established and managed
by the state, Professor Picou report-
ed to then social services minister,
Douglas Manley, on the unhealthy
condition in which children, taken
from their parents' homes, were put
into the Places of Safety.
One hundred recommendations to
enhance the health of the children
were made to the minister, among
them to shut down the facilities and
n From Page A25
have always been'
Mas is in Dr David Picou's blood
and he plays mas every year.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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