Michele Monteil, PhD
How does a clinically-trained immunologist become involved with Sahara dust and human respiratory health? By accident! Several years ago, one of the local television weather reporters cautioned allergic viewers to be aware of increased quantities of Sahara dust in the atmosphere. Dr. Monteil had never heard of the association before and decided to ask some of her allergic patients and friends. Several considered that their allergies worsened when there was "Sahara dust." From there, she perused the regional and global medical literature and found no evidence of any relationship but discovered the work of Professor Joseph Prospero and others in Barbados. What was the situation in Dr. Monteil's own back yard of Trinidad and Tobago? With a group of enthusiastic and hard-working medical students, she began trying to find if there was epidemiological evidence for a relationship between Sahara dust cover and pediatric asthma Emergency Room attendance in Trinidad.
Monteil became a doctor because she doesn't remember ever really wanting to be anything else and then became an immunologist because she heard this marvelous series of lectures on clinical immunology while she was at the Queen Elizabeth College, University of London. She studied biochemistry at the University of London, Medicine at the University of the West Indies and then did postgraduate Masters, Doctorate and Fellowship degrees in London, England. She is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies. Dr. Monteil's claim to fame is that she must have been the only mother (of two) in the world to have graduated at the top of a medical studies class. She is very proud of that achievement. Her future research plans consist of assessing the incidence of exacerbation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease in relation to Sahara dust cover and continuing ongoing epidemiological studies of asthma and other allergic diseases among the pediatric population in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gyan, K. Henry, W., Lacaille, S., Laloo, A., Lamsee, C., Banks, E., McKay, S., Antoine, R.M. and Monteil, M.A. (2003). African dust clouds are associated with increased paediatric asthma Accident and Emergency admissions on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. ERA-International-Health (Lancet-based website for international research).
Ivey, M., Simeon, D. and Monteil, M.A. (2003). Climate Variables are Associated with Seasonal Acute Asthma Admissions to Accident & Emergency Room Facilities in Trinidad, West Indies. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 33(11), 1526-1530.