In early June, ten Next Generation Fellows headed abroad to spend the next two months working on mentored research projects in the Dominican Republic, Swaziland, and Kazakhstan as part of ICAP’s newly launched Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Fellowship. The five-year program aims to support the development of a diverse global health research workforce by recruiting, training, and mentoring students from underrepresented communities. It is supported by a T37 grant from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to improve research capacity, foster cultural competency and reduce health disparity.
“Diversity is critical in research,” said Dr. Miriam Rabkin, ICAP’s director of health systems strategies. “And diverse teams often outperform homogenous teams when working on complex problems,” she said. “ICAP is pleased to play a formative role in the development of future investigators by launching this five year program.”
Dr. Rabkin directs the new training program and is one of 13 faculty members from the Mailman School of Public Health who worked with the fellows during a comprehensive, two-week orientation in New York City. Fellows received an intensive introduction to minority health and health disparity research and participated in rigorous hands-on training in global health, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the responsible conduct of research. They are now building on these lessons abroad, working with research mentors on projects ranging from mother-to-child HIV transmission in Swaziland, to tuberculosis among migrant workers in Central Asia, and access to health care among sex workers in the Dominican Republic, as well as other issues that often disproportionately affect minority and underserved populations.
For many of the fellows, participating in the ICAP program is a major step in expanding their view on health care and working on medical issues they have encountered in their own lives. “Illness and roadblocks were persistent realities in my family,” said Loxley Bennett, a neuroscience major at Columbia College.
Bennett, who grew up in Sharon, Massachusetts, recalls close family members who suffered from chronic illness ranging from substance use to HIV. Bennett is now working on a project in Swaziland looking at patient and provider acceptability of accelerated antiretroviral initiation. “I get to immerse myself completely in Swazi culture as well as work side-by-side with their medical professionals,” he said. “This is an experience that will prepare me to be an excellent physician and a public health advocate.”
A distance learning curriculum, developed by ICAP, supports their hands-on learning while abroad. The eleven-week program will culminate in August with an additional week of immersive orientation at the Mailman School. Partners include the IFAP Global Health Center at P&S and the “Global Health Research Center of Central Asia (GHRCCA)”:http://ghrcca.columbia.edu/en/ at Columbia’s School of Social Work.
The training program is part of ICAP’s Next Generation Program, a multidisciplinary initiative that provides students with hands-on training opportunities in New York and around the world. More than 106 students have had the opportunity to work on global health projects with ICAP over the years.
+ICAP is pleased to be working with these 2014 Next Generation Fellows:+
*Noeleen Advani, Columbia College class of 2015*
Swaziland: Data quality assurance for the Safe Generations study, exploring optimal models for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
*Naomi Ayele, Columbia College class of 2016*
Swaziland: Data quality assurance for the Link4Health study, exploring interventions to increase retention in care for patients with HIV
*Loxley Bennett, Columbia College class of 2015*
Swaziland: Tenofovir toxicity and Patient and provider acceptability of accelerated ART initiation among Link4Health study participants
*Karole Collier, Barnard College class of 2015*
Swaziland: Patient and provider acceptability of accelerated ART initiation among Link4Health study participants
*Xan Faber, Columbia College class of 2016*
Kazakhstan: Tuberculosis risk factors in Central Asian Migrants (the CARAVAN study)
*Daisy Fernandez, Columbia College class of 2015*
Dominican Republic: Care and Treatment at a clinic for sex workers
*Othanya Garcia, Columbia College class of 2015*
Kazakhstan: Adolescent HIV Prevention Program Pilot Study
*Harlington Hanna, Columbia College class of 2016*
Dominican Republic: Care and treatment at a clinic for sex workers
*Oswaldo Hasbun, College of Physicians & Surgeons, class of 2017*
Dominican Republic: Care and treatment at a clinic for sex workers
*Robin Tinglin, Columbia College class of 2016*
Kazakhstan: Quality of life of women living with HIV in Kazakhstan

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