Ten Next Generation Fellows from Columbia College, Barnard College, Hunter College, and the Mailman School of Public Health are heading abroad to spend two months working on mentored research projects in Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Swaziland as part of ICAP’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) fellowship.

Funded by a T37 grant from NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the program aims to support the development of a diverse public health research workforce by recruiting, training, and mentoring students from underrepresented communities.

“We know that diverse research teams make for better science and we know the field of global health research is strengthened by multidisciplinary collaboration,” says Dr. Miriam Rabkin, ICAP’s director of health systems strategies and the director of the T37 program. “By having diverse students with different expertise working together, we hope to teach and model professional skills that will stand them in good stead throughout their careers.”

In addition to varied backgrounds, this year’s cohort—the third since the project began—includes students with a wide-range of educational interests from urban studies to neuroscience.

Destiny Franklin, an African-American Studies and pre-med major at Columbia College, owes her interest in medicine to severe childhood asthma. “I spent a lot of time in hospitals and knew I wanted to be a doctor from a very young age,” she said. “But it wasn’t until I saw how difficult it was for black patients to receive treatment at top tier hospitals that I thought about public health.” This summer, Franklin travels to Swaziland to work on a quality assurance project that looks at family planning and antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive women who became pregnant while on treatment.

Prior to their departure, students receive two weeks of training in New York from ICAPstaff and Columbia University faculty to complement their work overseas. For example, Dr. Julie Franks, research and technical advisor for the Clinical and Training Unit at ICAP, led a course on qualitative research methods, which included an interactive session where students learned to conduct interviews.

“It was interesting to learn the difference between types of interviews,” said Zachary Heinemann, a psychology and statistics major at Columbia College, who will travel to Kenya to analyze data from ICAP’s Mother and Infant Retention for Health Study (MIHR4Health). “We learned a great deal about how important it is to stick to the script and to be careful to remain objective.”

During their eight weeks abroad, fellows will work hand-in-hand with research mentors at their study sites and in New York. In addition, fellows will receive training via a distance learning curriculum, developed by ICAP, to continue their training in key global health issues. The program will culminate in August with a final week of training in New York. Partners include the IFAP Global Health Center at P&S.

This program is part of ICAP’s multidisciplinary initiatives that provides students with hands-on training opportunities in New York and around the world. More than 130 students have had the opportunity to work on global health projects through ICAP support.

ICAP congratulates the 2016 Next Generation Fellows:

Edith Antonio, Barnard College
Dominican Republic: Research on young men’s health needs.

Yhan Colon Iban, Columbia College
Swaziland: Quality assurance project analyzing the use of viral load testing to assess treatment outcomes for HIV patients.

Destiny Franklin, Columbia College
Swaziland: Quality assurance project looking at antiretroviral therapy use among HIV-positive women.

Zachary Heinemann, Columbia College
Kenya: Research on depression among pregnant and postnatal women who received PMTCT care.

Olajumoke Jimoh, Hunter College
Swaziland: Support for the HEART study on diagnosis and management of cardiovascular risk factors amongst HIV patients enrolled in treatment.

Sarah Kashef, Columbia College
Cameroon: Working on a quality improvement collaborative to improve turnaround time for early infant HIV diagnosis.

Nelly Maina, Mailman School of Public Health
Swaziland: Support for the HEART study on diagnosis and management of cardiovascular risk factors amongst HIV patients enrolled in treatment.

Jean Fabius Mugisha, Mailman School of Public Health
Kenya: Assessment of HIV infection status and maternal retention in HIV care.

Fernanda Pacheco, Columbia College
Dominican Republic: Support for the EPIC study, following up patients with abnormal Pap smears and/or high risk HPV results.

Keanu Renne-Glover, Columbia College
Cameroon: Working on a quality improvement collaborative to improve turnaround for early infant HIV diagnosis.

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