Flagship Site Research Grants: The GHI awarded three Flagship grants to support the research and/or educational infrastructure of key international sites where there is a goal to develop a critical mass of faculty conducting state of the art research. These sites will also serve as training hubs for undergraduate and graduate students.
Jose Suarez, MPH, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Division of Global Health within the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health. He is the PI of the NIH funded Secondary Pesticide Exposure among Children and Adolescents (ESPINA) study, which is a longitudinal study aimed at understanding the effects of pesticide exposures on the development of children living in agricultural communities in Ecuador. The current project has the objective of expanding academic and research collaborations between the University of California San Diego and Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador, based in Quito Ecuador. This project, seeks to provide educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students at UCSD, research opportunities for UCSD and Ecuadorian faculty, while porting some of the ongoing research and community development activities in rural Ecuador established by Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador and UCSD. This first year of the GHI flagship site grant has been of great success and has led to the expansion of research collaborations between UCSD and Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador, involving Drs Wael Al-Delaimy (Family Medicine and Public Health) and Janis Jenkins (Anthropology). There is much potential for the development of study abroad opportunities for students in the Bachelors of Global Health and Bachelors of Public Health, as well as graduate students in the department of anthropology and in the academic health center.
Graduate Student Research Grants. The GHI awarded three grants to graduate student researchers in the STEM fields.
Clifford Kapono, a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry has dedicated most of his life toward investigating the unique relationship between humans and environmental health. With support from the GHI, Clifford has researched the unique microbiomes of avid ocean goers from around the world. Because ocean recreationalists are exposed to heightened levels of environmental stressors, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria, Clifford’s research has focused on the relationship between exposure to the ocean and human health. He has collected more than 500 samples from surfer populations around the world, such as Clare, Ireland, London, England, and Taghazout, Morocco. He presented his findings at the Cornwall’s Eden Project Center for “antibiotic resistance day.” The UCSD/GHI Surfer Biome project has gained international recognition across dozens of periodicals, television shows, and online web pages such as the New York Times and National Public Radio.
Student Field Experience Grants. The GHI awarded 16 field experience grants to undergraduate and graduate students, most of whom were enrolled in formal degree programs requiring a global health experience.
Evaline Cheng worked at INTA, el Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos in Santiago, Chile on a longitudinal cohort study about metabolic syndrome in young adults. Originally focusing on iron-deficiency anemia in infancy, the study has now expanded to incorporate many different projects, including the study on cardiovascular risk. Each morning participants now in the young adult wave, came in for various anthropometric, bone density, and laboratory measurements. They also interviewed them about their family history, diet, physical activity, substance use, and alcohol. These 22-year-old participants have been examined during infancy, and at ages 5, 10, and 16. Evaline was impressed that this longitudinal cohort study has such a low attrition rate, and the continuity of data was a treasure-trove for answering research questions. She not only learned about the methods of running a longitudinal cohort study, but also challenged herself to critically think about analyzing data. Above all, she said she appreciated the warmth and welcoming embrace of her colleagues at INTA and her host mom. Evaline loved exploring Santiago, learning more about Chile’s history and culture, and improving her Spanish by leaps and bounds.
Intern Program Grants. The GHI awarded 4 intern grants to undergraduate and graduate students from different departments on campus.
Dr. Trisha Morshed participated in the intern program in Mozambique. The aim of the project “Characterizing the knowledge, attitudes and current practices of Mozambican Traditional Healers for patients in an HIV-endemic region,” is to gather formative data to identify gaps in HIV knowledge and characterize treatment practices among Traditional Healers in Maputo, Mozambique. This research is central to efforts to end the HIV epidemic in Mozambique, where HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of mortality. The focus of this study is on gathering qualitative data to characterize traditional healer’s knowledge and attitudes about HIV infection and testing services, identify gaps in healer knowledge regarding HIV, and to characterize the treatment and counseling performed by Mozambican traditional healers for patients in an area with high HIV prevalence. Results from this study will inform interventions aimed at expanding access and reducing delays to HIV testing. As the project is a collaboration between the team at UCSD and an international anthropology team based out of Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, she helped revise manuscripts, assisted in quality control of post-translation interviews between the RAs and traditional healers, and was able to give direct feedback on improving interviewing technique. Lastly, they discussed future directions of the project, and met with staff at a local clinic where they may do a related study in the future involving interviewing patients about their HIV knowledge and views on traditional healers.