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Student Field Experience and Research Grant Recipients

Zoe Burger, MD candidate
This summer I will be working with Dr. Timothy Rodwell and Dr. Marva Seifert to assess how HIV status affects tuberculosis (TB) load in diverse sample matrices as detected by Xpert MTB/RIF. This molecular diagnostic assay identifies Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and resistance to rifampin (RIF) using nucleic acid amplification (NAA). In this study, we will use multiple databases containing more than 300,000 patient records from the Myanmar National TB Program collected over the last four years documented as part of an electronic reporting system developed with the assistance of the Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics (FIND). Since timely diagnosis and treatment of TB is extremely important among people living with HIV, understanding how Xpert MTB/RIF can be further incorporated as an effective global health technology can lead to earlier identification of TB co-infection and lower mortality for these patients.

Audreana Brancaccio, BSPH candidate
I am currently attending UCSD to get my Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH). I am a San Diego native and a transfer student from San Diego Mesa College. I love the San Diego community and feel so blessed to be a part of UC San Diego! After high school I attended a trade school for dental assisting where I found my passion within patient care. I decided to go back to school in order to further my education and my ability to better serve my community. Through my educational experience, I have found a resounding interest in human biology and the Spanish language. I a pre-PA student and aspire to transition my passions into patient care. San Diego is very close to the Mexico border and there is a large need for medical providers who are fluent in the Spanish language and have a good understanding of cultural competency. I feel that I have found my niche in compounding my love for the Spanish language with my passion for patient care. I applied to the Global Health Institute here at UCSD for a grant to attend CENEU’s Spanish Immersion Program. I have been strengthening my Spanish skills for just over six years and I truly believe that an immersion experience will give me the confidence I need in order to speak Spanish with patients. Additionally, I will be gaining valuable knowledge by shadowing the medical and cultural systems of Xochicalco, Mexico. My goal is to become a puzzle piece within the network of medical providers who are working to bridge existing cultural gaps within the medical field.

Alec Terrana, LMT, RYT, MD candidate

I’m a first year medical student at UCSD with a passion for global mental health. My background is in both massage therapy and social work, giving me a strong interest in the intersection between the mind, body, and how they are understood within different cultural contexts. I am interested in carrying this interest through medical school to pursue a dual residency in family medicine and psychiatry so I can help equip my future patients with the tools to heal their own minds and bodies. This summer I will be working with Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy and Somali Family Services to explore the concept of psychological resiliency among the Somali refugee community in San Diego. Our hope is to develop an understanding of resiliency that captures its unique dimensions within the Somali community and to discern its individual, familial, and communal contributing components. Our ultimate hope is to use these insights to develop a screening tool that assesses the relative presence or absence of resilience so interventions can be targeted to individuals most in need and are designed to be of maximum benefit specifically to the Somali community.

Tina Ho, PharmD candidate

I am a 4th year pharmacy student at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences located at University of California, San Diego. With the awarded funds, I will have the ability to conduct research in low-income communities of Vietnam with Professor of Clinical Pharmacy Jennifer Le, PharmD, MAS, BCPS-ID, FIDSA, FCCP, FCHSP. The research helps expand knowledge on combating antibiotic resistant infections on a global scale. The primary focus will be on the implementation of vancomycin therapeutic monitoring based on the most current guidelines in the United States. Vancomycin is a bactericidal glycopeptide antibiotic and is considered the drug of choice in the treatment of invasive infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in both adult and pediatric populations. MRSA is a highly resistant pathogen that contributes to significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. My role will be data analysis where I will conduct comprehensive medication profile reviews of patients, and monitor pharmacist-regulated therapies. Additionally, my clinical responsibilities include supervising patients on vancomycin to ensure safe and effective use of the medication. I will provide direct patient care, which will allow me to support the advancement of managing infectious diseases (particularly resistant infections) in low resource countries. I am elated for the opportunity to spend a portion of my 4th academic year immersed in my Vietnamese heritage and culture, while contributing to my passion.