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Students Join International Research Teams

by Kelly Brooks

IOm Recommendation 7Six nursing students will hone their research skills abroad this year, working with Johns Hopkins faculty mentors who are conducting research studies around the globe. The opportunity comes through the Global Health Established Field Placement (GHEFP) program of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, which provides grants of up to $3,500 for students to attain international cross-cultural field experience.

In Durban, South Africa, two students will be working to improve treatment for patients who are co-infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and HIV/AIDS. Master’s student Amelia Rutter and undergrad Alina Burgi ’13 will work with assistant professor Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, CRNP, to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a nurse-based treatment program across the country, which has the world’s highest rate of TB/HIV co-infection.

“I plan on learning much from the nurses in South Africa, and I think it will make me a more effective and successful health practitioner,” says Rutter, who will graduate from the MSN-FNP/MPH program in August. Burgi, who has a previous master’s degree in public health, says “I’m excited that I’ll be assessing things from a clinical perspective.”

Master’s student Jennifer Breads will travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo to study how microfinance opportunities may help survivors of violence recover and reintegrate into their communities. After working on this study with associate professor Nancy Glass, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, Breads will return to Baltimore to begin her new position as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner in Baltimore City, continuing to work directly with survivors and
their families.

Accelerated bachelor’s student Shanna Dell ’13 is looking for a less expensive way to test for MDR-TB in developing countries like Peru. Dell, who has a degree in biochemistry, will be working with Robert Gilman, MD, professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, to develop a low-cost, laboratory-free measure to identify patients who are at risk for MDR-TB.  “I’m excited to get back to the lab for a little bit, and I’m also looking forward to evolving my research perspective into the clinical setting,” says Dell.

In Nicaragua, undergraduate student Teresa Pfaff ’12 will work with Dr. Patrick Byrnes, Johns Hopkins Medicine, on a study to improve multidisciplinary care for cleft palate patients. Pfaff and her research team will evaluate the use of innovative strategies, including the use of smart-phone technology and telemedicine, to create a model of care that approaches that provided in the United States. Pfaff will assist with study design, execution, data gathering, and analysis.

Keith Fischer ’13, accelerated BS, will help lay the groundwork for using bed nets in Bolivia to prevent Chagas Disease, a parasitic infection spread by insects. Led by Robert Gilman, MD, professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the team will work with the Guarani indigenous population to explore factors that may affect future bed net use. “This is an incredible opportunity,” says Fischer. “The program comes highly recommended and I believe I will walk away with a solid introduction to global health research.”

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