Day 5 – NIH training

A busy Friday filled with excellent speakers! We started by hearing a presentation by Mary Stanton, the Senior Maternal Health Advisor for USAID (US Agency for International Development). She provided us with staggering statistics, current and encouraging efforts to improve maternal and child health through the Global Maternal and Child Health Program, and social/economic influences on health.

The next speaker, Larry Laughlin, MD, PhD dean of the School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, gave us a lively presentation on “Working in the Developing World.” He talked about his efforts conducting research on Bartonellosis (an emerging infectious disease) in Peru and culturally appropriate and collaborative ways he worked with the particular research cohort. He told us a fun story about the ultimate gatekeepers in town — a women’s organization that asked him a multitude of questions before they would let him proceed! The community’s interest and involvement in the research sounded exciting.

Our last speaker before lunch, Francisco Sy, MD DrPH, Director of Minority Health Disparities Research at the National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities gave us a talk that essentially centered around a research method (not a “type” of research) called community-based participatory research (CBPR) and the research activities at NCMHD. As a lens to create and conduct research, CBPR intends to level the playing field some by using community knowledge to generate specific research questions and concerns at the outset and formulation steps of a research project. I used it with my team in Kenya to conduct needs assessments, for example. We emailed the community leaders there before we crafted our survey to see what things they were interested in learning about the community in a systematic way while we presented ideas we thought would be useful to examine. I had lunch with the speaker and others afterwards for further Q&A.

I finished the afternoon doing more research for the first half in the NIH Library and then heard a presentation from a Fogarty Fellow who spent 2005-2006 serving with Doctors Without Borders (Medecins San Frontieres) in Darfur. He has quite an interesting background, having a master’s in international studies from Columbia after medical school, internal medicine residency, time in Darfur and now he is an infectious disease fellow at University of Washington. He’ll be in Kenya doing his research next year. He told many powerful stories and had wonderful pictures. Many scholars/fellows have considered MSF in their equation for the future, and not surprisingly, the room was crowded and the questions were plentiful. There is no doubt there exists a difficult reality underneath the romanticism of MSF. Yet the work they do is so crucial and needed in the conflict or post-conflict areas where they serve. He saw about 10% of patients suffering from direct assault and rape and the remaining 90% were displaced people suffering from the ongoing genocide and attacks there.

About 20 of us went to the Nationals vs. Astros game in the evening. Ali came along for his first baseball game. The fireworks after the game and each of the Nats homeruns entertained one and all. I even had a sloppy Ben’s Chili Bowl half smoke dog for those who know that famed DC establishment! We finished the night with fun dancing around DC. What a day!

Group of FICRS Scholars at Nationals Game

Group of FICRS Scholars at Nationals Game

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