About the JustIn Uganda blog

For the 2008-2009 academic year, I am excited and grateful to be part a unique learning opportunity in global health and global health research through a program called the NIH/FICRS program (see links elsewhere on this blog). I will be living in Kampala, Uganda August 2008-May 2009 and working on a team running a tuberculosis clinical research trial based out of Makerere University in Kampala.

In one way, this is a somewhat radical departure from my vocational trajectory thus far. I have come to realize over time that much of my activity in the areas of policy, advocacy, ethics, and community-based projects is predicated on research, be it social/narrative based research, clinical research, or bench research. Indeed, my role in partnered work in Embul bul, Kenya has been partially based on a simple needs assessment we used to systematically evaluate, collect, and present community needs, issues, and solutions. At this juncture in my training, I feel it a natural next step to work in the global health field from a different angle.

Of the many things I hope to learn: (1) better understand and increase skills in the biologic, logistical, programmatic, and statistical workings of clinical research trials; (2) better understand tuberculosis and other diseases that disproportionately affect those living in both economic poverty and in arrangements of structural violence (these economic/sociological terms to be defined in a subsequent post); (3) learn from Ugandan researchers about scientific and social solutions to disease burdens (see article link regarding translational research in general, especially associated T1 and T2 delineations); and (4) better develop a skill set in synthesizing data from clinical research trials as it informs policy recommendations.

If you are reading this, you have likely been a formative part of my life, even if not in global health directly. And so in that spirit of your friendship and/or mentorship, I want to bring you along to the best of my ability. My intent with this blog is multi-fold. You should find stories about my research project and the larger clinical trial on which I work. I will use it to share what undoubtedly will be stories far different than my usual day back at home, stories of meeting new people of distant lands, exploring news places, and probably doing absent-minded things (though not sinking my car in a flood at night like I did in college). There may be an existential or vocational crisis ponderance here and there that I share. Your forgiveness is sought prematurely about those posts! Certainly, I will try to provide some reporting of current events and for what it is worth, my analysis of things in as much of an erudite and conversational style as possible. East Africa is an area deep in transition currently, and I am excited and slightly nervous to be a part of it.

JustIn Uganda is about science, pursuing justice, cultural immersion, and the excitement meeting new people and pursuing new opportunities brings. It is also about temporarily missing the people and places of this Midwesterner’s home. And at the end of the day, as I try to figure out my place in medicine and form meaning in applying my Fogarty year to that medical journey, I come back to a few of many quotes that I hold dear to me:

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.” -Gandalf-

“Unless we agree that the world should not be the way it is… there is no point of contact, because the world that is satisfying to us is the same world that is utterly devastating to them.” -Juan Segundo-

“While you are alive, make as many friends as you can and while your horse is alive, visit as many lands as you can.” -Ancient Mongolian Proverb-

Those knowledgeable of (or, in my case, enamoured with) Tolkien lore know that Numenor, the world of humanity, stands in need of healing. I think that the task of healing Numenor is something we all do together no matter our location. JustIn Uganda will be giving a go at learning and healing in Kampala. Thanks for coming along!


3 Responses to “About the JustIn Uganda blog”

  1. rd Says:

    I will definitely be reading and keeping up with this blog. I am a current third year student and will be applying to the program during this cycle.
    Looking forward to your tales!

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Although trite, I couldn’t be happier that you chose to mention the flooding of the infamous Buick in this post 😉

  3. AnthroGirl Says:

    Hi JustIn Uganda!

    I found your blog by chance while searching for photos of the Tuareg. I had the opportunity to spend some time with them while I was traveling across North Africa a couple years ago. I am now studying public health, and I am fascinated with your blog. TB is certainly an important and pressing health issue – in Africa and around the world. I plan to follow your and keep up with your activities.

    Good luck!

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