2018 CGH SUMMER RESEARCH FELLOWS
Murrie Affini is a fourth year undergraduate studying the Biological Sciences in hopes of becoming a physician-investigator. He has had previous experience researching visual working memory and attention with EEG capabilities and has decided to delve into a structural imaging project with an increased clinical focus. Based in Ibadan, Nigeria, Murrie sought to discover potential risk factors for stroke amongst Sub-Saharan Africans, a population that experiences the highest incidence, prevalence, and case fatality rates of any other global region. His research was conducted as part of the Stroke Investigative Research and Education Network (SIREN) project. Over the span of his stay, Murrie separated brain tissue from MRI and CT images into its three main subtypes (white matter, grey matter, and cerebral spinal fluid), located stroke lesions, and recreated stroke volumes in order to assess the extent to which specific factors of interest affect stroke occurrence, type, and outcome.
Chika Anikamadu is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago majoring in Biological Sciences on the pre-med track. This summer, Chika and her co-fellow, Feven Jembere, spent eight weeks in Abuja, Nigeria supporting the day to day activities of sickle cell disease screening programs set up for children by the Center for Excellence for Sickle Cell Research and Training. They also conducted interviews and administered surveys at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital to assess psychosocial burden of the disease on caregivers - with a specific focus on stigma - and level of knowledge of adults with sickle cell disease, respectively. In the future, Chika hopes to obtain her MD and PhD degrees and become a hematologist to treat and do more research on sickle cell disease.
Ashley Aue Harris School of Public Policy 2019
University of Chicago Mentor: Dr. Rima McLeod, MD
Ashley Aue is entering her second year as a Master of Public Policy student at the Harris School. She received her BA in Psychology from Grand Valley State University in ’08. From 2008-2017, she worked in public and non-profit programs in the U.S. and in Guatemala, focused on education, healthcare and public health, and disability rights. This summer, Ashley is working in Panama City on health policy related to Toxoplasmosis, specifically developing tools and recommendations for the Ministry of Health in order to facilitate and expand access to education, medications and care for pregnant women. After completing her degree, she hopes to continue working in programs aimed at improving access, efficacy, and sustainability of services in healthcare and education in underserved regions, especially in Latin America.
Ryan Carson is a second-year Master of Public Policy candidate and a member of the Global Health Track of the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP). Before coming to the Harris School, he majored in International Studies and Public Policy at the University of Denver. In the summer of 2018, he spent nine weeks in rural Honduras researching the country’s health system decentralization reforms under the direction of Dr. Alan Zarychta. This included conducting qualitative interviews with health center staff and community leaders to better understand the mechanisms by which policy changes affect health services, as well as helping supervise survey implementation on similar topics. After graduation, Ryan hopes to build a career combining his interests in global health and public policy.
Mimansa Dogra The College 2020, Neuroscience
University of Chicago Mentor: Dr. Rima McLeod, MD
Mimansa Dogra is a third year undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience. This summer, she traveled to Panama in order to study the correlations between Toxoplasma gondii and cognitive decline, specifically in the context of Alzheimer's Disease. T. gondii is a parasite living in the bodies and the brains of approximately one-third of the world's population, and it has a prevalence rate of 80-90% in Panama. Mimansa is interested in how T. gondii's presence in the brain impacts the progression of Alzheimer's and neurodegeneration among elderly populations.
Feven Jembere is a third year undergraduate studying public policy with a health specialization. This summer, Feven and her co-fellow, Chika Anikamadu, spent eight weeks in Abuja, Nigeria supporting the day to day activities of sickle cell disease screening programs set up for children by the Center for Excellence for Sickle Cell Research and Training. They also conducted interviews and administered surveys at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital to assess psychosocial burden of the disease on caregivers - with a specific focus on stigma - and level of knowledge of adults with sickle cell disease, respectively. After graduation, Feven hopes to pursue a graduate degree in health policy and/or participate in the development of sustainable health financing schemes that could support health equity.
Makayla Kochheiser is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience and Biological Sciences, with a specialization in Global Health. Makayla has worked as a research assistant in the Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago for the past two years. After graduation, Makayla plans to work in the global health field for two years before applying to medical school. Her summer research was conducted at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. Makayla worked under the leadership of her site mentor, Professor Prisca Adejumo, and her University of Chicago mentor, Dr. Olopade, to study breast cancer genomics. Makayla worked to create a system for genetic counseling that was newly established in the hospital. She also worked to introduce genetic testing to the area to promote personalized cancer risk management and to improve the outcomes of cancer patients. Makayla collected data on patient’s family history as well as their perception and willingness to pay for genetic testing to ensure a sustainable implementation.
Samuel Larsen is a fourth year undergraduate in the College majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Biological Sciences. This summer, Sam spent 9 weeks in Chennai, India working with the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to better understanding diabetes in South Asia and providing healthcare specific to the culture, cuisine, and genetic predispositions of the region. Sam helped sequence the DNA of clinical MODY patients to identify pathogenic mutations, and he built the genetic pedigrees of several families with a history of monogenic diabetes. Back in Chicago, Sam works as a clinical research assistant at the Kovler Diabetes Center where he helps screen the family members of people with Type 1 diabetes in order to prevent adverse health effects at diagnosis. After graduation, Sam hopes to enroll in medical school.
Kendall Lucero is a fourth-year in the College majoring in biological sciences, with minors in human rights and gender studies. She spent ten weeks this summer in Cape Town, South Africa working with the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) and Dr. Lyn Denny. During her time there, she created a system for quality control in the colposcopy database in order to track patients’ history with cervical cancer with accuracy. In addition, she worked on a survey distributed to specialists all over the African continent that assessed how breast cancer was treated in settings that are often resource-limited. Through both of these projects, she hopes to contribute to a growing body of research from middle and lower income countries that will improve cancer diagnosis and treatment in the context of global health. After graduation, she plans to pursue her interest in global health through degrees in public health and social work.
Isabella Martin The College 2019, Biological Sciences and History
Site Mentor: Dr. Daniel Ansong, MD, ChB
Isabella is a rising fourth year, double-majoring in biological sciences (track c, ecology) and history. Through these majors, she has explored the intersections between global health, climate change, and human rights. Before her CGH fellowship, Isabella conducted quantitative research on invasive species in wetlands, worked in public radio, and trained as an first responder. This summer, Isabella is in Kumasi, Ghana at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where she is conducting research on the demographics of patients with pneumonia and their caregivers’ knowledge of the disease, which is a leading cause of child mortality in Ghana. After her fellowship, Isabella hopes to work in outdoor education, and later pursue graduate degrees in public health and environmental science.
Merisa Middlestadt is a fourth-year in the College studying Biological Sciences. She spent the summer researching the health effects of household air pollution in Manipal, India. Together with the Department of Community Medicine from Kasturba Medical College, Merisa characterized olfaction, cognition, respiratory performance, and systemic oxidative stress among families of coastal Karnataka who rely on the use of polluting fuel for cooking and heating. An increased understanding of how air pollutants negatively impact the neurosensory and respiratory systems will hopefully lead to the development of diagnostic tools and therapies which address harmful air pollution exposure. Additionally, this research also carries implications for improving the health of women and children, who are disproportionately affected by household air pollution worldwide. In the future, Merisa hopes to attend medical school and continue working to improve the health of vulnerable populations.
Jessica Mora is a third year in the College double majoring in Public Policy and Romance Languages and Literatures. This summer, she spent nine weeks in Intibucá, Honduras researching the effects of a health decentralization reform in the country. In order to achieve this, she interviewed mayors, church personnel, NGO leaders, water council members, and health administration staff, among others to gain a more holistic idea of how the health reform has changed not only the health sector itself, but also the interactions and relationships between community organizations. In an attempt to account for how Mesoamerica aid might affect the way in which a municipality develops within the reform, Jessica conducted interviews in San Antonio (a decentralized municipality with Mesoamerica benefits), San Miguelito (a decentralized municipality), and Concepción de Copan (a non-decentralized municipality). Furthermore, the information gathered this summer alongside previous survey data will be used by the Ministry of Health in Honduras to inform possible policy changes in the country. In the future, Jessica wishes to pursue an MPP-MBA and continue her interest in health policy work.
Tahnee Muller The College 2019, Biochemistry
Site Mentor: Dr. Daniel Ansong, MD, ChB
Tahnee Muller is a rising fourth year student in the College majoring in Biochemistry with interests in global health and entrepreneurship. Before coming to the CGH, Tahnee conducted research in the U of C Chemistry Department. She worked as a research assistant in a lab creating new delivery systems of a cancer drug to increase potency and outcomes of cancer treatment. This summer she worked on a project concerning pneumonia in children in Kumasi, Ghana. The project explored the financial and political barriers to sub-Saharan scientific contribution and analyzed infection rates of respiratory diseases in residents of the Ashanti region. She hopes to obtain an MPH and MBA after graduation.
Julia Ran The College 2020, Biological Sciences
Site Mentor: Dr. Zané Lombard, PhD
Julia Ran is a fourth-year student majoring in Biological Sciences. Since her first year at UChicago, Julia has developed a passion for global health through research. Last year, Julia was a Global Health Intern in the Department of Sociology. She collaborated with Dr. Jenny Trinitapoli to analyze how demographic survey technique impacts reported health statistics in 44 developing countries. Julia was fascinated by the quantitative social science method and applied it to her own research project on the intergenerational transmission of stunting in Uganda. This summer, Julia is working with the Human Genetics department at University of Witwatersrand to improve genetic diagnosis of developmental delay (DD). Historically, the genetic underpinnings of DD have been poorly characterized in African populations, and conventional wisdom expected novel diagnostic technologies to be financially inviable. Stationed at the National Health Laboratory Services, Julia conducted a retrospective review of patient files to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of current genetic testing methods and estimate the cost-effectiveness of exome-sequencing. After she graduates, Julia hopes to further her contribution to medicine and global health by pursuing an MD/MPH dual degree.
Alexandra Thompson is a fourth-year in The College, majoring in psychology. She is interested in health disparities in women of color and has past experience working as a research intern at the Nutrition and Pregnancy Study at UChicago. Grounded in the area of psycho-oncology, Alex’s summer research project marries her interests in mental health and women’s health. This summer, she is conducting a study on psychosocial correlates of quality of life in patients with breast and cervical cancers in Ibadan, Nigeria. This study seeks to inform to a better understanding of the barriers preventing good quality of life for women surviving breast and cervical cancers. Correlations between factors such as pain, sexual functioning, and psychological distress in this population will shed light on potential interventions in cancer treatment necessary to improve quality of life. After graduation, Alex plans on going to medical school in hopes to focus on gynecology and obstetrics.
Lydia Wu The College 2019, Art History
Site Mentor: Dr. Zané Lombard, PhD
Lydia Wu is a fourth-year undergraduate in The College majoring in Art History. This summer, she worked with the Human Genetics department at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to study developmental delay. She helped digitize the Genetic Clinic’s patient files and began characterizing the existing patient population. The digitization process allowed Lydia to better understand the diagnostic yield for patients with developmental delay. She also performed cost-effectiveness analysis on the clinic’s current diagnostic method to determine whether exome sequencing might be a more efficient alternative. Developmental delay is a growing problem in South Africa, and Lydia’s work aims to better equip the Genetics department to discover its previously unknown genetic causes. After graduation, Lydia hopes to continue pursuing her interest in healthcare equality and genetics through attending medical school.