|Student research and internships|
Padmaja (Piku) Patnaik, (PhD '04)
For her dissertation, Piku analyzed data on malaria and HIV that was collected prospectively in Malawi. Using epidemiological analytic methods, she examined the reciprocal effects of HIV and Plasmodium falciparum on a cohort of adults in Malawi. Though this project, Piku gained experience in data management, data analysis, and manuscript preparation for submission to peer-reviewed journals.
For students seeking international internships or research opportunities, Piku's advice is to be proactive in searching for relevant international projects. You can use the UNC funding database to search for funding opportunities.
Ben Aiken (MSPH '08)
Kelly designed and managed a pilot of cell phone text messages for ART patients in a Johannesburg clinic of the Reproductive Health & HIV Research Unit (RHRU.co.za). The pilot tested individually-tailored and generic messages promoting ART adherence and social support. It included a quantitative and qualitative survey of patient cell phone habits, barriers to pilot uptake, reasons for attrition, message reception, patient satisfaction, and accidental disclosure. The pilot followed Kelly's MPH thesis, "Assessing Evidence for the Feasibility and Applicability of Mobile Phone SMS to Promote Adherence to Antiretroviral Therapy in Developing Countries". Kelly is also supporting evaluation of mobile phone social networking for prevention, and consulting on cell phone interventions for loss to follow up, PMTCT, and referral to VCT/CD4/male circumcision. If interested in more information contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Corrina Moucheraud (MPH '05)
Corrina Moucheraud, the Graduate Research Assistant in the Office of Global Health 2004-2006 spent a summer in Nigeria working for Catholic Relief Services. Using this experience to fulfill both her HBHE field placement requirement and her Global Health Certificate internship requirement, she spent ten weeks working on a large community-based HIV/AIDS care and support project. Corrina spoke with project coordinators, volunteers, and people living with HIV/AIDS who participate in the program activities in order to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for the project. Her work has culminated in the development of a 75-page handbook of information, tools, and instructions to be used by project partners.
Amy Corneli (PhD '04)
"Development and Evaluation of a Context-Specific Informed Consent Process for a U.S.-Funded Clinical Trial in Lilongwe, Malawi"
Obtaining informed consent in U.S.-funded international research is a challenge. Two areas of concern include participant understanding and individual consent. In 2002, a formative research study was conducted in Lilongwe, Malawi, to gather data from the community on issues surrounding study participation to inform a clinical trial on the safety and efficacy of antiretroviral and nutrition interventions to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV during breastfeeding. These data suggested the community had limited understanding of research such that they believed all medicines provided would have already been tested to be safe and efficacious; participants would be assigned to a study arm based on their individual health needs, not based on chance; and the clinical trial was designed to benefit enrolled participants. Several participants also suggested the inclusion of husbands in the decision-making process of potential study participants, thus revealing the complexity of decision-making when women are considering research participation. Given these findings, additional investigation was necessary in order to further explore participant understanding of research and the social context in which participants make decisions about participation in research.
Consequently, in May 2003, we conducted additional formative research on participant understanding of consent information, specifically focusing on how we can best explain research concepts and study procedures to potential study participants. We also explored the social context in which potential study participants make decisions regarding participation in medical research. Findings from both formative studies were used to modify the informed consent process specifically for the Malawian context. Additional research was carried out from October throughDecember 2003 to evaluate the standard-of-care consent form for the clinical trial, a context-specific consent form, and counseling cards that incorporate context-specific text with drawings. My dissertation involved the development and evaluation of the consent processes. (Pictures are from our training for the 2002 formative research study for the clinical trial)
Yvonne Owens Ferguson, (MPH '99)
Yvonne spent the summer of 2002 in South Africa. Below is her report on her summer experiences as well as her current work and future plan.
"South Africa Summer Experience" by Yvonne Feguson
I spent the summer of 2002 in South Africa conducting a qualitative research analysis with the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) in Cape Town, South Africa. As a Graduate Student Fellow in the National Institutes of Health Minority International Research Traineeship Program, my project consisted of reading and analyzing over 50 focus groups and key informant interviews from various racial/ethnic groups and religious affiliations from all nine South African provinces. These transcripts detailed what the various communities thought about HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and support efforts, but only through face-to-face interactions with South Africans did I see the transcripts come to life.
Zuma was only one of many people in South Africa living with HIV. Currently, among the sub-Saharan countries, South Africa is experiencing HIV/AIDS in pandemic proportions and the incidence rates continue to increase. With a population of 39.8 million in 2001, about 1 in 9 South Africans (or 4.7 million people) are living with HIV/AIDS. (UNAIDS, 2001). During my everyday interactions with the HIV/AIDS researchers I worked with, friends, shop vendors and taxi drivers, I would conduct informal interviews to get their thoughts on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Most of my interactions were consistent with the transcripts in that everyone acknowledged HIV/AIDS as a major problem and stressed that something needs to be done about it. Although the "something" to address the problem was vague or abstract, everyone seemed very concerned about the epidemic.
From this summer experience, I have continued working on this qualitative project with the HSRC and hope to publish a manuscript about this research. Additionally, I want to continue working on the South African HIV/AIDS epidemic by creating interventions to address the various HIV/AIDS-related issues. Overall, experiencing South Africa was incredible and I would encourage any student interested in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa to travel and stay in the country for a long period of time. You won't regret it.
Jipan Xie, (PhD student)
Melanie Wasserman (PhD '04)
As a doctoral student Melanie focused on Latino origin, migration, and the use of preventive maternal and child health services in North Carolina for her dissertation project. The purpose of her study was to examine the relationship between rural origin and various forms of social support on Latina immigrant women's use of preventive maternal and child health services. She conducted interviews of approximately 200 Latina immigrant women in churches in 4 North Carolina counties: Orange, Durham, Chatham, and Alamance. The study used a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. Funding was provided by the Carolina Population Center, UNC Center for Health Statistics Research, and Mellon Foundation.
Kerry Brewer (PhD '13)
Over the summer of 2009 Kerry designed and implemented a programmatic needs assessment in Sakina, Tanzania to better understand the community's health resources and challenges. The Sakina Health Evaluation, which was produced in collaboration with Maura Baldiga and Anneliese Gegenheimer, involved qualitative and quantitative research methods. The results will be used to develop a community-based health program with the people of Sakina. This research was supported by the Sustain Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Carrboro, NC with the mission of developing sustainable interventions both locally and internationally. For more information on Sustain Foundation, please visit their website at http://www.sustainfoundation.org.
Rebecca Giguere (MPH '07)
Rebecca Giguere worked closely with the Latino Campaign Coordinator of the North Carolina Folic Acid Council. Under her guidance, she researched and developed a manual for use by NCFAC Regional Coordinators and others entitled "Educating Healthcare Providers about their Latino Patients." This manual was then used by Rebecca and the Latino Campaign Coordinatorfor a training given
at the end of the
summer for the Regional Coordinators, including activities to promote cultural competency. In addition, Rebecca accompanied the Latino Campaign Coordinator to a training of Latina lay health advisors, as well as a filming of a commercial for the NCFAC with a Latino family whose child has spina bifida. Rebecca gave another training in Wake County later that yearusing the health care provider manual she helped to create
Janine Barden-Ofallon (PhD '04)
This project was for her dissertation and the rest of the data for her dissertation came from the survey study, "Pregnancy and STI Avoidance Study" conducted by MEASURE Evaluation and Save the Children U.S. between the period of 2000-2002 in Mangochi. This is the first time that she went to Malawi, although she had worked on the project off and on for about more than three years.
Mia Chabot and two fellow Nutrition students, Andrea Nikolai (MPH '08), Becca Wright (MPH '08), completed a project in Sri Lanka to increase awareness of the role food choices play in contributing to a healthy lifestyle. Two hour programs were at conducted at two different locations in Sri Lanka: Moratuwa and Negombo.
Through the programs, the UNC students reached over 100 women, ages 20-80. An evaluation that was conducted at the close of each program showed that 100% of the participants found the program useful and thought they would use the program at home. The majority of the women, sixty percent, found the contents of food portion the most useful part of the program. At the close of the program, participants were able to identify which foods were high in carbohydrates and which nutrients were important in building strong bones. However, they still had difficulty determining what lifestyle factors contribute to disease.
Mia, Andrea, and Becca concluded that there is a growing desire and need for nutrition education in Sri Lanka as the rate of non-communicable diseases increases. Programs such as theirs could help raise awareness and play a significant role in disease prevention.
Lisa Hawley (MPH '08)
One of the strategies employed to reduce the impact of HIV is the development of a key leader educational training program referred to as Focal Persons (FPs). The model of training FP to provide HIV and AIDS education was developed in response to the unique needs of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). After over twenty years of civil war many soldiers were unfamiliar with HIV and AIDS and, therefore, lacked the knowledge necessary to launch directly into a "train- the-trainer" model. In the absence of candidates informed about HIV and AIDS, FPs were selected based on their leadership, interest in learning and perceived ability to successfully carry out specific duties. Soldiers were trained at a three-week course in March before earning the title of "Focal Person". At the time Lisa conducted the assessment of the program, the FPs had been utilizing their skills for three months.
Emily Miller (MPH '08)
Recognizing the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in South Africa and striving to improve the systems which deliver prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is working with a team of local quality mentors to assist provincial clinics and hospitals in improving their PMTCT programs. The project has been named 20,000+, in reference to the number of infant infections that could be prevented each year with proper delivery of care to mothers and babies.
For ten weeks, Emily worked with the 20,000+ team to assist local healthcare providers and administrators in using quality improvement methods in the provincial clinics and hospitals. In particular, she focused on improving data collection and reporting around PMTCT. Working with a small set of clinics and one hospital, her efforts focused on improving data completeness and integrity, both of which are essential to measuring clinical performance and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions.
Emily describes the experience as "a wonderful opportunity to not only learn about quality improvement and PMTCT, but also to better understand the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has devastated South Africa and many other parts of the world." Furthermore she said, "I have seen how small changes can go a long way in improving the care for HIV-positive women and children, and I am committed to continuing this work throughout my career."
|Last updated April 17, 2013|