University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health Selects 26 Students for Scholarship Program

June 22, 2006 -- The University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health has selected its 2006 Scholars in the only scholarship program of its kind that draws students from across the University. These new scholars are preparing to embark on summer, fall and spring research projects aimed at helping address health issues of the underprivileged in countries around the world.

Twenty-six graduate and undergraduate students will use their CGH awards, which vary from $1,800 to $3,000, to address critical health issues in Latin America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Diverse disciplines, including biomedical engineering, psychology, foreign affairs and economics are represented in this group.

The scholars’ projects combine research, academics and service. They will target health concerns such as HIV/AIDS, women’s reproductive health, diabetes and the effects of family dynamics on health.

Susan Staley, a Latin American Studies major, is traveling to Brazil to research the effects of women-led police stations on domestic violence. Anthropology and philosophy double major Jonathan Taee is planning to study native healing techniques in both Tibet and Peru and will produce documentary film footage to supplement his research in both countries. And Eliah Shamir, a rising third-year biomedical engineering student, is traveling to Thailand to help women and girls in the hill tribes of the Upper Mekong. These populations are vulnerable to sex trafficking and therefore HIV/AIDS.

CGH Scholar Corinne Savides is traveling to Ponce, Puerto Rico, where she will combine the research and service elements of the award and offer free diabetic kidney disease and obesity screening for underserved women. The World Health Organization says the highest levels of obesity and diabetes II threaten poor, underserved populations, creating an overwhelming burden of chronic disease. This is especially true for Hispanic women.

In creating her project, Savides was required by the center to collaborate with a mentor from outside her discipline. “Working with Dr. Steven Nock, a sociologist, has helped me view my future role as a physician more broadly,” she said. “Understanding the sociological processes of disease can guide physicians to advise their patients just as can their understanding the biological processes of disease.”

The director of U.Va.’s Center for Global Health, Dr. Richard Guerrant, says he is extremely pleased with this latest group of scholars heading overseas. “These remarkable young stars bring their dedication from a marvelously diverse array of backgrounds and interests to address growing issues of health disparities. Former CGH Scholars often describe these experiences by saying ‘It changed my life!’ It is a privilege for our Center for Global Health to foster and participate in these CGH Scholar Awards.”

The scholars designed their own interdisciplinary projects with the support of U.Va. faculty mentors. More than 40 faculty members from over 30 departments and schools are supporting this year’s group. This is in accordance with the center’s mission of working with schools across the University to improve global health.

Dr. Guerrant says this aspect of the awards really forces students to take a broader view of things. "These Center for Global Health scholarship awards provide a wonderful vehicle for students to venture outside of their own disciplines and discover new ways to view the world and global health. At the same time, they are deepening their expertise in their own discipline. It is a truly unique program."

Associate director for the center, Dr. Breyette Lorntz, works one-on-one with the CGH Scholars as they design their research projects. “Often students will come to us at the beginning of the fall semester, wanting to go somewhere and learn more about how to make a difference in global health. Our job is to help connect these students to a faculty member somewhere in the University, who has parallel interests."

The center began making the CGH Scholarship Awards available in 2001 to further its goal of engaging U.Va. faculty, students and international partners in efforts to address health disparities.

The Center offers a variety of scholarships and fellowships to undergraduate, graduate and professional applicants. This first-of-its-kind, trans-university model has been emulated by several other institutions of higher learning, notably Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Vanderbilt and the University of Washington.

U.Va. President John Casteen has identified the Center for Global Health as a key player in internationalizing the University in accordance with U.Va.’s new 2020 academic mission.

For more information, please contact Jane Kelly, communications coordinator for the Center for Global Health, at 434-243-0124 or at jak4g@virginia.edu. You can visit the CGH website at http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/cgh

U.Va.’s 2006 Center for Global Health Scholars

School of Medicine

Rebecca Burke, a rising second-year student in the School of Medicine, will travel to Kampala, Uganda, to study AIDS and sepsis.

Matthew Harrington, a rising second-yearstudent in the School of Medicine, is going to the Dominican Republic to research the quality of drinking water in rural areas surrounding Santiago.

Cheryl Lynn Horton, a rising second-year student in the School of Medicine, is going to Kampala, Uganda, to study the effects of HIV/AIDS on society.

Corinne Savides, a rising second-year student in the School of Medicine, is going to Ponce, Puerto Rico, to study the effects of the high rate of diabetes and associated illness among rural women.

Sarah Leigh Smiddy, a rising second-year student in the School of Medicine, is traveling to Accra, Ghana, to learn about and work to improve the nutritional status of pediatric sickle cell patients, who require more calories to maintain optimal health.

Peter Volsky, a rising second-yearstudent in the School of Medicine, is traveling to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to promote the importance of clean drinking water.

Arts and Sciences

Aliesje Chapman, a rising fourth-yearforeign affairs major, is traveling to Embangweni, Malawi, to study the approaches of the government and NGO’s to AIDS education and how computers can help the process.

Solon Choi, a rising fourth-year psychology major, will travel to Seoul, South Korea, to study how family dynamics, specifically the weakening relationship between parent and child, negatively impact a child’s health.

Cecilia Jiang, a rising third-yearbiochemistry major, is in Xi’an, China, studying how views of death and dying influence doctor-patient relationships.

Rita Lahlou, a rising fourth-year human biology major, is heading to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to use and analyze new technology aimed at diagnosing amebiasis, a diarrheal disease.

Melissa Mallory, a rising fourth-year biology major, is going to Thohoyandou, South Africa, to investigate levels of disease transmission among midwives.

Juliana Minak, a rising fourth-year environmental science major, travels to San Mateo Ixtatan, Guatemala, to produce and market new water filtration systems.

Giselle Plata, a rising fourth-yearbiology/ bioethics major, travels to La Paz, Bolivia, to learn why indigenous women in poor rural areas continue to have poor reproductive health despite stepped-up governmental attempts to address the issue.

Gauri Raval, a rising fourth-yearhuman biology major, is traveling to Limpopo, South Africa, to research how the lack of a good education impacts girls’ health.

Viraj Kumar Sadarangan, a rising fourth-year mathematics and physics major, is going to Accra, Ghana, to study ways to prevent sickle-cell patients from requiring admittance to the hospital, which can lead to death in some cases.

Meredith Saggers, an economics graduate student, is going to Mpumalanga, South Africa, to determine the indirect cost of AIDS, as defined by the loss of earnings and productivity by the primary caregiver.

Susan Staley, a rising third-year Latin American Studies major, is traveling to Fortaleza, Brazil, to study the impact women-led police stations is having on domestic violence.

Paul Stoddard, a rising fourth-yearbiology major, is going to Fortaleza, Brazil, to delve deeper into research on the effects of severe diarrhea on childhood development.

Jonathan Taee, a rising third-yeardouble major in anthropology and philosophy, is traveling to Lhasa, Tibet, and Lima, Peru, to study the spiritual and native healing techniques in both countries and will produce documentary film footage from both countries.

Courtney Tolmie, an economics graduate student, is going to Mpumalanga, South Africa, to determine with scholar Meredith Saggers the indirect cost of AIDS, as defined by the loss of earnings and productivity by the primary caregiver.

Shi Shi Wang, a rising third-yearforeign affairs major, is heading to Thailand with fellow scholar Eliah Shamir to help women and girls in the hill tribes of the Upper Mekong. These populations are vulnerable to sex trafficking and therefore HIV/AIDS.

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Christine Devlin, a rising third-yearelectrical engineering major, is traveling to Limpopo, South Africa, to research and educate rural communities about water conservation and recycling.

Maureen Mulcare, a rising third-year biomedical engineering student, is traveling to Limpopo, South Africa, to research secondary education and water reclamation as a way to improve the health of the local community.

Eliah Shamir, a rising third-yearbiomedical engineering student, is traveling to Thailand to help women and girls in the hill tribes of the Upper Mekong. These populations are vulnerable to sex trafficking and therefore HIV/AIDS.

Daniel Walters, a rising fourth-yearbiomedical engineering major, will travel to Limpopo, South Africa, to research, test and implement an economically and culturally appropriate system to pasteurize sufficient drinking water.

Harrison Wheaton, a rising third-yearsystems engineering major, will accompany Mr. Walters to Limpopo, South Africa, to work jointly on the drinking water project.