Global health program looks to expand

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Photo by Andrew Giambrone.

As thenumber of students applying for fellowships through the Global Health Initiative has risen substantially in recent years, program administrators are seekingadditional funding to meet the demand.

Kaveh Khoshnood, director of the Global Health Initiative, said he expects to receive over 100 applications for the program this year, which has traditionally awarded about 20 fellowships annually. The program offered $70,000 to 17 students for research projects or internships last summer, but Khoshnood said he would like to provide a total of at least $100,000in the coming years. Though the initial funding commitmentfrom the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, which helped launch the program in 2009, will end after this summer, program directors said positive reactions from participants make them optimistic that the University will continue providing funds.

The program connects both undergraduate and graduate students with global health organizations and gives them the experience of addressing issues of global health first hand, said Elizabeth Bradley, the master of Branford College and the otherdirector of the initiative.

“Having a field experience is critical to gaining skills and building capacity as a global health researcher or practitioner,” Bradley said. “Therefore, these GHI summer internships have been central to the education in global health on campus.”

While most of the money for the GHI comes from the Jackson Institute, Khoshnood said outside donors have greatly contributed to the program. He added that the program directors have held many fundraisers to inform potential donors about the initiative’s activities and goals.

In response to increasing student interest in thefellowships, the program held theinaugural Global Health Initiative Showcase at its 55 Whitney Ave.office Tuesday afternoon, where about 40 prospective applicants talked with past participants about their experiences.

“[The Showcase] is not meant to be a formal presentation,” Khoshnood said. “The format is more about networking and allowing students interested in the 2012 program to interact with each other.”

Three students who participated in the initiative last summer said their experiences taught them about how to put their research ideas into practice and make contacts for future work, though they all mentioned difficulties in completing their research.

Helen Jack ’12, who spent last summer researching mental health treatment in Ghana, said GHI advisors helped her to refine her interview questions and project goals, and GHI paid for the transcription of the 30 interviews she conducted with healthcare professionals.

“I feel that the Global Health Initiative has supported my work from when I was drafting my research project all the way up to planning my senior thesis,” Jack said. “While [GHI] was less helpful on the logistical side of things in terms of my day-to-day living situation, they definitely helped me conduct my research and advised me on best practices.”

Alex Bowles GRD ’12, who also worked on mental health in Ghana, said he will use his research from this summer to compose his master’s thesis, adding that he intends to work in global health as a career. He said that the Initiative provides participants with the sense that there is a broader context for what they are working on and introduces them to others in the field who share similar goals.

In the three years of the program, Bradley said the awards have been divided about equally between undergraduate and graduate students.

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