On Friday, May 25th, Dr. Peter Ginter, Interim Dean of the UAB School of Public Health, announced the appointment of Dr. Janet Turan as Interim Director of the Sparkman Center for Global Health, effective June 1st. 

**The Sparkman Center for Global Health staff would like to express its appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Craig Wilson, Sparkman Center Director from 2007 to 2018, for his leadership and dedication to the field of global health. We wish Dr. Wilson all the best in his retirement.**

Dr. Janet M. Turan is a Professor in the Department of Health Care Organization and Policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health and Co-Director of the Behavioral and Community Sciences Core of the UAB Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). Dr. Turan is a social and behavioral scientist with main research interests in the areas of maternal and child health (MCH) and HIV prevention in low-resource settings of both developing and developed countries. She completed her doctoral training in Population Dynamics at Johns Hopkins University, her postdoctoral training at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, and was on the faculty at UCSF for 4 years before moving to UAB. Her current research includes qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies designed to address HIV-related stigma; as well as intersectional stigma related to poverty, gender, race/ethnicity, and reproductive choices; in settings as diverse as rural Kenya and the Deep South in the United States. She is the principal investigator on several NIH-funded studies that examine effects, mechanisms of action, and intervention strategies for HIV-related stigma, as they relate to utilization of MCH services, prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, HIV medication adherence, and engagement in HIV care. In addition, her current research program includes the study of stigma as it relates to a variety of other reproductive health conditions/services, including unintended pregnancy, obstetric fistula, and gender-based violence. Dr. Turan is a Sparkman Scholar and has mentored several students through the Sparkman Fellows program. For more information on Dr. Janet Turan, please view her UAB faculty profile here.

Turan J. Eritrea

Dr. Janet Turan (center) in Eritrea

Dr. Janet Turan 2Dr. Janet Turan (bottom, center) with the Motivate! study team and community mentor mothers in Kenya 

The Caroline P. Ireland Research Scholarship is intended to provide up to $1000 in travel support for graduate students whose research requires them to travel to locations outside of Alabama to gain access to artifacts, study sites, research technology, or instrumentation not available at UAB. It is not intended for travel to research meetings to present research results. Travel can take place anytime between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019.

The deadline for the return of applications is Friday, March 30, 2018 at 5 pm in room G03 of the Lister Hill Library. Announcement of the awardees will take place by April 13, 2018. 

Nomination form for Caroline P. Ireland Research Travel ScholarshipNomination form for Caroline P. Ireland Research Travel Scholarship

Each year the Sparkman Center for Global Health awards mutiple $1,000 Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarships to assist students in completing an international research or internship opportunity. UAB Global Health Studies (GHS) student, Renata Hocking, was awarded the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship to assist with her research interests regarding the prevalence of active Schistosoma haematobium infection at the time of delivery in Cameroon. The Sparkman Center for Global Health would like to highlight Ms. Hocking's achievement and her career path in relation psychosocial reseach and improving child supervision. For more information on the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship, click here. To read Ms. Hockings's account of her career path, please view the piece below:

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The purpose of the study Dr. Odom and I designed for my internship, was to assess for the prevalence of active Schistosoma haematobium infection at the time of delivery at the CBCHS facility in Mutengene, Cameroon. A brief survey was administered at the time of presentation or during the hospitalization for facility delivery. The survey asked about demographics, socioeconomic indicators, gynecological/obstetric history, and questions related to awareness of schistosomiasis exposure and prior infection. Then, a small sample of urine was collected for analysis and egg count. RDT malaria testing was performed on each subject. The infant birthweight and maternal gestational age at the time of delivery was captured.

Due to timing of IRB approval I was unable to gather enough data to have statistical significance. In addition, upon arrival in Mutengene it became clear that S. haematobium has a focal endemicity. I spent some time visiting with local researchers at the University of Buea to gain further insight into the distribution and burden of disease on different areas in the region. One researcher was in the middle of a similar study in an area with endemic S. haematobium infection, Munyenge, Cameroon. During my visit to Munyenge I was able to view active infection urine samples and explore the environment and economic setting in which this parasite causes the most problems.

Regardless of the lack of data produced, I gained experience and knowledge in many public health competencies, specifically as they are used in the Global health setting. When I first arrived in Muntengene while waiting for IRB approval, I was busy getting to know the administrative and financial processes of the BHM the hospital in which I would be doing the study. In addition, I spent many days in the maternity ward getting to know the nurses and the birthing process. I got to know the normal procedure for health record keeping, medication administration, and laboratory testing. To perform screening for malaria I spent many days in the laboratory administering RDT malaria tests, in addition to obtaining serum samples for microscopy. I learned to read thick smear slides and count the number of blood cells infected with malaria parasite. The laboratory staff allowed me to use one of their microscopes to perform egg counts from filtered urine samples. The urine sample testing I performed was different than the standard at the laboratory, so I trained a staff member in the lab to perform the test using the equipment I brought, and she shared her standard testing knowledge with me.

Low resource health care and research presents unique challenges. For example, while in the lab I ran into issues that seem obvious now but because of a lack of experience in the setting I did not initially anticipate. There are items in every laboratory in the United States that are disposable and plentiful. Items such as alcohol, bleach, wipes, slides, clean water, etc. I did not anticipate these items being more difficult to obtain. A small bump in the road that allowed me to get to know another aspect of the hospital, it was a good lesson to learn for future studies. While in Kenya I participated in a research project as a volunteer However it was a very well-funded project in an established laboratory. To have the experience of being responsible for my own materials helped me realize the importance of every little detail.

While in Cameroon I also spent time performing HIV testing, community outreach and education. I learned about the experiences of many people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. In attending a conference on implementing viral load testing into local outreach programs I had the opportunity to listen to multiple people tell their stories of how they felt when they found out they were HIV positive. I also learned of their current struggles obtaining medication, making it to health care appointments, and dealing with local discrimination.

The global health internship experience allowed me to write a protocol, submit the protocol for IRB approval, design a survey, implement the protocol, and get to know the policies and health care environment in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. It also allowed me to gain an understanding of government and NGO involvement in preventing parasitic infections, as well as the way in which people in the region feel about different infectious diseases and how those diseases effect their daily lives.

Author: Renata Hocking

2017 DEC Sparkman Spotlight Renata Hocking 4Microscope in Munyenge - because there is no electricity, sunlight is used to view slides - Photo provided by Renata Hocking

 

 

 2017 DEC Sparkman Spolight Renata Hocking 2HIV community outreach, testing and education day - Photo provided by Renata Hocking

2017 DEC Sparkman Spolight Renata Hocking 3Researchers at the University of Buea, showing Renata Hocking how to use urine filtration system, and showing slides containing S. haematobium eggs - Photo provided by Renata Hocking

 

IMG 0924Photo provided by Renata Hocking

FullSizeRenderPhoto provided by Renata Hocking

FullSizeRender 1Photo provided by Renata Hocking

 

IMG 1110Photo provided by Renata Hocking

Each year the Sparkman Center for Global Health awards mutiple $1,000 Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarships to assist students in completing an international research or internship opportunity. In the spring of 2016, UAB Sparkman Center Fellow, Marissa Swanson, was awarded the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship to assist with her research interests regarding improving child supervision to reduce the risk of childhood injury in rural Uganda. The Sparkman Center for Global Health would like to highlight Ms. Swanson's achievement and her career path in relation psychosocial reseach and improving child supervision. For more information on the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship, click here. To read Ms. Swanson's account of her career path, please view the piece below:

Sparkman Spotlight Swanson M. Resized Article ImagePhoto provided by: Marissa Swanson (pictured third from left)

"I received the Moses Sinkala Travel Grant at a particularly crucial stage of my career, ensuring that this award will continue to benefit my research and career long after this project is completed. At the time of the award, I was a first year graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham dually-enrolled in the Medical/Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program and the Master's of Science in Public Health in Outcomes Research program. The outcome data collected from the Super Siblings program will serve as the topic of my master's thesis in psychology, and the outcome data collected from the Careful Cubs program will serve as the topic of my master's thesis in public health. This initial grant allowed me to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting psychosocial research with a remote and underserved population in rural Uganda, and the need for interventions to improve child supervision in this community. Future data analyses will determine whether the Careful Cubs and Super Siblings programs may be effective and low-cost means of improving child supervision and safety to reduce the risk of childhood injury. As I apply for dissertation funding to extend this work to a controlled trial in additional communities, this project will serve as evidence to funding agencies that I have developed the required competencies to work in cross-cultural and remote settings to develop, implement, and evaluate cost-effective community-based psychosocial interventions.

Successfully conducting multiple community-based interventions during my graduate career will prepare me to work in the international humanitarian sector after earning my doctorate degree. In this capacity, it is my intention to continue advocating for the health and well-being of children in underserved populations using evidence-based methods drawn from both psychology and public health. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity that this award has provided to develop the competencies I will be utilizing for the rest of my career. Additionally, I appreciate the training opportunity this award helped to foster for the numerous Ugandan staff who worked on the project. This was the first applied research experience for all of our Ugandan research assistants and served as an excellent internship opportunity in a setting where students often struggle to obtain research experience, particularly in psychology. In many cases, the research assistants were introduced to psychological science for the first time, and enjoyed learning about experimental design, data collection, and research ethics. Training opportunities such as these are integral to supporting the development of local researchers who will go on to benefit their communities further with their own careers. A photo of the research team for this project is included above."

 -Author: Marissa Swanson

Sparkman Fellow 2016-2017