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Hua Guo

As a co-investigator on a 2022 Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health Pilot Grant, Paul Benson, M.D., Associate Professor and Autopsy Section head, visited Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from December 4 to 14. The purpose of the trip was an extension of research Benson is conducting collaboratively with Adrie Steyn, Ph.D., Professor, UAB Department of Microbiology, covered recently by UAB News

The pilot grant is titled, “Establishing an intercontinental alliance between UAB and the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa to accelerate research and training to help end the tuberculosis pandemic.”

Benson delivered several seminars while on the trip, including:  “UAB Regional Autopsy Center and COVID 19 Autopsies” at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban, with multiple Anatomical Pathology residents attending the talk; “Exhumation Autopsies, How, When and Why,” at the South Africa National Health Laboratory Service, Department of Forensic Medicine with an audience of many forensic pathology residents and attendings, and finally, “UAB Tuberculosis Autopsies: opportunities for collaboration,” at the Africa Health Research Institute on the campus of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. 

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“The trip was filled with abundant opportunities for learning, sharing and collaborating with a diverse group of pathologists, clinicians and researchers,” Benson says. Topics of discussion ranged from 3D micro-CT imaging of active and latent tuberculosis granulomas, new diagnostic modalities for tuberculosis immunohistochemistry, and collaborating to establish a remote autopsy program for an underserved population at a remote AHRI clinic in Somkhele, South Africa.

After a week of academic and professional opportunities, Benson and his team enjoyed a visit to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi game reserve and a day-trip to the Drakensburg mountain range. 

Dr. Benson is thankful to the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health for the opportunity to establish this global collaboration and to the Department of Pathology for providing him the support to make it a reality.