Two hundred forty MHIRT/MIRT students received training under the HU program. Selective comments from former MHIRT students indicate the influence MHIRT had on their careers in the academic, clinical and research trajectory of their careers. Some of the MHIRT students returned to serve needy populations in Haiti after the earthquake, risk populations in HIV-infected, TB and malaria-infected populations in Mali and Ghana and in health disparity situations post-Katrina in the United States. Foreign MHIRT scientists will continue to collaborate with US mentors and pursue higher degrees via the Fulbright program or sabbatical opportunities.
“Being so intimately exposed to the challenges of healthcare in these underserved areas enabled a deepening of both empathic and cross- cultural skills essential to a well trained physician. This experience is still unmatched in terms of the degree which medical students are able to be apprentices to the art and science of medicine. What I learned personally and professionally continues to empower me. This initial exposure continues to foster in me a life long commitment to volunteer work and service to needy populations. Since my graduation from Howard medical school I have given back to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Haiti (after the earthquake), post Katrina, and most recently Newtown Connecticut. I could never have nurtured the confidence, breadth of experience, cultural competence, and medical skills without this seminal program. The MHIRT program has enabled such far-reaching consequences including my recent graduation from seminary school.”
- Rev. Laura Asher, M.D.
“Our work in Mali was a tremendous impetus for my future academic, clinical and research trajectory. Subsequent to my time in Mali, I went on to complete an MD/PhD program at Yale University in 2005 with a PhD in Immunology. I then completed residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. During residency, I returned to Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically to South Africa, to volunteer clinically in the delivery of care to adults and kids in a rural HIV/tuberculosis clinic in KwaZulu Natal. Spurred by my Mali and South Africa experiences and my experiences treating highly
vulnerable patient populations with HIV here in the U.S. (predominantly minority populations heavily affected by substance use and incarceration), I decided to pursue fellowship training in Infectious Diseases and gain additional public health training at the Hopkins School of Public Health. Building upon the initial MHIRT foundation, together with subsequent training, I am currently actively engaged in research directed at reducing disparities in health outcomes for vulnerable HIV-infected and at risk populations. I specifically am now engaged in research in a cohort of predominantly African American HIV-infected and at risk current and former injection drug users of low socioeconomic status in Baltimore, seeking to address persistent disparities in life expectancy and other adverse clinical outcomes for the African American, HIV-infected and IDU populations.”
-Damani Piggott, M.D., PhD.
“When I look back on the research I performed while in Bamako, Mali and the important lessons I learned through my involvement with the MHIRT Program, I’m struck by the degree to which that experience propelled me to the next stage of my career. Although I’d taken advantage of many other summer research opportunities, my MHIRT summer helped me to define my core investigative interests and proved to be a critical component of my successful application to MD PhD programs some seven years ago. In fact, I completed my American Medical College Application from the computers at my University of Bamako laboratory. It was there, reflecting on the life-defining research that my team conducted, that I decided to include a vivid story about delivering antimalarials to a young girl in the village where we worked at the outset of my personal statement.” (She completed the doctoral degree from Cornell this year.)
Nicole Ramsey, M.D., PhD-
“I am a PhD candidate at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine in the department of Microbiology. During my tenor as a graduate student, I have published in prestigious scientific journals such as Cancer Research, PNAS, and I have just submitted a manuscript to EMBO. I will be defending my thesis in March of this year, and I can say without hesitation that the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) fellowship is the reason that I chose a career as a research scientist”. “The research opportunity in Ethiopia gave me confidence in my ability to affect the lives of others through science. Not only did we make a great contribution to our scientific field, we provided evidence to shape local governmental policy. This was exactly the experience and insight that I needed to propel me into a career as a researcher. The following year, I pursued graduate level training at NYU School of Medicine in microbiology”. (He received the doctorate from Cornell this year and assumes the position of Director of Diversity and MD/PhD program at Weill-Cornell Medical School).
-William Lambert, Ph.D.
“Through MHIRT, not only was I introduced to top level parasitology research; my experience allowed me to critically evaluate and divulge complex issues surrounding bioethics, drug development, and quality management within underserved populations in Africa. Frankly, my time in Missira was my first practical introduction to the dramatic differences between conducting research in the United States versus in an underserved population in Africa. Coincidentally, this experience helped to spark an interest in drug safety and regulatory issues that are addressed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH). I found it intriguing to learn that issues such as: access to electricity, ethnic customs, linguistics, inclement weather, and road accessibility, are integral aspects of research design and safety that should be considered when designing clinical studies at foreign sites in Africa. ---. Upon earning my PhD, I was hired by a privately owned Clinical Research Organization (CRO) in Bethesda, MD. In my current role I assist with advising and managing the quality, regulatory, and safety infrastructure of our contracted clinical research sites in Africa, Europe, and the United States.”
-Eric Afoakwah, Ph.D.