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Student Fellows Program Spring 2020 Research Projects

Below is a list of the proposed research projects for GHI Spring 2020 Student Fellows. Please note fellows may be chosen for projects not listed below. More information about the program and how to apply is available on the GHI Student Fellows Program page.

Faculty mentor: Work with Dr. Kacie Saulters, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine on a project related to global health and medical education; potential for robust literature reviews for projects at our partner site in Namibia. ​
Who Can Apply: Medical students.
Skills Required: Motivation, general interest in medical education.

Faculty mentor: Work with Dr. Myriam Vuckovic, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of International Health to support work on a book chapter on "Population and Health Policies in Urban Areas", which will be part of a new 'International Handbook of Population Policies' (Editor: John F. May, PhD, co –author Dr. Alayne Adams, McGill University), to be published by Springer in 2021. 
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate students. 
Skills Required: The GHI Fellow would help with the literature review for this project, as well as general editing of the manuscript, fact checking and referencing. The student should have a good basic understanding of global health, demography and/or urban health issues, be comfortable with policy research and have experience doing literature based research. Strong writing skills are also required.
Context: Today, more than 55 percent of the world population live in urban areas and this proportion is expected to increase to almost 70 percent by 2050. This chapter will examine the policy challenges posed by rapid urbanization around the world, with a focus on regions that are urbanizing more rapidly (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa). The chapter will first address the problem of the definitions of urban areas and slum settlements, which vary wildly from country to country. Thereafter, the chapter will turn to the specific population and health policies in urban areas.

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Claire Standley, Center for Global Health Science and Security on one of a number of research projects on disease surveillance, health data and health outcomes.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate, Law, Medical students.
Project Description 1:  Work with Dr. Standley on a research project which will seek to review how health information systems, and specifically those for disease surveillance functions, are developed and implemented in humanitarian and crisis settings, and the extent to which these HHIS are compatible with the collection and analysis of health data by the national government of the country experiencing the crisis, and specifically requirements for national surveillance capacity under international frameworks such as the International Health Regulations (2005).  Data collection will be primarily through literature review and analysis of publicly available policy and program documents, though key informant interviews may also be considered as a methodological tool. The findings of this project are expected to be used for the development of a peer-reviewed manuscript, for which there would be opportunities for the GHI fellow to be a co-author, depending on their level of engagement with the research. Likewise, there may be opportunities to contribute to other projects related to health systems strengthening in areas and populations affected by conflict, which are ongoing at the Center for Global Health Science and Security.
Skills Required: The student should have experience with conducting literature reviews and synthesizing information. A basic familiarity with humanitarian agencies (especially the UN system) and programs is preferred. Knowledge of the International Health Regulations (2005) and global health security capacity building efforts would be an asset. The student is expected to work independently and have excellent written communication skills.
Project Description 2: CGHSS is collaborating with the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides health services and support to newly-arrived or resettled refugees across several states, to assess factors within the health system that may contribute to poorer or better health outcomes in refugees. The project will also examine how the disparities within refugee populations with respect to long-term and continued access to both basic and specialized services. The project may also include looking at the pathway of health information that accompanies refugees as they apply for relocation to the US (from their home country or a third country, where they undergo a medical screening), once they arrive in the US (when they are eligible for short-term health care programs, such as those provided by USCRI), and longer-term (when they must find their own insurance, or apply for Medicaid/Medicare). There is scope for the fellow to explore additional research areas within these themes, based on their own interests, for example related to legal provisions for assistance, or the quality of medical services. The overall objective of the work is to develop preliminary data that can be used to apply for a larger NIH grant to investigate these migrant health issues—and particularly to identify potential implementation approaches to reduce observed disparities or barriers—in more depth. Migrant health, and its intersection with domestic and global policies, is a major current topic of international concern. It is also a highly politicized issue in the United States. This project seeks to separate the polarization of refugees and migration and provide an evidence-based insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by incoming migrants with respect to access to, and uptake of, health services. As such, we hope to provide useful information that will not only form the basis for future research, but which itself could be published, with opportunities for the GHI fellow to be involved in the development and submission of both additional proposals as well as manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication. 
Skills Required: The student should have strong analytical skills, ideally with some grounding in statistics, and be comfortable and willing to work independently. 

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Paul Roepe, Prof Chem (MC) and Bchm (GUMC) on evolving antimalarial drug resistance in SE Asia. 
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate ,Graduate, Law, Medical students.
Skills required: This project can be molded to the specific skills of the fellow. 

Faculty Mentor: Work with Professor Lawrence Gostin, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law on a project to support governments and policymakers in developing legal tools for universal health coverage.
Who Can Apply: Law students.
Skills Required: Strong research and writing skills will be important, as will be an interest in and a commitment to human rights. 
Context: This project would contribute to enabling the billions of people – more than half the global population, according to the World Health Organization – who now lack access to essential health services to benefit from universal health coverage. The project comes at a time of growing global focus on universal health coverage, as highlighted by the September 2019 UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. To advance the goal of universal health coverage, as a follow-up project to the Lancet-O’Neill Institute Lancet Commission on Global Health and the Law, the O’Neill Institute and several partners – UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union -- have launched the Legal Solutions Network for Universal Health Coverage. The Network brings together legal and health experts to support governments and policymakers in developing legal tools for universal health coverage. These tools will identify successful strategies, as well as existing laws and regulations that may create barriers to coverage. The GHI fellow would support the Network by working on background papers on rights-based legal practices that facilitate universal health coverage, as well as legal practices that impede coverage. The GHI fellow will also begin to put together practical toolkits that countries can use in guiding their legal and regulatory efforts to advance universal health coverage. We believe this project will make an important contribution to universal health coverage, in particular to advance legal measures that ensure that as countries expand coverage, they do so in ways consistent with and that further the right to health.

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Emily Mendenhall, Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor, STIA-SFS on a Soweto Syndemics, a ground-up study of how social and health problems cluster together in a large population-based study in urban South Africa.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate students.
Skills Required: Students should have either a strong foundation in quantitative analysis, or qualitative methods.
Context: There are opportunities for students to work on 1) the epidemiological data, or 2) qualitative data. This project will open up opportunities for students interested in developing skills in both quant and qual methods, and digging into a great deal of new data from Soweto.

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Rebecca Katz, Professor, Center for Global Health Science and Security on one of a number of global health security projects.  
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate, Law, Medical students.
Skills Required: Attention to detail, organization, communication (written and oral), familiarity with online databases (e.g., PubMed, Web of Science, etc.)
Project Description 1: Cities sit squarely at the forefront of public health. Urbanization directly contributes to the risk of infectious disease, as well as indirectly through ecological changes), and promotes disease emergence in urban populations by providing conditions ideal for the amplification and transmission of disease. Furthermore, because cities are dominant hubs of global travel and commerce, cities act as the gateways for global disease transmission and can accelerate the speed at which pathogens can spread around the world. Although international public health institutions, governments, and civil society groups are making progress in mitigating the health impact of infectious disease outbreaks, the scale of the associated economic and societal disruptions of outbreaks are increasing. In combination, the dynamic realities of urban environments and the mobility of human populations contribute to the truth that most future outbreaks will have a substantial urban component.  While global governance can provide a legal and operational framework for addressing infectious disease threats, their full enforcement and implementation are dependent on local capacities and the participation of local stakeholders, such as mayors and municipal health departments. While municipal leaders will be responsible for much of the management of an outbreak – such as isolation and quarantine, access to care, the distribution of medical countermeasures, and first responders – relatively little attention has been paid to equipping these leaders with the tools they require to successfully mitigate the consequences of infectious disease threats. The Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security currently supports several lines of work to improve urban capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. These include working with mayors to build public health capacities, editing a forthcoming volume on urban pandemic preparedness, and developing tools and resources to promote urban pandemic preparedness. We are looking for a student fellow (upperclassman or graduate) support these lines of work, as well as others as assigned, for the Spring 2020 semester.
Project Description 2: Effective prevention, detection, response and recovery from infectious disease outbreaks requires informed action from a multitude of actors. Increasingly, outbreaks are occurring in complex environments, increasing the number of stakeholders and types of actions required to work in concern to control the spread of disease. We have created an online platform that clearly identifies all of the activities and actors involved in response. This user-friendly, interactive tool is not only educational, but also provides a shared resource to communicate what needs to get done, when and by whom, and links each activity to easily accessible policy and guidance documents. In addition to examining activities by time, sector and stakeholder, we also code each outbreak activity by a range of different factors that may impact an event, including geographic scale, whether the event is zoonotic, and if there is a security consideration (either deliberate event or insecure environment). Additionally, we are building a library of case studies, so for every activity, the user will be able to click on a short case study that describes how the activity happened in a particular outbreak. The Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security is continuing efforts to build out the Georgetown Outbreak Activity Library (GOAL), including creating a database of cases studies related to outbreaks. We are looking for student fellows (upperclassmen or graduate) to support this line of work, as well as others as assigned, for the Spring 2020 semester. Students will have the opportunity to publish their case studies through the online library. 

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Rosemary Sokas, MD, Professor of Human Science, SNHS to assist National Public Health Institute of Liberia either on one of a number of projects to develop background scientific and regulatory information on heat illness prevention or radiation exposure or on a national hepatitis B immunization effort.
Who Can Apply: Graduate, Medical students.
Skills Required: Quantitative/epidemiological skills, excellent written communication skills. 
Project Description 1: Project working with Mr. Amos Gborie, Director of Environmental and Occupational Health for the National Public Health Institute of Liberia to develop background scientific and regulatory information concerning one or more of the following issues: 1) Heat illness prevention, with a focus on healthcare facilities and Ebola Treatment Units, including issues related to engineering controls and to available personal protective equipment (PPE); 2) Radiation exposure in the cement and mining industries. Student contributions would vary depending on skill sets, and may include the scientific underpinning of regulation, review of available regulations and guidance, or evaluation of available data. Students would be mentored at Georgetown by Dr. Rosemary Sokas, an occupational health physician. 
Project Description 2: Project working with Dr. Benjamin Vonhm, Medical Specialist with the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, who is leading a national hepatitis B immunization effort aimed at immunizing the nation's healthcare workforce. He is interested in collaborating with a quantitatively skilled graduate student to evaluate the program. This project is a new initiative which will form the basis for introducing a policy for compulsory HBV immunization of all potential future workers entering the health workforce in Liberia. The Ebola outbreak of 2014 - 2016 devastated Liberia's health care workforce, partly due to occupational exposure and little knowledge and practice of infection prevention and control techniques. Immunization, as primary prevention has been documented to be a safe and practical approach to preventing Hepatitis B infection and its sequalae. These can include fulminant liver failure, chronic disease, and cancer. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact and during childbirth. The Georgetown mentor for this project will be Dr. Rosemary Sokas, who is a professor of human science and an occupational health physician.

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. David Levy, Professor, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer on modeling the effects of nicotine vaping product (aka e-cigarettes) use on cigarette smoking and vaping deaths. The model would be applied to a middle income nation. The student would collect data and input it into the model and then write up a description of the model and the results.
Who Can Apply: Graduate, Medical students.
Skills Required: Good quantitative and writing skills and strong knowledge of Excel. 

Faculty Mentor: The GHI Fellow will work with Dr. Toby Long, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University and the Training Director of the Center for Child and Human Development, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, to support a broad-based initiative on children with disabilities in the Arab world.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate students.
Skills Required: Strong researching and writing skills in particular scientific writing, knowledge/interest about disability and other marginalized groups. Knowledge or interest in the culture of the Arab world in relation to disability.
Context: Support research, grant writing, manuscript preparation, and continuing brown bag lunch series, Disability in the Arab World. Support to develop a comprehensive research proposal: Needs of Families of Infants and Young Children with Disabilities Living in the Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan. The fellow would work on helping develop the proposal as well as the family interview questionnaire. The fellow will also assist with the development of a manuscript on the situation of infant and toddler refugees with disabilities. 

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Steven Singer, Professor, Biology on lab research on immune responses to Giardia, an intestinal parasite contributing to diarrhea and malnutrition around the world. Several projects are available including genetic manipulation of the parasite, testing novel drugs in mice, and analyzing large data sets based on sequencing of samples from patients.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate students.
Skills Required: Basic knowledge of molecular and cell biology required. Immunology knowledge is helpful, but not actually required.

Faculty Mentor: Work with Dr. Julie Fischer, Director, Elizabeth R. Griffin Program and Associate Research Professor of Microbiology and Immunology to work with the Elizabeth R. Griffin Program to support the development of exercise and training modules to strengthen coordination among the laboratory, public health, and security sectors to enhance capacities to prevent, detect, and respond effectively to emerging disease threats in resource-constrained settings.
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate, Graduate students.
Skills Required: Strong writing skills, experience in database use and management, familiarity with case studies, laboratory experience a plus. 

Faculty Mentor: Work with Professor Shweta Bansal, Associate Professor, Biology, Georgetown College on a project estimating vaccine demand for stockpiling and outbreak response for two high priority pathogens.
Who can Apply: Undergraduate students.
Skills Required: Mathematical modeling of infectious disease dynamics and computer programming.
Context: The exponential increase of Ebola cases in West Africa during 2014 presented an unprecedented health threat, requiring a massive international response with large-scale deployment of human and capital resources. Future efforts would benefit greatly from effective vaccines that could be stockpiled in advance or rapidly manufactured during outbreak response. What is urgently needed to maximize the use of vaccines are quantitative predictions of advanced or real-time vaccine demands to mitigate the severe consequences of the next big pandemic. The GHI fellow would carry out independent, mentored research for this project and contribute ecological and mathematical modeling research to components of this complex quantitative framework.