Global Health Conference showcases work of many U-M faculty, students

The recent Consortium of Universities in Global Health (CUGH) meeting drew attendees from every part of the world including Ann Arbor, with the University of Michigan well represented among the nearly 2,000 attendees.

First-time CUGH attendee Angelina Sawaya explains her project, an exploration of cervical cancer screening deficiencies in low- to middle-income countries, during the conference's poster session.

The largest academic global health conference in the world, the annual CUGH Symposium event was held April 7-9 in Washington D.C.  A delegation of more than 15 University of Michigan Medical School faculty and students participated. Among them was M3 Angelina Sawaya, a first-time CUGH attendee.

“The third year of medical school can be very hectic, but I am glad I was able to get away for this conference,” Sawaya said. “Being here really grounds you and is a good reminder about why you’re in medical school and working this hard. It’s inspiring.”

Sawaya presented a poster examining cervical cancer screening deficiencies in low- to middle-income countries, a project under Associate Professor of Pathology Rajan Dewar. Other faculty with work showcased in the CUGH poster session included Assistant Professor of OB-GYN Jason Bell; Professor of Internal Medicine and Global Health and Disparities Director Brent Williams; Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences and OB-GYN Cheryl Moyer; Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases R. Alexander Blackwood; and more.

Two faculty gave oral presentations at CUGH. Research Assistant Professor of OB-GYN Sarah Rominski has project to adapt the University of Michigan’s undergraduate sexual violence prevention training program for use at the University of Cape Coast, in Ghana. She presented as part of a panel focusing on women’s issues in global health. In addition, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Rockefeller Oteng presented about his experience in the Fogarty-sponsored Global Health Fellowship Program.  Dr. Oteng spent nearly a year in Ghana exploring how Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital’s then-new Emergency Department was improving patient outcomes. He even helped the hospital create an Emergency Medicine Research Office and install an electronic database to make monitoring and improving outcomes easier.

“The Electronic Injury and Trauma database is being adopted by the other teaching hospital in Ghana,” said Oteng, a Ghana native and a Fogarty Fellow in 2013-14. “We anticipate within the next two three years that we will have an injury surveillance system functioning across the whole country.”

While the medical school accounted for the lion’s share of the U-M CUGH contingent, other schools were represented as well, indicating a growing interest and involvement campus-wide in global health issues. School of Public Health student Abram Wagner presented a poster, exploring the risk factors among adults in Beijing for contracting measles, a disease China continues to work to eradicate. The project was conducted with SPH Senior Associate Dean Matthew Boulton.

Biomedical Engineering student Jeffrey Thiele presented a poster following a project to assess the health of rural Haitian communities near the Dominican Republic border. He undertook project, a capstone project for his undergraduate program, with help from Professor of OB-GYN Frank Anderson.

“All of my friends are doing engineering capstone projects. For me, global health is a primary interest, so I feel empowered just being around everyone at this conference,” Thiele said. “Being here, surrounded by so many similarly minded people, just reinforces to me that I’m on the right path.”

UMMS student Marina Haque showcases her project exploring connections between healthcare barriers and depression in Islamabad.
UMMS student Lynette Wynn is part of a large project researching and mapping neonatal near-miss events in northern Ghana.
OB-GYN Research Assistant Professor presents on her program to adapt a U-M sexual violence-prevention program for students at Ghana's University of Cape Coast.
Abram Wagner, a student at the U-M School of Public Health, presents the results of a study exploring the prevalence of measles in China.
Assistant Professor of OB-GYN Jason Bell mentored Wayne State University student Diane Wang on a project exploring why women in Ethiopia delay medical care. Wang completed her undergraduate study at the University of Michigan.
Emergency Medicine Assistant Professor Rockefeller Oteng speaks about his experience at a former Fogarty fellow in Ghana.