Students receive Beasley Travel Award to pursue public health in developing countries

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R. Palmer Beasley, MD

HOUSTON – Five students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health have received the R. Palmer Beasley, MD and Lu-Yu Hwang, MD Travel Award in International Research. This year’s recipients are Aleisha Elliott, Jamie Gutierrez, Elena Herrera, Sunny Ibeneme and Marie Kasbaum.

The award supports UTHealth School of Public Health students working on important public health issues in a developing country in Asia, Africa or Latin America, or students or junior faculty from a developing country working with faculty in one of the school’s six campuses across Texas. Each student receives a $2,000 stipend.

Since 2014, 16 students have received the award, established as a permanent endowment in memory of Beasley, a former UTHealth School of Public Health dean renowned for his groundbreaking research on the epidemiology and prevention of hepatitis. The competitive award is an opportunity for highly motivated individuals to experience mentored research and practicum training at funded research centers or institutions in developing countries. Up to five students per year from the School of Public Health have received the award.

2018 Beasley Award - Five Students Square
2018 Beasley Travel Award recipients

Awards have funded research in Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Chile, Hong Kong, Switzerland (Geneva), Colombia, Ecuador and Congo. Recipients present their international research travel experience at the school’s Global Health Seminar course (PH 5612).

The award funds the following projects for 2018:

Elliott (pictured bottom right in photo) will conduct research for her doctoral dissertation on how water insecurity affects mental health in rural communities in Kenya, and gender differences in water inequity. She is pursuing a doctorate in epidemiology at the Houston campus.

Gutierrez (bottom left) traveled to El Bosque University in Columbia to gain broader knowledge about how the country’s laboratories are contributing to the understanding of antibiotic resistance. She is currently earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in epidemiology at the Houston campus.

Herrera (top right) conducted research with the CATCH Global Foundation in Cuenca, Ecuador to understand the most prevalent health issues among school-aged children there, and developed prototypes for a health competency test to assess student knowledge in those key areas. She is pursuing an MPH in health promotion and behavioral sciences with a concentration in global health at the Austin campus.

Ibeneme (center) is in the Congo for a summer internship at the World Health Organization, African Region. While there, he will collect data for his dissertation on the impact of technology on improving HIV and tuberculosis health outcomes among African health systems. He is earning his doctorate in management, policy and community health at the Houston campus.

Kasbaum (top left) worked on her research practicum at the International Center for Microbial Genomics in Bogota, Columbia, comparing the non-prescription sale of antibiotics to foreign travelers and Colombian citizens. This project was created because adherence to antibiotic regulations in Bogotá pharmacies is lacking, leading to antibiotic overconsumption and misuse, and potentially allowing the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Kasbaum is pursuing her MPH in epidemiology at the Houston campus.

— Written by Anissa Anderson Orr