After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center for Global Health Equity’s Research Symposium Scholar Poster Presentations returned in-person Friday afternoon at the Corner Building. Over 20 CGHE University Scholar Award recipients from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Nursing, School of Medicine, School of Law and School of Data Science presented research during the symposium.
All members of the University community were able to view the research posters and ask questions directly to the student researchers.
The CGHE University Scholar Award is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all schools, as well as physicians who are in residency or fellowships as part of their graduate medical education. The award provides funding to students to conduct global health equity research projects either domestically or abroad. This year's projects covered a range of disciplines, from an examination of inequities in transportation access to maternal healthcare services to an implementation of cervical cancer screening in Nicaragua through a mobile application.
The CGHE University Scholars Award gives students at all levels of training the opportunity to conduct global health equity research abroad, if they so choose. In 2022, many CGHE University Scholars Award recipients completed their research projects abroad — in countries such as Rwanda, Nicaruaga and South Africa.
During the event, Medicine students Magdalene Kwarteng and Dontranika Horton presented a research poster on post-surgical complications at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali in Kigali, Rwanda. Horton worked at CHUK during the summer while Kwarteng participated in the project remotely from the U.S.
Horton and Kwarteng conducted their research at CHUK because it is the largest tertiary — or specialized referral facility — hospital in Rwanda.
“The teaching hospital that we worked at is the biggest surgical hospital in the country so the majority of patients getting surgery in Rwanda are going to [CHUK],” Kwarteng said.
Rebecca Dillingham, director of the CGHE and professor of medicine, said the program places a strong emphasis on collaboration.
“We like teams, across schools or across levels of training,” Dillingham said. “We feel that it’s really important to have that interdisciplinarity.”
Dillingham was not the only individual who commented on the interdisciplinary nature of the CGHE University Scholar Award. Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Mull said the award helps contribute to the University’s strategic goals.
“This is really one of the most interdisciplinary things that can happen at the University,” Mull said. “Obviously, you need medical professionals like the doctors who work on these projects, you need engineers, you need psychologists, you need social workers, you need people who can speak languages to communicate … it's a multi-skill, multidisciplinary undertaking, and that's what universities are supposed to be all about — bringing it all together.”
The CGHE University Scholar Award contributes to the Citizen-Leaders for the 21st Century aspect of University President Jim Ryan’s 2030 Strategic Plan, Mull said. This initiative aims to provide students with at least one global experience, such as study abroad or global research, before they graduate, as well as prepare them for a life of public service.
April Ballard, associate director of program development at the CGHE, said students should search broadly when looking for a project, rather than confining themselves to just one school or department.
“Explore the University,” Ballard said. “The University of Virginia has remarkable faculty who are doing remarkable work. There's a global health element to work all over the University.”
Ballard was also present at the event to promote future opportunities through the CGHE, including the 2023 Center for Global Health Equity University Scholar Award.
To apply for the 2023 Center for Global Health Equity University Scholar Award, students need to identify a global health equity research project and then submit an application through the CGHE. Students can apply for funding for projects with established partnerships such as CHUK in Rwanda, or reach out to faculty at the University to find a project.
The application for the 2023 Center for Global Health Equity University Scholar Award will open in December.