We are approaching the end of summer break! The end of my first year of medical school was bittersweet because of the pandemic, but the entire year was absolutely amazing! I did not get to celebrate properly with my classmates, but I am very lucky and excited that a lot of my friends stayed at UCSD to do research this summer. My original summer research plans were to travel to Geneva, Switzerland to work at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a partner of the World Health Organization. Even though I was not able to go to Geneva because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, I have been able to work on my research at UCSD remotely and get involved in a lot of COVID-19 related infectious disease projects here!
I have the wonderful opportunity to work with my global health mentors, Dr. Timothy Rodwell and Dr. Marva Seifert, this summer to study TB/HIV co-infection in Myanmar. My research this summer is based on a huge patient database from Myanmar that was compiled by the Myanmar National TB Program (NTP) and FIND. Since 2015, Myanmar has scaled up their tuberculosis (TB) testing program using a network of GeneXpert MTB/RIF assays that quickly and accurately test patients for TB. These machines are great in a global health context because they give results in a very short amount of time, are portable, and only require little training to use properly. One of the top 30 high TB/HIV burden countries in the world as classified but he WHO, Myanmar is working hard to find, treat, and prevent TB infection in their country and I feel very lucky for the opportunity to help the Myanmar NTP evaluate their existing GeneXpert MTB/RIF program and better understand the dynamics of TB/HIV co-infection in their country. With the help of Dr. Seifert, I submitted some of my initial findings to the IDWeek 2020 conference and my abstract was accepted last week. I also applied for some awards from the conference and they are releasing those results next week, so fingers crossed!
In addition to my research, I am so excited that all my friends have stayed in San Diego to conduct research over the summer too! I just bought a new surfboard from Costco and am extremely excited to go out to Scripps beach and surf with my friends. We have also been going on a lot of hikes.