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Public Health Students Coordinate Successful Global Research Training Program

MPH students at Jefferson often have amazing opportunities to participate in learning activities that go beyond the walls of the virtual public health classroom. Recently two students embraced leadership roles in coordinating an interdisciplinary research training program between LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), in Hyderabad, India, Wills Eye Hospital, and Jefferson College of Population Health (JCPH). The week long program, “Workshop on Research Methodology and Biostatistics” was initiatied by Dr. Raja Narayanan, (LVPEI) and overseen collaboratively with Dr. Leslie Hyman (Wills Eye Hospital), and Dr. Rosemary Frasso (JCPH).

Jacqui Hamati

Jacquelyn "Jacqui" Hamati (JH) is an MD-MPH student who has finished three years of medical school at Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC), and is part of the JCPH Time Out Program. Jacqui is working on her master of public health degree this year and will return to SKMC soon to finish medical school. 

Devanshi Dash

Devanshi Dash (DD) is in international student from India, who's currently in the acclerated  LEAP MPH program. She also works as a graduate assistant at JCPH. Her background is in Neuroscience and Clinical Informatics.

The students recently discussed their experiences coordinating a specialized educational research training program and they described their involvement and insights on this global partnership. 

How did you get in involved in this training program and why?

JH: This program is part of a larger effort to strengthen the relationship between TJU, Wills Eye and LV{EI. Dr. Frasso invited me to help coordinate this series because she knew about my interest in global ophthalmology.

DD: I am working as a Graduate Assistant for Dr. Frasso. Since I am from India, I was familiar with the work of LVPEI. Therefore, Dr. Frasso offered me to work on the project and I grabbed the opportunity!                                                              

Describe the purpose and the content of this program.

DD: The purpose of the program was to introduce various research tools and techniques of both basic and advanced levels to clinicians, ophthalmologists, optometrists, scientists, and students new to research at LVPEI. The need for it arose as the LVPEI faculty wanted to learn and develop skills on how to evaluate literature while also learning biostatistics as an enhanced tool for research purposes.

JH: Coordinators and clinicians at LVPEI put together a list of topics that they would like to learn more about.  We recruited biostatisticians and epidemiologists from TJU and Wills Eye to talk about these topics.  We organized pre-recorded lectures and readings and provided a shared folder for clinicians and researchers at LVPEI in advance of the live lectures.  During that time, lecturers provided recaps of their topics, answered questions, and created discussions; one of those days we held an evaluation of the literature workshop.  These segments were moderated by physicians at LVPEI, who also provided additional context as needed.

What kinds of things did you learn by your involvement with this program? What was the experience like for you?

JH: Coordinating this event certainly strengthened my communication skills.  I became comfortable communicating messages clearly and effectively to many people at once.  I also learned how much people appreciate flexibility and how much more efficient it can make you.  The content of this program was also invaluable to me as a student of both public health and medicine.  I learned new statistical techniques and their setting in ophthalmology that will certainly strengthen my research in the future.  Lastly, I made many friends which I think may be my favorite part of all of this, especially during the pandemic where everyone is so disconnected.  I was star-struck by some of the amazing clinicians and researchers that I interacted with over the last few months, although everyone was kind and appreciative of my help. 

DD: I had never organized a conference before at this level with so many professionals involved. Hence, it was a great experience! I had the opportunity to work with different faculty members from all the institutions present and it was a very insightful process. I learned how to collaborate and curate an entire research conference series from scratch with the help of Jacqui Hamati. She has been an incredible person to work with and I could not have done this without her! I am also indebted towards Dr. Rosie Frasso and Dr. Leslie Hyman for their continuous support and guidance. They have been very kind to teach us and help us at every step of the way. 

What does the future hold for Jacqui and Devanshi?

Jacqui plans to use her education to improve access to eye care in vulnerable populations, both in the U.S. and abroad. She also plans to use her courses on research methods, epidemiology, and statistics to produce quality research. 

Devanshi plans to pursue a career in the public health field after she graduates in the summer of 2021. She is considering applying to medical school as a long-term aspiration. Devanshi reflects: “Studying in the MPH program along with my prior work experience at Oak Street Health in Detroit has  made me aware of how far we still have to go to reach an equitable healthcare system.”  

A very special thank you to Dr. Raja Narayanan for his foresight in initiating this successful program.