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Logo-UNC-Global-Scholars-SymposiumThe Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases and the Gillings School of Global Public Health will collaborate to showcase scholars at the 1st Annual Global Health Scholars Symposium on Friday, Nov 11 from 8:30-11 am. This hybrid event will begin in Bioinformatics Room 1131 (Zoom links are noted in the schedule below). 

The Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID) and the Gillings School of Global Public Health (GSGPH) will hold the first annual research symposium featuring global health research from MD/PhD students, doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. The symposium brings together over 30 investigators from UNC and global sites around the world who will share innovative scholar research and foster discussions on how global health research impacts practice.

UNC Global Health Scholars Symposium

8:30-8:40am EST Welcome and Presentations (click link to join) (1131 Bioinformatics)

Myron S. Cohen, MD, Director, UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases
Suzanne Maman, PhD, Associate Dean for Global Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

8:40-9:45am EST – Presentations

These will be 7-minute presentations followed by 3-minute Q&A.

Friday Saidi, MBBS, MMed
  • Ashenafi Assefa Bahita, PhD MSc, IDEEL Postdoctoral Fellow (In-person)
    “Detection of P. malariae using a new rapid isothermal amplification lateral flow assay/ Development of novel diagnostics for African non-falciparum malaria”
  • Cate Hendron, MD Candidate (In-person)
    “Distance and travel time to clinic are associated with HIV viral suppression at a peripheral health center in rural western Uganda”
  • Griffin Bell, MS, Epidemiology PhD Candidate (In-person)
    “Epidemiological, Geospatial, and Phylogenetic Evidence to Inform Interventions Against HIV Transmission during Acute and Early HIV Infection in Lilongwe, Malawi”
  • Bridget Spelke, MD, Global Women’s Health Fellow (Remote)
    “Interpersonal therapy vs. antidepressant medication for treatment of postpartum depression and anxiety among women with HIV in Zambia: a randomized feasibility trial”
  • Friday Saidi, MBBS MMed, M-HIRST Fellow (Remote)
    Rebecca Rubinstein, MD

    “Combination adherence support for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) during pregnancy in Malawi: a pilot randomized trial”

  • Gifty Marley, PhD, UNC Project-China Postdoctoral Fellow (Remote)
    “Pay-it-forward to enhance hepatitis B and C test uptake: a community-led randomized controlled trial in China”
  • Rebecca Rubinstein, MPH, MD/PhD Candidate (Remote)
    “Human milk oligosaccharides and cumulative enteric infection risk in Nicaraguan children”

9:50-10am EST – Poster Display in Lobby

  • Mitch Kimber, RN, Global Health MPH Candidate
    “Oncology Care Challenges in Lilongwe, Malawi: Recommendations from Qualitative Interviews with Clinicians”
  • Seth Morrison, MD, Pediatric GI Fellow/ MPH Candidate
    “Histo-Blood Group Antigens and Linear Growth in a Nicaraguan Birth Cohort”
  • Sophia Bartels, Health Behavior MSPH-to-PhD Candidate
    “Developing Partnership-Based Global Training Programs with Impact”
  • Sydney Puerto-Meredith, UNC Project-Malawi Research Intern
    “A Systematic Review of Prevalence and Risk Factors of Transfusion Transmissible Infections among Blood Donors and Blood Safety Interventions in the SADC region”

10-11am EST – Lightning Talks – Choose 1 of 4 breakout rooms to attend:

1.) Global Health Collection (2127 Bioinformatics) Sylvia Becker-Dreps and Mike Cohen moderating / Zoom: Global Health Collection (click link to join)

  • Farhang Aghakhanian, PhD, IDEEL Postdoctoral Fellow
    “Global genetic diversity of Treponema pallidum subs. pallidum using high-throughput genomic analysis”

    Jenny Coelho
  • Jenny Coelho, Pathobiology and Translational Sciences PhD Candidate
    “Better Prognosis in ART-naïve HIV-associated DLBCL: An Update from The Kamuzu Central Hospital Lymphoma Study”
  • John Chapola, MS, Health Policy & Management PhD Candidate
    “HIV-infected women’s knowledge about dolutegravir and their perceptions about dolutegravir counselling: a qualitative study”
  • Rachel Sendor, MPH, Epidemiology PhD Candidate
    “Incidence of non-falciparum malaria infection among children and adults in Kinshasa Province, Democratic Republic of Congo”
  • Sophie Roush, MD/PhD Candidate
    “Increased Tumor T-Cell Receptor Repertoire Clonality Associates with HIV/ART Status and Improved Outcome in a Cohort of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma Patients”

 2.) Virtual: Infectious Diseases (2120 Bioinformatics) – Jonathan Parr and Irving Hoffman moderating / Zoom: Infectious Diseases (clink to join)

  • Camille Morgan, MD/PhD Candidate
    “Spatial and molecular epidemiology of hepatitis B transmission in the Democratic Republic of Congo”
  • Erin Xu, MD Candidate
    “Evolution of spatial and demographic risk of malaria infection following a three-month chemoprevention program in response to severe flooding in rural western Uganda”
  • Maggie Nyirenda-Nyang’wa, PhD MMed MSc FRCPCH, Fogarty Global Health Fellow
    mitch m headshot
    Mitch Matoga, MD, MS

    “Acceptability and testing experience of Reverse transcriptase (RT) SARS COV-2 LAMP Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (SARS-LAMP) assay at a tertiary referral Covid-19 testing centre, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi”

  • Mitch Matoga, MD, MS, UNC Project-Malawi Director of STI Research and Clinical Services”Gentamicin susceptibility in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and treatment outcomes for urogenital gonorrhea after twenty-five years of sustained gentamicin use in Malawi”
  • Ruthly François, MS, Epidemiology PhD Candidate
    “Low prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum infection with pfhrp2/3 deletion in a longitudinal study in Kinshasa Province, Democratic Republic of Congo”

 3.) Virtual: Health Behavior and HIV (2106 Bioinformatics) – Vivian Go and Suzanne Maman moderating / Zoom: Health Behavior and HIV (clink link to join)

  • Ha V. Tran, MD MSc, UNC Project-Vietnam In-Country Director
    Ha V. Tran, MD, MSc

    “Adaptation of Friendship Bench, a problem-solving program, to treat common mental disorders among people living with HIV/AIDS and on methadone maintenance treatment in Vietnam”

  • Jane Chen, PhD MSPH, Postdoctoral Fellow
    “Efficacy of two evidence-based interventions on alcohol consumption reduction across positive, negative, and neutral days among hazardous alcohol users living with HIV in Vietnam”
  • Twaambo Hamoonga, PhD, Fogarty Fellow
    “Salient beliefs and intention to use pre-exposure prophylaxis among HIV-negative pregnant and breastfeeding women in Zambia: Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior”
  • Minh Nguyen, Fogarty Fellow
    “Alcohol use as a mediator of the effect of two alcohol reduction interventions on mental health symptoms of ART clients in Vietnam”
  • Rayner Tan, PhD, UNC Project-China Postdoctoral Fellow
    “The International Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Survey (I-SHARE-1): A Multi-Country Analysis of Adults from 30 Countries Prior to and During the Initial COVID-19 Wave”

4.) Virtual: Reproductive Health (2150 Bioinformatics) – Ben Chi and Michael Herce moderating / Zoom: Reproductive Health (click link to join)

  • Eva Gathura, MD, MPH, Global Women’s Health Fellow
    “Improving women’s knowledge of the optimal time to initiate antenatal care in Lusaka, Zambia: A cluster randomized control trial of an educational intervention to address socio-cultural barriers to care among women with and without HIV”

    Eva Gathura, MD, MPH
  • Katelyn Rittenhouse, MD, OBGYN Resident
    “Maternal HIV, antiretroviral timing, and spontaneous preterm birth in an urban Zambian cohort: the role of local and systemic inflammation”
  • Lauren Graybill, MSc, Epidemiology PhD Candidate
    “Assessing the impact of youth-friendly health services on incident pregnancy among adolescent girls and young women in Lilongwe, Malawi”
  • Mwansa Ketty Lubeya, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
    “Predictors of parental consent to vaccinate daughters against the Human papillomavirus vaccine: Application of the health belief model”
  • Ryan Max, MSPH, Epidemiology PhD Candidate
    “Neurodevelopment in preschool children exposed and unexposed to Zika virus in utero”



The Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases was established in 2007 to foster innovation in global research and education, aligned with UNC’s mission to become a leading global university. Since then, research capacity building has become intrinsic to the work we do, growing intertwined practice-academic partnerships like Project Malawi, Project China, Project Nicaragua and much more, through a pan-university framework for collaboration and access to research funding. Today, IGHID is the research engine that drives UNC’s global health work, nurturing emerging investigators and collaborators who work together on four continents, in a reciprocal exchange of education and practice. 


The Gillings School of Global Public Health works to improve public health, promote individual well-being and eliminate health inequities in North Carolina and around the world, working in basic science laboratories; clinical and public health settings; communities, including worksites; and community-based and other non-governmental organizations. Faculty, staff and students are focused on bridging the gap between academic research and practical public health that can make a healthier world. The School’s curriculum balances classroom education with real-world experience, preparing students to tackle the toughest public health challenges facing North Carolina and the world. The School is home to approximately 2,260 dedicated students and ranked the top public school of public health (#2 overall) by U.S. News and World Report (ranked in 2022 for the 2023 edition).