Feb 27 2014

CLAS Summer Research Awards Support Global Field Experience with the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center

Published by chelsea at 8:29 pm under Spring 2014 Newsletter

Last summer, CLAS awarded two Simon Collier Summer Research Awards to allow second-year School of Medicine students Leah Vance and Mana Espahbodi to participate in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center’s global field experience in Argentina.

Since 2009, the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center has partnered with Fundación INFANT, an Argentinean nonprofit organization established by Vanderbilt’s Dr. Fernando Polack, to offer students the opportunity to conduct biomedical research and pediatric rotations at hospitals and medical centers in Buenos Aires. Fundación INFANT focuses on translating laboratory findings into preventive and therapeutic medical interventions that promote pediatric health. With this in mind, its main areas of interest include dengue, asthma, breastfeeding, and basic and translational research, as well as epidemiological studies in pediatric respiratory pathogens.

While in Argentina, Vance and Espahbodi, along with other student participants, worked primarily on dengue viruses and the treatment of dengue hemorrhagic fever, a disease that is now re-emerging in the country. Espahbodi conducted basic science research, consisting of various experiments on the dengue virus, while Vance focused on epidemiology, specifically on understanding the presence of dengue, creating guidelines for care, and educating the population in order to control possible outbreaks.

The Vaccine Center’s unique collaborative field research program focuses on training future leaders and scholars in medicine to address challenges in the field of medicine. Students in the four-week program have the opportunity to work with a team of local and U.S.-trained researchers and physicians. As part of the team, students investigate both the basic science and also the clinical effects of viruses that cause respiratory infections in infants, children, and adolescents.

Working and researching in Argentina provides Vanderbilt students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture, take advantage of Spanish lessons, and enjoy excursions around the country. The program also offers students intensive, on-site orientation and coordination, in addition to multicultural outings. In the past, students have taken excursions to Iguazu Falls and have participated in tango lessons to expand their cultural and terpsichorean horizons.

Research and clinical opportunities with Fundación INFANT are available year-round to School of Medicine students and residents. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information about applying to the program, visit vvcenter.org/international-research/infant or contact Sarah Ladd at sarah.ladd@vanderbilt.edu. For more information about CLAS summer award opportunities, visit vanderbilt.edu/clas/funding-opportunities/ student-summer-awards/

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