Scholars present during the first annual symposium of global health scientists

November 23, 2022

The first annual Symposium for Global Health Scientists took place on November 11, sponsored by the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases (IGHID) and the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The symposium featured more than 30 investigators from UNC and international locations around the world, including doctoral students, doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.

Dr. Myron Cohen

Dr. Myron Cohen

Myron S. said: Cohen, MD, Director of IGHID in his opening remarks: “Welcome to this important inaugural event and an opportunity to see what some of our interns are doing.” “This is an event that I think will blossom and grow into a giant event, which it usually does at UNC — just like an oak, and then there’s a giant tree.”

“The Institute was created by UNC Chancellor Emeritus James Moser, to create a comprehensive campus organization that includes all health sciences schools and campuses, bringing together people with an interest in global health. We started as a very small idea and are now the second largest unit on campus in terms of revenue Research. We’re a partner to everyone, but our primary partnership is with public health and medicine.”

Dr. Susan Maman

Dr. Susan Maman

Cohen then introduced Susan Maman, PhD, professor in the Department of Health Behavior and associate dean for global health.

At Gillings, the Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases is our most important partner in terms of global work, as there are many opportunities for our trainees in international locations. Just last year, we had 29 PhD students, 17 Masters of Public Health (MPH) students, and 10 undergraduates working in global locations. We are very fortunate to be able to feature some of their work today.”

The webinar began with seven-minute presentations from:

  • Kate Hendren, Ph.D. candidate

    Kate Hendren, Ph.D. candidate

    Al-Shanfi, describe it as the eastPh.D., MA, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Ecology of Infectious Diseases, who worked at the DRC site, gave a presentation on the detection of malaria using a novel rapid heat amplification lateral flow assay and the development of novel diagnostics for non-falciparum malaria.

  • Kate Hendrena PhD candidate who was working with the Uganda site, reported on the distance and travel time to HIV virus suppression-related clinics at a peripheral health center in rural western Uganda.
  • Griffin BellMS, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the Gillings School who was working in Malawi, discussed the epidemiological, geospatial, and developmental evidence for interventions against HIV transmission during acute and early HIV infection in Lilongwe.
  • Bridget SpilekM.D., a global women’s health fellow who worked in Zambia, gave a presentation on personalized therapy versus antidepressant medication for postpartum depression and anxiety among HIV-positive women in Zambia.
  • Friday Saidi, MBBS, MMed, M-HIRST Fellow working in Malawi provided a group adhering to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis support in pregnancy in Malawi.
  • Griffin Bell, PhD candidate in epidemiology

    Griffin Bell, PhD candidate in epidemiology

    Gifty MarleyPhD, a UNC-China Project Postdoctoral Fellow working in China, presented on a postpaid study to advance hepatitis B and C testing uptake.

  • Rebecca RubinsteinMPH, a dual doctoral student (MD/PhD) working in Nicaragua, presented her work on oligosaccharides in human milk and cumulative intestinal infections in Nicaraguan children.
    Recording of keynote presentations can be accessed online.

Featured Poster Show:

  • Mitch Kemper, MPH candidate for global health

    Mitch Kemper, MPH candidate for global health

    Mitch KemperRN, MPH Candidate Global Health – “Challenges of Oncology Care in Lilongwe, Malawi: Recommendations from Qualitative Interviews with Clinicians”

  • Seth MorrisonMD, Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow/MPH Candidate –
    Tissue group antigens and linear growth in the Nicaraguan birth cohort.
  • Sophia BartelsMaster of Health Behavior in Public Health PhD Candidate –
    Developing impactful global partnership-based training programs
  • Sydney Puerto MeredithUNU Project – Research Intern in Malawi –
    A systematic review of the prevalence and risk factors of transfusion-borne infection among blood donors and blood safety interventions in the Southern African Development Community region.

Attendees then chose one of four breakout rooms to hold flash talks.

Sylvia Baker-Drebs, MD, MPH, and Mike Cohen, MD, moderated the global health group's outbreak.

Sylvia Baker-Drebs, MD, MPH, and Mike Cohen, MD, moderated the global health group’s outbreak.

Hack #1, “Global Health Group”, can be accessed online. Other recorded sub sessions will be added here.

The Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases would like to thank everyone who made the first annual Symposium for Global Health Scientists such a tremendous success.


The Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases was established in 2007 to advance innovation in global research and education, in line with UNU’s mission to become a leading global university. Since then, building research capacity has become an integral part of the work we do, and interlocking academic and practice partnerships such as Project Malawi, Project China, Project Nicaragua, and much more, have grown through a university framework for collaboration and access to research funding. Today IGHID is the search engine driving UNC’s global health work, nurturing emerging researchers and collaborators working together on four continents in a mutual exchange of education and practice.

About Gillings School

The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health improves public health, enhances individual well-being, and eliminates health disparities in North Carolina and around the world, and works in basic science laboratories; clinical and public health settings; communities, including work sites; and community organizations and other NGOs. Faculty, staff, and students focus on bridging the gap between academic research and practical public health that can make the world healthier. The school’s curriculum balances classroom education with real-world experience, preparing students to tackle the toughest public health challenges facing NC and the world. The school is home to approximately 2,260 dedicated students and is ranked as the best public school for public health (2nd overall) by US News and World Report (ranked in 2022 for the 2023 edition).

The recording of the webinar can be accessed online.

Contact the communications team of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at

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