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July 8, 2011

JHSPH Students Named Fulbright Scholars

Two Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health graduates will travel abroad to study and conduct research as 2011 recipients of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Awards. The prestigious scholarship program promotes cross-cultural interaction through education. This year’s scholars will be stationed in Botswana and Egypt.

Ryan Davis

Ryan Davis, MD, MPH

Observing the life-changing impact of HIV on patients as an undergraduate volunteer and medical student led Bloomberg school graduate, Ryan Davis, MD, MPH, to find his purpose. “Listening to the stories of patients with HIV seemed to help them remember who they were and fit their painful circumstances into a greater narrative about their lives beyond the CD4 counts, the labels of ‘high-risk’ groups, the lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma and the wasting,” said Davis. He was awarded the Fulbright-Fogarty Graduate Fellowship, offered in partnership with the National Institutes of Health to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings. Davis will travel to Gaborone, Botswana, to support an ongoing study exploring viral mutations and immune dynamics in the acute stage ofHIV-1 subtype C infection at the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership. He believes this fellowship will give him the opportunity to move beyond bearing witness to the devastation of the disease, to “contribute to the knowledge informing HIV treatment and prevention.”

Sara Hassani

Sara Hassani, MHS

For Sara Hassani, MHS, the story of a family friend was the catalyst that would send the Bloomberg School graduate to Cairo, Egypt, as a Fulbright recipient.   Hassani cites the friend’s struggle as a hepatitis C (HCV) patient with influencing her research and driving her to better understand the magnitude of the HCV epidemic in Egypt. “The massive number of patients and the obstacles to treatment categorizes Egypt as a worst-case scenario, deserving of international attention,” she said. In Cairo, Hassani will evaluate the rate of HCV transmission from HCV-positive mothers to their children by simulating the dynamics of transmission. She will also work closely with Ain Shams University to compile a database designed to analyze the mother-to-child transmission risk. “The epidemic presents millions of cases of an infection for which there is no vaccine, no easy treatment, and where medication is so prohibitively expensive it is beyond the reach of most of the Egyptian population,” she says. Hassani hopes her work to help control the epidemic will lead to the development of effective methods to prevent mother-to-infant transmission such as, pharmacologic agents suitable for pregnant women.

Established in 1946, Congress created the Fulbright Program to “foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges.” Since its inception, more than 196,000 students have benefited from the program that provides funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. The deadline for 2011 applications is September 21. For more information about the program, please visit www.jhsph.edu/SFR/fulbright.html or contact Catherine Klein, Fulbright Program Advisor, at cklein@jhsph.edu.

Public Affairs media contact: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.