Research Project

Infectious disease and Burkina Faso

Ida Sahlu was an NICHD fellow in 2014-2015 during her fourth year as a Public Health PhD student. During her doctoral studies, she researched infectious diseases, maternal and child health, population migration, and the impact of treatment interventions on health outcomes in low-resource settings. She graduated in 2017 and is now an epidemiologist for the MITRE Corporation​. Here she describes her fellowship year.

The support from the fellowship allowed me to develop my dissertation research plan and complete my PSTC requirements. The support allowed me to disseminate my preliminary findings, attend academic conferences, and build a network with researchers outside of Brown.

The PSTC fellowship provided me with extra time that would otherwise be dedicated to assistantships. Over the past year, I was able to develop and present my dissertation proposal, take a course outside of my department to complete my final PSTC course requirement, and present at two annual meetings: The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the Society for Epidemiologic research.

I also applied for (and was later awarded) the Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. It will support me to work on my dissertation project for the next two years.

During this year, I was able to meet with one of my mentors at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and travel with her to meet her collaborators in Burkina Faso. I will be using the data from her project for my dissertation, and this trip allowed me to gain a better understanding of the research and meet with the international collaborators.

Population health research is time consuming and challenging, and the strength of a research team is important. My research mentors come from various departments and universities, which has provided me with a unique research training experience. The PSTC fellowship allowed me the flexibility and space to understand and contextualize my dissertation data, which was a valuable experience.