A little background

10 10 2010

By Paul Sonenthal

My interest in global health goes back to 2003, when I spent a summer in India, tagging along with a team of researchers developing HIV prevention strategies for truckers and sex workers. Now, after seven years–including an extra one spent completing my premed requirements and two in medical school–I still have the global health bug.

Thinking about the kind of career I’d like to have down the road, I see myself working with underserved populations, splitting my time between patient care and clinical research. This is where my fellowship comes in: the goal of the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship is to provide doctors-in-training with the resources and mentorship to learn how to conduct their own clinical research projects.

My main project is a continuation of research I have done in the past on HIV/AIDS. Basically, when patients first walk through door at the start of HIV treatment, they will complete a questionnaire about how they cope with their illness and symptoms. The questionnaires will be administered in outpatient clinics throughout Gaborone and neighboring villages. We will also send blood samples to the National Health Laboratory in Gaborone to monitor immune status and HIV levels. Then we will follow the patients for the first 6 months of their treatment, monitoring whether they take their medications as well as their overall health status.


The laboratory in Botswana where our samples will be processed.


My guess is that based on answers to the questionnaires, we can predict if the patient is at increased risk of missing medication doses and subsequent virologic failure (i.e. getting sicker). If this turns out to be the case, we will develop programs to help identify and more aggressively manage these patients’ symptoms.

In fact, I just submitted my research proposal to the Botswana IRB this past Friday. Although I still have to wait for their approval before we can start administering the questionnaires, I’m already very eager to see what the data will show!




One response

20 04 2011
How to Recruit a Patient « Global Health Dispatch

[…] may be, I am reminded of its implications every day. We just enrolled the 50th patient in the Coping, Symptoms & Adherence Project and to mark the occasion of being 33% done, I want to take a moment to consider what it has taken […]

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