Written by Karthik Rohatgi, Summer Research Program alumnus
In summer 2015, through the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Indi Trehan on the final stages of the ARTMAM study.
The goal of the study was to determine the effects of simultaneous treatment with nutritional rehabilitation and antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected, severely malnourished Malawian children. Dr. Trehan and his team had already completed the clinical part of the trial, so my job was coordinating the laboratory analysis of various specimens, performing statistical analysis on the resulting data, and drafting a manuscript. The project ran into some difficulties, as is often the case in global health research. However, I was able to present a poster showing a few results at WUSTL’s 2017 Global Health and Infectious Disease Conference.
While the project gave me firsthand experience with the challenges of global health research, I also learned the power of multidisciplinary collaboration—we were working with physicians, nutrition scientists, a hospital lab, and a mass spectrometry specialist, among many others. I realized how a career in medicine and public health would put me in a strong position to work with these and other types of professionals. More specifically, the project complemented my prior experiences in nutrition, which had mostly focused on overnutrition and obesity.
This past summer, I completed several nutrition-related community projects in Reno, Nevada, as part of Gephardt Institute’s Civic Scholars Program. My main project involved working with a WIC clinic to increase farmers’ market voucher redemption, through creating bilingual videos, reminders for clients, and several other tools. For some time, I also taught their farmers’ market class. Towards the end of the summer, I worked with a larger system of community health centers to try to scale up this model for increased voucher redemption. At a disability resource center, I taught cooking classes, and helped design a weight loss challenge for clients. Finally, I also formed connections between local farmers and a food bank to help get more fresh produce to veterans.
My goal for senior year of college is to better understand how I can use my strengths to remain civically engaged throughout my career. I will also be working on a thesis project related to Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s disease. My eventual plan is to obtain both an MD and MPH, so I can work on reducing health disparities on both the individual and population levels.