Blog Global Health Center

Trainee finds community, mentorship, and success in the Global Health Center Mentoring Program

Written by Christine O’Brien, PhD, instructor in the Washington University Department of Radiology


After joining the WashU Department of Radiology as a postdoc in the spring of 2018, I quickly found ways to engage with the global health community. My first introduction to the Global Health Center was through attendance at one of their Global Health Work in Progress meetings in which researchers share their ideas for projects or progress on an ongoing project and receive feedback from experts with diverse backgrounds on how to troubleshoot and strengthen their work.

This is where I met Jacaranda van Rheenen, PhD, center manager, who helped plug me into additional opportunities and connected me with researchers who had shared interests and expertise. Perhaps most importantly, she invited me to present an idea I wanted to pursue for an NIH K99 career development award proposal, the development of low-cost wearable postpartum hemorrhage sensors. My idea was nascent at the time, with many details not yet solidified. Although terrified, I presented my idea and received incredible feedback ranging from physiology questions to practical perspectives about maternal care in low resource settings. These discussions undoubtedly helped me secure the award a year later.

In parallel, I have been participating in the Global Health Mentoring Program for the past two years, in which the small groups discussed topics such as networking, job applications, how to be a good collaborator, time management, working across diverse cultures, and work-life balance. The opportunities provided by the center, this program and many others at WashU, have helped me secure a WashU faculty position in Biomedical Engineering- my dream job.

I encourage any trainees interested in global health to engage with the Global Health Center and take advantage of the multitude of resources, mentors, and expertise that they offer. In pursuit of academic success, you will also find community, support, mentorship, collaboration, and friends.