UC San Diego’s Global Health Institute Awards Faculty and Students for Global Health Research


The multi-disciplinary University of California, San Diego’s Global Health Institute (GHI), headed by Steffanie Strathdee, PhD., Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences at UCSD’s School of Medicine, and Institute Co-Directors Dr. Thomas Csordas, Director of the Global Health Program, and Dr. Joshua Graff Zivin, Associate Dean of the School of Global Policy and Strategy, has awarded over $200K for 20 grant funds to 5 faculty and 3 international PIs, 4 undergraduates, 3 graduates, and 10 pre- and postdocs across various campus departments, and involving over 10 different countries.

These grants will enable UC San Diego to strengthen the international component of many of our research and training programs. It is among our highest priorities to continue to mentor, support, and enhance these international institutional relationships.

“We have become more globalized as a society,” Strathdee added. “We are in a unique position that requires we train the next generation of researchers, policy makers and health-care providers able to respond to complex health problems in developing countries.”

UC San Diego developed the first global health degree major and minor program for B.A. undergraduates and PhD graduate students in the UC system, and a dedicated School of Medicine Global Health track, these among the first in the country. UC San Diego also offers a joint doctoral program with San Diego State University in public health with a concentration in global health.

Global health activities funded for the grant cycle include international field experience for students, internships, global health conferences, and seed funding for research projects and flagship sites in developing country settings for medical students and faculty.

Global Health Grant Awards
Field Experience:
Evaline Cheng
Medical student
Haley Ciborowsky
Joint Doctoral/PhD student
Bianca Devoto
Sakiba Khan
Residency, Internal Medicine
Seungwan Kim
Graduate student, School of Global Policy & Strategy
Lauren Nippoldt
Graduate student, Psychological & Medical Anthropology
Alexandra Roberts
Kazi Silmi
Joint Doctoral/ PhD student

Graduate Student Researchers:
Clifford Kapono
PhD Candidate, Chemistry/Biochemistry
Nina Gao
2nd year PhD student, Biomedcial Sciences

Garrison Cottrell
Professor, Intern TBD
Computer Science & Engineering
Kirk Hutchison & Haley Chong
Undergraduates, Dr. Michael Strain
School of Medicine
Trisha Morshed
Physician, Dr. Radhika Sundararajan
Emergency Medicine
Andrea Mendoza
PhD student, Dr. Jose Ricardo Suarez
Family Medicine & Public Health
Research & Travel:
Rebecca Fielding-Miller
PhD, Global Public Health
Danielle Horyniak
PhD, Postdoc Fellow, Global Public Health
Argentina Servin
MD, Global Public Health

Flagship Sites:
UCSD PI: Thomas Patterson
Professor, Psychiatry
International PI: Gudelia Rangel
Executive Secretary
US-Mexico Border Health Commission
UCSD PI: Jose Ricardo Suarez
Asst. Professor, Family Medicine & Public Health
International PI: José Suárez-Torres
Executive Director
Fundación Cimas del Ecuador
UCSD PI: Robert Schooley
Professor, Medicine
International PI: Emilia Noorahomed
Professor, Parasitology
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane

The funding for the GHI grants were made possible as the result of an investment from Chancellor Khosla, complemented by funds from VC Brenner, which elevated the UCSD GHI from an Initiative to an Institute in November 2015.
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Hayley Chong, senior, Bioengineering, and Kirk Hutchison, junior, Biology. Both are heading up the Open Viral Load project under Dr. Matthew Strain, Department of Medicine. They are working to develop the diagnostic systems that will be able to detect, track, and diagnose HIV viral load at a fraction of the cost of commercial systems.

Dr. Garrison Cottrell, Professor in CSE, Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Science; Director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, an NSF-sponsored Science of Learning Center, and founding PI of the Perceptual Expertise Network. The goal of his intern's project is to automate the counting of cells and parasites using computer vision techniques. If an effective method for developing high-throughput cell and parasite countscan be developed, the resulting system will speed the development of drugs for Chagas disease by orders of magnitude. Chagas is a neglected tropical parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma Cruzi, and is estimated that over 8 million people are infected throughout Central and South America.

Andrea Mendoza-Vasconez is a PhD student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health. Her research interests include the promotion of health behaviors among under-served populations, the translation of clinical research to community settings, and the use of technology to adequately communicate health messages and promote preventive behaviors. During the summer of 2016, through the GHI Intern Program grant, Andrea had the opportunity to return to her country of origin, Ecuador, to conduct research alongside Dr. Jose Ricardo Suarez. Andrea organized and led the training of community health workers, who played a vital role in the recruitment, consent, and data collection processes for the ESPINA study (Secondary Exposure to Pesticides among Infants, Children, and Adolescents).

Trisha Morshed, MD is a second year emergency medicine resident at UCSD under the mentorship of Dr. Radhika Sundrarajan. Her global health project, Characterizing the knowledge, attitudes and current practices of Mozambican Traditional Healers for patients in an HIV-endemic region, aims to gather formative data to identify gaps in HIV knowledge and characterize treatment practices among Traditional Healers in Maputo, Mozambique. This research is central to efforts to end the HIV epidemic in Mozambique, where HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of mortality. The focus of this study is on gathering qualitative data to characterize traditional healers knowledge and attitudes about HIV infection and testing services, identify gaps in healer knowledge regarding HIV, and to characterize the treatment and counseling performed by Mozambican traditional healers for patients in an area with high HIV prevalence. Results from this study will inform interventions aimed at expanding access and reducing delays to HIV testing.


Evaline Cheng is a first-year medical student at the UCSD's School of Medicine. This past summer, she worked at the Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de los Alimentos (INTA) in Santiago, Chile. She studied the risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in a cohort of healthy Chilean young adults. In the past few decades, Chile has undergone rapid demographic and nutritional changes, which has led to increases in obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. This represents a public health and clinical problem with a significant loss of healthy life years and concurrent economic burden. The goal of her research is to understand more about the biological, socioeconomic, and lifestyle factors that affect these non-communicable diseases during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. She worked under the guidance of Dr. Sheila Gahagan, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Child Development and Community Health at UCSD, and Dr. Raquel Burrows, Professor of Endocrinology, at INTA, and the Global Health Academic Concentration at the School of Medicine.

Haley Ciborowski, a PhD student, completed her first year of the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Public Health. Haley comes from more than a decade of experience working with indigenous and underserved populations in Central America and East Africa, among others. Her research interests include social determinants of health, access to primary care, and infectious disease testing and treatment access for rural indigenous populations, marginalized populations, people living in border and migration areas, and areas of conflict. Thanks to the Global Health Institute Student Field Experience award, Haley spent the summer in Guatemala collecting preliminary data to inform possible dissertation questions, and worked with a local research institute on migration and health. Research activities included a household and individual survey of health outcomes, migration, and social norms of more than 200 indigenous Mayans living in the western rural highlands.

Bianca Devoto is a third year undergraduate student, double majoring in Public Health and Global Health. During July 2016, she will be travelling to Ecuador to fulfill her Global Health Program Field Experience. Bianca will be participating in the Child Family Health International program, Community Medicine: From Rainforest to Coast. In this program, she will be performing medical outreach in both urban and indigenous communities in Ecuador, and plans to research the effects of chronic, infectious, and vector-borne diseases in these differing community settings. She will also research health care disparities between communities and how access to medical care impacts community health outcomes.

Sakiba Khan, is completing her medical degree here at UCSD's School of Medicine. She served as co-president of the Global Health interest group at UCSD School of Medicine for two years. While in medical school, Sakiba also spent 6-weeks in Guatemala conducting ascariasis research for her medical ISP. Most recently, with the GHI Student Field Experience travel grant, Sakiba was able to spend six weeks in Spain in an intensive Spanish-immersion program. She hopes that her knowledge in this language will help her better connect with a predominately Hispanic patient population at UCLA-Olive View, where Sakiba will continue her residency training in internal medicine.

Seungwan Kim is a graduate student at the School of Global Policy & Strategy at UCSD. Focusing on international development, he is particularly interested in public health in developing countries. During the summer, he participated as an intern in Project Malawi from June to September--a research project focused on public health in Malawi. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with a poor condition of medical and healthcare systems, and the number of professional physicians and nurses is lacking compared to other African countries. Furthermore, the “brain-drain” problem among medical professionals has worsened. However, not much research has been conducted on this particular problem. As a result from Seungwan's travel with the GHI Student Field Experience funds, he developed an increased understanding of the public health situation in Malawi and the underlying causes of "brain-drain" issues among medical professionals.

Lauren Nippoldt is a graduate student of Psychological and Medical Anthropology at UCSD. Her research interests include Northern India, global health, psychological experience, care, morality, and gender. Her summer field research was conducted in Jaipur and Delhi, India where she was interested in the psychological experiences of women in relation to health behaviors and conceptions of well-being. More specifically, she sought to understand how psychological, emotional, and moral experiences influence health and perceptions of wellness. Lauren focused on the presence of care-giving in the lives of women and how this influences their conceptions of well-being and self-care. The GHI Student Field Experience award allowed her to conduct qualitative ethnographic interviews for her master’s thesis and serve as an exploratory study for developing her dissertation topic.

Alexandra (Zani) Roberts is a UCSD Global Health Program undergraduate who returned to school at age 28 after a gap decade where she spent time traveling around the world and discovering the importance of global public health. She traveled to Córdoba, Argentina this past summer to work in Primary Care and Social Medicine with Children Family Health International (CFHI) as field experience to use for her senior capstone thesis.

Kazi Priyanka Silmi is a PhD Student at UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Global Health. Her research interest lies in sexual and reproductive health, use of technology for health interventions, gender-based violence, and health communication. She is currently working as a Research Assistant in a study on enhanced linkage to HIV care following home-based testing in rural Uganda (PI: Dr. Susan Kiene). With support of the GHI Student Field Experience Travel grant, Priyanka conducted preliminary research to inform her dissertation research on sexual violence, mental health and access to reproductive healthcare of young, unmarried women in Bangladesh. She is specifically interested in the female university student and female garment worker population, and utilized this travel to identify potential community partners and subject recruitment methods. She hopes that through her dissertation, she will be able to shed light in the gap in the existing academic literature that has focused solely on married women's experience of gender-based violence and reproductive healthcare access in Bangladesh.


Rebecca Fielding-Miller, PhD, is a public heath social scientist who specializes in the social and structural determinants of gender based violence and HIV care and prevention. Her research draws on mixed qualitative, quantitative, and geospatial methods, as well as multidisciplinary behavioral theories, to spotlight the priorities and experiences of marginalized groups in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Fielding-Miller conducted qualitative research in South Africa and Swaziland to explore the links between food security, stigma, and HIV vulnerability. She also investigated mixed methods research to better understand how Swazi women understand sexual-economic exchange within their relationships, and demonstrated that a woman’s agency within her relationship, rather than simply how much financial support she receives from a partner, is a key element in determining the likelihood that a woman will experience intimate partner violence. In the United States, Dr. Fielding-Miller’s work has explored race as a social determinant of health, particularly as it relates to racially biased policing in urban areas. She is a founding member of the Swaziland AIDS Research Network, a group dedicated to promoting and facilitating research efforts in Swaziland, and will be guest editing a special edition of the African Journal of AIDS Research focused on Swazi HIV research.

Danielle Horyniak, PhD, is an epidemiologist with expertise in the fields of substance use, sexual health, and migrant and refugee health. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with joint appointments at the Division of Global Public Health, University of California San Diego, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute (Melbourne, Australia), and School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). Dr. Horyniak’s current research focuses on the complex relationships between forced migration and substance use, with a particular focus on the US-Mexico border region. Dr. Horyniak’s Global Health Institute Research Grant will allow her to examine health needs, barriers, and facilitators of health service utilization among deported U.S. military veterans in Tijuana, Mexico, a population who are socially and economically marginalized and particularly vulnerable to experiencing poor health.

Argentina Servin, MD, MPH, is a bilingual and bicultural clinician-researcher trained in preventive medicine, infectious disease and clinical epidemiology. Her work has included assessing sexual and reproductive health education, including HIV/STI prevention and health service utilization among vulnerable underserved populations living in the U.S.-Mexico and Mexico-Guatemala border region. Dr. Servin has extensive experience working with, engaging, and serving vulnerable underserved communities and health care contexts--including victims of human trafficking. Additionally, Dr. Servin holds a shared appointment at Centro de Estudios Universitarios Xochicalco in the School of Medicine in Tijuana, Mexico where she conducts similar research that she combines with her clinical work in urban community health centers across this region.


Ecuador -- The program will consolidate international collaborations between UCSD and Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador (CIMAS), an academic, research and health promotion institution based in Quito, Ecuador. Through an inter-cultural and multi-disciplinary context the goals are to: 1) provide study abroad opportunities for students at UCSD focused on the social and cultural determinants of health; 2) strengthen the Local and Community Information System (SILC), an award-winning geocoded epidemiologic and anthropologic platform developed by CIMAS with close collaboration of the communities of Pedro Moncayo County, Ecuador; and 3) expand the existing research platform created by UCSD and CIMAS, by anchoring on two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded investigations, as part of the ESPINA study regarding the associations between pesticide exposures and the mental and physical development of children and adolescents living in agricultural communities in Pedro Moncayo County, Ecuador. The program is led by Jose Ricardo Suarez, MPH, MD, PhD, Assistant professor in the Division of Global Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health.

Mexico -- As one of the busiest border crossings in the world, Tijuana is home to large populations of those most vulnerable to HIV/STI and other infectious diseases, substance use, and poor mental health outcomes. In this Flagship Project, Dr. Tom Patterson, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD with over 25 year of experience in HIV prevention science, and Dr. Gudelia Rangel, Deputy General Director for Migrants Health from the Ministry of Health and the Executive Secretary of US-México Border Health Commission, Mexico Section, will lead a multidisciplinary team with Dr. Brooke West, of UCSD's Global Public Health Division, that embodies the expertise and commitment to research with marginalized communities needed to establish Tijuana as a world-renowned site dedicated to border health issues. Tijuana is unique as it bridges the local and the global, providing a natural laboratory for research and training on health issues that impact both sides of the US-México border. By combining their strengths in infectious diseases and mental health research, this project will foster high-impact binational collaborations that will shape programs and policies and transform health at the US-México border.

Mozambique -- Over the past ten years, UCSD has developed an innovative partnership with Mozambique’s public Universities. Beginning with a modest research infectious disease focused collaboration between UCSD and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) in 2006, ties between UCSD and institutions within Mozambique have grown dramatically in scope and interdisciplinary breadth, including multiple areas of medicine and surgery. Beginning in 2014, leadership within UEM and the Government of Mozambique has broadened the collaborations beyond medicine to include engineering, pharmacy, oceanography/climate change and global public strategy. There is tremendous support within Mozambique to take these collaborations to the same level of intensity as that which has developed in the areas of Medicine, Public Health and Biomedical Sciences. This program sets a new bar for longitudinal multidisciplinary US collaborations with universities in lower and middle-income countries and has helped launch a new era in medical education in Mozambique and more broadly in sub-Saharan. The program is led by Robert T. Schooley, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD, and Emilia Noormahomed, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Parasitology at UEM and Vice Chancellor of Unilurio.


Clifford Kapono, a PhD candidate in Chemistry, was born on the eastern shores of Hawai‘i, and has dedicated most of his life towards investigating the unique relationships between human and environmental health. Scheduled to obtain his PhD from the UCSD Department of Chemistry in summer 2017, his academic career is uniquely complemented with his commitment to the sea. As a recipient of the 2016-2017 GHI Graduate Student Research grant, Cliff will be looking at the unique microbiomes of avid ocean goers from around the world. Because ocean recreationalists are exposed to heightened levels of environmental stressors, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria, Cliff’s research will look to identify how extended periods of time at the beach may be influencing human health. He is currently conducting his research abroad at the University of Exeter School of Medicine in Dr. William Gaze's lab. It is the base for the European Centre for Environment and Human Health.

Nina Gao, 2nd year PhD candidate, is researching Group A Streptococcus, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes, best known for causing strep throat. However, around the world, the same bacterium can cause a spectrum of diseases such as scarlet fever and strep throat, to life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis (“flesh eating disease”) and rheumatic heart disease. The global health burden of these infectious diseases weighs heaviest on developing nations without access to adequate health care, resulting in the development of serious post-infection autoimmune sequelae. She will be traveling to Brisbane, Queensland to research S. pyogenes in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Walker, director of the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre.