Justin Lana was a member of the 2015-2016 Bass Connections team "Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America: Leishmania." We talked with him to learn more about the project and her hopes for its outcomes.
Name: Justin Lana
Hometown: Gering, Nebraska
Program: PhD Environment, DGHI Doctoral Scholar
Graduation Date: 2019
Why did you join this Bass Connections project?
This is my second year with the project, and third summer conducting research in Peru. Last summer I joined the team in Madre de Dios, where I spent a lot of time planning my own research for this year. The work of this year’s team is a natural extension of the research I’m doing for my PhD professor Bill Pan is my advisor and the project leader.
There are some real perks to being a member of a Bass Connections team. Certainly the funding allows us to do important research in a setting where it is needed, but also the way it is set up—with undergrads, masters students, and doctoral students, along with staff and faculty, collaborating together—really works. Plus, there are already established networks here, so I don’t have to do everything on my own.
What has been the best part of Peru/the project?
Peruvian people are absolutely wonderful. As soon as people understand that we have a genuine interest in the health of their communities, they're more than willing to assist us with our work. Our partnerships with the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and the Ministry of Health have been so important to our success. This is something we do not take for granted. We always have a Peruvian partner on our research projects and papers, which not only gives strength to our collaborations, but also embodies what global health is all about. In working with the Ministry of Health, I emphasize with them that my data is their data. After all, we are doing the research in order for all of us to learn how best to address the many health challenges in the region.
What do you hope to accomplish as part of this project?
I would like to develop a stand-alone research project on cutaneous leishmaniasis. This summer, I hope to locate and interview 130 individuals who have presented with leishmaniasis in the past two years and 260 control subjects. Four hundred interviews in 50 days will be tough, but not impossible. Following the case-control study, we will have the appropriate amount of data to determine the next steps in our research plan.
Why did you decide to become a global health doctoral scholar?
The DGHI Doctoral Scholars program allows me to combine my PhD in environment with global health. In addition to paying approximately half my stipend, the DGHI Doctoral Scholars program also makes funds available to support my research. Furthermore, this program allows me to stay connected with DGHI. This is where I got my master’s degree in 2012, and where I connect with other global health doctoral scholars during our monthly meetings. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to network and build friendships with other like-minded students pursuing their PhDs in other schools at Duke.
To learn more about the team's work in Peru, view our multimedia feature and video about the project.