Assumpta Nantume earned her Master of Science in Global Health from Duke in 2019. She is currently a research and evaluation lead at Neopenda, a company developing medical technology for emerging markets. She also holds a degree in Pharmacy from Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda.
My road to Duke
While working as a pharmacist in Uganda, I was always interested in getting involved in health research, particularly in clinical research. I felt that this would allow me to have a greater impact on healthcare. I started looking for opportunities to pursue this interest and eventually applied for a global health fellowship with Global Health Corps, based in Washington DC. After being accepted, I spent 13 months working with the Global Health Council, which further strengthened my interest in global health.
Upon completing the fellowship, I knew that I wanted to pursue a master's degree in global health. One of my advisors during the fellowship recommended Duke University's program as being particularly good, so I applied there among several other schools. During the interview process, I had the opportunity to attend some events at Duke's office in DC, where I met some alumni, including some Diaspora Africans who shared their experiences. After the interview process was complete, I was certain that I wanted to attend Duke University.
I never would have anticipated that I would graduate from Duke with proficiency in two new languages. After completing most of my course requirements in the first year, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do two immersive language courses during my second year: French and Swahili.
My French language skills ended up being particularly useful when I applied for a job that required a language assessment shortly before graduation. Additionally, I now regularly use the Swahili language skills that I acquired during my time at Duke in my current work in the East Africa region.
The Right Path
For my master’s research, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Steve Taylor. He was teaching a class in Infectious Disease and Epidemiology and ran a malaria research lab that did a lot of work in Kenya. I spent a summer in Homa Bay, Kenya, assisting with a clinical trial that compared the effectiveness of three drugs in preventing malaria.
After graduation, I landed a job as a Research Coordinator at Neopenda, a medical device startup, where I conducted clinical trials. The experience I gained from working in Dr. Taylor's lab was invaluable, and a year ago, I reached out to him for advice in identifying partners for a large impact study. Dr. Taylor connected me with his team, and I ended up working with them on the project.
My decision to attend Duke was the best career decision I have made so far, as it has opened numerous doors and provided me with a valuable network to lean on.
Where It's Taken Me
I currently serve as the research and evaluation lead for Neopenda, splitting my time between East Africa and Washington DC. The study design skills I learned in my Research Methods class at Duke have proven to be incredibly helpful and practical in my current work. Additionally, the collaborative nature of the program taught me how to leverage everyone's expertise and build cohesive teams.
My goal for the next five years is to be in a position where I can play a defining role in Neopenda's product pipeline by identifying new areas with a need for medical devices.
Something I've learned
I believe that global health is an interconnected field where skills developed in one area can be applied in other areas as well. Therefore, don't limit yourself to just one thing and be open to trying new things.
Explore DGHI's Master of Science in Global Health
Find your pathway into global health through our interdisciplinary master's program.Read More