Faculty Lead Students in Life-changing Research Experiences

Published September 10, 2013 under Education News

NC Bass Connections 2012-2013

The NC Latino mental health project is in partnership with El Centro Hispano. Duke public policy master's student Rachel Pittenger talks with Tana Hoffman, Education Program Director at El Centro Hispano.

This summer, two teams made up of undergraduate students to postdoctoral candidates put their classroom knowledge to work in the field as part of two Bass Connections in Global Health research projects in North Carolina and Peru.

These experiences gave students the opportunity to learn about and conduct problem-based global health research, while working with multidisciplinary teams alongside faculty and community partners to address an issue. 

Students and trainees involved in the Peru - Bass Connections in Global Health project is working with William Pan, Helen Hsu-Kim and Marco Marani to study the impacts of heavy metal exposure on health and emerging infectious diseases in the Peruvian Amazon.  The North Carolina – Bass Connections in Global Health team is working with Sara LeGrand, Kristen Shirey and Kristen Sullivan to develop, implement and evaluate an intervention that addresses interpersonal violence and mental health among Latinos.

The Bass Connections in Global Health program is proving to be a formative experience for students, enabling them to gain hands-on experience working in global health. Hear more from the Peru team in the video to the left.

* Bass Connections in Global Health is currently recruiting students and trainees for four 2013-2014 projects focused in environmental health, refugee health and genetics. See opportunities below and apply today!

Global health is one of five themes for Bass Connections, a university-wide initiative that models problem-focused educational pathways and interdisciplinary teamwork. The initiative’s global health theme involves students from more than half of Duke’s schools and is under the leadership of Randy Kramer, Professor of Environmental Economics and Global Health at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Deputy Director of the Duke Global Health Institute.


  • Strengthening Community Environmental Health through Duke-HBCU Partnerships
    Topic: Environmental Health
    Location: Durham & Dallas
    Deborah Gallagher, Nicholas School of the Environment
    Rebecca Vidra, Nicholas School of the Environment
    Karrie Stewart, Duke Global Health Institute

    The project team will study environmental injustice and community health issues in a disadvantaged urban neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, in partnership with students at Paul Quinn College. The Duke team will collaborate with partners to examine links between ecological restoration, redevelopment and community health and to define options for addressing health disparities and sustainably revitalizing the neighborhood.

  • Displacement, Resettlement and Global Mental Health
    Topic: Refugee health
    Location: Middle East
    Suzanne Shanahan, Sociology and Kenan Institute for Ethics
    Eve Puffer, Psychology & Neuroscience and Duke Global Health Institute
    Abdul Sattar Jawad, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

    The team of researchers will study how the resettlement process affects the mental health and well-being of refugees both pre-and post-resettlement. The focus will be on three refugee populations: the Bhutanese, Iraqis and Syrians. The project builds on existing refugee health fieldwork locally and abroad at Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics.

  • Non-Invasive Prenatal Genetic Testing in the Developing World: Ethical, Legal, Social, and Practical Challenges
    Topic: Genetics
    Location: USA
    Subhashini Chandrasekharan, Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy
    Robert Cook-Deegan, Sanford School and Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, DGHI
    Amy Murtha, School of Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology

    An interdisciplinary team of students, postdocs and faculty researchers from genetics, bioethics, public policy and maternal fetal medicine will study the ethical, legal, social and practical challenges of non-invasive prenatal genetic testing in developing countries. They will develop case studies to identify the main issues that nongovernmental and international organizations should consider as they market and implement new prenatal technologies.

  • Environmental Epidemiology in Latin America
    Topic: Environmental Health
    Location: Lima, Peru
    William Pan, Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke Global Health Institute
    Helen Hsu-Kim, Pratt School of Engineering
    Marco Marani, Pratt School of Engineering
    Jennifer Swenson, Nicholas School of the Environment

    Two connected teams of students and faculty will focus on a training program that centers on three main challenges facing the Madre de Dios region in the southern Peruvian Amazon: environmental, political and health effects of population migration; environmental impacts of gold mining; and a dual disease burden due to mobility and urbanization. This Bass Connections project is being continued from the first year.

Global Health Program Contact:
Lysa MacKeen, DGHI Student Projects Coordinator