UNC Public Health students receive awards at International Conference on Global Health

June 20, 2007
Photograph of Dr. Peggy Bentley (second from left) with winning students

Photograph of Dr. Peggy Bentley (second from left) with winning students

HIV transmission risks, including violence, male circumcision and mother-to-child transmission was the focus of research presentations by three University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill public health students during the Global Health Council’s (GHC) 34th Annual International Conference on Global Health. The theme of this year’s conference was, “Partnerships: Working Together for Global Health.”

The international conference was held May 29 – June 1 at the Omni Shorham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The presentations capped the students’ selection into the New Investigators in Global Health (NIGH) Program, a competitive abstract submission and selection program designed to promote the professional development of new and future leaders in global health. It gives undergraduate, graduate and medical students engaged in exemplary research, policy and advocacy initiatives the opportunity to present their papers at the conference.

The UNC students and their papers were:

  • Elizabeth J. King, a PhD candidate in Health Behavior and Health Education, presented, “HIV and violence against women: A collaborative effort to develop counseling tools in Rakai, Uganda.” Her project explored how violence against women in HIV counseling protocols can be addressed through international collaboration.
  • Abigail Norris Turner, a PhD candidate in Epidemiology, presented: “Men’s circumcision status and women’s risk of HIV.” Her project looked into how the effect of male circumcision is related to HIV risk among Zimbabwean and Ugandan women recruited from family planning clinics, as well as Ugandan women from high risk settings such as sexually transmitted disease clinics.
  • Emily Bobrow, a PhD candidate in Maternal and Child Health, presented: “Community partnerships foster participation in Malawian PMTCT (Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission) study.” Her project promoted the importance of community partnerships for recruiting women into a PMTCT clinical trial in Malawi, as well as encouraged similar programs to include community involvement in addressing potential barriers to participation. Bobrow presented her paper in an invited New Investigator Panel: Mother and Child: The First Partnership.

The Global Health Council selected 25 out of 300 abstracts for inclusion into the program. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had the highest number of participants from any university, with three.

The Annual International Conference on Global Health brings together students, researchers, program and policy makers, grassroots non-governmental leaders and others who work in global health to discuss how they can best use their collective experiences, resources and expertise to solve complex health problems and help people entrenched in poverty and disease improve their lives.

Peggy Bentley, PhD, associate dean for Global Health and professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health, said that she is extremely proud that students from the School were able to share their research and experiences at the conference. “They are making a difference in North Carolina and around the world,” she said.

Bentley also chaired a panel at the conference titled, “Institutionalizing Global Health at the University Level,” reflecting the importance of the University in training the next generation of leaders in global health.

The UNC students said that the conference placed an intentional and well-informed emphasis on the policy implications of research on global public health problems, enriching them in the process.

“Rather than relegating policy issues to the final few slides of a presentation, policy was the presentation,” said Turner. “As a result, I left with much more informed ideas about how to frame my research and to whom to target the findings.”

Bobrow said that participating as a New Investigator in Global Health was also an excellent opportunity to network with more experienced researchers. “Building these types of partnerships is essential for making a difference in public health,” she said.

Twenty five students from the UNC School of Public Health attended the conference. Their registration was sponsored by the Office of Global Health in the School of Public Health.


School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.