GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 3

Reflections from Julia Duarte (GHF 2020)

On our last day, our 7:30 alarms rang in our ears as we woke up and proceeded to prepare for the day ahead. All of the Fellows met in the lobby at 8:15 and we headed to pick up our breakfast. Bringing our usual bagels and coffee with us on the bus, we set out to Emory University. Mrs. Hall and Mrs. Goodson decided to challenge us with an early morning scavenger hunt around Emory. Each cohort was a team and was given a list of buildings and statues and a map. We then proceeded to search for and take pictures of different structures in the humid climate. After walking around the campus for thirty minutes, the three groups met up at the bus to go to our next stop.

GHFs ready to enter the museum at the CDC.


Our next destination was the David J. Spencer CDC Museum. We spent over an hour and a half viewing many exhibits throughout the three floors of the museum. Each exhibit was filled with the many accomplishments of the CDC, along with the vast accounts and facts of many diseases and illnesses. The first exhibit covered Ebola, which comprised of fascinating images and original artifacts from 2014. As we headed down the stairs, we read from walls of information, including of the story of AIDS, a little on Guinea Worm disease, and the obesity problem in the United States. In a separate room downstairs, we took turns putting on BSL 4 suits and experiencing the load of clothing that health workers had to wear during the Ebola epidemic. Afterwards, we met upstairs and drove to Victory Sandwich Bar for lunch.

Ingrid and Andrew (GHF ’19) pose in BSL-4 lab gear at the CDC.

After a tasty lunch, we traveled to the Carter Center in Atlanta, which, sponsored by President Jimmy Carter, works to solve diplomatic issues peacefully as well as working to help impoverished communities worldwide. We had the pleasure of speaking with Angelia Sanders, a Hampton Roads native and former Peace Corps worker, who talked with us mainly about the Carter Center’s effort to make guinea worm disease the second disease ever eradicated after smallpox. She described her experience living in a South Sudanese village helping the community eradicate guinea worm. We all found her talk extremely interesting and engaging, giving us insight into the lives of both those affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) like Guinea worm and also of those trying to eliminate them.

Angelia Sanders presents on her work with Trachoma and Guinea Worm eradication.

After our interesting talk with Mrs. Sanders, we were given an hour to look around the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. Many of us enjoyed the Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease exhibit. It elaborated on the process of eradicating diseases, such as Guinea worm disease, polio, and river blindness. Other parts of the museum included the life of Jimmy Carter, his biggest accomplishments in office, and even a replica of the Oval Office in the White House. Then, we headed back to the hotel and had a few hours to relax and pack our bags for our travelling day tomorrow.    

After a delicious dinner at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, we all gathered to discuss the central mission of the Global Health Fellows Program and modify our guiding mission statement. This gave us the opportunity to set our goals for the upcoming year and those that follow.  We also discussed ways to keep each other accountable for staying up to date on pressing global health issues and news. We all feel confident and inspired heading into the coming year: ready to accomplish our goals and put our thoughts into action.

GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 2

Reflections on the morning from Laura Read (GHF 2020).

On Wednesday, it was yet another bright and early start for the fellows, having to be ready in the hotel lobby by 7:00am! We returned to the bagel café and Starbucks for breakfast and were ready to begin the day, boarding the van at 7:15.

Waiting for the keynote speaker, Dr. Gary Gibbons at Emory’s Think Big Symposium.

Emory University‘s Think Big Symposium: Applying Collaborative Big Data Science for Predictive Health was being held at 8:00am, which we were almost late to thanks to a spot of busy Atlanta traffic. After entering the Rollins School of Public Health, we attended the key note address by Dr. Gary Gibbons, MD. He is the director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institute of Health. The NHLBI provides global leadership for research, training, and education to promote the prevention of heart, lung, and blood disorders. He also graduated magma cum laude from Harvard Medical School.

The principle topic during the address was the collaboration between numerical data and how to use that for predictive health and medicine. We learned how healthy people are being studied to foreshadow who will become sick in the future. The NHBLI is aiming to train the new generation of leaders in science and improve the health of the nation. We ended up staying for the first speaker of the panel, Arshed Quyyumi, who spoke about cardiovascular health. He linked healthy people’s data to predict if they would develop heart disease. Surprisingly, factors like marriage and place of living had significant impact of the outcomes.

“After a long few hours of lectures, we decided you might want some caffeine… we’re going to the World of Coca Cola!” were the words of Mrs. Hall, a welcome surprise! We drove over to the Coke Museum, where we took photos outside near a giant bottle cap. Albeit being mostly for fun, we linked the trip to global health because Coca Cola is a significant contributor to the diabetes and obesity epidemic. We thought about the controversy if whether or not it’s Cola’s responsibility, or not because they’re a business. We were greeted by a can of coke and smile, followed by a room full of nostalgic Coca Cola memorabilia. Then we were led to the main area, where we could walk around and learn about the company’s history, see how classic Coke is made, and explore Coca Cola in pop culture. Perhaps the most exciting attraction of all was the tasting room, where there were over a hundred flavors from around the world to choose from! There were a few good ones, but many of them tasted funny (see: the neon green soft drink from Djibouti). Our personal favorite was a drink from Italy called Beverly. It was reminiscent of mouthwash and liquid cough medicine. There was a lot of laughing and it was so much fun to hang out with everyone! After a quick round through the gift shop at the end, we headed off to the Mellow Mushroom for a delicious lunch.

GHFs in front of the World of Coca Cola Museum!

Reflections on the second half of the day from Connor Tiffany (GHF 2020).

In the afternoon, we ventured away from the city, and traveled to Yerkes National Primate Research center, a facility dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve human health and wellbeing. With its status as a national personnel records centers, Yerkes is home to more than 3,000 non human primates, including squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, and sooty mangabeys. On our tour, we spoke with Julie Moran, an assistant field station operation manager, who discussed the animals behavioral patterns, the various forms of research in which they are involved, and how that research is used to better the lives of humans. Despite the rain, we were fortunate to encounter multiple animals, learning of their vibrant personalities and different vocalizations, like blowing raspberries, a chimpanzee’s call which symbolizes trust and affection. I was especially grateful to meet Winston, a chimpanzee who was incredibly amicable, even with his status as the alpha male of his community. In correlation with our summer reading book Spillover, our experience at Yerkes helped us to better understand the phenomenon of zoonosis, an animal infection transmissible to humans, and how our involvement with animals can lead to the deaths of thousands.

Later in the evening, we made plans to dine at the vintage Rí Rá Irish Pub to replenish from our long day of focus. As we walked through the door and waited to be seated, we were surprised to see a cluster of Hollywood cameras and spotlights illuminating the interior of the historic restaurant. After eating dinner and learning that the fellows could possibly be featured on an episode of “Date Night Live”, everyone gathered around a hotel television and watched the cringe worthy episode unfold. To end the day, the senior fellows lead a productive discussion about “Spillover” and how it applies to the future of disease control.

GHF Atlanta Retreat 2017 – Day 1

Each summer, the GHF program kicks off the year with a retreat in August.  This summer, Fellows traveled to Atlanta, Georgia.  Reflections on the first full day of programming below are offered by Ingrid Benkovitz, GHF Class of 2019.

 

As we struggled to wake up after Tuesday’s long day of travel, the 2018-2020 Global Health Fellows met for breakfast promptly at 8:00. The idea of bagels and coffee helped the morning run smoothly. With full and happy stomachs, we ventured via Norfolk Academy bus to our first outing of the day: the CNN headquarters.

This stop included both a “behind the scenes” studio tour and a personal Q&A with Ben Tinker, Supervising Producer for CNN Health’s Emmy-winning Sanjay Gupta. The studio tour, although an hour long, felt more like 5 minutes long, for each pit-stop was more striking than the last. We were able to see control panels, green screens, and even a live broadcast during filming. While we assumed nothing could top what we had already seen, we were proven wrong. Shorty thereafter, we walked to a small conference room, in which we had the question and answer session with Mr. Tinker.

GHFs pose with Ben Tinker!

Mr. Tinker is simply incredible. His selfless, time-consuming work world-wide is inspiring, his stories fascinating. He briefed us on the three types of news (breaking news, pitches, and series) and explained his process in the tough decision-making of what is “newsworthy”. Having had personal experience in Haiti, including producing a segment there this summer, entitled “Champions for Change”, Tinker understood our work completely, saying, “I always try to leave a place better than I found it… It truly is just the right thing to do”. He continued on to tell us his favorite parts of what he considers the most rewarding job at CNN; to go places and to share peoples’ stories. He then left us with one note: “The stories are where you least expect them… It never ceases to amaze me where the stories come from, whether it be an interviewee’s assistant or the person next to you on an airplane”.  Tinker’s words of wisdom are not only relevant to us, but impactful beyond words.

Following the talk, we headed to a quick lunch in the CNN courtyard in preparation for the second half our day at Emory University Hospital Midtown. We were given a tour of some of the hospital’s most distinct facilities, such as the pharmacy, the new ICU, and the Interventional Radiology Center. The Interventional Radiologists (IRs) showed us some of the special stents and catheters that they use, even allowing us to hold and expand them ourselves. Luckily for us, Dr. Newsome, Olivia’s mom, is an IR at the hospital and created an IR innovation lab for us, where we were split into groups and tasked to plan and build a solution to a prompt relating to hospital safety or efficiency. After an hour of fun, yet challenging work, we presented to the IRs in a “Shark Tank” fashion, receiving feedback for our ideas and creations. We had a short Q&A with the IRs at the end, sparking a thought-provoking conversation about the rise of robots within medicine and whether we should expect some sort of robot takeover. Dr. Newsome dissolved our fears confidently and beautifully, as she remarked, “Try as I might, but you can’t teach a machine to do what I do because you can’t teach a machine to care”. She shared with us that our strongest asset is our ability to care. We are thankful to have such a wonderful, successful, and passionate role model in our lives and cannot thank her enough for the opportunities she has provided for us in Atlanta.

With the afternoon’s adventures coming to a close, we headed back to the hotel for some relaxation time and time to get ready for dinner at BurgerFi. After dinner, we spent the evening reviewing data from the ‘18s and ‘20s trip to Belize in June and getting excited for tomorrow!