In the past month and a half, I had been working very closely with Dr. Edelson on some research projects. Because Dr. Edelson’s clinical shift doesn’t start until July, I haven’t had any clinical exposure yet. However, I have learned a lot about medical research and am currently helping Dr. Edelson with two very interesting and relevant projects focused on global health.
The first project is focused on maternal anemia in low income country. Anemia is currently affecting 35 to 60% of pregnant women in low income countries. Being a part of this project, I was able to learn about the huge health inequality in countries like Uganda. I read over 40 papers and wrote an introduction for the paper that is going to be published in August. Then I helped organize data sets and sort out interesting information needed for our paper. I was able to meet with a professional statistician who works very closely with public health related datasets. Because of my interests in computer science and global health, spending time with the statistician really helped me to see the connection between computer science and medicine. What’s more, I was able to sit in meeting with Dr. Boatin who is an OB/GYN attending to discuss the project as well. So far, the project has had some interesting data and we are in the process of composing all the analyzed data and writing out an abstract for our paper!
The second project focuses on the relationship between income inequality and birth mortality in the United States. From a paper I read, the United States is the only country, out of 16 countries studied, that its population’s health outcome is related to income inequality. We began this project by looking at income inequality in the United States from the county level. The income inequality is measured through the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient is 0 if there is no income inequality, where everyone earns the same amount. It is 1, if one person owns all the money. Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau publishes the Gini coefficient of each county. We are tracking the change in the Gini coefficient from 2003 to 2015. We also find the number of birth mortality every year in each county through the CDC data base. Therefore, we can find out if the changes in the Gini coefficient influence birth mortality.
Although I have not actually shadowed Dr. Edelson yet, I am very lucky to be able to work on these two projects this summer. I am learning so much about global health. Working with a team of doctors who are desperately trying to make a difference and raise attention for global health, I am hopeful that changes will happen. What’s more, I realize that some doctors’ lifestyles are very different from what I imagined. I thought all doctors would work in clinics and constantly be dealing with patients. However, from the several doctors I have met, many of them only go on service for a certain time period of the years. For the rest of the year, they either conduct research or organize special maternal programs. That is great news to me because I am very interested in research and hoping to conduct clinical research in the future as well. Now I see that it is not only possible to do research and see patients at the same time but there are actually a lot of doctors who have that lifestyle.
It has been a great time working with Dr. Edelson and I cannot wait for our research to continue and see what interesting results we get!