Doctorate Program Will Study Substance Abuse and Its Consequences

Collaboration between UC San Diego and SDSU among first in nation —

A new Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Use has been launched by the Division of Global Public Health in the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and San Diego State University’s School of Social Work. The program will emphasize research devoted to studying the use and misuse of alcohol and drugs – and related social and health consequences. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Steffanie Strathdee

Dr. Strathdee.

Co-directors of the program are Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, and Maria Luisa Zúñiga, PhD.

Dr. Strathdee is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, head of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative and Harold Simon Professor and Chief of the Division of Global Public Health at UC San Diego.

Dr. Zúñiga is associate professor and behavioral epidemiologist in the Division of Global Public Health and associate professor in the San Diego State University School of Social Work.

Read the joint doctoral program catalog description

Global Public Health Division joins the Department of Medicine

Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D.The UCSD School of Medicine’s highly respected academic team of global public health specialists has joined the Department of Medicine.

The Division of Global Public Health, headed by Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., conducts research and education programs to address healthcare problems that transcend political borders.

Formerly known as the Division of International Health & Cross-Cultural Medicine, the division was a part of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Division Chief Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is a top researcher, educator and thought leader in global health issues. She was recently appointed UCSD’s first Associate Dean for Global Medicine. Read the UCSD press release

“We are delighted to join outstanding leaders in academic medicine in the Department of Medicine,” Dr. Strathdee said.

“Our combined efforts will focus on reducing global health disparities and promoting training and education on global health issues that know no borders.”

Dr. Strathdee holds the Harold Simon Chair in Global Public Health and a professorship in the Department of Medicine.

The Division of Global Public Health has 16 full-time and many affiliated faculty members.

Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P.“By joining the Department of Medicine, Steffanie and her colleagues have expanded our global reach to four continents,” said Dr. Ken Kaushansky, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine.

“Now, the Medicine faculty, fellows, residents and students have the opportunity to participate in the Global Public Health Division’s cutting-edge clinical research and innovative and insightful educational programs, and to deliver badly needed health care and self-help skills to citizens of the world.”

Robert Schooley, M.D.Dr. Robert Schooley, Professor and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, commented, “There has been a major increase in interest in international activities within the Department of Medicine over the last 5 years.

“Dr. Strathdee and her group will provide a new dimension to scholarly activities in global medicine within the Department of Medicine –in terms of both content and geography.

“The synergy between the internationally recognized epidemiology, public health and prevention programs in Dr. Strathdee’s group and the biomedical research activities in other divisions throughout the Department will greatly increase the productivity and visibility of global medicine activities at UCSD,” Dr. Schooley said.

Programs both global and local

The education and research programs of the UCSD Division of Global Public Health extend from the San Diego-Tijuana region to communities and institutions across the world.

“Of particular interest are the public health efforts of Steffanie and her group in the California-Mexico border region,” said Dr. Kaushansky. “They’ve been a model of how proactive public health programs can provide new insights into the origins of health care disparities.

“They also demonstrate how interventions based on careful study can make an important impact on the health of both our neighbors and the citizens of California.”

The division’s local projects include three NIH-sponsored research studies based in Tijuana and other cities situated on the Mexico-US border. The projects focus on HIV, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections.

The division currently offers three research training programs focusing on prevention of HIV and related infections and substance use:

In addition, the Division of Global Public Health has just completed a TIES (Training, Internship, Exchange, Scholarships) program, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored effort to prevent HIV infection in Tijuana and northwest Mexico.

In local education at the postgraduate level, Dr. Strathdee is the Co-director of the Global Health track of the doctoral program in public health that is offered jointly with the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health.

More about Dr. Strathdee

Dr. Steffanie Strathdee is a renowned infectious disease epidemiologist. Her research efforts have focused on preventing blood-borne infections such as HIV and removing barriers to healthcare delivery in underserved populations around the world.

Dr. Strathdee, who co-directs the International Core of the UCSD Center for AIDS Research, has published more than 300 scholarly reports on HIV/AIDS alone.

She joined the UCSD faculty from Johns Hopkins University five years ago. She holds an adjunct professorship in the Department of Epidemiology in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For more information about the Division of Global Public Health, its faculty and activities, please visit the division’s website at http://gph.ucsd.edu.

More Information

MISSION OF THE DIVISION OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH

Working Together to Improve Global Health

The mission of the Division of Global Public Health is to:

  • Increase awareness, skills and research capacity relating to international health and cross-cultural issues through educational activities directed to faculty, students, fellows and the community;
  • Conduct high-caliber research on health-related issues and service utilization facing populations in international settings, U.S. minorities and migrants to the U.S.;
  • Provide opportunities for students to experience clinical and research activities in international settings and diverse communities;
  • Initiate, participate and foster collaborations on international health activities within and between departments in the UCSD School of Medicine, the general UCSD campus, organized research units, and U.S.-based and international agencies and institutions;
  • Offer advice and consultation on international health topics as needed by local, regional, national and international organizations.

Med Into Grad “Makes it All Real,” Says UCSD Doctoral Researcher

From basic science laboratory to Peruvian TB clinic: Scarlet Shell, UCSD doctoral candidate in Biomedical Sciences and graduate of the Med Into Grad program.

Scarlet Shell, UCSD graduate researcher and Med Into Grad participantWhen Scarlet Shell leaves UCSD this year, she’ll have a new doctorate in biomedical sciences and an unforgettable grounding in the real world of infectious disease.

Deeply interested in tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, she’s headed for postdoctoral research in a TB laboratory at Harvard.

And, thanks to the Med Into Grad program, she knows exactly what it’s like to diagnose and treat TB with scant resources, time-consuming tests, and trial-and-error antibiotic therapy.

Last year, UCSD’s Med Into Grad program took her to clinics and laboratories in Peru, where TB is a major health problem.

She accompanied healthcare workers to remote clinics, assisted Peruvian laboratory researchers, and met patients face to face.

“It makes it all real,” she says, “in a way that never quite happens from reading about it or hearing about it.”

Peru

Med Into Grad is a science education program that gives basic scientists a clinical experience during their doctoral training. The goal is to help medical researchers focus directly on improving patient care in their future work.

Each student is placed for three to six months in a clinical setting that matches his or her research interests.

“My Med Into Grad experience has provided a big picture view of the problem of TB and all its different facets,” Scarlet says.

“I think it’s important for setting research priorities: what questions can we ask to get the information we need to tackle this problem?”

She says the experience confirmed her decision to change her research focus and intensified her desire to find better ways to detect and treat TB.


“I was in the right place
at the right time –
or Med Into Grad was.”


Scarlet did most of her graduate studies in Dr. Richard Kolodner’s cancer research laboratory investigating DNA mismatch repair.

Dr. Kolodner is Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and head of the Cancer Genetics program at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

As time went on, Scarlet became increasingly interested in infectious disease, particularly tuberculosis and malaria.

She read extensively about TB and decided she wanted to change her research focus, but didn’t know how the transition was going to happen.

Then she heard about Med Into Grad. “I was in the right place in the right time,” she says. “Or the Med Into Grad program was.”

Last April, she left her laboratory bench on the UCSD campus for Peru. The opportunity came through Dr. Joseph Vinetz, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UCSD.

Dr. Vinetz is an expert in tropical infectious diseases including malaria and leptospirosis. In addition to his UCSD laboratory, he collaborates with Peruvian and other U.S. investigators in a lab in Iquitos, a rural city in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest.

Scarlet spent several weeks in Dr. Vinetz’s malaria laboratory in Iquitos.

She visited the local hospital with nurses and other health workers. There, she had her first up-close encounters with infectious disease patients.

“I got to see what kinds of diseases people came in for, how they were diagnosed, and how they were treated,” she said.

She went on to Lima, the capital city, where she worked in laboratories operated by collaborators of Dr. Vinetz under the auspices of the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.

The laboratories conduct basic and clinical research in improving TB diagnosis and drug sensitivity testing. The aim is to find techniques that do not require costly equipment or extensive resources, so that they can be used in underdeveloped countries.


“Being in that environment
made the barriers to treatment
really obvious.”


Until she went to Peru, her career had involved an entirely different kind of interaction – with yeast, the organism used as a model system in her laboratory studies.

Now she had the chance to see how Peruvian mothers juggled transportation and child care issues as they went through the slow and arduous process of TB testing and treatment.

“Being in that environment made the barriers to treatment really obvious,” she says.

She watched how patients and doctors wrestled with logistics. TB diagnosis takes several clinic visits, and often takes many weeks. Drug therapy has to be given several times a week for at least 6 months.

“Most people don’t have cars,” she said. “The patients face choices day by day – do I go to the clinic for my treatment, or do I go to work?”

She saw how greatly the situation would improve if there were a way to diagnose TB more rapidly, and treat it with a shorter course of medicines.

In Lima, Scarlet took part in clinical research in the laboratory and she helped analyze a large database of experimental results from a clinical study.

She worked with Dr. Carlton A. Evans, an English infectious disease researcher from Imperial College London, who spends most of his time in the field in Peru.

Last November, she presented some of the Peruvian TB research data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia.


On to Harvard
with “another level of motivation”


At Harvard, Scarlet will choose her research studies in light of her Med Into Grad experience. She’s considering investigations of how TB evades the immune response to persist inside the host, or why treatment takes so long.

Med Into Grad has given her “another level of motivation,” she says.

It has also given her research connections and projects to help establish her career.

She helps with data analysis for the Lima laboratory on her own time now. It’s part of her own connection with a healthcare effort that has become personally significant to her.

“I got to see how they did what they do,” she says. “It was a really cool experience to actually get to participate.

“It makes it all real. TB is a disease that causes so much death and so many problems. There is a need for better diagnosis and better treatment.”

About Med Into Grad at UCSD

“The Med Into Grad program gives a basic science student the chance to witness firsthand the opportunities where science can improve clinical medicine,” says Dr. Ken Kaushansky.

Dr. Kaushansky and Dr. Mark P. Kamps are founders and co-directors of the Med Into Grad program at UCSD.

Dr. Kaushansky is Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Kamps is Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in the Department of Pathology.

UCSD is one of several leading universities to offer Med Into Grad. The program is funded by a science education grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit research institution.

More Information