Training the Next Generation of Disease Fighters
Who We Are
The UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training Program is an international, collaborative initiative that researches emerging infectious diseases and works to strengthen local capacity to fight those diseases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa, a hotspot for emerging infectious diseases. The group is led by Dr. Anne Rimoin of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology.
Some of our current research efforts include studying the long-term impact of Ebola infection in the world’s longest-living Ebola survivors, using satellite imagery and population settlement data to map out health zones to improve outbreak response, and measuring immunity in populations at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases in order to better provide health services that keep those people from becoming infected.
A key component of our work is training current students to become the next generation of disease fighters and global health leaders. Students who train with us in the DRC will have the unique opportunity to work with the local ministries of health to develop strategies to prevent diseases from spreading and to control outbreaks when they occur.
This summer, our team will be sending at least 3 UCLA public health graduate students to the DRC to do research on emerging infectious disease threats like Ebola and monkeypox.
The DRC is considered a hotspot for emerging infectious diseases (Ebola and monkeypox both originated in this country), so our group is poised to be able to quickly implement critical research projects when outbreaks occur and to work with the DRC public health system to improve health outcomes for the people that live there. However, DRC is a logistically and financially challenging location in which to work. Maintaining the infrastructure necessary for a sustainable research and training program requires significant investment.
How You Can Help
Your support would fund travel, research supplies, and living expenses for our student researchers. It would help us focus existing resources on investing in program infrastructure and developing relationships with our in-country partners rather than having to decide between training students or investing in these key programmatic infrastructure priorities.
Your support can allow current students to have this unmatched training opportunity where they will develop their analytic skills and learn how to adapt while working in a challenging environment. Both of these skills are invaluable and will be translatable to future work fighting disease in countries around the world.
Here’s how some of our students who have already worked with us in the DRC describe the impact of their experiences:
“The opportunity to work in the DRC was a major reason I chose UCLA for my PhD program...For me, the opportunity to take part in field research and outbreak response in the DRC is a critical part of my overall doctoral training and I'm really grateful to have the resources and institutional support to have this professional and personal growth experience.” -Megan H., PhD student
“Working in the complicated, exciting, and logistically challenging environment of the DRC has provided me with numerous opportunities to grow my analytic and scientific skillset...Thanks to multiple long-term in-country experiences that were made available to me through generous financial support, I have been able to exchange ideas with local and international health partners, and dig deep roots in the DRC. ” -Adva G., PhD student
“The experience of working in the DRC has been an amazing and one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about and participate in field epidemiological research...Through generous support, I have had the opportunity to further my academic training and to improve my skills as an epidemiologist.” -Alvan C., PhD student
"Without financial assistance, I would not have been able to spend a summer in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of the UCLA-DRC Research and Training Program...This type of experience is crucial to understanding the logistics of conducting research and, more importantly, appropriately designing interventions that will be well received and appropriate for the community." -Angie G., PhD student
Through your support of our program and our students, you can shape the educational experiences of future public health professionals and make the world better prepared to prevent, mitigate, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks where they occur. Please join us in this mission.
See some of the awesome work our team is doing by reading about it in the press (The Atlantic, UCLA Public Health, KCET), or visit our website.