Ms. Cassandra Rene, a doctoral candidate in the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work department of health promotion and disease prevention, has been awarded the highly competitive Global Health Equity Scholars (GHES) Fellowship for 2018-2019. The fellowship tackles health needs and promotes social equity by bringing together young global health professionals, researchers and educators from diverse disciplines.
Dr. Rene will be participating in a one-year mentored research fellowship, while also conducting a research project under the supervision of GHES mentors. This opportunity will help her position herself on an international public health platform, as she will be collecting data from Groupe Haitien d’Etude du Sarcome de Kaposi et des Infections Opportunistes (GHESKIO). Her study includes interviews and focus groups with physicians, nurses, auxiliary staff and pregnant women to capture a better understanding of peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) in Haiti.
Peripartum cardiomyopath (PPCM) is a heart condition pregnant women can develop during the last month of pregnancy and five months postpartum. It’s considered rare in the U.S., but there’s a much higher incidence in Haiti. Because little research has been done on PPCM in Haiti, the issue must be further explored, according to Dr. Rene.
The GHES fellowship will enable her to develop ways to address a huge problem that contributes to the high maternal mortality in the country.
“I’m ecstatic and honored to be a recipient of this fellowship. It’s a great opportunity to be immersed in my dissertation research, while I’m on the ground doing the work,” said Dr. Rene. “I will also spend a significant amount of time in my home country — something I haven’t done since I was a teen.”
The GHES is one of the six consortia under the NIH Fogarty Global Health Fellows and Scholars Program. The fellowship is funded by the Fogarty International Center, as well as other institutes and centers at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The GHES consortium includes FIU, UCLA, Yale, Berkeley and Stanford. The fellowship provides a living stipend and funds to support the research study. In July, fellowship recipients attend a week-long orientation at National Institutes of Health (NIH) headquarters in Bethesda, MD.