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A day in the life of a Global Health Fellow

People have started to ask what it is that I do in my office at the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) all day, now that I’m at the midpoint of my Global Health Fellowship. A typical day starts before dawn; soon after the sun is up I’m on my way walking to work, which takes 20-25 minutes depending if I walk at an American or African pace.  I pass many of the same people commuting on foot each day; I’m the only Muzungu (white person) so many recognize and greet me. IDI has regular weekday meetings for research and clinical staff from 8-9am, the hour before the clinic opens, and I often attend these as they are very educational in learning the intricacies and social considerations of treating HIV. In the mornings I focus on strategic analysis.  I’ve been working on two major items: first, data-mining the database to understand what kind of research is going on globally and in Africa in the disease areas of interest to IDI; and second, benchmarking IDI with other sub-Saharan African Research Centers of Excellence. Once I have gathered and analyzed all the data, I then think long and hard about the patterns I see emerging and the implications for IDI; I’ve developed a number of novel frameworks describing research in this setting that I’ve described in previous blog posts. I’ve been supplementing the data from IDI internal documents and internet research with 1:1 interviews with IDI researchers, faculty and researchers from Makerere University and external experts working in clinical research in sub-Saharan Africa, both to seek input and confirm or clarify the hypotheses and frameworks I’m developing; so most days I’ll have either a face to face or a telephone interview.  I also meet regularly with IDI’s Research Management to provide an update on the progress I’m making, to share new ideas and to seek their feedback on the new five year strategic plan that I am helping to develop. I’m mentoring several of the mid-level managers and working with them to develop new processes and tools for managing research activities. The lunch hour is from 1-2pm and I enjoy taking a break and walking to the IDI cafeteria through the clinic waiting room past the craft stall, where I often stop to buy something to support the friends (clinic clients) – I have a huge bead collection by now with a string to match every outfit.  Lunch is the same every day – baked beans with rice, posho (maize grits), matooke (steamed plantain) and vegetables – delicious! In the afternoon I write up notes from my meetings, and reports summarizing my findings, and then at the end of the day I go “footing” home.

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