Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wrapping up in Uganda - Chronic HBV infection research

Hi again, from Mbarara, Uganda! I am leaving for the airport shortly to return to Boston, and am sad to leave.

In terms of updates, I completed a week full of interesting meetings at MGH-MUST. From meeting with research coordinators in charge of other studies, I learned of the impressive commitment to research. We went on a UARTO field visit, specifically looking for a patient who had been noncompliant (as measured by the Wisepill). As part of this study, there are patient trackers who try to locate the patients at least twice a week, to understand whether the patient was noncompliant or whether there was an issue with the device. We loved being able to leave Mbarara and visit a nearby village, with a small trading post surrounded by large farms.

I also met with several important collaborators, including Dr. Yap Baum, director of Epicentre, and Dr. Winnie Muyindike, director of the Immune Suppression Syndrome (ISS) clinic. I was very impressed with Dr. Yap’s knowledge and expertise, and most importantly, his commitment to capacity-building. He quickly identified a student who is interested in studying viral hepatitis, and arranged for a joint meeting so she could become involved in our project. Dr. Winnie has spearheaded our proposed study, and it was wonderful to meet with her and discuss logistics (including study procedures, reserving temporary space in the ISS clinic, and working with the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centre and the medical wards to help recruit potential patients). Dr. Winnie’s commitment to her patients is inspiring –- and I feel so lucky to work with her.  I am including a picture of the 2 of us, standing in her office at the ISS clinic.

Finally, my husband and I were able to see more of Uganda, specifically visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Mburo. I am including a picture of myself in front of one of the crater lakes at Queen Elizabeth National Park – simply stunning. I am in awe of the landscape here – beautiful, lush tea fields as well as stunning lakes and channels. We were able to see several animals, including leopards, lions, hyenas, and a myriad of birds that I have already forgotten the names for.   

I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience this trip -- it has been extremely memorable, and I am looking forward to returning very soon.

Thanks again for reading,
Jennifer Y. Chen
MGH Gastroenterology and Hepatology Fellow

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