UMASS MEDICAL SCHOOL STUDENT RECEIVES FOGARTY FELLOWSHIP
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Matt Bartek is the third UMass Medical School student to receive the prestigious Fogarty Fellowship.

 

WORCESTER, Mass.—University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) student Matthew Bartek has received a prestigious Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars Fellowship, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and will spend next year working in Peru with experts in public health research. The fellowship, overseen by Vanderbilt University Institute for Global Health, is a unique opportunity to gain clinical research training in a developing country and pairs students with mentors working to advance public health. Bartek’s is one of only 35 fellowships awarded in a competitive process that draws more than 200 candidates each year.

For Bartek, who has traveled widely in Central America, the fellowship provides a tremendous opportunity to gain hands-on clinical research experience early in his medical career. “I was considering public health school or a research fellowship, and the Fogarty program offers me training in both fields,” he said. “I’d like to integrate research into my future career as a clinician and, ultimately, help influence positive health policy changes. The cultural exchange, clinical skills and research experience I expect to gain in Peru will be invaluable.”

“Students like Matt exemplify UMass Medical School’s public health mission, which has grown to include global public health,” said Terence Flotte, MD, UMMS executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. “This fellowship will provide him with tools he will be able to use in addressing global public health challenges in the future.”

Bartek will take a leave of absence for his third year at UMMS; his fellowship will begin in July with an orientation program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. Bartek will then travel to Seattle to train with Joseph Zunt, MD, MPH, associate professor of neurology and global health and adjunct associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who will serve as the principal investigator and Bartek’s primary mentor during the year-long program. Dr. Zunt’s area of research focuses on epidemiology of central nervous system infections in South America, with an emphasis on retroviruses. Following training in Seattle, Bartek and three other fellows will participate in more than 10 months of intense clinical research in Lima, Peru. Although the specific research project he will conduct has not yet been designed, there are a number of pressing public health problems in Peru, including HIV and other infectious diseases. Lima is one of 25 clinical research sites funded by the Fogarty program.

Bartek, who grew up in Newton and received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, was also a 2008-2009 Albert Schweitzer Fellow. For that fellowship, he and UMMS student Abraham Jaffe helped to grow the Akwaaba Health Initiative, a community-based effort to address the unmet health needs of the African immigrant population in Worcester. This collaborative effort between community members and medical school faculty and students was centered on the Akwaaba Free Health Clinic, which delivers culturally competent care to patients who lack access. Since its opening in April 2008, the clinic staff have had more than 500 patient encounters and now offer physician visits; women's health visits, including Pap smears and breast exams; free and anonymous HIV testing; blood work and select laboratory tests; aid with insurance enrollment; and counseling on how to access other area healthcare providers. Bartek hopes that this fellowship experience will complement prior work in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico as well as his efforts at the Akwaaba Free Health Clinic.

Bartek is the third UMMS student to receive a Fogarty Fellowship. Lara Jirmanus, of Medford, conducted HIV research in Brazil in 2008-2009, and Avra Gardner Ackerman, of Groton, worked in Uganda testing a screening method for tuberculosis and HIV in 2007-2008. Both Jirmanus and Ackerman graduated from UMMS in June. In July Jirmanus will begin a family medicine residency at Boston University Medical Center and Ackerman will begin an internal medicine residency at Montefiore Medical Center (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) in the Bronx.


About the University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of five campuses of the University system and one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country. It encompasses the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Graduate School of Nursing, a thriving research enterprise and an innovative public service initiative called Commonwealth Medicine. The mission of the University of Massachusetts Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care.


About Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars (FICRS)

The FICRS Support Center was established at the Vanderbilt University Institute for Global Health, and oversees overall program management, information dissemination and applicant selection, communications, program coordination and logistics, program monitoring and evaluation, organization of educational programs and conferences, and maintains relationships with program alumni. Outreach to numerous health-science fields is also conducted by the Association of Schools of Public Health. The FICRS Support Center and its programming is supported by the FIC and a number of National Institutes of Health. To date, the program has trained 160 US scholars and 155 foreign-site scholars. For more information go to: www.fogartyscholars.org/scholars/international-clinical-research-scholars-program.