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Stony Brook Medical Students Investigate Access to Healthcare in Global Health Settings


Stony Brook Medical Students Investigate Access to Healthcare in Global Health Settings

The 2012 Barry Coller Scholarship recipients carry out projects in Peru, India

Stony Brook medical student Varun Talanki, center, describes his study about the limitations to healthcare in rural Karnataka, India, to a group of villagers.

, NY, July 10, 2012 – This summer three Stony Brook University School of Medicine students are researching access to healthcare and contributing to other medical research and services in developing areas of Peru and India. The students are 2012 recipients of the Barry Coller International Research Scholarship, which provides select students with the opportunity to live and work for two months or more in developing countries. 


This year’s recipients are Varun Talanki, Sanhita Reddy, and Keith Willner. Both Talanki and Reddy are working on studies related to access to healthcare. Talanki is investigating the topic in India through the Mahadevappa Rampure Medical College in Gulbarga, India, and Reddy through Cayatano Heredia University in Lima, Peru. Willner is researching phytochemistry (plant composition and processes) of traditional Andean medicines at the National University of Trujillo, Peru. All three begin their second year of medical school in August upon their return.


Stony Brook medical student Sanhita Reddy, left, with medical professionals from Peru. Reddy is coordinating with them to investigate informational sources low income residents use to get their health information.

“I have visited several medical clinics around Lima and collected data from patients and villagers on what informational sources they use to get their health information,” says Reddy, who is investigating to what extent low income Peruvians use radio, television, the internet, or other sources when gathering health information. During her two months in Peru, Reddy will analyze the data, which she will share with medical professionals in Peru.


“In India I am learning how physicians and other healthcare providers make the most of the resources available to them in order to provide the best quality of care possible,” says Talanki. His research project involves investigating what the main limitations to healthcare services are in rural Karnataka. He expects that socioeconomic status, distance from hospitals, and family size will be factors that affect villagers access to healthcare in the region.


“These students are learning about important healthcare issues that affect developing areas of the world,” says Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., M.A.C.P., Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean of the School of Medicine. “In addition, the unique settings provide them with an invaluable medical education experience to hone foundational skills such as careful medical history taking, physical examination, and research methods to positively affect communities in need of care.”


Previous Barry Coller International Research Scholarship recipients have spent from two to six months in developing regions in countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, China, India, Peru and Nicaragua. These experiences have enabled students to engage in research projects under the guidance of Stony Brook faculty as mentors and medical professionals from the host countries. The variety of experiences has enabled students to engage in research related to HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and health care access for the public.


The Scholarship was developed to broaden student training in global health and enhance the School of Medicine’s MD with Scholarly Concentrations Program, which enables students to delve into scholarly pursuits in specific areas of medicine. Global Health is one of several tracts within the Program. The Scholarship provides travel and housing expenses for students. Coller awardees immerse themselves in learning more about specific global health issues, which serves to deepen their understanding about global health, professional commitment, and the importance of service to patients. The experience also helps to shape students’ career paths after medical school starting with their residency training.


Since 2008, the School of Medicine has developed relationships with universities and medical missions in areas of Peru and India. In conjunction with the Coller Research Scholarship, these relationships have provided students with multiple opportunities to help in both clinical care and medical research in these countries.


The School of Medicine plans to strengthen its global medicine program by further developing its relationships for ongoing programs with institutions in Africa and Latin America. Additionally, programs will be expanded to include not only undergraduate medical students but residents, fellows and faculty.

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