From Mosquitoes to Antibiotic Resistance, Global Health 2019 Grants Advance Projects Across the World

The hands of children can be seen around a large basin of water. They have tubes to catch mosquito larvae and pupae in their hands.

Young scientists in the community of Los Arguellos, Ecuador, sample water for mosquito larvae and pupae in the Mosquitos Y Yo program. (Photo courtesy of Walking Palms.)

Tackling everything from mosquitoes to family planning, herbal medicines to antibiotic resistance, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI) recently awarded 30 grants and awards to faculty, staff, clinicians and students from across campus.

Monica Grant, an assistant professor in sociology, will use her Seed Grant to determine whether climate change in southern Africa affects family planning. Girma Tefera, a professor of surgery, is developing a way to train enough Ethiopian medical workers to care for the injuries caused by vehicle accidents in a country with one of the highest mortality rates per vehicle in the world.

“This grant is foundational to make a stronger argument for moving ahead with this project.”—Monica Grant

Daniele Gusland, an infectious disease fellow in pediatrics, hopes to identify the specific bacteria causing serious infections in Ethiopian infants and develop guidelines to prescribe the best antibiotics to help them. Lyric Bartholomay, an associate professor in pathobiological sciences, hopes to empower youth in Ecuador to understand mosquitoes and advance community health.

The UW-Madison researchers are among the recipients of nine Seed Grants, three Clinical Research Grants, six Graduate Student Research Awards, one Henry Anderson III Graduate Student Award in Environmental, Occupational and Public Health, three Visiting Scholar Awards and nine Faculty/Staff Travel Awards. The complete list is below.

Better antibiotic care

Gusland will use a GHI Clinical Research Grant to tackle antibiotic resistance, looking first at which bacteria are infecting infants at the Jimma University Hospital in southwestern Ethiopia, then at the antibiotics used to treat them. “My project started with the idea that what works for wealthy nations is not necessarily what works for low- and middle-income countries,” she says.

Previous studies, mostly in Nigeria and South Africa, have shown that infants in low- and middle-income countries are likely to see higher rates of Staphylococcus aureua, Escheria coli andKlebsiella, which quickly develop antibiotic resistance. Despite the difference in bacteria, patients are most likely to be treated with the same antibiotics as patients in wealthier countries, Gusland says. The antibiotics won’t work, and using them can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Several people are looking into microscopes.
Daniele Gusland, a pediatrics fellow, works with Ethiopian colleagues to determine which bacteria are infecting infants at Jimma University Hospital. (Photo by Gusland.)

With blood and cerebral-spinal fluid tests, surveys and questionnaires, Gusland hopes to identify which bacteria infect infants coming into Jimma Hospital and develop a local profile of antibiotic resistance. Her goal is to create local antibiotic guidelines that avoid adverse effects or more toxic medications and are tailored to best treat babies there.

The GHI grant will help pay for culture bottles, defraying any cost for local families. It allowed Gusland to visit Jimma to kick off the project and return next year as it ends. “It was really gratifying to receive that support of my work,” she says.

Mosquitos Y Yo

Through a National Institutes of Health grant, Bartholomay, one of the directors of the Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, helped develop “Mosquitoes and Me,” a program that teaches upper elementary and beginning middle school students to learn about mosquitoes with hopes that they will take their knowledge back to their families and communities. The methodology, which does not include lectures, is different, Bartholomay says. “Teachers work with kids in an immersive experience to develop their own understanding.”

“The (students) sort it out, and we try really hard not to answer their questions but encourage them to keep questioning.”—Lyric Bartholomay

By discovering answers on their own, “kids own their knowledge in a totally different way and build interesting ideas,” she adds. “That feels really great.”

Three children test the waters of a mud puddle for mosquito larvae and pupae.
Students in the community of Los Arguellos, build for families who lost everything in Ecuador’s earthquake, make new friends and learn about mosquitoes in the Mosquitos Y Yo program that received a 2019 GHI Seed Grant. (Photo courtesy of Walking Palms.)

Bartholomay and her team have developed more than 80 lessons about mosquito biology as part of a program with Iowa State University working with children in low-resource settings in Des Moines. Two years ago, Walking Palms, a non-governmental organization in Ecuador, approached her to translate the lessons into Spanish for use in a country that’s been hard hit by hurricanes, Zika Virus and Dengue fever, both transmitted by mosquitoes. Families, students and teachers have embraced the program, and Bartholomay will use the Seed Grant to formalize the collaboration, bring UW-Madison students to Ecuador to participate in Mosquitos Y Yo camps, help students in the country understand mosquitoes with culturally-sensitive lessons, formalize relationships with Ecuador’s Ministry of Health and collect concrete data on how the project makes a difference in communities.

“Hopefully, we can make it bigger and better,” Bartholomay says.

“This could be a really powerful way for us to teach kids about mosquito control and have them be agents of social justice and public service as they help take care of their communities.”—Lyric Bartholomay

 Climate and family planning

 A GHI Seed Grant will allow Grant from sociology to examine the connection between climate change and family planning in Malawi. “Rainfall is getting more erratic, and floods and drought are more common in southern Africa,” she says. “How do families make decisions about building their families in the context of environmental change?”

Publicly available data shows that fertility decreases the year after a drought or severe rainfall. With this project, Grant, who has worked in Malawi for years, wants to find out why. She will visit with men and women just four months after flooding associated with Cyclone Idai displacing thousands. “They are in the middle of making decisions right now,” she says.

The GHI grant “is a huge help,” Grant says. It will help the research team show proof of concept – about which factors make a difference in family planning and whether climate change is on their mind when they make choices. “This grant is foundational to make a stronger argument for moving ahead with this project.”

Saving lives after road accidents

Tefera leads a project in collaboration with Hawassa University Hospital to address the high death rate from road traffic accidents, the sixth leading cause of death in Ethiopia. Patient care is limited because few physicians, nurses or other medical personnel have emergency or trauma care training.

The GHI Seed Grant will allow Tefera’s team to design a train-the-trainer program on basic and trauma and emergency care using a simulation-based curriculum, says Molly Vaux, a global outreach specialist in the Department of Surgery. The program will train 30 providers in six emergency/trauma care modules, from first aid and CPR to basic pediatric acute life support.

Studies have shown the benefits of simulation-based training, Vaux says. The train-the-trainer model becomes sustainable as health care providers have hands-on experience, become champions of the project and train their colleagues.

The GHI grant will allow UW faculty to visit Hawassa and bring Hawassa faculty to Madison. It will help pay for materials as well. By midway through the year-long project, they anticipate 15 physicians and nurses from Hawassa will have received trauma and instructor training from UW-Madison and Addis Ababa trainers. They will then be ready to staff the Hawassa training center and train other providers.

“With the year foundation for the start of the program, (the GHI grant) will help to obtain other, larger grants,” Vaux says.

Vaux also received a GHI Faculty and Staff Travel Grant to visit and evaluate the Department of Surgery’s long-term partnerships with Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital and Hawassa University Hospital. Krystle Campbell, simulation center manager of the UW Health Clinical Simulation Program, received a GHI Seed Grant to work with Addis Ababa University College of Health Sciences and establish a sustainable simulation center for training medical professionals.

Six Ethiopian and U.S. health care workers stand in a line.
UW-Madison’s Girma Tefera, right center, and Janis Tupesis, worked with Ethiopian colleagues to ensure better trauma care after road accidents. (Photo courtesy of The Department of Surgery.)

GHI 2019 Grant and Award Recipients

Seed Grants (Read the abstracts)

  • “Mosquitoes Y Yo: Student Scientists in Ecuador,” Lyric Bartholomay, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • “Transforming Healthcare Education: A Partnership Between University of Wisconsin and Ethiopia Addis Ababa University Simulation Centers,” Krystle Campbell, School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH)
  • “Pathways to Adolescent Resilience: Cultivating School Garden Circles and Youth Leadership in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone,” Ann Evensen, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, SMPH
  • “Fertility Decision-Making and Rainfall Variation in Rural Malawi,” Monica Grant, Department of Sociology, College of Letters & Science (L&S)
  • “Gender Analysis and Global Learning for Safe and Healthy Streets: Implementing a Complete Streets Policy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” Carolyn McAndrews, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, L&S
  • “Microbiome Analysis of Indigenous People in Colombia, South America,” Jorge Osorio, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • “Madison to Mbale: Bringing Cardiopulmonary Ultrasound to Ugandan Children,” Jessica Schmidt, Department of Emergency Medicine, SMPH
  • “Accident, Disaster and Emergency Care Action in Hawassa, Ethiopia,” Girma Tefera, Department of Surgery, SMPH
  • “The Break (Building Respite Evidence and Knowledge) Exchange,” Kim E. Whitmore, Department of Nursing, School of Nursing

Visiting Scholars Award (Read the abstracts)

  • “Novel HIV Drug Resistance Technologies for Use in Low- and Middle-Income High Burden Settings,” David O’Connor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, SMPH
  • “Developing an International Partnership with Jimma University,” Dawd Siraj, Department of Medicine, SMPH

Henry Anderson III Graduate Research Award (Read the abstracts)

  • “Health Outcomes of Diarrheal Disease in Water-Limited Conditions: Cape Town, South Africa’s Drought as a Case Study,” Nicholas Spoerk, SMPH

Graduate Student Research Awards (Read the abstracts)

  • “Climate-Related Social Vulnerability in the Marshall Islands,” Hugh Roland, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Surgery, SMPH
  • “Magic Mirror, Magic Mirror, Am I Attractive: The Effect of Auto-Beauty Filters on College Female Students’ Self-Evaluation,” Niu Yanzhuo, Department of Educational Psychology, School of Education
  • “Interpretation of Covariation Data: The Influence of Symmetry of Variables,” Rui Meng, Department of Educational Psychology, School of Education
  • “Cultural Values Shape the Stress Hormone Response to Psychosocial Stress,” Jeong Ha Choi, Department of Psychology, L&S
  • “Connecting Farmers of Climate Change Adaptation and Well-Being in Central Malawi,” Julia Reynolds, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; Department of Geography, L&S
  • “A Pilot Study: Closing the Rehabilitation Service Utilization Gaps of New Zealand’s (Aotearora) Maori People,” Ngonidzashe Mpofu, Department of Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education, School of Education

Faculty & Staff Travel Awards (Read the abstracts

  • “Effective Rehabilitation of a Distressed Species: Grey Crowned Cranes in Rwanda,” Barry Hartup, Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • “American College of Surgeons and the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa Surgical Training Hub Collaborative,” Angela Ingraham, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine
  • “Cape Town Post-Drought: Health Outcomes, Adaptive Behaviors and a Quality Improvement Intervention for Diarrheal Disease,” Laurel Legenza, Sonderegger Research Center, School of Pharmacy
  • “Improving the Implementation of Clinical Guidelines for Cancer Pain Management and Palliative Care in Nepal,” Martha Maurer, Sonderegger Research Center, School of Pharmacy
  • “Internal Medicine Resident Global Health Pathway,” Daniel Shirley, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, SMPH
  • “Addressing Mercury, Lead and Arsenic Mine-Scarred Land in Huancavelica, Peru,” Geoffrey Siemering, Department of Soil Science, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • “Global Health International Rotation to Jimma, Ethiopia,” Dawd Siraj, Department of Medicine, SMPH
  • “Making the Invisible Visible in Colombia: How Insect Health is Tied to Human and Ecosystem Health,” Heather Swan, Department of English, L&S
  • “Global Surgery Program Evaluation in Ethiopia,” Molly Vaux, Department of Surgery, SMPH

Clinical Research Awards (Read the abstracts)

  • “Investigating the Prevalence and Practices of Herbal Medicine Use in Antenatal Care in Mukono District, Uganda,” Mackenzie Carlson, Department of Pediatrics, SMPH
  • “Etiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Patterns of Neonatal Sepsis in Jimma, Ethiopia,” Daniele Gusland, Department of Pediatrics, UW Health
  • “Comparing Self-Prescribed Antibiotic Usage Across Rural Populations in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala,” Emma Svenson, Department of Population Health Sciences, SMPH