Week 7 : July 14th - July 20th, 2014

This week, many of the MHIRT students reported completing their research studies, analyzing results, and having final cultural experiences.  Most students express sadness at leaving Thailand and Cameroon, but excitement about coming home. I’ll let the students write the Newsletter this week. 

From Thailand

Kriszel wrote, “This week I extracted DNA of positive samples from gels and performed transformation using RHO3 competent cells. I had to come in Saturday evening to do the transfection protocol, and Ken came along with me so I didn’t have to walk alone to the university at night.  Since Ken was there in the lab with me, Chung taught him how to spread plates and inoculate agar plates.” “Ohh, another lab assistant helped me select the white colonies for plasmid extraction. I finished my very last protocol today – our last day working at Mahidol University.  New we are preparing for our presentations on Friday. Looking back on our first day, I can’t believe how fast time has gone. We’ve enjoyed our time here and will always cherish the opportunity in having international research experience in Thailand. With that being said, we’re ready to come home!”  It is great you are sharing your results to colleagues before leaving.

Kendrick reported, “This week was a very mixed bag of productivity. I tried working on my paper but the comments and suggestions from Dr. Nittaya required a lot of reading and keeping track of which papers would answer which questions. However, putting it all together in paragraphs was just not happening. However, all of the loose ends at SEARCH have been tied, especially since I haven’t heard anything that wasn’t addressed from Dr. Shiramizu and Eleanore.”

            “When renowned researcher Joep Lange among others met their untimely death aboard flight MH 17, I felt extremely saddened especially since the doctor in the cubicle next to me is from the Netherlands and although I barely scratched the surface of research in HIV, I do feel part of the HIV research community because of my experience in Thailand. I feel even more motivated to do more research and do what Dr. Shiramizu and other medical doctors are doing- research, medical practice, and mentoring students (like myself). Although I will miss Thailand, I am ready to come home.”

An Aloha from Michellei, “I just wanted let you know that we received the sequencing results for the positive mosquito abdomens and confirmed the Pool 5 and Pool 29 sequences from last week. P5S1, P5S3, and P5S6 came back as Ae. Aegypti A20 sequence containing region similar to NS5 gene of Kamiti River Virus and P29S2 came back as Quang Binh virus isolate VN80, complete genome. P5S3 and P5S7 were not amplified, perhaps due to low DNA concentration. Attached is the sequencing report for each of the samples and our positive control, DEN 2.”  So, now it is real.  Two new viruses identified in Thailand.

     “We're all looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone soon!” 

Final days in Thailand: Cultural Experience

July 22: “Today Kriszel and Michellei went to a Thai cooking class after work where we learned to make several dishes, including Thai spring rolls, red curry, green curry, pad thai, and tom yum goon (a popular sweet/sour shrimp soup). Everything turned out absolutely delicious and Ken joined us later to help us eat all the food! We left with certificates, recipes, and tons of leftovers. It was a truly wonderful experience and we can't wait to try these recipes at home.”   YUM!  We can hardly wait to taste them, too!

Sorry, no new photos from Thailand this week.

From Cameroon

Chris reported that “On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Kenji and I ran the remainder of Luminex: the last plate of multiplex, and the three plates of TGF-beta. The TGF beta took some time to dilute and prepare for the assay itself, but we got through it nonetheless. On Thursday (today), we updated our lab notebooks and the database, and discussed ways to move forward with a new potential research project.”

This week, Domenick had a change of pace from mosquito biology.  “On Monday I had the fortunate experience to spend a night at the maternity ward of central hospital with Livo. I got to see five deliveries. We got some great samples that night, two placental malaria positive and one negative. Much of the night was a lot to take in as the sheer experience of obstetrics alone is overwhelming, the management of care was another level. I saw in the newsletter Chris’ comment and well, we look forward to sharing those stories when the time comes to talk about women’s health disparities. The problem is quite multifaceted: political, economic, cultural, and medical.”  No one will be surprised that women’s health disparities is on the post-workshop syllabus.

Mateo report that: “Monday (21 July) was a treat, for we had an opportunity to report to the community and help out at a health fair organized by Quality Healthcare Unit (QHU), one of the clinics where we collect our samples. Chris, Shayne, and I wrote up a program evaluation form, which we subsequently translated into French with the help of Barriere, one of our Cameroonian colleagues at the BTC. Joe, a med student at Yaounde, accompanied and exhorted us to talk about our projects in front of all the health fair attendees waiting to be seen.”  “Shayne, Chris, and I stood before the community and briefly informed them on who we were, where we came from, and why we were here. Joe translated in tandem. I noted people nodding their heads and speaking amongst themselves with smiles. To our surprise, a couple of Cameroonians actually asked us questions regarding our research. It was great not just to address the community but also stimulate joint dialogue on issues meaningful to both sides.”  “We were all so grateful for the chance to participate in the first health fair carried out at QHU. Chris said the experience was surreal, and Shayne was especially thrilled to speak to the Cameroonian public about her project.”

Shayne reported that “Today was our last day at the lab before our trip to the Southwest region. Dr. Anna and I ran our last ELISA kit for IGF; the protocol was more familiar since we've done a similar process beforehand. It took much of the morning and the results were generated almost at the end of the day. We again checked our standard curves and we got a Pearson R value of 1.0! Dr. Anna, Livo, and I were very excited, indeed! It was a great way to end the last experiment here in Cameroon! :) When we got home, we celebrated Mateo's birthday at the house (a surprise birthday cake attack, of course!)”   A belated happy birthday Mat.  Bet you won’t forget this birthday.The group spent the weekend in Kumba and Limbe on the Atlantic coast. The pictures say it all.

On the Atlantic Ocean:                     Dr. Leke advertising free treatment for                Written in the sand

Chris, Mateo, Shayne                      malaria in pregnant women (Dr. Leke in             NO MALARIA

 & Dr. Sam                                          pink). Who says scientists aren’t famous!