UCSF Student Receives Scholarship to Conduct AIDS Research in India

By Robin Hindery

Timothy Poore

UCSF medical student Timothy Poore is one of 88 top graduate students and postdoctoral trainees to receive a prestigious global health research scholarship through the Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars (FICRS) program.

Poore will spend 10 months in Chennai, India, working at the nonprofit YR Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE).

The FICRS program pairs US graduate students with foreign counterparts at one of 29 sites in 19 countries to conduct clinical research into various infectious or chronic diseases. In addition to AIDS, fields of study include malaria, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, mental health, oncology, and dietary issues, among many others.

“These opportunities provide new insights for tomorrow’s clinical leaders, both in the
United States and in low- and middle-income nations,” said Sten Vermund, MD, PhD, the principal investigator at the FICRS Support Center, which oversees the program.

Poore recently completed his third year of medical school, during which time he participated in Model SFGH, a clerkship program within the School of Medicine that includes three consecutive rotations in underserved urban settings.

Poore’s interest in global health stemmed in part from a summer spent studying Spanish and doing volunteer work in Guatemala before coming to UCSF.

“I had applied to medical school with the plan to work with underserved communities, but my whole definition of ‘underserved’ changed after spending time in Guatemala,” he wrote in an email message from his new, temporary home in India. “The need was so great and there was so much to be done, I began to think about spending time working with communities in the developing world.”

In addition, he said, studying medicine opened his eyes to a host of health-related human rights issues, including access to quality care, the availability of food, and domestic violence.

He said the FICRS program appealed to him because it was an opportunity to reconnect with his research background — he studied anthropology and psychology in college —while also gaining experience in the developing world.

In addition to assisting with ongoing projects at YRG CARE, Poore hopes to explore depression and substance abuse among individuals with HIV — an area of research that has not received much attention in India.

Poore is the latest student from UCSF to receive a FICRS scholarship: Last year, UCSF School of Dentistry student Patrice Espinosa worked with a nongovernmental organization studying HIV/AIDS and related diseases in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The FICRS program, now entering its sixth year, is supported by the Fogarty International Center — the international arm of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) —as well as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and 15 other components of the NIH. The program is administered by Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Global Health and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Related Links:

Fogarty International Clinical Research Scholars & Fellows program

UCSF Students First in United States to Receive Master’s Degree in Global Health
UCSF Today, July 29, 2009