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McKenzie Colt (EMD)

Safety and interactions of malaria medications for children, Masafu Clinic, Tororo and Busia Town, Uganda
McKenzie jumping with waterfall in the background
What’s a good waterfall if you don’t try out your old school cheerleading moves in front of it? This was prior to the downfall of cold rain.

Career goal:

I hope to continue on to a PhD program and become a professor. I think it’s important to not only be doing research, but also empowering generations to come with the tools and enthusiasm to make the world a healthier and better place.

Internship outline:

In Uganda, I worked on a pharmacokinetic study looking at the safety and interactions with an extended exposure to malaria medication in both HIV infected and HIV uninfected children. My role in the study was to help with some organizing and cleaning of data. I helped catch up in uploading documents for partners in the States to have access to. I organized shipments of samples and dried blood spots. I helped the clinician and medical officer in filling in paperwork and patient forms. I also played an important part in communicating between the various teams in Uganda, San Francisco and New Haven. While I worked on all of this, I was also working with my team from Colorado State and Yale to finish designing and implementing a housing and behavioral survey for another study in Burkina Faso that was to be completed at the same time.

Value of experience:

Four days before I was supposed to leave for Burkina Faso where my Down’s Fellowship project was supposed to happen, it was decided that it was unsafe for me to go. So in two weeks, I ordered a new visa, rearranged/cancelled/booked flights to Uganda, familiarized myself with a new study protocol, and had to rethink how (and what) I was going to be able to accomplish of what I had been planning. I was to be an extra pair of hands in Uganda while still getting the experience of working on a clinical trial, while at the same time working remotely to make sure the project I had planned to undergo in Burkina Faso was still being completed. My experiences this summer were a true representation of what work in global health is like. It’s unpredictable and ever changing. You have to be prepared to switch things up and adapt to whatever circumstances are thrown your way, but through it all what matters is that what you’re doing is going to ease the burden of the disease in which you’re working on and make life better globally.

Best moment/experience:

A moment that I will never forget from my time in Uganda was one Saturday afternoon where we drove a few hours away to Sipi Falls to go on a hike to see some waterfalls. The views were spectacular! As we neared the top of the falls, still having to climb back down the rock and dirt paths, the skies opened up and rained down heavily. We eventually found a home half way down the back side of the mountain where a family invited us in to take cover. They offered us food, water and dry towels. Not only was the day filled with some beautiful nature, but also the welcoming spirit and kindness of the family made the day unforgettable.

Funding source:

Down’s Fellowship and School of Medicine Funding