Karen Payne, MPH '11
My internship provided me the opportunity to both explore scientific data while immersing myself in Colombia’s rich culture. I worked alongside Colombians in a laboratory and clinical setting, which broadened my appreciation of scientific research in South America and acquainted me with the strengths and challenges of conducting research in this region. Through this project I was privy to the interplay between research and public health; as well as how public health practices are implemented in a foreign country. The goal of my internship was to develop a rapid and sensitive serological test for the detection of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Colombia. Specifically, my goal was to evaluate the use of Leishmania HSP60 and HSP83 for an accurate diagnosis of CL. In addition, we aimed to identify other potential biological marker(s) recognized by antibodies in sera that could be used in the development of an ELISA-based assay for CL detection. The clinical application of such a test could detect the condition in asymptomatic individuals, thus improving diagnosis and, consequently, treatment and recovery. This experience allowed me to apply my knowledge of public and global health in a way that could be used both to improve clinical tools, but also benefit the people affected by this disease. I received funding for this project from the Downs Fellowship and the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies.
Karen Payne - Cali, Colombia
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- The view from the farm of one of our Colombian friends was beautiful.
- Valle de Cocora, located in Salento, Colombia, is a natural reserve where we saw many wax palms, Colombia’s national tree.
- My cubicle at CIDEIM, in Cali.
- Olga Fernandez, my mentor in Colombia, and I assess results in order to plan the next experiment.
- Preparing and diluting antigens for my ELISA.
- Washing the ELISA plates after an experiment.
- Performing a Western Blot test.
- This is where I recorded my data. In Spanglish, of course!
- The biochemistry lab at CIDEIM.
- Loading the gel for the SDS-PAGE.
- Results from our Western Blot test.
Sleeping arrangements at Parque Tayrona, a national park in Santa Marta, Colombia, include bug nets.
- Sharing a lemonade with my co-workers.
- A ceremony in Zipaquirá, Colombia, commemorates the bicentennial of the country’s independence from Spain.
- Monserrate peak overlooks the capital of Bogota.
- A mariachi band performs in Salento, Colombia.
- A typical Colombian dish known as patacón con trucha. And yes, they serve it with the head attached!
- Parque Tayrona.