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Spring 2022 Spark Award Winners Announced

May 05, 2022

The Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH) has selected Nicky Hawley, associate professor of epidemiology (chronic disease), Yale School of Public Health; Raul Hernandez-Ramirez, associate research scientist in biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health; and Melanie Sion, assistant professor of surgery, Yale School of Medicine, to receive YIGH Global Health Spark Awards. Each recipient will receive an award of up to $10,000 and were selected based on five criteria, including innovation, feasibility, sustainability, a connection between the “spark” and the anticipated outcomes, and consistency with the mission of YIGH.

Hawley will use the award to conduct a territory-wide high school-based survey to generate prevalence estimates for anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidality among American Samoan adolescents. “There is widespread community concern about adolescent mental health in American Samoa following a cluster of recent suicides. Chronic Disease Epidemiology Ph.D. student Emma Mew has been leading some exceptional qualitative work to explore this issue, but this award will make it possible for us to provide the quantitative data that is so needed to guide the development of new interventions,” said Hawley.

With cervical cancer being the second leading cause of cancer death in Mexican women despite being a highly preventable disease, Hernandez-Ramirez plans to analyze the barriers and facilitators to implement recommended diagnostic colposcopy for abnormal cervical cancer screens. “As failure to follow-up after abnormal cervical screening leads to delays in diagnosis and treatment, identifying factors that hinder or enable colposcopy adherence is critical for informing the development of future implementation strategies to improve adherence,” said Hernandez-Ramirez.

Sion and her team will perform two studies into the causes, perceptions, and potential solutions to cancellation of same-day elective surgery at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Malawi. Her work will provide the foundation for future quality improvement research informing targeted interventions to decrease the high cancellation rate. “We hope the clarity this work provides will alleviate some of the disruption cancellations cause for patients, surgeons, and the hospital system as a whole. Perhaps more importantly, we hope to foster the growth of skills and knowledge necessary for our Malawian colleagues to build a quality improvement program at their hospital,” said Sion.

YIGH created the Global Health Spark Award to support YIGH-affiliated faculty as they identify and develop new projects and research. The awards are intended to spark a larger scope of work which could include submitting a proposal for a larger grant opportunity or catalyzing a sustainable scope of work that contributes to the recipient’s career development.

Submitted by Alyssa Cruz on June 08, 2022