Students from around the globe met in Seattle this month to learn cutting-edge research strategies and techniques in the fields of STDs and HIV. 81 students from 14 countries participated in the 26th Annual Principles of STD/HIV Research Course, conducted by UW’s Department of Global Health and Center for AIDS Research. The curriculum focuses on critical research areas in STD/HIV and the fundamentals of different disciplines involved in STD/HIV research. The course fostered research collaborations and taught strategies for successfully competing for research funds and publishing one’s work.
The course covered different concepts each day through lectures taught by UW faculty and visiting professors from other institutions. Dan Wu, an early career researcher at UNC Chapel Hill, Project China enjoyed the comprehensiveness of the course. “I didn’t have much of a research background in sexual health or HIV before I came, so I gained a foundation in the basic concepts and principles of doing sexual health, STI and HIV research. All the lecturers were excellent,” she said.
Students visited organizations in Seattle including Gay City, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the Public Health Seattle/King County STD Clinic, Entre Hermanos, People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, and Harborview’s Madison Clinic, where they learned about these organizations’ work and impact in the community. Lab Manager Silver Vargas from Perú, who visited Gay City and Lifelong AIDS Alliance, said, “I liked seeing how the centers operate in Seattle. It was interesting to see how people are empowered and how they help those in need get in contact with the healthcare system.”
Networking and forming connections in an international setting was valuable for many participants, who came from the U.S., Portugal, Uganda, Kenya, Perú, South Africa, and eight other countries. “I’ve met peers from all around the world. We all seem to have common concerns about prevention and treatment,” Dr. Fatima Sall, a Clinical Research Study Coordinator from Sénégal, said.
“There’s a lot of need for collaboration across the fields of STDs and HIV. There's a lot of connectedness between diseases and a lot of people thinking about similar things. Bringing scientists and investigators together is important to solve a lot of the issues we discussed over the past two weeks,” said Randy Stalter, a Research Assistant at UW.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing the course’s impact over the years,” said Dr. King Holmes, UW Department of Global Health, who initiated the first course 26 years ago together with Dr. Sheila Lukehart, UW School of Medicine. The two had a vision of an intensive curriculum on a newly emerging field. “The STD epidemic was growing rapidly, and there was a sense that there was a lot to be done,” Dr. Holmes said. “Much has been achieved, but we still have much to do. Each year the questions from the students get better and better, and I know the impacts of the course will continue to grow even more.”