SANTHE/MIT course enjoys second successful year

Monday, 29 January, 2018

The 2018 SANTHE/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) week-long course entitled “Evolution of an Epidemic” took place from the 22nd to the 28th of January this year, hosted at SANTHE’s Lead Institute, the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), in Durban South Africa.

Led by Instructor Professor Bruce Walker, Director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, it included morning lectures by a myriad of esteemed guest speakers, and various afternoon field trips.

“The course is designed to give students a perspective on the many dimensions of an epidemic, from basic science issues related to how the epidemic is initiated, to the social, economic and policy issues that influence the development of the epidemic.  Being able to teach this course at its heart provides an incredible perspective on these many issues, and we look forward to continuing to offer it on an annual basis,” says Walker

Course participants, made up of SANTHE, AHRI and MIT students, had the following to say:

"The course broadened my perspective not only on the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, but also on the policy and cultural stigma surrounding it. It was really special because I got to meet people directly influenced or fighting against the epidemic, which was truly an inspiring and motivational experience.” - Julio Cho, MIT, USA

"When a disease is studied at the molecular level, its human impact often goes unnoticed. ‘Evolution of an Epidemic’ was a candid reminder that a disease like AIDS is more than a scientific question - it is a human problem that goes beyond what science alone can solve.” - Yasemin Atiyas, MIT, USA
“’Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less,’ said Marie Curie. This course has benefited me because it created a platform for young scientists like myself to interact and learn from senior researchers who have experienced the devastation of the HIV epidemic first hand. They have also contributed to the wealth of knowledge that we now have, to bring us a little closer to finding solutions to end it. I am also grateful for been given the opportunity to visit sites like FRESH and iTeach where the epidemic is being effectively tackled by these programmes. This course has really been an eye-opening experience for me and I strongly encourage other scientists to participate.” – Nicole Reddy, SANTHE, South Africa
“The course presented a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to be introduced to knowledgeable individuals, life changing research projects and front-runner organisations that are at the vanguard of positive development and change for TB and HIV in South Africa.” – Jamie-Lee Dormehl, Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), South Africa

“The course went beyond the realm of virology and into the sphere of public health, where I was immediately inspired - by the variety of stories we heard from traditional healers, women at FRESH, researchers at CAPRISA - to play my role in the field of infectious diseases.” – Stacie Lin, MIT, USA