Melvin Donaldson is a second year medical student at the University of Minnesota in the Medical Scientist Training Program. He is also pursuing his PhD in epidemiology with the School of Public Health. He is a graduate of the University of Washington (BS biochemistry) and of the Universitė Pierre et Marie Curie (MS epidemiology). His academic research interests include infectious disease epidemiology (especially chronic infection), social determinants of health and health policy effects on community health. Donaldson is interested in both adult and pediatric medicine.
Project: "Pathogenesis of Severe Malarial Anemia in Children with Sickle Cell Disease: Clinical and Immunological Differences Versus Sickle Cell Trait and Non-Sickling Peers"
June 24, 2013 - August 31, 2013
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I feel like my interest in tropical medicine is validated and that I will be able to make important contributions to the field. I feel more of a colleague than just a student. I feel like I have the support of the ASTMH behind me! Being a fellow and a student member of the ASTMH, I feel a part of the professional society already. The award made this trip possible.
What do you anticipate learning?
Being in the field here will allow me to meet, in person, our African colleagues and understand some of the challenges to our study that only make sense in context. Additionally, I will be able to interact with some of the children in the study and see what their living conditions are like and aspects of their daily life that I wouldn't otherwise understand.
I feel I have a commitment to the children and families enrolled in our trials to make my best effort to understand them. From my perspective, it is very easy to collapse them all into a data file on my computer but that misses the complexities of their lives.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
First of all, I was interested in malaria, this requires an interest in tropical medicine. More importantly, I am interested in infectious disease, where the western world thinks we have switched from mortality from infection to mortality from chronic disease and yet elsewhere, infections continue as the major cause of mortality and unknown morbidity. We are only beginning to understand the hidden burden of the adult neurological consequences faced by the survivors of childhood cerebral malaria.