Katherine Ryken

Katie received a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction and honors in microbiology with a minor in international studies from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. After graduating, she volunteered in the West Bank and independently studied in the Middle East. While at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Katie was president of Student Physicians for Human Rights, a founding member of Global Health Journal Club, and Grand Rounds Chair for her learning community, as well as a tutor for biochemistry, human organ systems and immunology, and a member of the Principles of Infectious Disease Liaison Committee.

She was awarded a Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship and received a Barry Freeman Fellowship and Kenneth J. Cmiel Human Rights Internship for a global elective after her M1 year. Katie was Fulbright Fellow to Bosnia-Herzegovina from 2014-2015. She pursued research in orthopedics and trauma at the University Clinical Center Sarajevo and worked with several NGOs providing medical care for survivors of rape during the Bosnian War. For this work, she received the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship and the Robert D. Sparks Essay Contest for her paper, "Role of physicians in transitional justice: combatting the aftermath of mass rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina." Additionally, she was selected for a University of Oxford medical student exchange for Spring 2017.

Project: "Association between concurrent infections and early onset pre-eclampsia in Northeastern Brazil"
July 1, 2016 - August 20, 2016    


What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
This fellowship will be the first opportunity for me to participate in the care of pregnant women affected by neglected tropical diseases. I will be able to learn about high-risk pre-natal care in a low-income setting. It’s a unique opportunity to study a tropical disease that has garnered much controversy in the media – I will be in the thick of the infection and can contribute to much-needed research in its course.

What do you anticipate learning?

  1. Understanding the clinical presentation, screening tools, and treatment options for patients with common neglected tropical disease infections in rural communities in Northeast Brazil. Particular emphasis will be on the flaviviruses endemic in the region. 
  2. Participating in ongoing research study evaluating the effect of concurrent viral infection, especially flaviviruses (Zika, Chikungunya and dengue), on the development of pre-eclampsia and other complications during pregnancy. 
  3. Developing a further appreciation for working with underserved patients affected by neglected tropical diseases through clinical observation and house-hold visits.

What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
Tropical medicine has tremendous implications globally – most affected are populations in the developing world. Neglected tropical diseases are not adequately funded in a world where systemic pathologies of power place the vast majority of the world at an extreme disadvantage.

I want to understand more clearly the intimate link between social conditions and health, so that I may use the link to provide more appropriate care for patients globally. Specifically, I am interested in examining infectious conditions that place pregnant women at higher risk in rural Brazil, and formulating informed solutions with local physicians and students.