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Journey Begins for UArizona’s Global Health Equity Scholars

Panorama of Kampala, Uganda from the top

Three fellows connected with the University of Arizona will participate in the Global Health Equity Scholars program this year and conduct international research projects funded by the Fogarty International Center at the NIH to gain knowledge and experience that will help build a healthier world.

To make a difference in global health and gain invaluable experience, three scholars connected to the University of Arizona – Maiya Block Ngaybe, MPH, Maryam Jamila Ali, MD, FWACS, FMCOG, and Auwal Abubakar, DrPH – have embarked on a fellowship year as Global Health Equity Scholars (GHES). A year-long research training program funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Fogarty International Center (FIC), the GHES fellowship program sends a new cohort of students to conduct research in low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC) around the world every year. The three students connected with the UArizona will be mentored by Purnima Madhivanan, MD, PhD, MPH, from the UArizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Global Health Equity Scholars fellowship program: Training Global Health Leaders

Established in 2012, the GHES program provides fellowships through four distinguished U.S. partner institutions—Yale University, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of Arizona. GHES boasts collaborations in 24 LMICs spanning Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Oceania. Designed for pre-and post-doctoral trainees from the U.S. and post-doctoral trainees from collaborating LMICs, GHES trains new communities of researchers, educators, and professionals and prepares them to tackle emerging global health challenges.

GHES is part of the Launching Future Leaders in Global Health (LAUNCH) training initiative sponsored by the Fogarty International Center and collaborating Institutes and Centers at the NIH. GHES embodies the NIH’s commitment to shape the future of global health.

Meet the 2024 Scholars

Maiya Block Ngaybe, MPH

Maiya Block Ngaybe, MPH (PhD Candidate)

Predoctoral Student Scholar
Fellowship Site: Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Research: Factors associated with prospective uptake of a preventative HIV vaccine among at-risk populations in Uganda: A mixed-methods study

Maiya Block Ngaybe is currently pursuing a PhD in Health Behavior Health Promotion at Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH). She received her MPH in Health Behavior Health Promotion from the college and would like to one day work in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve the efficacy of health behavior programs around the world as well as promoting health in communities near her home in Southern Arizona.

Maiya has held teaching roles in the Peace Corps in Cameroon for Middle School and High School, taught International Baccalaureate Chemistry for Middle School and High School at the American School of Yaoundé, and served as the Teaching Assistant for courses on Personal Health and Wellness, and Public Health Approaches to Mental Disorders in the US. She also helped coordinate the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship Program as the Graduate Assistant and designed a trainer certification manual for a project called Bridges to Wellness for the Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

Maiya has also worked as the Site Lead at an asylum-seeker refuge called Casa Alitas, as Vice-President of the international Friends of Cameroon organization, as Project Coordinator for the Alliance for Vaccine Literacy at the University of Arizona, as qualitative analysis Consultant at TANGO International, as a Student Ambassador for the Zuckerman College of Public Health, and as a Co-Chair of the annual Social Justice Symposium at the college. She most recently served as the Community Outreach Professional for the AZHEALTHTXT project at the Arizona Center for Rural Health in addition to teaching Personal Health and Wellness as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Arizona.

In her free time, she likes to raise chickens, play piano, play board games with family and friends, do yoga, and go for runs. 

Dr. Maryam Jamila Ali, MD, FWACS, FMCOG

Dr. Maryam Jamila Ali, MD, FWACS, FMCOG

LMIC Postdoctoral Fellow
Fellowship Site: University of Jos, Nigeria
Research: HPV vaccines, Adolescent and young women living with HIV

Dr. Maryam Jamila Ali is a junior faculty and clinician at the University of Jos, Nigeria, and will spend her Global Health Equity Scholars fellowship year at the University of Jos under the co-mentorship of Dr. Musa Jonah, MD, PhD and Dr. Purnima Madhivanan MD, PhD.

Currently a master’s candidate in Genomics and Bioinformatics at the University of Jos, Dr. Ali is working on the Prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among brothel-based sex workers using multiplex PCR in Nigeria. She earned her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria in 2009, and earned her fellowship in Obstetrics and Gynecology at both the West African College of Surgeons and the National Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria in 2019. Her dissertation during her fellowship was on the characterization of oncogenic HPV genotypes among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women with abnormal cervical cytology in Jos, North Central Nigeria.

In Jos, Dr. Ali will work with adolescents and young women living with HIV to study factors associated with vaccine hesitancy or acceptability. She will also study the prevalence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections and determine factors associated with the persistence or clearance of HPV using HPV self-sampling.

Dr. Auwal Abubakar, MD, MSc, DrPH

Dr. Auwal Abubakar, MD, MSc, DrPH

Postdoctoral Fellow
Fellowship Site: University of Jos, Nigeria
Research: Cervical cancer screening among women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA) in Kano State, Nigeria

Dr. Auwal Abubakar, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a Doctorate in Public Health, is currently engaged in a research project at the University of Jos, Nigeria. His work focuses on enhancing cervical cancer screening practices among women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWHA) in Plateau State, an effort aimed at addressing and reducing health disparities in this key demographic.

Before embarking on his current path, Dr. Abubakar led the Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Bauchi State, Nigeria, as the Incident Manager. His leadership was pivotal in achieving the eradication of polio in the region, contributing to Nigeria’s recognition as a polio-free country.

Auwal began his academic journey at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria, where he obtained his MBBS, followed by an M.Sc. in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the SRM Institute of Science and Technology in India. His educational endeavors have been underpinned by a deep-seated dedication to public health, particularly in terms of practice, education and research.

Outside of his academic and professional pursuits, Auwal has a variety of interests. He is an avid music enthusiast, enjoys traveling to new places, indulges in reading a broad range of literature, and maintains an active lifestyle through sports like ping-pong. Auwal also finds relaxation in watching movies and values the time spent with friends and family in these activities.

Building Research Experience for a Healthier World

As these three scholars embark on their GHES fellowship journeys, they will gain insight and research experience to tackle global health challenges. Their diverse research projects align with the GHES program's holistic approach, offering hope for positive transformations in health outcomes worldwide. The GHES program remains a powerful vehicle for nurturing change agents, fostering collaboration, and advancing global health equity. Dr. Purnima Madhivanan's leadership and mentorship will help to guide this cohort of fellows, and build knowledge and expertise for a brighter, healthier future.

"As we launch into a new fellowship year, I am inspired by our new cohort of Global Health Equity Scholars,” said Dr. Madhivanan, “The dedication of our Fellows, Maiya Block Ngaybe, Dr. Maryam Jamila Ali, and Dr. Auwal Abubakar, will guide them on their global health journey and foster lasting positive change. Together, we are shaping a future where equity and innovation converge for healthier communities worldwide.”

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