The NIDA International Program organized several orientation programs for the Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Abuse Research Fellows at Virginia Commonwealth University. In September, Fellowships Administrator Lisa Jordre met with the new fellows to introduce them to NIDA and learn about their professional interests and fellowship plans. On November 1, during the U.S. Department of State Global Leadership Forum, U.S. and international experts in substance abuse met with 16 fellows from VCU and six other Humphrey Program host campuses. Speakers included Richard Baum, ONDCP; Marya Hynes, CICAD, Organization of American States; Maristela Monteiro, M.D., Ph.D., PAHO; Eric Siervo, CADCA; and Charlotte Sisson, U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. After brief, formal presentations, the speakers met with the fellows for small group discussions. On November 15 and 16, the fellows met with officials from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and NIDA. NIDA speakers included International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D.; Petra Jacobs, M.D., M.H.S., Center for the Clinical Trials Network; Jacqueline Lloyd, Ph.D. and Tisha Wiley, Ph.D., Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research; Kevin Walton, Ph.D., and Bob Walsh, R.A.C., Division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences; and David Bochner, Ph.D., Jinhee Lee, Pharm. D., and Brian Marquis, Office of Science Policy and Communications.
The 2018-2019 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows at Virginia Commonwealth University represent nine countries. The fellows are:
- Hanan Kharabshah, M.P.H., Palestinian Territories, is surgical ward manager for Jericho Governmental Hospital where she focuses on management, basic nursing care, patient advocacy, and health education. In addition to her clinical work, Ms. Kharabshah volunteers in outreach programs for refugees in Palestine and Jordan, conducting research and serving in the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance. During her Humphrey Fellowship, Ms. Kharabshah will focus on improving her research, counseling, and public speaking skills. She also hopes to learn more about U.S. preventive medicine and current health policies and practices to help her in developing evidence-based programs in Palestine.
- Tea Kordzadze, M.A., Georgia, works for the Georgian Harm Reduction Network, focusing on human rights and drug policy issues. She has been instrumental in creating major changes in Georgia regarding health care rights related to hepatitis C, HIV/AIDs prevention, advocacy for health-based drug polices, and the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users. In 2014, Ms. Kordzadze played a major role in developing specific recommendations on drug policies and health rights in Georgia during a treaty review by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Her efforts led to an advocacy campaign at the national level to implement these UN recommendations into legislation and practice. She also conducts research at an addiction research and counseling center. During her Humphrey Fellowship, Ms. Kordzadze seeks to improve her knowledge of evidence-based drug abuse prevention and treatment.
- Lal Bahadur Kunwar, M.P.H., Nepal, is the Deputy Director of Possible, a community health care nongovernmental organization (NGO) that works with the Nepal Ministry of Health via a public-private partnership. He designs, oversees and implements integrated health care programs through a Community Health Workers network. His work increasingly involves the use of technology to strengthen the delivery of community-level follow-up care for chronic disease patients. He is passionate about developing effective, affordable health care systems that integrate hospital and home-based services for rural patients. Mr. Kunwar has more than 10 years of experience in the public health sector including as a lecturer of public health at Pokhara University, as a program manager of Aasaman Nepal, a children’s rights NGO, and as a government health assistant. During his fellowship, Mr. Kunwar aims to improve his ability to manage non-communicable disease, child and maternal health, and mental health services at the community level. He also wants to enhance both his quantitative and qualitative research skills in public health.
- Lefate Makunyane, M.A., South Africa, has more than 10 years of experience in managing and monitoring youth development programs, mental health and substance use prevention, gender-based violence, capacity building, and research. He also has worked on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s loveLife Campaign and a UNICEF/Lesotho Government Youth Ministry Program focusing on HIV/AIDS, substance use prevention, and life skills development. From 2011 to 2014, Mr. Makunyane was the Assistant Director of the National Department of Basic Education where he worked on the national drug strategy as a member of the Inter-Departmental Technical Task Team. Mr. Makunyane is currently a project manager at the African Youth Development Fund for the Ke Moja anti-drug program and the UNICEF-funded National Department of Basic Education Drug Prevention and Management Program. In this position, he conducts research and assessments on the impact of anti-drug programs. Mr. Makunyane’s goals for his fellowship are to enhance his knowledge of public health policy, innovative substance use prevention strategies, treatment programs, and research methods.
- Marcelo Martoy, J.D., L.L.M., Uruguay, is a candidate professor and associate member of the Legal Practice Department at the University of the Republic. He began his public service career in 2011 at the National Tax Office. Currently, Mr. Martoy works as a legal advisor at the National Drug Board of the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay, where he oversees the confiscation of assets from drug trafficking and money laundering to finance substance abuse prevention, and education and treatment programs. During his fellowship, Mr. Martoy, will study different approaches to drugs and criminal law and its implications for human rights and substance use disorder treatment services. He will specifically focus on the impact of the regulation of the cannabis market in Uruguay. Mr. Martoy also seeks to enhance his knowledge regarding social inclusion models and substance use disorder treatment programs as an alternative to prison. Mr. Martoy also hopes to improve his skills in conducting interdisciplinary research, managing projects and public speaking.
- Rhea Ramnarine, M.S., Trinidad and Tobago, is a toxicologist at the Trinidad and Tobago Forensic Science Centre, the primary forensic testing facility in her country. Her duties include analyzing biological and non-biological specimens for the presence of alcohol, drugs, and poisons; making pharmacokinetic models; preparing reports to be used in court; and providing expert witness testimony. Ms. Ramnarine’s objectives during her fellowship are to continue to elevate the standards of drug testing in her country and gain the knowledge and skills needed to develop and establish new policies and procedures to evaluate emerging trends in drug abuse and potential overdose cases. She also wants to learn more about the pharmacology of drugs of abuse and develop skills in communicating science to laypersons.
- Kaustubh Sharma, M.B.B.S., M.A., India, joined the Indian Police Service in 2001 and headed Firozepur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts. He has served in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan as a police chief administrative officer. He later became the deputy commissioner of police in Amritsar. Dr. Sharma also has experience as the zonal director for the Narcotics Control Bureau of India, where his efforts led to establishing opioid substitution therapy centres in local jails. He is currently the deputy inspector general of police in the Punjab organized crime control unit. Dr. Sharma’s various policing assignments have given him extensive exposure to drug interdiction operations on the Indo-Pakistan border and he has been closely involved with tackling the drug problem in the state of Punjab. He was awarded the UN Peace Medal, President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Services, and the Director General’s Commendation Medal. During his fellowship year, Dr. Sharma's focus areas are inter-agency coordination for effective drug control, evidence-based prevention strategies, and misuse of pharmaceutical drugs.
- Nicola Worcman, M.D., M.S., Brazil, has investigated how psychotherapists and psychiatrists can work more effectively in public institutions that use a harm reduction approach. In the Brazilian public health care system for drug users, she worked as a psychiatrist and carried out projects targeting underprivileged communities where she helped young drug users develop leadership and collective strategies to address issues important to them. Additionally, she led a committee that developed strategies for strengthening the mental health care network and served as a professor in a medical internship program. During her fellowship, Dr. Worcman’s goal is to improve her knowledge of evidence-based drug abuse prevention and harm reduction programs. In addition, she wants to learn more about drug reform policies and their impact on health care systems, specifically in countries like Brazil that are affected by drug trafficking.
- Duanduan Yuan, M.A., China, is a senior reporter at Southern Weekly Newspaper in Beijing, focusing on health and medical news. For the past seven years, Ms. Yuan has covered a diverse range of topics such as cancer, rare childhood diseases, pollution, and food safety. She is a recipient of a number of awards, both in China and internationally, including a 2016 Cancer World Journalism Award and the 2014 Global Health Reporting Contest, sponsored by the International Center for Journalists. She is also a three-time winner of a China Environmental Press Award (2013 to 2015), which is jointly organized by The Guardian (UK) and chinadialogue.net. As a Humphrey Fellow, Ms. Yuan wants to advance her knowledge related to mental health policies and management. She is interested in learning about how to use media to advance disease control, health promotion, and public education. Ms. Yuan’s goal is to design an effective and holistic communication program to increase mental health awareness among the Chinese population and policy makers.