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Olivia Bednarski, a student in the Indiana University School of Medicine&nbsp;<a href="">Medical Scientist Training Program</a>&nbsp;(MSTP), embarked on a journey to Uganda that would profoundly shape her both personally and professionally.&nbsp;

MSTP student explores medical research frontiers in Uganda

Olivia Bednarki pictured with three other Ugandan health care workers.

Olivia Bednarski, a student in the Indiana University School of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), embarked on a journey to Uganda that would profoundly shape her both personally and professionally. Armed with a grant from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Ben Kean Fellowship, her mission in Uganda was multifaceted yet singular in purpose: to engage in the intricate realms of medical research amidst the backdrop of a nation grappling with the burdens of malaria and its ramifications. Her project focused on establishing a point-of-care test for myoglobin levels, aiming to discern the role of rhabdomyolysis in acute kidney injury during severe malaria infections.

During her two-month stay in Uganda, Olivia's journey transcended the confines of laboratory walls. She immersed herself in all facets of the clinical study, from shadowing in hospitals to contributing to sample processing and biomarker testing. This hands-on experience provided invaluable insights into the complexities of medical research and the profound impact it can have on global health outcomes.

Olivia's expedition encompassed not only scientific exploration but also served as a journey of cultural immersion and personal development. Working alongside Dr. Andrea Conroy, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Olivia gained firsthand knowledge of Uganda's medical system and the challenges public hospitals face with limited resources and staffing.  

Olivia found inspiration in Dr. Conroy, a investigator who was a mentor and role model. Their discussions instilled in Olivia confidence and determination to pursue her career in tropical diseases.

“Dr. Conroy was a wonderful mentor to me. It was a great experience working with a young woman investigator and discussing how she has encountered similar challenges as me and how she overcame them.”

Reflecting on her journey, Olivia shared profound lessons learned both professionally and personally. Witnessing the realities of malaria firsthand, she gained a newfound perspective on her research and its implications in a country burdened by the fifth-highest number of malaria cases globally. Moreover, her time spent immersing herself in Ugandan culture and engaging with local perspectives broadened her worldview and deepened her understanding of global health disparities.

As Olivia returns from her expedition, she carries with her a sense of pride and accomplishment. Her journey to Uganda reaffirmed her capabilities and ignited a fervent passion to continue her research in tropical diseases. With unwavering determination and a newfound sense of purpose, Olivia Bednarski stands poised to make enduring contributions to global health and medical research. 

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Lori Hart

Lori Hart is the Admissions and Outreach Counselor for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). 
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.