Two medical students win infectious disease scholarships for global health

Awardees Cramer McCullen and Seth Congdon, both rising second-year medical students, will spend the summer working on infectious disease problems in Guatemala and Zambia, respectively.

Two medical students win infectious disease scholarships for global health click to enlarge Cramer McCullen, UNC medical student
Two medical students win infectious disease scholarships for global health click to enlarge Seth Congdon, UNC medical student

Two medical students at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have been awarded a highly competitive Medical Scholars Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Awardees Cramer McCullen and Seth Congdon, both rising second-year medical students, will spend the summer working on infectious disease problems in Guatemala and Zambia, respectively.

McCullen will work with the Central American Regional Office of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in Guatemala on HIV. McCullen’s project will have both a clinical research and educational development component. Specifically, he will be collaborating with the CDC to develop a manual for health care providers to improve HIV prevention and treatment programs focused on men who have sex with men and sex workers.

In addition, McCullen will work with local community workers to analyze data gathered over the past five years from a cohort of 6,000 HIV-infected men who have sex with men.

At UNC, McCullen will be mentored by Clare Barrington, assistant professor of health behavior in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Latin America Programs Manager of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases. Dr. Marilu Itzel Loya, the in-country director for the CDC, and others will mentor McCullen in Guatemala.

Congdon will work with a key UNC partner, the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia in Lusaka, Zambia, to study factors impacting the efficacy of rotavirus vaccination. Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrheal-related death in babies worldwide, and Zambia has recently begun a rotavirus vaccination campaign.

Congdon’s project will hopefully help us understand why the vaccine has not be as effective in sub-Saharan Africa as it has been in other countries, a phenomenon which is not well understood. His work will look at the impact of immune and nutritional factors, as well as the mother’s HIV status on the vaccine.

Congdon will be mentored by Dr. Roma Chilengi in Zambia and by Irving Hoffman, associate professor of medicine, at UNC.

An important part of IDSA’s mission is to promote the subspecialty of infectious diseases among the best and brightest medical students. To further this goal, the IDSA Education and Research Foundation offers scholarships to medical students in U.S. medical schools with mentorship by an IDSA member or fellow.


Contact: Lisa Chensvold, 919-843-5719 or lisa_chensvold@med.unc.edu