An Iowan who’s won a Fulbright scholarship will be leaving for Africa later this summer. Patrice Watson is an associate professor at Creighton University’s school of medicine. At the University of Zimbabwe, she’ll help create a school of preventive medicine like the department where she works at Creighton. Her department’s strong suit is working on cancer prevention and cancer epidemiology and she says developing nations want to build the kind of program that lets them do their own research, rather than simply being the subject of research by other countries. She hopes to help them train their own students to do research so in the future they’ll be better able to find out about diseases affecting their populations. While the research at Creighton’s preventive-medicine department focuses on cancer, Watson says that may take a back seat to more pressing issues in the country of Zimbabwe. Research she’ll work on is their main focus there, the study of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS — and she says there are many overlaps between the study of chronic diseases like cancer and of infectious disease. Watson says it’ll be a learning experience for her, and says she’s always wanted to travel to faraway places. Watson will help the University of Zimbabwe develop a new master’s degree program in epidemiology and bio-statistics.She says all such investigators are interested in knowing how disease works, but the main point is prevention — knowing how disease is spread and what affects an individual’s risk, so communities can improve the overall health of their population. She leaves the end of July for a ten-month stay at the University of Zombabwe in Harare. The government-funded Fulbright scholarship program sets up educational exchanges with foreign governments to help advance research, teaching and joint ventures to improve the well-being of their citizens.
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