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UCSF medical student selected to attend prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University

September 21, 2017

Fourth-year medical student Daniela Brissett will attend Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) University next month at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. The three-day meeting brings together more than 1,100 innovative student leaders worldwide working in education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. 

Brissett (below, in blue) is enrolled in the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US) at UCSF and recently returned from a research gap year studying pediatric health (including the Zika virus and breastfeeding practices) in Roatán, Honduras. Engaging her long-standing passion for youth and the underserved, Daniela worked alongside her Honduran counterparts to cofound the Roatán Peer-Health Exchange, which leverages the local community and medical students to teach island youth about reproductive health, and empower them with knowledge to reduce teenage pregnancy and HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.

Brissett is also in the UCSF Global Health Pathway led by Chris Stewart, MD and co-directed by Mylo Schaaf, MD, MPH, DTMH. (This program has provided additional training and mentorship in global health.  Brissett’s work has been partially funded through the generosity of the Diane Sklar Initiative for Maternal and Child Health.)

“I am honored to represent an accumulation of tremendous work completed by a cohort of local doctors, medical students, and community activists,” says Brissett. “Our team is thrilled to have this opportunity to spotlight the enormous need in Roatán and other Caribbean countries—regions often overlooked given the robust tourism industry. I look forward to learning from the experiences of emerging leaders from around the globe who have created innovative solutions to addressing the world’s most pressing issues, and likewise sharing the stories of those I have been privileged to learn from in Roatán. Our Peer Exchange program has scaled quickly and has taught hundreds across the island.”

Through the CGI University Network and other opportunities, over $750,000 in funding will be awarded to select 2017 CGI University students to help accelerate their ideas into solutions for improved healthcare globally, for example. 

Since high school, Brissett has been active in her community, helping with food drives and homeless shelters, and mentoring children from community centers. As an intern and later a coordinator with UC Berkeley’s California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) she liaised with elected officials on how best to combat hunger and homelessness. As a teacher in UC Berkeley’s Health and Medical Apprenticeship Program (HMAP) program, Brissett worked in public policy, violence, and nutrition. 

Brissett now focuses her studies on pediatric health, health equity, and working to alleviate racial disparities in healthcare. Last year, she was awarded the Sinkler Miller Medical Association Scholarship for her work in improving access to care in Oakland and Bayview-Hunters Point regions in San Francisco.

“Daniela is a remarkable leader and has shown great determination in her work with limited resource populations,” says Dr. Schaaf. “To help fund her research year in Honduras, she wrote a number of additional grants and tutored students while she was abroad. She has four to five separate projects from her year of research, and has written articles on four of them for submission to journals. This is a major accomplishment in the midst of other medical school demands.”

“Daniela is equipped with an already advanced understanding of health disparities, an unquenchable thirst for inquiry, dazzling creativity, and a proven record of accomplishment in bringing complex projects to fruition,” says Leigh Kimberg, MD, Director of PRIME-US. “She is poised to be a leader in promoting health equity locally and globally.”

Brissett is currently the lead student researcher for Transdisciplinary Immersion in Global Health Research and Education (TIGRE, led by Arup-Roy Burman, MD and Evan Bloch), a multicampus global health lab for interprofessional health training and research in Roatán.

An interprofessional partnership between UCSF, Global Healing (a Berkeley-based non-profit organization) and Roatán’s Public Hospital has hosted faculty and trainees from UCSF, UCB, UCD, UCLA, and UCSD. TIGRE develops a transdisciplinary research-training program in global health for trainees (professional and doctoral students) across UC campuses, as well as aspiring Honduran investigators.