Why Public Health? Bobby Brooke Herrera

I grew up in a small New Mexico border town near the us-mexico border in a town called San Miguel I went to New Mexico State University where I studied biology and minored in chemistry and religious studies I was interested in the relatively unexplored interface between science and religion and so I decided to pursue a master's of theological studies at Harvard Divinity School after I graduated from Harvard Divinity School I decided that I would apply to the biological sciences in public health HD program at Harvard th Chan School of Public Health I decided to join the lab of dr. Phyllis konkey who is an expert biologist and has studied HIV in West Africa for the past thirty years we decided to adopt our tools for HIV to respond to the Ebola and Zika outbreak in West Africa and Latin America in Nigeria West Africa for example we collaborated with researchers from Jos University Teaching Hospital and identified individuals who were exposed to Ebola virus but never knew they never knew they were infected or never became ill and so these individuals had asymptomatic Ebola virus infections the fact that we were able to identify individuals who experience asymptomatic infection that also have stronger cellular immune responses compared to survivors has potential important implications for the development of vaccines if we can develop vaccines that elicit cellular immune responses like they do during asymptomatic infection those vaccines might be more potent and more effective against the virus after I graduate I plan to continue my work at a lab at Harvard Medical School where we will be using different biological strategies and approaches to develop more effective vaccines to viruses

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